Thursday, March 5, 2009

Untamed by Pamela Clare *****

I think I'm about to start a new glom - for Pamela Clare - this was so wonderful! If she had not used " 'twas " and " 'twould " so much in her narrative from the hero's POV, it might have been perfection!! (ok, it's a small quibble, but it did get slightly old...)

OK - like the first book in the series, Surrender, this one is a swashbuckling tale that takes place in 18th century North America, during the French and Indian War. The MacKinnon brothers were raised in the Colonies after their family was evicted from Scotland following Culloden. Now adults, they have been pressed into service by the British. This puts them in an awkward position, since Scotland and France were allies, and the brothers were Catholic (like the French) in an era when the British didn't even sanction Catholic ceremonies like weddings. But the brothers led the Rangers anyway, to save each others' lives as well as those of their men and their Mohican friends.

Morgan is now the Captain of the Rangers, since Iain left the Rangers to be with his wife and child (see Surrender). On a mission to Fort SomethingOrOther (jeez, I canna keep them straight), he is shot while trying to save one of the Rangers, and taken captive. The French intend to get him well enough to torture then hand him over to the local Indians after he spills the info so they can burn him at the stake. Nice fellows all.

Amalie is a young French woman whose father is an officer there at Fort SomethingOrOther. Her mother, an Indian of that tribe wanting to burn Morgan (Ok, yeah, I should keep the book nearby for notes), died when Amalie was only 2, and she was raised in a convent. She's - what, visiting? living with Papa at Fort SOO when he is killed - by the Rangers, no less. Her guardian, another officer, wants to return her to the convent, especially since she keeps rebuffing the advances of a potential husband, Lt. Rivillieux. But for now it's too dangerous for her to return.

Morgan tries to die from his wounds so that he doesn't have to face the French torture and the Indian fire, but with Amalie's nursing, recovers. In fact, while she is nursing him to wellness, he is growing more and more aware and fond of her. But he maintains control, even when she is pushing him to kiss her - she's such a naif, she doesn't even realize what she is doing - because he realizes his dilemma - he must leave her, he's partially responsible for her father's death (she forgave him anyway) and he will have to rejoin the Rangers and continue to fight the French.

She suffers from the knowledge that she is nursing a man who may be killed - and when she learns he is Catholic, and indeed an honorable man, she falls in love with him and does what she can to save him. In fact, she convinces her guardian to allow him to join their side! Since this officer has already informed the British that Morgan actually died from his wounds, it seems he might be able to do this - at least temporarily, while attempting to both spy for the British and escape back to them as well.

When the guardian finds Amalie and Morgan in a compromising situation - very compromising, even though technically she was still a virgin - he forces them to marry in a Catholic ceremony.

The Rangers manage to intercept some damning evidence, however, that Morgan has joined the French, and even though when he does finally escape (with Amalie) he makes a good case for why he pretended to defect, he is branded a traitor and put in prison. So there is a lot of adventure and tension in the story all the way through.

Well, it's such a good story - lots of action, lots of tension - and man-o-man does she turn up the heat! I enjoyed it as both a good historical page-turner and a realistic romance. In fact, I consider it a true Keeper, better even than Surrender, and I'm not exactly sure why it's better! I just go with my gut feeling when I'm done.

I think this story fits the Spring 2009 Challenge in the Feuds section, since Amalie was on the French side and Morgan fought for the British. The title fits in my A To Z challenge, and it's also a series! 5 stars.

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