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ORDEAL by Deanie Francis Mills

ORDEAL

By Deanie Francis Mills

Pub Date: May 19th, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-94202-5
Publisher: Dutton

 A supermom with a fearsome past must relive it or lose all she holds dear--in a moody, symbol-ridden melodrama (and first hardcover) from Mills. At 34, Wren Cameron, a science teacher in a suburban San Antonio school, is happily married with two children. Although seemingly without a problem worse than a rebellious 15-year-old son, Daniel, her picture-perfect life is shattered by the unexpected reappearance of Jeremiah Hunter, the charismatic militia chieftain who had lured her from SMU 16 years earlier. Then known as Elizabeth (Lissie) Montgomery, Wren escaped her Svengali when the FBI mounted a bloody raid on his encampment in Louisiana. Older and wiser (though still a federal fugitive herself), Wren refuses the magnetic parolee's invitation to rejoin his movement. In short order, Hunter kidnaps Wren and Daniel, transporting them to a remote base in the west Texas wilderness, where he and his so- called Armageddon Army prepare violent strikes against government and society. Self-indulgence apart, the cult's leader wants Wren (and her explosives expertise) for an assault on Buck Leatherwood, a wealthy industrialist and vocal advocate of stricter gun-control laws. After one harrowing failure to break away, Wren (disturbed by the realization that Daniel is beginning to respect his macho abductor) draws spiritual strength from her Cherokee heritage and ostensibly submits to Hunter's will. But she sabotages the bombs meant to kill Leatherwood in his Midland office, and a concurrent bank robbery goes wrong as well. With Daniel as hostage, Hunter flees the scene in cowardly haste, and only Wren knows where they might be holed up. Before she can return her son to the family he now prizes, Wren must play the role of an avenging angel. A Texas tall-tale complete with trendy exemplars, including a gutsy heroine who sets great store by animist vision quests, which adds an arresting new dimension to the concept of mother love.