Savage Love by Cassie Edwards

(Savage, #18)

Monster Bones - they were the stuff of Indian Legend, which warned that they must not be disturbed. But lovely, golden-haired Dayanara and her father were on a mission for the Smithsonian Institute to track down the mysterious bones and uncover them, despite the danger. Not even her father's untimely death or a dissaproving and disturbingly handsome Indian chief could prevent Dayanara from exploring the untamed Cree lands west of the Missouri River and proving her worth as an archaeologist.

Forbidden. Any relationship between a Cree chief and a white woman was prohibited by both their peoples, but the golden woman of Quick Fox's dreams was more glorious than the setting sun. How could he deny himself her beauty, her soft warmth? Not even her interest in the sacred burial grounds of his people could prevent him from discovering the delights they would know together and proving his...Savage Love.

I'm all for Indian romance as much as the next wanton woman. After all, there's not much in the world that stands sexier than a man with long black hair, a powerfully built chest, and courage in romance novels. Usually the woman ends up giving up quite a bit to be with her red-skinned love, but it always is made up for by the love both partners share. There's something erotic about most of these stories, so when I dug into Savage Love, I prepared myself to be savagely pleased by the tale. Boy, was I wrong.

First and foremost is the plot. Dayanara and her father have traveled with her mother to unearth monster bones, spurred on by the Smithsonian Institute. Nearby the 'bones' is the gently Cree tribe, led by the chief Running Fox, and his adopted white son Little Fox. The romance develops much too quickly without any serious reluctance to join (hence: not enough tension and conflict to keep the story appealing.) As soon as Running Fox sets his eye on Dayanara he immediately begins dreaming of her and in the first few paragraphs through his eyes, already is thinking of making her his wife. They haven't spoken yet either. He thinks to himself that his people will not approve but never gives this much thought. Dayanara of course doesn't either, not even glancing back at her old life with any regrets or indecision.

The only real villain introduced in the plot doesn't come around too often, and his turnabout at the end is rather predictable. I never held my breath in the least with the danger from him, instead of not giving a damn. Not much is explored on how Dayanara comes - or doesn't come - to be accepted by the Indian tribe either. Besides a small meeting in the hut with an unhappy woman, conflict here is explored either.

All these plot points could easily be forgiven, of course, if the story simply read better. Instead it suffered from my second reading sin: melodrama. I almost felt like honey was dripping off the pages after a time. From the unrealistic love, mushy declarations and awkward dialogue, to the lack of tension, I couldn't wait to finish this book simply so I wouldn't have to read it any longer. I hate sounding so harsh, but it really didn't suit me. Surprisingly the beginning was better than the rest of the story, which typically doesn't happen, and it did snare me up for awhile.

Character wise, none seemed real enough because of the stereotypical actions and beliefs. Dayanara seemed enthusiastic and to live for the bones and archeology, but once Running Fox was in her sight, she lost all ambitions to explore this career or anything associated with it. In fact, besides taking a day to finish with the monster bones, it's never mentioned again. I did like Little Fox, especially during an endearing picnic scene.

Sex-scene wise, there was a relatively hot moment, but without much care for the characters and without the right amount of build-up, it didn't affect me the way it usually would. The pace itself is fine for this type of book, but without any real conflict or crisis the pacing doesn't matter much. Edwards has written quite a few books, this being the sixteenth in this series, and I'm assuming her other works stand out prouder than this one. Her style of writing didn't agree with me here, as the sentences were rather short and simple, without much building up tension (romance, sexual, danger, or otherwise), and to the point with phrases brimming of melodrama. The story premise itself is a good one, I just couldn't agree with its execution.

It should be clear I wouldn't recommend this book, but I hate to steer anyone off the series or author altogether. With the number of books she has under her belt, I'm sure she's penned winners out there. Sadly, this just isn't one of them.

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