Maggie's Wish

The Marrying Kind

Tempting Miss Prissy

 
Untamed by Sharon Ihle
(Zebra, $5.99, R) ISBN 0-8217-6310-5
****
Set in the Montana Territory of 1886, Untamed is a sexy, humorous, fast-paced romance. This book contains some wonderful characters and employs a rather interesting writing technique to keep the readerís attention.

Watching helplessly while her mother dies giving birth convinces Josie Baum she wants nothing to do with sex -- what she calls the ďhurdy-gurdy.Ē That combined with cooking, cleaning and helping raise the many, many male children of her motherís second marriage has soured Josie completely on the idea of marriage and raising any more children -- especially little boys.

Josie wants to run a ranch; she hates being left behind to baby-sit, cook and clean while the men are outside having all the fun. But just because she doesnít want a baby doesnít mean she isnít interested in the preliminaries. After Josieís stepfather catches her kissing a boy he throws her out of his home and drops her off at the local whorehouse. Josie cleans for the women and makes friends with Sissy, one of the prostitutes.

A former army scout, Daniel McCord decides to return to his motherís Northern Cheyenne tribe; he wants to help his people. Daniel feels guilty that his Irish fur-trader father defrauded the Indians and helped kill off the buffalo, which once was so plentiful. He takes a Cheyenne wife; she dies leaving Daniel with twin sons who are currently being raised by their Cheyenne grandmother.

Daniel is alone in his home in the Montana mountains nursing a broken leg until his brother-in-law, Long Belly, decides Daniel should have a woman to take care of his needs. Long Belly goes to the local whorehouse because he has heard that you can buy women there. Over Josieís loud protests, he purchases Josie (because he thinks Daniel will like her) and Sissy (because she has hair like that of the sacred Buffalo) and takes them back to Danielís cabin.

Daniel is more than a little surprised and displeased with Long Bellyís ďgift.Ē The snow prevents Josieís immediate return and, due to the limited space and furniture in Danielís cabin, they are forced to share a bed. Josie lets Daniel believe sheís a prostitute and that she canít cook or clean. Although Daniel would never force a woman, heís very attracted to Josie and has difficulty keeping his hands -- and various other body parts -- to himself.

Josie is a fully realized character; sheís very complex with many flaws and much strength. At times she can be nasty, selfish, and immature. At other times she is giving, brave and very mature. Itís refreshing to have a heroine with so many sides to her personality; itís also refreshing to have a heroine who doesnít believe she was born to be a mother.

Daniel is also given a fully developed personality and the secondary characters, Sissy and Long Belly, arenít shortchanged, either. In addition, Ms. Ihle employs an interesting technique in segueing from one chapter to the next. For instance, she ends a chapter with Josie firing a gun and then in the next chapter she turns the clock back a few minutes and sets up Daniel and what he was thinking right before Josie fires the gun.

At first, I found this time and perspective switching to be a bit disconcerting. After I got used to it, I liked the way it prolongs the tension in the story -- it makes you work a little but it certainly keeps your attention as does the fast-paced story line.

--Judith Flavell


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