Sun Hawk
by Cassie Edwards, historical (2000)
Signet, $6.99, ISBN 0-451-20014-4

I know an online romance reader, a Sioux by descendant, who goes foaming rabid at the mention of Cassie Edwards. If you get her drunk enough, she would launch into an impressive stream of unmentionable phrases (can get her sued for libel), comparing Ms Edwards' incessant stereotyping of her people as simpletons to the effects of a bottle of Paraquat on weeds.

Why am I saying this? That's because Sun Hawk is shockingly bad - if the characters display the intelligence of a gnat at times, at least before there is a plot. In Sun Hawk, the plot is non-existent. It's as if it's plotted by kids playing pretend games.

Something like, "Oh, Captain Maverick now kills the alien invaders from Mars! Wham! Kapam!" Next, "Now Captain Marvel goes to save Princess Screameenie from the evil Dr Doofus!" No coherence, no Big Picture of a plot, just sketches of cartoony scenes. I am evil; I can't help but to wonder if Aunt Cassie dedicates this book to her delightful nephew and niece because Aunt Cassie has borrowed their daydream games for her new book.

(I know, I'm probably breaking all sorts of online reviewer ethiquettes by now, but hey, I'm not a member of any organization, so stick it people.)

"Brave, powerful, intelligent, and beautiful" Chief Summer Hope is sitting on some grassy slope praying to Way-na-boo-zhoo (some Ojibwan deity). Apparently, Way-na-boo-zhoo doesn't understand Ojibwan much, because our heroine uses - murders - both the English and Ojibwan language in her prayers in some attempt to translate her prayers to her presumably omnipotent deity.

"In the face of nah-nee-zah-ni-zee, danger, give me the strength to meet it with a brave gee-day, heart!"

Okay. Apparently all the Ojibwans here are still in elementary school when it comes to their mother-tongue, because whenever they say an Ojibwan phrase, to someone else or to themselves, they will repeat the English phrase for it immediately after. Even when they have used this phrase before. Hence, a zillion "... gah-ween, no!" and "... she's so mee-kah-wah-diz-ee, beautiful!" When the heroine is in danger (yet again), she screams, "Koo-gah-boo-win!" and then, thoughtfully repeats in English, "Get out of my way!"

Really! Has Ms Edwards heard of the use of a glossary? Or an asterisk and footnote thing? Her current impromptu Ojibwan lessons aren't just awkward, they make paranoid ol' me suspect if the author think me so stupid that I will start screaming in my puzzlement if I encounter yet another mee-kah-wah-diz-ee.

Anyway, I digress. Back to the plot. When thunder strikes - this is the only time not-so-nice weather hits our Indian Paradise, it's sun and nice wind tinkling bells tied between tepees (don't ask) all day long thereafter - our heroine, who is still trying to teach her deity what gee-day is, decides to keep praying anyway. (Remember, she's intelligent and courageous.)

Lightning hits the tree next to her. She jumps! And keeps praying! Finally, evil White bastards bent on rapine approach her. "Lil' lady, wanna see the nice fur goods in my storage chamber?" they ask. Our heroine fears - oh no, she is alone! - and tells herself, next time, no more wandering around alone (a lesson that slips out of her skull via one of the ears of hers, as I will soon discover). She runs! She falls! Ouchie.

Our hero Sun Hawk isn't Indian, he's a White dude, but hey, the clan that takes him in makes him their Chief. While catching fish - beautiful fat fish! - for his happy people's well-being, he saves our heroine. But she has amnesia! Oh Lord! But she's so mee-kah-wah-diz-ee, beautiful!

Then, the story goes right down the drain and into the deepest recesses of the gutter. It becomes boring and insipid. Hero takes heroine back to his place. Heroine takes hero to her camp. They feel they can't marry because they are Chiefs. They see each other and feel very, very happy. Rapist White monsters come and kidnap heroine. Sun Hawk very, very angry and sad.

Someone hit me in the head, I'm starting to sound like a character in this very, very silly story.

Of course, there's the trademark cartoony characters and simpleton thoughts (I really had a good, good laugh at Sun Hawk and Summer Hope's attempts at thinking). There's also the trademark accidental racist statements about both Indian and White settlers - I really wince when I read about Sun Hawk's condescending What will it be like to live in a tepee? thoughts.

I can't help wondering if my anti-Cassie Edwards buddy is right when she says that this author's books inadvertently mirrors the condescension many non-Indian feel about Indians. The "Oh, see how they live in their tepees? How cute! How... exotic! I want my own Savage Chief to kidnap me too!" ugly tourist sort of thing.

Usually, these silly bloopers are to be expected from this author, but what is really irritating is the complete lack of plot and the inexcusable use of happy, happy, happy and sad, sad, sad - what happened to the thesaurus?

Some Cassie Edwards book are campy, inane fun. Sun Hawk is bad, period.

Rating: 07

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