Igashu and Helki are two young men in a small native tribe hidden away in a valley of the Rockies near one of the new national parks around the turn of the twentieth century. The two young men are very close, but soon they will face a tribal ritual: the bow and basket ceremony. The boys who choose the bow will become warriors and hunters - men - while those who choose the basket will have a more domestic life and join the Two Spirit people - homosexuals. It's a very black and white choice. Helki knows his place is with the Two Spirit people, and chooses the basket, but he has no desire to dress as a woman. Igashu loves Helki, but he is his father the chief's only son and so feels compelled to choose the bow.
Their choices made, the two young men set out on separate paths. Helki quickly becomes the village's spiritual guide while the conflicted Igashu sets out on his spirit quest, where he encounters his first white men, as well as a creature that haunts his past as well as Helki's.
“Two Hearts Two Spirits” is a rather different kind of tale from the author's Jan Phillips stories, aside from the heavy influence of history. Although the specific tribe that Igashu and Helki belong to is made up, the other elements of the story ring true, although I must say that Native American culture is one of those things I don't know as much about as I'd like. This is a nice little story that's hard to categorize, aside from as a historical. I wouldn't really put a romance label on it, although it appears several readers have. Neither does it fit well into paranormal or shifter categories, although it has those elements to it. If forced, I would be tempted to describe it as an adventure story.
While this is a very short work (just over 100 pages in print) the author does an excellent job of defining the characters. Igashu in particular comes across as a complete, three-dimensional personality. Helki is perhaps a little less well defined, but it's easy to see that as intentional, given his role as a mystic. The story certainly leaves you wanting to know more about the two men and how their relationship develops, but it's not like you'll finish the book feeling like there are too many loose ends, as happens all to often with novellas this length. The arc of the story is complete as it stands.