Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7403-4
Historical Romance, 2004
Georgina Gentry’s To Tame a Rebel is a Native American romance with a difference: this is one of the rare Native American historical romances that feature heroes and heroines that aren’t the usual insulting Big Dumb Bro and Wee Hapless Bimbo Squaw stereotypes. Set to the backdrop of the War between the States where Native Americans are forced to choose sides in a war they don’t fully understand if they want to survive, this one is actually two stories in one volume.
Part One tells the story of our Virginian Creek hero Yellow Jacket who has no good thoughts for White folks after his brother and niece were killed by these people during the Trail of Tears incident. He is on a mission to escape to Kansas to seek aid from the Union because the war is causing his people to starve and die from malnourishment. In the process, he abducts widow Twilight Dumont who comes to Virginia to run her nasty stepbrother’s store near the military fort after her husband was killed and her home burned down in the war. Romance is in the air, but with the drums of battle sounding all over the place, it won’t be easy for the both of them.
This story is a fascinating read if only because there is so much history in it. The romance unfortunately isn’t as well-developed as the historical backdrop. Still, Yellow Jacket comes off as a two-dimensional character and Twilight isn’t too stupid or too obvious as a walking apologia. The ending is bittersweet and quite appropriate given the context of this story.
Part Two is about a Confederate Cherokee soldier, Jim Eagle, who captures April Grant during a raid. April is actually a free agent trying to discover the identity of a traitor and earn the reward money so that she can start life anew somewhere, anywhere, where she can forget that she is half-Cherokee. As she tries to pass herself off as a camp follower to elude Jim, those two fall in love, the usual.
The author does a nice job in making Jim a hero who becomes more and more conflicted about why and who he is fighting for. Likewise, April is a decent heroine who can take care of herself, although she has her share of eyeball-rolling moments. The short length of the story doesn’t allow for too much character development, but Ms Gentry does a fine job in making this story work with me.
As a romance story, Part Two is stronger than Part One, but all in all, To Tame a Rebel is an entertaining romance novel that stands out as one of the better entries into the Native American romance genre.