Bound by Honor, Bound by Love (Finally Nearing the End of the First Draft)

Anticipated publishing date of this book

After what’s seemed like forever, I am finally nearing the end of this book!  Now I can say with confidence that this book will be available around the end of August or early September.  I’ll be sure to keep updates on it as I get closer to publishing it.

I just finished up the part where Onawa and Citlali worked through everything, so now it’s a matter of tying up the remaining loose ends and to do that, Citlali has to assume the role as the primary chief of the tribe.  I need to resolve a matter with Cole and Penelope and a resolution that Citlali has to face in knowing the Mandan tribe won’t be able to continue as it had in the past.

Quick history of the Mandans

The 19th and 20th centuries marked significant changes for the Mandans.  You see, the Smallpox epidemic in 1837-38 hit them so hard that it’s estimated that only 125 full-blooded Mandans remained.  In the meantime, Christian missionaries were coming to evangelize and the Mandans (who were a peaceful group of people) had a lot of dealings with the white man.  At the turn of the 20th century, some moved into cabins, leaving the tribe, and more and more Mandans had left behind their old belief systems in favor of the white man’s.

A lot of changes were going on, and though I can’t effectively portray it all in the series, I’ve picked out parts that I believe has enhanced the stories as they affected the four couples featured (Woape and Gary, Chogan and Julia, Citlali and Onawa, and — to a small degree — Cole and Penelope who adopted two orphaned Mandan children off an orphan train).    With any story, the focus must always stay with the characters and their points of view.  The Native American Romance Series is not meant to take the place of historical research into the era where the Mandans thrived and eventually dwindled in numbers.

The resources I used in research include (but are not limited to) the following:

The North American Indian (volume 5) written and published by Edward S. Curtis (1909).  (book)

Mandan Social and Ceremonial Organization  (book)
Alfred W. Bowers
foreword by Gerard Baker
2004 University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska
original 1950 by The University of Chicago

A trip to Bismarck, North Dakota in 2011 to see Mandan artifacts and read on their traditions and myths at the Heritage Center and a visit to the On-A-Slant Indian Village (south of Mandan, North Dakota) where the earthen lodges, drying platforms, and historical items kept in one of their lodges is available for touring.   For anyone interested, I did take pictures and videos while there that I put into two videos via Animoto.

It’s not the best video in the world, but my area of expertise isn’t making videos.  😀

I also did some Internet research, but when in doubt, I referred to the books since I’m old school enough (thanks to my college degree) to believe that the most authentic resources are the oldest ones and those published with a reputable publisher.  I take Internet research with a grain of salt.

Anyway, it is from this that the of the dying number of full-blooded Mandans and the white man’s intrusion into their world that Bound by Honor, Bound by Love is established.  However, this is primarily the romance between Citlali and Onawa, so 90% of the stuff I learned never made it into the book.  LOL

But I will admit that every time I look at the video I made and think of how history has played out (the last full-blooded Mandan died in 1971), I tear up.  The bulk of the series has been the struggle for the Mandans to preserve their way of life.  But inevitably the tides of change was too powerful for them to fight, and that’s the ultimate conclusion that is reached at the end of the book.  So I consider the ending of Bound by Honor, Bound by Love to be a bittersweet one.  For Citlali and Onawa, it’s a happy ending, but for the tribe, it means accepting that they would never recapture their past glory.

Story excerpt from Bound by Honor, Bound by Love

One thing I wanted to put in this book was a Mandan wedding.  Below is the scene I wrote for it.  Please note that this has not been proofread or edited yet.  It is the first draft…

Onawa’s father entered the lodge with the white buffalo robe, and Onawa’s heartbeat picked up.  It was time for the ceremony.  Taking a deep breath, she tucked away the pouch full of herbs with her belongings and approached her father.

“Are you ready?” her father asked her.

“Yes, I’m ready.”

“Good.  I’ll tell Citlali it’s time,” he replied with a kind smile before he left.

Gulping, she returned his smile.  She took a deep breath and placed her hands over her stomach in an effort to settle her stomach.  She couldn’t eat anything that morning.  Her aunts whispered their congratulations to her and Woape wished her luck in a tone that indicated her uncertainty, but Onawa didn’t give it much thought.  Outside the lodge, she heard her father talking to Citlali.  She wiped her clammy hands on her dress and waited by the fire pit as the other women departed from the lodge.

This was it.

Her father entered the lodge, still holding the white robe, but her gaze fell to Citlali who followed close behind.  Would she ever get over the initial thrill of seeing him?  He removed his brown buffalo robe and set it to the side of the fire pit.  She took in his silky black hair that fell down his back and his slender frame which was covered with a deerskin tunic shirt and leggings.  He wasn’t a hunter, so he lacked the muscles of some tribal members—a thing some women preferred.  But she liked him just the way he was.

Her father set aside the white buffalo robe so he could lay out a brown robe on the ground.  After he welcomed Citlali and Onawa to sit, he took the white robe and draped it over their shoulders, giving Onawa’s shoulder a squeeze to let her know he was proud of her.  She would have enjoyed her father’s praise had she not been preoccupied with Citlali.  They sat so close to each other that their legs touched, and her body flushed with pleasure at the physical contact.

They’d be touching each other for the rest of their lives.  For a moment, she recalled what Woape had told her of the wedding night.  Woape said she wanted Onawa to know what to expect so she wouldn’t be nervous, but in some ways, knowing how and where Citlali would be touching her that evening created a greater surge of anxiety.  She hadn’t even kissed him.

Her brother entered the lodge with four horses, and Onawa noted the strength in the stallion and three mares.  They were good horses, some of the best she’d ever seen, and they were a gift from Citlali to her family’s lodge.  The others watching the ceremony murmured their approval at the fine gift before they sat around her and Citlali to share a meal with them.

Around her, their families enjoyed the food.  She managed to eat some of it, but her thoughts kept going back to Citlali who seemed intent on listening to the chief who sat on his other side.  She didn’t pay much attention to what the chief was saying until he said her name.  Startled, she looked up from the corn she was eating and looked over at him.

The chief smiled.  “It is a good day when two of our people who understand our ways and appreciate our tradition join their lives.  May you and Citlali have good health and many children.”

“It is a good day,” Citlali told her, his lips turning up, ever so slightly.

It was the most emotion she’d ever seen from him, and knowing his smile was for her made her heart beat with excitement.  She returned the sentiment and turned her attention back to the corn.  He must care for her to some degree.  Even if they didn’t really know each other, they were forming a foundation for a solid marriage.  She was sure of it.

When the meal ended, Citlali took the white buffalo robe, careful as he carried it to the top of her lodge.  Onawa’s aunts excitedly surrounded her while Citlali addressed her father’s sacred bundle, announcing that the white robe was her father’s gift to the gods.  As expected, one of Citlali’s aunts went to the greet Citlali who gave her the white robe.

Citlali returned to Onawa so they could collect robes and other items.  Her brother, the members of their age-grade societies, and the younger people of the Waxik Ena clan joined them for this task.  Once they were finished with this task, they went to the Okipa lodge where they hung all the items they collected so everyone else could see them.  The white robe hung in the center of the items, proudly on display for all to admire, and this was where Onawa and Citlali stood while the members of the tribe who held the singing rites sang the first sacred song.

During the music, she dared a glance at Citlali.  When he turned his gaze to her, she noted the gentleness in his eyes and offered a nervous smile.  His fingers brushed her hand before he wrapped his hand around hers.  Her heart sped up as a thrill shot straight through her.  Everything would be alright.  This marriage would be a good one.  Reassured, she relaxed and turned her attention back to the singers as they finished the first song.

Citlali let go of her hand so he could retrieve one of the items hanging up.  He picked one of the glass-beaded necklaces and gave it as a gift to his mother.  His mother accepted it, squeezed Onawa’s hand, and whispered, “Thank you for agreeing to live in our lodge so Citlali can continue to provide for us.”

“I’m happy to leave my lodge to go to yours,” Onawa softly replied.

His mother nodded her thanks and went to the white buffalo robe to pray for the success in all of Citlali and Onawa’s endeavors.

The singers sang the next song, and afterwards, they gave more gifts to the wedding guests.  The process continued in an orderly fashion.  The singers would present one of the sacred songs and more people would receive gifts.  In return for giving their gifts, people would offer them an item from their sacred bundles.

Afterwards, the guests who had rights to the corn ceremonies took turns painting the white robe, some choosing simple pictures and others employing more elaborate decorations.  For each thing they added to the robe, they received a gift for their contribution.

When the robe was finished, Citlali turned to Onawa and said, “I’d like to dedicate this ceremony to the Lone Man.”

She expected as much since he was second to the chief, so she nodded her agreement, not that he needed it but she was pleased he thought to get her opinion on the matter.

Citlali carried the robe out of the lodge, and the others followed him so they could watch as he draped it over the sacred cedar which stood in the center of the tribe.  “The white robe now belongs to the WaxiEna Clan,” he told the group.

And with that announcement, the ceremony was complete, and Citlali was now her husband.  Onawa couldn’t stop the smile that lit up her face.  She turned back to her aunts and friends who congratulated her.  When her sister hugged her, she whispered, “I hope he’s good to you.”

Onawa studied her sister’s worried face and asked, “Why wouldn’t he be?”

Woape shrugged.  “I don’t know, Onawa.  When it comes to Citlali, I never knew what he was thinking or feeling.  I hope it won’t be the same for you.”

As Julia came over to hug Onawa, Onawa refused to let Woape’s apprehension affect her.  Citlali was a good man.  He’d be good to her.  She was certain of it.


And of course, there will be some obstacles the two newlyweds will face in the book or else there would be no plot.  😀

Like I said, I should have this book published at the end of August or early September.  I’ll announce when it’s ready on this blog.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to
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6 Responses to Bound by Honor, Bound by Love (Finally Nearing the End of the First Draft)

  1. dorothypaula says:

    Dear Ruth, this is wonderful news. As I already have read and have the paperbacks for the first two books of the series, I am excited and anxious to read this this third and final installment. And when the paperback is also available, please let me know, so I can complete the set. As soon as the e-book is out, I will order a copy.
    P.S. I made some necessary revisions to my new novella “Sunset in Paradise” and republished it. I’ll send you a revised copy. All the best, your devoted fan, Dorothy 🙂

    • I’m glad to finally finish the series. Now it’ll be complete. 😀 This is one of the few books I’ve done where it depends on what happened before it to best understand what is going on. I try to stick to stand alone books so I’m not confined to writing them in order. But I do love this series and am glad it played out the way it did.

      I got your message on FB. Thanks! And I’m sorry you had to go through the hassle of revising it.

  2. Thanks for the excerpt. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any Native American stories. Yours are going on my TBR list along with your other books. I may live long enough to read them all. LOL

    • I would hate to try to keep up with an author like me who seems to be publishing something all the time. LOL Just read the ones that interest you. 😀

      Looking at Bound by Honor, Bound by Love from a reader’s perspective (or at least how I think as a reader), I’d be relieved that it’s shorter because of my massive TBR list and because the book that came before it (Brave Beginnings) was 114,000 words long (don’t know why but that one kept going and going when I was writing it). I actually prefer novellas and shorter novels to the 100,000 word ones. But I’m also a slow reader so maybe that accounts for how I view things.

  3. lornafaith says:

    Really liked the video…you did a good job on it! Also loved the wedding scene…love the historical details you weaved into the plot:-) Thanks for sharing…

    • I had a lot of fun going to North Dakota to check out the Mandan items and lodges. I learned more from being there with the tour guide in 20 minutes than I did from hours of reading. There’s something to be said for taking history in when you’re seeing and touching it as opposed to reading it. I’d like to say a lot more of the book was like the wedding scene, but it’s not because the focus went to the love story. 😀 It’s hard to figure out what to put in and leave out when you’re dealing with fiction and trying to keep it interesting.

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