I first heard about Untamed by Anna Cowan while catching up on the DBSA Podcast—yes, from back in August. But I’m so glad that that I did! In general, I read for characters and inter-character relationships but I have a hard time finding romance books that are written to a high enough standard and have interesting, believable characters. Out-Of-Character (OOC) actions are probably the #1 thing that throws me, as a reader, out of a story. But as soon as I started reading the preview for this book, I knew I was going to have to buy it.
Untamed is a debut novel from Anna Cowan, published by Destiny Romance, an Australian romance imprint for Penguin. It tells the story of Kat Sutherland, the eldest child in a family that has fallen into destitution. Poor and more accustomed to menial labor in the country, Kat takes it upon herself to save her sister from a scandalous affair with the Duke of Darlington by confronting the Duke. This does little more than capture the Duke’s attention, and he engages Kat in an elaborate deception in exchange for leaving her sister’s reputation alone.
On the podcast, they referred to this book as “the one with the cross-dressing duke.” But it’s so much more than that. It has a cross-dressing duke, an alpha female protagonist, clever supporting characters, social machinations, gambling, and a little sex. Anna Cowen’s written a delicious, in character and racier Jane Austen.
Kat Sutherland Doesn’t Need To Be Tamed
Did you ever see the BBC’s ShakespeaRe-Told version of The Taming of the Shrew? If you didn’t, go watch it because it’s delightful, but I digress. The character dynamics in Untamed and that movie are very similar and equally engaging. The Duke is clever, witty, mad and secure in his own personage. Kat is self-possessed, smart, uncompromising and true to herself. She does not sit around waiting for anyone to rescue her. I think it’s this quality that is most appealing. I’m sick to death of stories where the hero sweeps in to solve all of the heroine’s problems. The two characters are partners who have excellent, often difficult to bear, tension and who support one another.
My only complaint was that I think the story could have done with a little bit more sex. But I’m biased. I read a lot of erotic fiction so I’m accustomed to a fairly explicit rating. I would rate Untamed at maybe Teen for it’s use of fade-to-blacks, which are perhaps keeping with the style of a Regency novel. And in the context of the rest of the book, is a rather minor gripe that is not enough to keep me from re-reading Untamed sometime in the future.
If you’re looking to mix it up with an historical romance with a believable, take-charge heroine this holiday season, check out Untamed.