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In 1819 , six months before the arrival of the Calvinist missionaries, Hawaiian Queen Ka'ahumanu destroyed the native religion. The ali'i (nobility) obeyed, and Kahuna (native priests) became criminals--leaving no one to lead the commoners over this difficult transition to Christianity.
Lehua, a coming-of-age ali'i wahine (girl) takes this task as her kulena (noble responsibility). She is also studying to be a hula nui (expert dancer), but this is made difficult by political kidnappers, from whom she is rescued by a half- caste paniolo (cowboy). He, a commoner, takes her on a 19th century road- trip escape up and over Mt. Waialeale during which they fall in love.
The book sets the stage for all the external attacks, seen through Lehua's eyes, that will lead finally to the seizure of the Islands by the United States in 1898.
It is a historical romance--a love story.