Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Friday, March 07, 2008

More Savage Secrets

I finished the book. It was dreadful! I expected it to be so.

According to my buddy ’Nita, “There is a formula to bodice rippers. Any hack can write them.”

Here’s the formula she sent me:

Literally there is nothing to writing them. The outline is exactly the same, you need only change a few details. . . .

  • Single, bosom-heaving heroine goes to new location, encounters manly man.
  • New man enters Heroine’s sanctum sanctorium where manly men are unknown.
  • Heroine is distressed by manly man's Manly-ness, runs from it.
  • Manly man, is over come by Heroine's 'Womenliness' and pursues, minor romantic interlude before center of book.
  • Heroine/manly man cannot be with Manly man/heroine for some stupid reason. (Insert stupid plot point here.)
  • Insert stupid manly man's (usually) misunderstanding.
  • Now clunk around for 80 pages of alleged plot development describing clothes, aching loins, whining loss of each other, and failure to see the obvious way around the reason they cannot be together.
  • Fifty pages before the end they are 'Thrust' together, realize they cannot be apart, so they overcome the obstacle and ravish each other. . . .
  • The last chunk of pages is the happily ever after wrap-up.

By Jove, I think she’s got it! This is exactly the plot of Savage Secrets:

Following her father’s death, Rebecca Veach goes to Wyoming to search for her long-lost brother Edward who supposedly died in the Civil War but Becky learns is a wanted outlaw, but he’s really searching for their mother, who abandoned them after Becky’s birth and ran off with an outlaw, although Becky doesn’t know this (although Edward does because he has Mom’s diary). When the train enters Wyoming, Chief Blazing Eagle and his homeboys—er, warriors—stop the train and have a little fun but don’t hurt anyone, although Mr. Eagle is immediately attracted to Miss Veach, who is attracted to him although she sort of hates him for kidnapping her, and he takes her with him back to his village. After hours of sharing the same saddle (an impossibility unless they’re both anorexic), she becomes attracted to him too, but she still kind of hates him for kidnapping her.

Anyhow, despite the mutual physical attraction, Brave Eagle gives Becky Veach a horse and sends her to Fort Laramie (hours away at a hard gallop) where she tells the major she wants to speculate in real estate and he takes her to a soddy that’s for sale. BV has assumed because BE has a son that he’s married (not any more; he’s divorced because his wife left him when their son was young to return to her village to take care of her elderly parents) so she tries to control her lust for him and concentrate on finding her brother. BV makes curtains for the soddy from one of her petticoats and adopts a puppy who just happens to be roaming around out in the middle of nowhere. She names the pup Pebbles.

Anyhow, she and BE cross paths a bunch of times and, while in town, she glimpses the back of the golden-haired outlaw who must be her brother but can’t catch him and BE appears to save her from all the shooting, galloping, etc. To make an interminably long story short, they eventually make love, get married, etc., but BE has issues. If they make wild passionate love and a thunderstorm comes up immediately afterwards, BE has flashbacks to a traumatic time in his life, and BV reminds him of another woman with golden hair who saved him when he was a child and his village was destroyed by outlaws who killed everyone else. (A chief of a neighboring clan adopted him as his own son). He then kicks her out, never wants to see her again, etc. When she’s back in the soddy, Edward visits her and explains that their mother is still alive and is the real golden-haired outlaw and he has her diary to prove it, so they go to the fort where he is arrested and the soldiers are going to attack BE’s village because a bunch of settlers were killed but it was actually the outlaw band which has disbanded following the death of BV & EV’s mother’s outlaw husband (but we don’t know this yet) so BV & EV take a short-cut to gallop to BE’s village to warn them, etc. Eventually, things work out OK—BE realizes that it was BV’s outlaw mother who was there when her husband’s outlaw gang wiped out his village, the mother turns herself in to save EV, who returns to St. Louis and becomes a successful businessman, and BE & BV prepare to move the village to Canada, even though she is three-months pregnant, when his ex-wife appears with the daughter that he didn’t know he had, but the ex is dying and wants him to have the kid, so they happily take her in and everyone lives happily ever after.

Sheesh! Every so often, the author interrupts the flow of the story (such as it is) to insert some factual info about the Cheyenne (which she plagiarized from George Bird Grinnell, The Cheyenne Indians: Their History and Ways of Life, U. of Nebraska Press 1972. (Thanks to Wombat, who pointed this out in a comment about my original post.)

I thought I would never get through Savage Secrets. It is the worst book I’ve read in the last six months. Now I’ve got to read some good stuff to clear my brain. (Yesterday, I bought Jodi Picoult’s Nineteen Minutes. That ought to do it.)

The good thing about reading a dreadful book is that it makes you appreciate good writing even more.

Note: If you’d like to download a pdf that contains numerous documented instances of Cassie Edwards’ plagiarism, you can get it here.

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