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.