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Book Review: Untamed by Anna Cowan

Little Gun
So, I read this historical romance that sounded interesting because it has a cross-dressing duke and I was curious how an author would make that work.

SPOILERS abound, so do not read further if you plan to read the book and don't like SPOILERS


Anyway, meet Lydia, who is not the heroine, but her sister and who is committing adultery with the cross-dressing duke (CDD) because she's afraid of her big, clumsy husband who reminds her of her daddy who liked her a bit too much even though he never touched her. All of which we don't find out until 200+ pages into the book. Yeah, that made loads of sense to me, too.

Lydia is also super mean to her ugly, 28yo sister, Kit, who has a crooked nose and crippled hand and a coarse pelt of hair, because she hates her as her then 14yo sister didn't try harder to take her away from daddy (hey, Kit only got beaten to a pulp by daddy dearest, but she should have stood up to him, right?)

Kit is in London much against her will because she doesn't think her bro, Tom, will take good care of the pigs while she's gone and she really doesn't want to be at balls so she's totally rude to the suitors her sister presents her to. Then one evening she decides to spy on a guy having sex with another woman on the piano and she's horrified because he is totally not there while he fucks that woman. And she had met the guy earlier and liked him and now she's all disappointed that he's not there when having sex.

Hence, Kit leaves to go back home to make sure the pigs are taken care of, but the guy she liked and then didn't like blackmails her into taking him with her to her home and he turns up dressed to the nines as a female on departure. Kit's all sad because her home's not fit for a duke and tells him so, but hey, he thinks that means maybe only 25 maids instead 50.

He's taken a bit aback when they arrive and it turns out it's just Ma (yup, that sounded terribly upper class Brit to me, too; all Earl's daughters go by Ma, it's the thing) and Tom, who as expected did not do as he should have by the pigs. Oh and Liza, the maid.  Next the duke maneuvers Kit into sharing her tiny room and bed with him because he's afraid of the dark, no really!  He gets panic attacks, but in a way he's also out to do bad things to Lydia's husband through her family for no apparent reason, or maybe he's not and he just thinks the ugly coarse-pelted woman will somehow magically exorcise all that's wrong with his life by not having sex with him and by absolutely NO WAY ever touching him in a bed meant for one person.

Oh wait, let's talk about bro Tom, who is 26 and a writer and the duke has read his books, but we all know writers don't make shit, so it's totally all right that Kit is out there chopping wood and pulling carrots and doing right by the pigs, while Tom is lounging around with ink-stained fingers doing jackshit to feed the family.  But it's all cool because he couldn't have taken the power away from his older sister... what a prince of a male.  Also, wait for it, he's gay, which totally explains everything, dontcha know?

Let's talk a bit about daddy dearest, who's the villain of the piece.  He's dead, but he was a gambler and he was totally mean, which we are told in bits and vague allusions here and there, and told and told and then told some more.  Daddy dearest loved Kit so very much he brought her up in his image, but then totally out the blue he decided that she was an awful hag and he started hating her and loving on Lydia instead (after breaking Kit's nose and hand and not letting her heal so she's all ugly and crooked now).

And then there's the awful squire who was daddy dearest BFForever and ever and ever and he has some mysterious hold on Kit who has to go to tea every so often which makes her very, very sad.

And Ma, oh, poor Ma, she's doing embroidery to impress the CDD, but it's not hers and she's only pretending and she sits around and stares into the fire a lot.

So, let's count the males, shall we?
1 cross-dressing duke who is mean as shit because he's not his daddy's son and due to that his daddy forbid EVERYBODY to ever ever EVER touch him, the little bastard. He's also kinda working for the Prime Minister. Remember that woman he shagged without being there?  Yup, that was to make Liverpool happy so the woman's husband could get a divorce and he'd vote for Corn Law reform.  CDD has panic attacks and can't breathe and we are supposed to feel very, very sorry for him while he manipulates and lies to everybody.  Also, his first name is Jude, such a common aristo duke offspring name, you will agree.

1 useless, ink-stained brother, whom we are supposed to like because he's a misunderstood writer

1 big lummox of a husband, who desperately loves his wife, but for which we are supposed to detest him, because really, how dare he remind his wife of her daddy who did not sexually abuse her?

1 villainous daddy dearest who lost the family fortune, did not sexually abuse anybody (except his wife maybe?), but who did smash in Kit's face

1 villainous daddy dearest's BFForever and ever and ever who is really acting in Kit's best interest or so he thinks

4 or 5 gay young dandies who hang on the CDD's every word and don't abandon him even when he's a total shit to them

Are we detecting a pattern here?  Is it just me?

In any case, we have a heroine, who so intrigued CDD by telling him that he was nothing but his clothes when she didn't realize he was CDD, he just knows she'll magically cure his panic attacks.  She's ugly, did I mention that?  And her face is all bashed in, but she's single-handedly held the family together for the last 10 years, well except for Lydia who's hated her for the last 14 years because she didn't make daddy dearest stop doing what he wasn't doing.  She's fixed the pigsty and made the cruel and heartless decisions to butcher the pigs (you'll be relieved to hear that a butcher was actually doing that, but she passed the death sentence, the ruthless bitch) and she's chopped up the last wardrobe that winter 2 years ago when they ran out of firewood (obviously paper for bro's writing was more important than keeping Ma warm).  And she's endured whatever dark alluded-to evil deeds villainous squire has perpetrated over the years and just totally sacrificed her ugly self, martyred to the last drop of blood all for her splendid family.

Shall we talk plot holes, loose threads and dangling participles next? No? You have given up?  Awww, don't, we haven't gotten to the good parts yet.  For a long while (till about p 270 of 320) I was convinced the cats must have mixed some opiate into my Michelina dinner, because, damn, I had NO clue who all these people were (Sophie? WTH is Sophie? oh, it's Ma) and what all the allusions and illusions were supposed to tell me.  And I gotta tell ya, that's a lotta words for not saying anything at all that made any sense.  All the things I shared with you above you didn't know until after about p. 270 which made it really hard to understand why all the people were acting like total loons.

Anyway, at the end our intrepid heroine saves the day and CDD yet again by defeating evil bitch woman of the 'I'm not here' sex who has a hate boner for CDD (one can only wonder why) and they live happily ever after.  Except, now that intrepid martyr heroine is super rich from winning all evil bitch's money she's morphed into an industrial magnate, keeps forgetting that her family is expected for picnics, hardly remembers to eat and NEVER remembers she's married. She muses over breakfast (really over reading the financial news) how 'it made her ache, as it always did when she realised how separate they were.' It's so hard to know a CDD when one never spends any time with him because one is an industrial power house.

I figure, by now (a year later) he's gone back to having not-there-sex with lotsa men and women (I did mention we were told a few times he's bisexual, right?) to distract himself from the fact that his richer than Golden Ball wife has no time for him because she's busy doubling her fortune.

So, if you want to read a book about a martyr heroine who is the only competent human being in the world, albeit totally emotionally stinted and love books full of men in distress, this is the book for you.

I'm sure this is supposed to be a deep exploration and bouleversement of the popular damsel in distress trope, and I'm just to dumb to get it, but I'd have appreciated at least one male who wasn't a totally useless shitsack. On the bright side, the WTF kept me reading all 326 pages, although I now would like some of that imaginary dope the cats did not mix into my dinner... Also, bloody is a fabulous British swear word which unfortunately did not make an appearance in this book.

ARC received via Netgalley.

BAD Internet Laws Heading Your Way

Little Gun
Originally posted by write_light at BAD Internet Laws Heading Your Way

From the flist: 



Spread the word, even you're not a US citizen, it is important for everyone!! It easy to do and it can change everything. More info by clicking on the banner.

Website Blocking

The government can order service providers to block websites for infringing links posted by any users.

Risk of Jail for Ordinary Users

It becomes a felony with a potential 5 year sentence to stream a copyrighted work that would cost more than $2,500 to license, even if you are a totally noncommercial user, e.g. singing a pop song on Facebook.

Chaos for the Internet

Thousands of sites that are legal under the DMCA would face new legal threats. People trying to keep the internet more secure wouldn't be able to rely on the integrity of the DNS system.


Read this analysis from boing-boing.net

Get on the phone and call your representative. Express your disapproval. Tell him or her exactly how you feel, and that you don't support this. Tell your friends to call their representatives, their Congressperson, and complain. Mention that you are a registered voter that takes your civic responsibility seriously and that you will use that vote to express your feelings about this.

http://www.rollcall.com/issues/57_60/Internet-Companies-Boost-Hill-Lobbying-210345-1.html?pos=olobh

“We support the bill’s stated goals — providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign ‘rogue’ websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting,” the Internet companies wrote in Tuesday’s letter. “Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites.”  The chamber-led coalition in support of the bill includes Walmart, Eli Lilly & Co. and Netflix.

Google and other opponents of the legislation argue that restricting the Internet in the U.S. sets a bad international precedent and that the language defines infringing too broadly.

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So, Monday

Little Gun
Did everybody else's Monday turn out as awful as mine?  Is there something in the water?  Is it full moon now?   I'm about ready to move into a hermit cave (but with internet access please).

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Is it full moon?

Little Gun
Because the nutcases are out in full force today. That is all.
Little Gun
Sigh. 2011 has been leagues worse than 2010 and I really didn't think that was possible.  That alone should probably have clued me in.

So far in 2011, I dropped my older Sony Vaio (backup) laptop and broke the screen, my 6 year old Dell got a serious virus I can't get off, my newer Sony Vaio laptop died last week (it will boot only partially then turn itself off), I reluctantly bought a new laptop I couldn't afford yesterday, but it's not what I'm used to even though it's a Vaio as well (I assume it's Win 7 causing all the stability issues), the A/C in my car is going flakey and nobody can figure out why it stops working sometimes and now, today, my Sony 505 ereader died.

That recital does not include other pretty serious stuff that's going on, but it covers the technology side.  Can somebody please make it stop now, because I'm about at the end of my tether. :(

That's probably my whine for the year and I return you to your regularly scheduled programming now.  Hope life treats all of you on my friends' list a *lot* better!

Memphis

Little Gun
I'm in Memphis with Dragon and Harvey, hoping to get the last 5 points Harvey needs to become a Grand Premier.  His family sent him off with me with good wishes and crossed fingers, but I figure it wouldn't hurt to ask for some more good wishes sent our way!  :)

Here's the cat formerly known as Tai... :)
Harvey

Lisa, didn't call because I think your parents are still here, but if not and you have no other plans for tonight, please feel free to call me.  I'm on Sycamore View as usual.
Little Gun

These kittens are growing apace.  They are huge compared to our last litter (between 7.7oz and 10.2oz or 218g and 290g) and as you can see they are already trying to walk.  All have their eyes open already as well.  I foresee interesting times! :)
Little Gun
After making me think Wednesday and then again Thursday, and Friday *and* Saturday that she was surely going to have these babies that day, Wildfire finally settled down to things last night.  We have 4 new Firemountain Maine Coonlings, 3 boys and a girl. :)

They are all significantly larger than past litters, between 4oz for the girl and 5.4oz for the biggest boy and mom's labor was quite intense.  Colors are currently open for discussion, most likely the boys are cameos with white (red silver with white) and the girl looks to be a silver patched tabby with white.

Proud daddy is CFA GC Catgo Top Gun of Firemountain, proud mama is Koonikats Wildfire of Firemountain.

Firemountain March 2011 Litter

My top 10 reads for 2010

Little Gun
All but one are historical romance and I'd claim the SF is a rom first as well. :)

Lavinia Kent Bound By Temptation A-
Victoria Dahl A Little Bit Wild A-
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Mouse and Dragon A
Judith James Libertine's Kiss A-
Sherry Thomas His at Night A-
-----------------------------------------
Susanna Fraser The Sergeant's Lady B+
Anne Mallory Seven Secrets of Seduction B+
Jenny Brown Lord Lightning B+

Evangeline Collins Seven Nights to Forever B+
Rose Lerner In for a Penny B-

Both the Lerner and Collins suffered from unsatisfying endings, but the first 2/3s of each book were excellent and I look forward to reading more by these authors.

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