by Tracy Fobes, historical (2001)
Sonnet, $6.50, ISBN 0-7434-1278-8
To Tame A Wild Heart starts with a nasty accident. Some angry Highlanders try to stop and scare off a carriage but the carriage, already speeding too much, spirals out of control and topples over the high cliffs. Ouch. Phineas Graham, the Duke of Argyll's assistant, survives, but his last thought before losing consciousness is the sight of a little girl also alive. Is that Lady Sarah, Argyll's daughter, or Nellie, young Sarah's maid? He blacks out before he is certain, and when he is rescued, the girl is missing.
Cut to 17 years later, in 1813. Sarah - really? - is now a young woman living in a quite Scottish village. She also has a special ability - she can communicate with animals. She must have knocked her head harder than expected in that accident. Yes, I'm cruel. Mind you, Tracy Fobes' idea of animals is strictly Walt Disney-esque, you know, where animals are all cute furry huggies who will - I quote - "never get a woman with child". I am not touching that statement with a ten-foot pole.
But Phineas doesn't rest until he discovers Sarah alive. They both go home to England to a happy Argyll, but Argyll's until-now-heir isn't too keen. Colin is sure she is an impostor. But after seeing her play her lute to charm dogs and foxes, he gets the hots, even after first mistaking her for a too-young kitchen help. And I'm not touching that aspect with a ten-foot pole too. This is a family site (ahem) and we don't talk about lusts for lil' girls and animal not getting human women with child here, no way.
The rest of the story is familiar territory. He thinks her not. He thinks her hot. Sarah, well, she of the Walt Disney school of animal funnies is torn between wanting to flee the inhospitable terrains of London for her old animal-filled home in Scotland.
Sarah is one of those heroines wobbling between girly-girl nitwitdom and superheroine out to save the unicorns (yes, there are unicorns in this story too, and there are also flying ponies from that scary My Little Pony cartoon making cameo appearances. I'm just joking about My Little Pony - drats, now that theme song keeps buzzing in my head. "My little pony, my little pony..." Arrrgh!). Colin is a better character as a rakehell dude torn between his Nobokovian lust and conscience, but the story bends over to make him a misunderstood character rather than a jerk to be redeemed, hence Colin comes off a rather two-dimensional character. The most interesting character is the shrewd Argyll who actually forbids Colin to marry Sarah in an amusing scene, but he's old, so he's not eligible for his own romance story. Too bad Argyll.
Colin is the sole character that doesn't ooze sickening sweet "Animals are friends, they will never hurt you, they are all good buddies, why can't we humans live like animals?" dumbed-down Greenpeace/PETA propaganda. Hence, I like him best of all. Everything else is strictly Carebear territory, from Sarah to the unicorns-in-love angle. Obviously the Discovery Channel is not where Tracy Fobes did her research before coming up with this Animals-Are-Ewoks shtick.
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