Set in the late 1700s and early 1800s, this dramatic historical novel is a page-turning book with robust characters. Daniel Burns struggles with the love of two women and persistent nightmares as he fights real and imaginary foes. The book steeped in the substance of life itself: happiness, sorrow, romance, action and conflict. The true-to-life characters taste both defeat and victory in roller coaster events.
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The hero is Daniel Burns, a talented young man considered a prize catch by the young women in the frontier town of Oakville, situated atop the Cumberland Plateau not far from the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Daniel's attempts to choose the perfect woman drives him into bizarre reactions while jealous and deadly enemies stalk him and his former gentrified classmates even before he reaches full manhood.
True to the times, the many colorful characters of the novel do not change the sources or outcomes of historical events as they actually occurred. Except for well-known historical figures such as Andrew Jackson and leaders of the various Native American nations, the characters are fictional and any resemblance between real people and the people of the book is coincidental. The tale of the honey-skinned Lydia Gray Eyes, a Cherokee ancestor of the author, is based upon family legend.
Daniel, sometimes called the Prince of Oakville, is born under the shade of The Birthing Tree, a giant oak which was a favorite resting place for wagon trains clunking down from narrow mountain passes on their way to the west and south during the 1790s and early 1800s. The Birthing Tree, one of the inspirations for the novel, still stands on the eastern edge of the small City of McMinnville amid the sparkling streams, waterfalls, caverns and rolling hills of Middle Tennessee. The tulip oak is more than 400 years old and still stands strongly as the town sentinel and a reminder of past adventures.
Regretfully he admitted to himself to late that he was extremely attached to Emma and unfairly, he admitted to himself, compared the two young women. When, as a boy, he confessed the nightmares to Emma, she comforted him and predicted the torturous dreams would go away. They didn’t, but too late he realized he made the wrong choice for a bride. He struggled to drive Emma from his head, but her face appeared before his mind with worrisome regularity.
Daniel came upon her unexpectedly two days ago, although she failed to see him. Daniel was walking down the angelica trail reminiscing about happier times when he saw her through the trees, frolicking with abandon along with Shirley Blake. The way the sun struck her as she bent to remove her shoes made her appear to Daniel as an innocent goddess. Looking guardedly over their shoulders, the two young women removed their empire-style dresses and petticoats, placed them over a low-hanging spruce branch and entered the creek. Daniel watched them play, splashing each other with sideway strokes of water and laughing. Daniel brushed some leaves aside on the ground, sat and smiled; he moved his knees close, crossed his arms on them, rested his chin on his folded arms and prepared himself for private entertainment, feeling no guilt whatsoever. After the young women emerged from the creek, soaking wet in clinging satin knee-length pantaloon knickers and with saturated silk chemises tightly adhering to their breasts, Emma loosened the tight bun imprisoning her hair at the back of her head. The thick, dampened auburn-colored locks spilled down her smooth back, floating and billowing richly in the drying wind and falling down to end with curving strands of curls caressing her tiny waist. Strange he’d never noticed how small her waist was, almost small enough for him to encircle it with his hands. The light appeared to flicker, because Emma moved about quickly and the intervening trees appeared to be moving, so his vision of her was only partially shaped. He caught glimpses of her perfect forehead, her rounded breasts and shapely thighs. He slapped his head in a failed effort to destroy the forbidden images and feelings rising in his mind. He rose with a start, realizing his voyeurism took a heavy measure of time. He headed for home, his miserable home where he’d be expected to account for each minute of his time away from it. His head was filled with images of Emma. But it was not her prettiness that captivated him, like it was with Priscilla’s, but he longed for and missed greatly Emma’s beautiful ways. He smiled painfully as he remembered her affection for her cello Sebastian.
He and his bride now resided in Enoch’s spacious home behind the trading center. Priscilla insisted that her papa would miss her too terribly if she followed Melinda’s request to move into a suite at her mansion. Daniel bowed to his bride’s wishes, comforted by the knowledge that they’d have their own home within a year. He was to learn quickly that under Enoch’s roof, she reigned supreme and that her father, as tough a negotiator as could be found on God’s green earth, was little more than her servant and he expected Daniel to be his willing ally in catering to Priscilla’s demands. “Papa,” she’d order, “please ask the servants to make less noise when crashing about in the kitchen.” Within minutes Daniel could hear Enoch shouting noisily at the household staff. Or, “Papa, the beef was overly strong, overdone and too tough.” Enoch would furiously order the cook to discard the offending dish and quickly replace it with something edible.
Knowing Daniel 5 stars
Review by Christy Hill for the Tallahassee Democrat:
Mick Jett knows how to capture his audience. In Knowing Daniel, he takes his readers back in time to early America where we meet Daniel, our main character. A good-natured, but adventure-driven father, Jacob, leaves Daniel and his loving, protective mother in the town along the caravan trail where he was born. A plot borne of envy starts from the very beginning capturing the interest of the readers and leading them down a long ride of adventure and life-changing decisions for Daniel and his companions.
Jett brings a wealth of drama, romance, culture, history and action making the novel engaging for readers of many genres. Readers will enjoy the characters that intertwine with Daniel's journey through life, some trustworthy and others deceitful. Jett grips his readers with multiple suspense-filled plot points that shape the story and its characters.
The author captures many facets of human emotion. Readers can easily relate to the characters, some for their loving kindness, and others for their ego and envious nature. Jett does an exceptional job creating believable characters and portraying the power and dimension of family bonds.
During the course of Daniel's journey, the reader becomes immersed in the time period. The hardships and joys are palpable from the wagon caravan to the American settlement of Oakville, where Daniel was raised. Daniel's childhood friend, Seth, marries a Cherokee woman and Jett invites his readers in to experience life with a Cherokee tribe. Jett excels at contrasting American and Indian culture without bias. Daniel and Seth cross paths again on the battlefield in the War of 1812. Once again, Jett brings the reader into the experience of war. He does an excellent job of bringing knowledge and background of the time period while continuing to highlight the characters and their personal treks.
Mick Jett brings the story to life by describing so vibrantly both the setting and the personalities encountered in Knowing Daniel. From the first page, readers are drawn to the world of Daniel and continue to turn page after page waiting with excitement to see what happens next. It is easy to see yourself in the story whether with the wagon caravan, in Oakville at the birthing tree, the Cherokee Nation, or in the War of 1812.
- Christy Hill, Special Review Report for The Tallahassee Democrat
Knowing Daniel 5 stars
5.0 out of 5 stars Knowing Daniel, October 6, 2012
By Treetie/Omaha : Knowing Daniel (Paperback)
Knowing Daniel is wonderfully written. You can imagine how the characters looked, how they felt and even how they smelled - Mick's descriptions are so vivid and right on. You find yourself wondering how the characters are " doing" long after you've finished the book. Hoping for a sequel. Help other customers find the most helpful reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars (Paperback)
KNOWING DANIEL WAS A VERY GOOD READ BECAUSE ALL THE CHARACTERS CAME TO LIFE. I FELT THAT I WAS IN THAT TIME PERIOD WITH DANIEL, HIS FAMILY AND ALSO HIS FRIENDS..VERY WELL WRITTEN INDEED! Sonya Marino, New York
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