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REVIEW: Untamed by Pamela Clare

Dear Ms. Clare,

084395489201lzzzzzzzAfter Michael Mann made the French and Indian Wars sexy, a few authors began to use this mainly forgotten episode in North American history. However, you’ve taken it to a whole new level by using it for not only one but two historical series. Brava you!

Major Morgan MacKinnon knows that, even desperately wounded, he’ll live long enough for the French who’ve captured him to try to beat information out of him. After all, he and his Rangers have bedeviled the French and their allies for years now with superior woodland and soldiering skills. A chance to extract vital details from him about the Rangers and their British overlords will not only be militarily beneficial but also an opportunity for a little revenge. But it will take more than the French can dish out for Morgan to break. He’ll never betray his brothers in arms.

Yet he wouldn’t be human if his blood didn’t run cold at the thought of what the French commander plans to do with him after the interrogation. The Abenaki, one of France’s Indian allies, have long hungered for revenge for the attack the Rangers carried out against an Abenaki village. And as the French gleefully tell Morgan, he’ll feed the fires – literally – of Abenaki hatred. His only option to avoid a fate worse than death is to tell General Bourlemaque what he wants to know and then the commander will see to it that Morgan, a Catholic Highlander, is given last rites and killed quickly. Some choice.

Which is why Morgan refuses it until Amalie Chauvenet, the young metisse daughter of a now dead French officer, offers Bourlemaque the key to turning Morgan. After he tells the lovely woman who nursed him back to health about how he and his brothers were forced to fight for the British even though their historical loyalty was to the French allies of the Highlanders dispossessed after the failed Rebellion of ’45, she sees the opportunity for Bourlemaque to enlist Morgan for the French. He can then fight for a Catholic king and thumb his nose at the British officer who blackmailed him into the service of England. For Morgan it’s a chance for life. But only if he can keep the French from realizing the double game he’s embarked on.

“Untamed” is a bit of a throw back to the historical novels of yesteryear. It’s longer than many books published lately and uses a different setting. It’s packed with historical details which add to the feel of the story and features some genuine conflicts and long term consequences. The hero is noble in thought, word and deed so the dilemma he faces is truly agonizing for him. The heroine has real reasons to initially hate him since he and his men were responsible for the death of her father and did do the deed – though they had their reasons – for which the Abenaki seek revenge.

War is ugly and we see that in full throughout the book. Spying is something that most men of the age thought abhorrent and we see that too. Violence is real and always lurking to snatch those who aren’t strong enough or wily enough to escape it. Life is rough during this book and you don’t sugar coat that. As Morgan says, the frontier is a hard place, especially on the women.
Even though the rest of the review is going to state what I didn’t like or that bothered me, keep these two paragraphs in mind to explain my final grade. Okay on to what bugged me.

Enough with the heroine’s hair! In case someone misses the 23 references to it, let me say the heroine has long, beautiful, wavy hair. This doesn’t change over the course of the book and no one’s opinion of it changes so I’m mystified as to the reason to be told again and again about it. Same with Morgan’s height and the size of his arms. He’s big all over and I say that with both a straight face and a smirk.

As for the Rangers, I couldn’t help thinking of them as full sized dwarfs as they walked with Amalie and Morgan away from the fight with the Abenaki. They’re just so sweet and bashful towards Snow White – ah, sorry – Amalie. However, I did enjoy the male comradeship complete with the wounded Ranger Morgan’s trying to carry while under fire from the French yelling to him, “You run like a lass! Can you no’ go faster?”

How is it that Lady Anne has acquired a Highland brogue? I can see a little vocal assimilation over the course of her marriage but sheesh, she sounds like a wee Highland lassie now. And why would she have lost her title of Lady? As the daughter of an Earl, wouldn’t she carry it for life no matter who she married?

I will admit to skimming almost all the love scenes. I’ve read them countless times before in other books and after reading one here, saw that they would offer nothing new.

The middle section of the book sagged a bit after Morgan had started playing his double crossing game with Bourlamaque. Lots of his and hers lusting, tons of scenes of Amalie shedding her innocence as she’s awakened to the flames of passion, lots of smoldering hate with Rillieux – who was basically nothing but a puppet villain though I was happy that once he was out of the book, there was no chance of him suddenly showing up again to cause one last conflict.

Och, the Highland brogue. There isna a page of the book wi’out it. Something I kenned early on. Those who cannae stand it will either hafta put up wi’ it or bail out early. But I did learn several interesting new Gaelic words such as how to call someone a whoreson. “Macdiolian” for those who want a new curse word for their vocabulary. Never let it be said romance books aren’t instructive.

Why is it that all heroes of the French and Indian Wars books have to look like Daniel Day Lewis? Complete with long, dark braided hair, blue arm tattoos and buckskin clothes? Please God, give me a blond hero someday.

But at least there’re real conflicts going on here. Morgan is faced with a horrible death or betraying his brothers and brothers in arms. He also sees what life could be for him serving under the command of an officer he respects and also one who is Catholic. By books end, he is torn at the thought of either losing Amalie or taking her with him into a life on the run from both sides.

No doubt Connor will have his story in due time yet I can’t help but want to see Lord William Wentworth brought to his knees by some strong woman. I await either or both with intense interest. Thanks for not leaving us hanging with this series. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format (Kindle only as far as I can see).

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

26 Comments

  1. Ann Somerville
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 04:08:46

    Those who cannae stand it will either hafta put up wi' it or bail out early.

    I’d bail. I overdosed long ago on this stuff with Highlander fanfiction.

    As for the hair…I think historical writers need to remember that prior to the invention of shampoos and the popularity of daily bathing, most women’s hair would be heavy with natural oils, and not exactly lovely to the modern eye. It would also smell.

    Why is it that all heroes of the French and Indian Wars books have to look like Daniel Day Lewis?

    Because Last of the Mohicans was the only film in which Day Lewis looked like a genuine hunk and they’re spinning out the fun?

    Neat man titty nipply cover though.

  2. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 04:24:53

    It’s a testament to how much I was enjoying the book that I didn’t bail at the brogue. It’s something that usually drives me batshit. However, to her credit, Clare carried it out consistently throughout the book. I hate faux brogue but I hate it worse if it comes and goes during the book.

    Yeah, he was hunky. I watched a wee bit (stop that, Jayne! ::slaps hand::) of the movie this weekend and he’s still hunky. But can’t authors change haircolor or leave out the tattoos or something? Anything so I don’t think they’re looking at the DVD cover of that film as they write their initial description of the hero?

  3. Ann Somerville
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 04:38:52

    I hate faux brogue but I hate it worse if it comes and goes during the book.

    Oh aye :)

    The thing about writing Scots is that half of it is pronunciation and half of it is vocab. If the writer would leave out stupidities like ‘dinna’ and put in genuine Scots words, they’d do much better. Unfortunately, I think a lot of them learned their Scots from Adrian Paul.

  4. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 04:43:49

    The thing about writing Scots is that half of it is pronunciation and half of it is vocab. If the writer would leave out stupidities like ‘dinna' and put in genuine Scots words, they'd do much better.

    Yes, yes, yes! And it goes the same for the Irish characters as well. I will say that if an author makes the effort with the character’s pattern of speech, I actually enjoy reading such dialogue.

  5. Jill Myles
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 06:47:04

    Which is why Morgan refuses it until Amalie Chauvenet, the young metisse daughter of a now dead French officer, offers Bourlemaque the key to turning Morgan.

    So the heroine is part Native American, part French? That’s a nice twist – usually it’s the hero.

  6. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 07:27:09

    Yes, she is actually a quarter Abenaki. Her mother was a mix of Abenaki and (I assume) French. Amelie has been raised in a convent as her mother died when Amelie was very young so Amelie knows only a little of the language though she seems up on the customs and what’s awaiting Morgan should he be handed over to them. There’s a nice, and I think accurate, touch that the French were much more accepting of her and her heritage than the English.

  7. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 07:30:46

    More on Amelie. I liked the relationship she had with her father. Though he dies early in the book, and his death is an initial source of conflict between Amelie and Morgan, they were obviously close and he’s not one of these awful romance fathers who’s an idiot. He’s taken care to provide for Amelie in the event of his death and he cares deeply for her as she cares for him.

  8. Keishon
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 09:17:24

    I’ve never read her and would like to but looking at Fictionwise, they only have two of her books in “e” and I don’t do paper and I don’t own a Kindle (shudder). However, I do have a few of her books in my TBR stacks so I’ll read one of those, one day in the future.

  9. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 09:29:50

    I am gobsmacked that this isn’t in any e-format except Kindle now. Is the first book in the series, “Surrender,” an ebook yet?

  10. Keishon
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 09:47:42

    The only books in “e” that this publisher has to offer is for her contemporaries – no historicals unless you own another device. I don’t mean to hijack your thread with my complaints of ebooks/publishers but with this ecomony, publishers will learn that the best way for them to weather the storm will be to go digital.

  11. jennie
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 09:59:49

    You had me until the brogue part. Why can’t authors get that when it come to dialect, a little goes a long way?

  12. KristieJ
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 10:07:23

    I adore Pamela’s books – both historical and romantic suspense and this one is no exception. Usually I find brogue in books somewhat annoying, but in the case of this series it just seems to work for me. I LOVE the setting. She’s a vivid writer and makes the reader feel like she’s right there along with the characters. And I got a chuckle out of the fact that you skimmed the love scenes. I do that in many a book, but that’s one of the ways that Pamela Clare soars I think. She writes great AND hawt love scenes and she’s one author I don’t skim ;-) when it comes to that part.

  13. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 10:25:05

    The only books in “e” that this publisher has to offer is for her contemporaries – no historicals unless you own another device. I don't mean to hijack your thread with my complaints of ebooks/publishers but with this ecomony, publishers will learn that the best way for them to weather the storm will be to go digital.

    I’m just…I’m…I can’t believe that this book, at least, isn’t out as an ebook. As you say, publishers need to have a book available in whatever form it can be bought in so that people can – get this – buy it!

  14. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 10:28:10

    Usually I find brogue in books somewhat annoying, but in the case of this series it just seems to work for me.

    Isn’t it great how a good author, or an author you’re enjoying, will make you want to read something that usually drives you up the wall?

  15. cecilia
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 11:08:46

    @Jayne: And yet, this book is not an exception. The last several books I’ve been interested because of reviews here are not available in ebook form. Go figure.

  16. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 11:25:27

    Amazing. Here are customers wanting to hand you money for your books in this time when the economy is headed for the crapper and the format they’re looking for is not there. What’s the deal?

  17. joanne
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 14:55:51

    I’ve got my brand new, shiny (still in the box but I hope it’s shiny) ereader and I’m making a list of all the authors I want to put on it (in it?) so when I see a good review like this one I write the title & author down.

    So, the question is: WTF? I can’t believe there are people in the publishing business who are so ignorant about the ebook market. It is seriously wrong for both the authors and the readers.

    @Ann Somerville– I read your free short story online and enjoyed it so much, thank you for putting the link up. I found you and a few other authors there that I’m putting on/in my shiny new ereader contraption…. when my son comes home to help me.

    I’m a technology-idiot but I want to buy e-books. This one, too.

  18. Ann Somerville
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 15:03:36

    Here are customers wanting to hand you money for your books in this time when the economy is headed for the crapper and the format they're looking for is not there.

    If Amazon had *any* idea how much more money they’d make if they let people outside the USA buy the Kindle and/or Kindle content, they would do it yesterday. The logic of not doing so – and things like Sony not selling at least one E-Reader in Australia for instance – escapes me entirely.

  19. Lizzy
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 15:07:09

    Dinna fash yourself, Jayne.

    Oh no: I’ve gone brogue.

  20. Anthea Lawson
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 15:12:32

    What? Are you implying print publishing is behind the times? How could such a thing possibly be?

    (Hands back the knife, liberally smeared with sarcasm)

    PS. lol @ Lizzy! bRogue indeed~

  21. Ann Somerville
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 15:13:50

    Oh no: I've gone brogue.

    Groans from the gallery. :)

  22. Ann Somerville
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 15:22:45

    @joanne:
    You’re welcome.

    And to celebrate your nice new reader, I’ll happily give you any of my free stories you want in PDF or HTML format, if you like. Email me with a list.

  23. Jayne
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 16:36:38

    Oh, good for you joanne! I hope it’s bright and shiny and we give you lots of good suggestions for books to add to it.

    I’m groaning with you Ann and laughing at the same time.

    And publishers not keeping up with what readers want? Never!

  24. KeriM
    Dec 22, 2008 @ 22:07:21

    Oh goody!!! I can’t wait to read one of my new favorite authors…now if her new hawt comtemporary would hurry and make it to my hands. my Christmas would be completed. :-) Keri

  25. Heather
    Dec 23, 2008 @ 19:15:22

    I love Pamela Clare…both her historicals and contemporaries are just wonderful. She really does know how to make you feel like you’re right there with the characters. She gives me a great love story, and a wonderful history lesson. She makes history so interesting, not boring at all (and I did not like history in school). The words she uses, and the flow, always makes a great “movie in my mind”. Quite honestly, I wish she could quit her day job and write full-time, I’d love to get more books out of her.

  26. Review: Untamed, by Pamela Clare | Racy Romance Reviews
    Jan 11, 2009 @ 07:37:41

    […] Dear Author, Jayne, B […]

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