SPOILER ALERT ⚠
Janelle Taylor’s Sweet Savage Heart, a Zebra Lovegram historical romance, begins in Dakota Territory, May 1867. It is here that an Oglala Indian maiden, Wild Wind, the heroine of the book, is troubled, for she is arguing with her brother, Lone Wolf, over her future. (Backstory: Wild Wind is not actually Indian at all. Her name is Rana Michaels, and she was adopted into her band of Lakotas by Soaring Hawk, a Lakota chief who stole her from the Kiowa tribe which captured and enslaved her after they killed her parents, Marissa Crandall Michaels and Raymond Michaels). Rana is conflicted about her life, and things are about to get more complicated…
In Texas, rancher Nathan Crandall, owner of the Bar-C ranch and Rana’s grandfather, sees a painting of her and realizes it’s his granddaughter. He asks his foreman, Travis Kincade, the hero of the book, for help in getting Rana back. (Travis is half-Hunkpapa Lakota Indian and half-white).. Their efforts are successful, but are complicated by many factors, including Rana herself. However, she does agree to go with Nathan and Travis, and on the way to the ranch, Rana and Travis become lovers (According to Oglala customs, they are married. White law doesn’t recognize this, however).
Back in Texas, however, there are major problems for the men, and now Rana. Nathan and Travis’ neighbor, Harrison Caldwell and his daughter, Clarissa, have been using various means-mostly illegal-to force out all the ranchers in their valley in an attempt to create an empire for themselves. The only rancher they haven’t forced out yet is Nathan, although they’re trying.
Upon their return to Texas, Harrison and Clarissa put their plan in motion to drive Nathan off his land. These actions are countered by Nathan, Travis and Rana. As the book goes on, secrets are revealed and a tragedy occurs. In the end, the Caldwells are defeated, and Rana and Travis get married by white-man’s law, have two children and have their Happily Ever After.
I frequently criticize authors for their lack of character development. That is certainly not the case here, as Mrs. Taylor delves deeply into the characters of Rana, Travis, and Marissa. Rana and Travis are both strong characters. I liked the fact that Rana was given the opportunity to use the skills she learned as an Oglala to help Nathan and Travis.
Slightly nitpicky here, but the chapters average 28+ pages long. Even though people may have more time to read these days due to what is going on in the world, the chapters could have been shorter.
Multiple sex scenes, most of which feature Mrs. Taylor’s purple prose.
Assault and battery, attempted rape, attempted murder, shootings with bow and arrows and guns, and killings. The violence is not graphic.
Sweet Savage Heart is one of Janelle Taylor’s best books.