SPOILER ALERT ⚠
This review is of Savage Conquest, the 9th and final book–although the 6th published–in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series by Janelle Taylor.
Savage Conquest begins in 1873, approximately 17 years after the previous book, Forever Ecstasy, ended. It is not a happy time for Miranda Lawrence, the “heroine” of the book–only the second half–and her fraternal twin, Amanda, the heroine of the first half, both 18. Their parents, Joe and Marie “Morning Star” Lawrence, are presumed dead in a boating accident. (Their bodies have not been recovered.) Amanda, who is seeing fellow shipping company owner Weber Richardson, decides to take over the family business. She also later meets Reis Harrison, a man whom she is attracted to, and starts to fall in love with. There are, however, issues standing in their way: Reis is not entirely truthful about why he came to Virginia, and he has a long-standing beef with Weber, who feels similarly predisposed towards Reis.
Amanda and Reis become lovers and later marry surreptitiously, and Reis sets into motion a plan in which he hopes to trap Weber and expose him for what he really is. Meanwhile, Miranda and the girls’ cousin, Lucas Reardon, a newspaper writer, travel to the Dakotas: Lucas for business and Miranda to try to meet her mother’s estranged family. Miranda is saved from snakes-the two legged and reptilian kind-by a Oglala Lakota brave, Blazing Star, the hero of her part of the book. Miranda and Blazing Star become lovers, although he is reluctant to commit to her due to concerns about the future of the Oglala people.
A series of challenges are faced by Amanda, Reis, Miranda and Blazing Star, but they are conquered for the most part, and the two couples get a pleasant surprise and have their Happily Ever After.
Upside of Savage Conquest:
Mrs. Taylor is an evocative writer, and as she usually does, she put me as a reader in her characters lives, allowing me to view them not as words on a page, but as real people. “Savage Conquest”, like all the books in the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle series, is well-researched.
Downside of Savage Conquest:
I felt that Mrs. Taylor could have done a better job displaying her male characters emotions; most of the emotional depth in the book comes from Miranda and Amanda. This book was not originally intended to be part of the “Ecstasy/Gray Eagle” series and it shows, as some of the storylines to me feel a little forced to fit the story arc of the series as opposed to the originally planned standalone.
Mrs. Taylor’s love scenes are known for their “purple prose”, and there’s plenty of it here. As always, Mrs. Taylor’s sex scenes are more about the emotions of the act than a description of the mechanics.
Assault, attempted rape-both Miranda and Amanda-as well as human and animal murder. (Blazing Star kills a bear.)
Savage Conquest isn’t as well-written as Sweet Savage Heart. It isn’t Mrs. Taylor’s best book, but it’s still pretty good.