Sent to boarding school to temper her impetuous actions, Letty returns home to Hawaii with a big splash. Leticia Lili’uokalani Lang, Letty, is a young woman driven by her passion – an unwavering concern for the welfare of animals. She becomes immediately relatable, a strong woman imbued with a genuine concern and respect for life. As member of Hawaii’s royal family she is inexorably bound to the islands, the ‘aina in ways that she does not yet fully understand.
Author Katherine Kayne has penned a novel that is scrumptiously imaginative and sets the reader on a path of learning alongside Letty. Set in the early 1900’s, it is a transitional time when white Christians have displaced native Hawaiian culture and authority; a time when horses are replaced by automobiles. Throughout the book we are treated with romantic glimpses of old Hawaii transitioning and occasionally conflicting with modern ways.
Like her island home, Letty must also learn to balance and the old ways which guide her flames with her own ideals of being a modern woman. Though she plans to become a veterinarian, Letty reluctantly sets her books aside to embark on a different type of education. A mysterious woman, a kumu, riding a white mule enters Letty’s world revealing the truth and power of her passion, her flames.
True to the challenges faced during any period of significant change, Kayne interjects Letty into situations that call upon both her ancient and modern learnings. Each experience builds Letty’s confidence upon which she must one day rely when faced with a life and death situation.
“Bound with Flame” provides a cast of engaging characters, tropical breezes, rolling seas, magic and horses. It is a novel which defies designation. Romance? Yes. Fantasy? Yes. Historical? Yes. Kayne spent five years researching and working with Hawai’i Island’s pau’u riding community to get her story right. However, the makaha, the magic of the ancient land are of her own vivid imaginings.
“Bound with Flame” is Kayne’s debut novel, the first of The Hawaiian Ladies’ Riding Society series. A group of Kayne’s own creation, the society will be basis for future stories regaling the fierce and fearless women riders of the Hawaiian Islands. “Bound with Flame” is a delightful journey that will leave readers anticipating Kayne’s next novel.
Reviewed by Melanie Eberhardt
An update from author, Katherine Kayne (2020)
At age 68, “Bound in Flame” is my debut novel. Because we are never too old, right? Of the awards, the one I most cherish maybe “The Fantasy Chapter of Romance Writers of America Prism for Best First Book Award.” Whoo Hoo!!!! Age does not matter! Its what you do with your time that matters. Ride on ladies, ride on!
I’m attaching a photo celebrating the book’s debut with the amazing group of Hawaiian horsewomen who shared their family stories with me and held me to high standards. This of course was back before we could not gather. I can’t wait to get back to Hawaii again.
An Excerpt from “Bound in Flame”
The stallion stretched long and low beneath her. His speed beyond expectation, his joy in the run palpable. Timothy grew larger by the moment. She pulled up next to him.
“Now, that’s how it’s done.” She knew she sounded a bit smug but did not care. “Would you like another demonstration?”
“Oh really? That’s how this is done?” He’d dropped Malolo’s reins and gazed up as if this were an entirely serious consideration. Until he sprang like a cobra, wrapping his arms around her and yanking her down.
They fell together, his back on the sand. She found herself sprawled on top of him, suddenly flooded with awareness, feeling every point of connection through the thin, wet holokū. His hard frame beneath her gone harder. His gray eyes alight with silver fire. His fingers clenched on her waist. Her treacherous flames running rampant up and down her spine.
His eyes dropped to her lips. She licked the salt off as her flames exploded, shooting heat through her whole body. Her nipples hardened and the fire centered deep in her belly. His eyes widened. He must feel it.
In that moment she knew the truth of it. She could hurt him. Just as the kumu said. She rolled off, her flames chiding her in disappointment. Freeing herself from his touch brought another wave, one of regret. She stared at the sky and listened to his ragged breath by her side. Hers was no better.
“Well, that was instructive.” His voice came out a bit strangled.
She was saved from the necessity of a response by a squeal from Malolo. She sat up to see Diablo giving the mare a flirtatious little nip.
“Oh no. Not that.” She scrambled to her feet to separate the two horses.
Timothy remained silent, turning instead to grab Diablo’s saddle.
Clearly it might be best if they stuck to discussing the weather on the ride back up the hill.