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.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another Savage Read

I just finished reading Savage Beloved, another Cassie Edwards’ romance filled with throbbing, thrusting, adverbs, and plagiarism. It was dreadful. I knew it would be. It was barely worth the 95¢ I paid for it—used.

In this variation on the Savage theme, Candy Creighton, a petite and sweet blue-eyed blonde, lives at a fort in the middle of Kansas with her despotic father, Colonel Creighton, who keeps the severed head of a Wichita chief under wraps in his study and has recently returned a tortured and dying Short Robe (sorry, no explanation about how he got his name) to his tribe since he wasn’t the one they wanted. They’re going to be leaving the fort soon, but Candy is worried something might happen.

And it does! Before they can leave, the Wichita, led by the hunkie young chief Two Eagles (his uncle’s head is in the jar), ride (they have saddles, just like the Indians in Savage Secrets) to attack the fort, but the Sioux just beat them to it. Only one survivor remains: Candy, who conveniently escapes through a secret tunnel, so Two Eagles grabs her up onto his steed (a word that is frequently repeated just as it was in Savage Secrets) takes her captive, and forces her to wear the bloody and dirty leg irons her now-deceased daddy had put on Short Robe. On the ride to the teepee, they naturally become attracted to each other—while at the same time hating each other (just like the pair in Savage Secrets). Candy, of course, thinks the Wichita killed everybody and burned the fort—which they were going to do if the Sioux hadn’t beaten them to it.

Candy’s blonde mother, like the blonde mother in Savage Secrets, has been gone for some time. Tired of fort life and her despotic husband, she took off a few years earlier to return to civilization and her former career as a dancer. (In Savage Secrets, the mother became an outlaw. There weren’t a lot of career options for women in the 1800s.)

Oh, I nearly forgot! Candy’s devoted pet wolf Shadow (in Savage Secrets, the heroine merely had a puppy) goes missing during the siege. Candy fears the worst. (But you just know—admit it, you do—that this critter Candy raised from a cub will show up.)

In the Wichita village is another blonde, Hawk Woman (formerly Sara—yes, without the h), who is jealous of the attention Candy gets and who wants to marry Two Eagles. You can see where this is going, can’t you? Anyhow, Hawk Woman was rescued from an abusive Mormon husband, Albert Cohen (funny—that name doesn’t sound Mormonish) who is still in the neighborhood with his numerous other wives and children instead of being with other Mormons in Utah or someplace more Morman-y. Anyhow, Cohen’s on the prowl both for Hawk Woman and for any other woman he can marry and force to begat his children. How he supports his big family is anybody’s guess.

Short Robe—before dying—tells Two Eagles about the kindness she bestowed upon him while he was being tortured, so TE removes her irons, invites her into his teepee, and her wolf shows up—slightly singed, but the shaman has an ointment that helps. Things are looking up for Candy, but Shadow, hearing the call of the wild—or at least of the local wolves, takes off from time to time. Plus Hawk Woman is a real pain (especially when she puts the ants in Candy’s bed, but that comes much later).

While TE is attending to funeral details, Candy goes off in search of Shadow, gets lost, and is rescued by Spotted Bear—a former Wichita warrior, who years earlier had the misfortune to be scalped in a battle with the Sioux and who was left for dead. Anyhow, he survived, and knowing that scalped people are considered ghosts, constructed a teepee (which no one has noticed all these years) and did pretty well, thanks to the wolves who looked after him—the same wolfpack that Shadow wants to join. Anyhow, Candy finds Shadow, realizes she is lost, is found by Spotted Bear, meets the rest of the wolves (including Shadow’s husband-to-be, White Wolf), spends the night in Spotted Bear’s dwelling (he sleeps outside) and is pointed the way back to the village the next morning. While she’s walking home, TW finds her. We knew he would.

Anyhow, there are passages of wild passionate love followed by discussions of Wichita customs (Candy and TE’s plagiarized discussion about three buffalo killing two bears during the “Moon of Strawberries” beats the heck out of the plagiarized ferret discussion in Shadow Bear, but not by much). Here’s an excerpt (two pages after a hot time in the ol’ teepee) that’s gotta be plagiarized:

He gestured toward the entranceway. “And the door of all homes of my people is placed on the east side so that the sun may look into the lodge as it rises, while the small circular opening overhead is placed there not only for smoke to escape through, but also so that the sun may look into the lodge at noon, and at night, the star gods are thought to pour down their strength into our homes.”

Then TE talks (in his excellent, albeit stilted, English—all the Wichita speak excellent, albeit stilted, English) about the fire pit, ending with “We Wichita people view our home as a miniature of the universe itself.”

This blog quotes other examples of the Savage Beloved plagiarism–and gives original sources.

Eventually, Spotted Bear rejoins the tribe (turns out he’s TE’s cousin!) after Shadow gets Candy to come help him because he has a fever, so she (Candy, not Shadow) makes a travois and drags him back to the village.

So, it looks like they’ll be happy, except for a few setbacks, like the plague of locusts (but fortunately they’d already harvested the corn a few days earlier). The horses, by the way, eat the locusts (!?) that fall into the corral, but the tribe burns the other locusts. Albert Cohen and his kids come begging right after that and he catches a glimpse of Candy and thinks she’s Sara (er, HW). Candy goes out to gather greens not long after the locust incident, and Hawk Woman—intending to give her a good thrust in the back with a knife—follows her but hides in the woods when Cohen appears and captures Candy. He takes Candy back to his camp where one of his wives turns out to be Candy’s mother (!!??) whom he’d captured years earlier.

Anyhow, Shadow (in the tradition of Rin-tin-tin and Lassie, who weren’t wolves but close enough) confronts HW, which allows TE to get the truth from her about what happened to Candy and to save her (Candy, not HW), which he does by breaking Cohen’s neck, but it’s really Cohen’s fault for squirming while TE had him by the neck.

HW steals a steed from the corral and gallops away in the dark while TE is off saving Candy. Candy’s mother, still fixated on the idea of becoming a dancer again—although she has some age on her now and might be pregnant, doesn’t come home with her daughter but continues on her quest for a civilized place with a dance hall.

Candy—er, she goes by Painted Wings now—and TE wed, have a couple of kids, Shadow has a couple of litters with the white wolf, etc. We never learn what the heck happened to Hawk Woman or Candy’s mom. By this time, we don’t really care.

If you are the sort of reader who enjoys stereotypical characters, contrived and unbelievable plots, improbable coincidences, stilted dialogue, a plethora of adjectives and adverbs, an inconsistent voice, and an incredibly happy ending, you’ll probably love this book.

In fact, you’ll probably love the whole Savage series, but this is the last Savage Anything romance I’ll ever read. I figure if you read one, you’ve read ’em all.

Plus I like to read fiction that rings true.

I’m still puzzling over the horses (er, steeds) eating the locusts. Ewww!



Blogger Debi Kelly Van Cleave said...

I do not know how in the world you can even force yourself to read that stuff!

8:41 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:56 PM  
Blogger Becky Mushko said...

(I deleted my above comment because it had a typo.) This is what I meant to say:

Some reasons:

1. It's so bad, it's actually funny. I like a good laugh.

2. I like figuring out why it was so bad and thinking of ways to fix it.

3. I can use crap like this as examples of bad writing for workshops that I sometimes do.

4. Every so often, I like to read something really bad so the good stuff seems even better.

5. If crap like this can get published, maybe my work stands a chance, too.

8:56 PM

8:59 PM  

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