Illustrator: Diane Sivavec
Imprint or Line: Zebra Lovegram
Published by: Kensington
Genres: Historical Romance, Western Romance, Native American Romance
Buy on: Amazon, ThriftBooks
Reviewed by: Introvert Reader
WARNING ⚠: MILD SPOILERS & SUPER-BORING BOOK
Sweet Savage Surrender, a Zebra Lovegram that was written by mother-daughter duo Marcia Hockett and Kathryn Kramer, aka Kathryn Hockett, is a romance between two star-crossed lovers from different worlds.
It, unfortunately, includes a hated trope of mine, instant love. “Insta-luv,” or love at first sight, is acceptable if and only if there are exciting obstacles the couple has to overcome.
Oh, there are obstacles here, all right, but boring ones.
I always appreciate a Native American romance that attempts to delve deeply and respectfully into the cultures of the people written about. At least, I thought I did until I realized without an engaging plot or romance to go with said respect, the novel comes off pandering and weirdly self-debasing.
Was Sweet Savage Surrender so terrible to deserve my scorn, then? Scorn, no! However, it was incredibly dull, sad to say. The romance is lacking, as the main characters fall in love right away and don’t spend much time together. Everyone is so black-and-white here. The good guys are perfect and the baddies are very bad.
Instant Love and Not Much Else
Sky Raven of the Arapaho People is a half-Native, Half-American woman with fair skin and blue eyes. I don’t know where those blue eyes came from. I know Mendelian genetics alone no longer applies to eye color, but I always thought one has to have recessive genes on both parents’ sides to get blue eyes. Green or hazel would have made more sense.
Anyway, Sky Raven comes upon an injured Anglo-American soldier being held captive by her enemy tribe, the Utes. She arranges to save the man and then nurses him back to health. As her grandfather is her tribe’s medicine man, this knowledge comes easy to Sky Raven.
The soldier is Major John Hanlen of the United States Army. He takes one look at Sky Raven and is instantly smitten. It doesn’t take long before Sky Raven feels the same way about the Yankee soldier.
“The spirits have brought us together. This was meant to be. I love you, Skyraven,” declares Major John Hanlen at 17% into this dull read.
Some Hot Pipe Action
If this book had anything interesting about it, I would have added a half star. Alas, even the sex is snoozerific.
Foreplay includes SkyRaven describing the Arapaho peace pipe ceremony, which turns John Hanlen on:
“Explain more about the ceremony and your beliefs so that I can understand.”
“The peace pipe is our most sacred possession. It is really the heart of all our sacred ceremonies…”
“And could this peace pipe ceremony help to bring harmony between your people and my soldiers?”
“I believe it could be so. The spirits want there to be peace or they would never have led me to you.” Her soul knew the gentle power of love. His caress upon her was an affirmation of life and contentment.
“I care very deeply for you,” he said softly. There was no doubt in his mind as he looked into the innocent, sincere questioning eyes looking up at him. He did have deep feelings for this beautiful, brave young woman that went beyond his gratitude for having saved his life.
“And I, you,” she managed to say before his lips were again upon her own, tasting the honey, the sweetness, and the softness…
The Conclusion to This Boring Romance
John Hanlen returns to his army and tries his best to get them not to go after the Arapaho. But there’s a commanding officer named Colonel Chivington who hates the tribe and will stop at nothing to destroy them.
So the big obstacle in this romance is that he wants to exterminate the Arapaho and John Hanlen has to stop it from happening.
Sky Raven waits among her people waiting for John Hanlen to arrive (That’s what Sky Raven calls him, not John, but John Hanlen. It got pretty weird during intimate scenes where she calls him by his full name.)
Will he be able to prevent Chivington from wiping out the Arapaho people? Will true love have its day?
Wait! More Minor Irritations…
Rather than focusing on romance, I’ll just note some nits I have to pick with this book:
Nocturnal animals out in the daytime:
“The beaver was busily building a new home for themselves, the squirrels were storing food in a hole in a tree, a large mother raccoon was teaching her kits…”
A mother raccoon with her babies out in the day? Maybe just before dusk, not in broad daylight. They could be rabid.
“There was an old Arapaho saying that Skyraven thought of now. ‘Let tomorrow take care of itself.’”
Didn’t the Bible say that? Yup, I checked. It’s in Matthew 6:34. Okay, I’ll ignore that because Hockett was probably trying to demonstrate how similar Arapaho are to European-descended Americans.
The word “thug” was used, and it took me out of place. I know from my 9th grade Social Studies “thug” referred to a certain criminal element from India in the 1800s, not to Native Americans of that same time period.
People shake their heads yes. I nod my head yes and shake it no. Okay, maybe body language was different in post-Civil War America.
These are minor irritations, but honestly, they were the most interesting facets of this read.
Final Analysis of Sweet Savage Surrender
In its attempt to be a respectful tale about the Arapaho people–a noble intent, which is admirable–Sweet Savage Surrender forgot to add a little spice to its sweetness. The villains are one-dimensionally evil, and the good guys are one-dimensionally good. It’s very paint-by-numbers and boring.
Sky Raven and John Hanlen fall in love right away, then spend most of Sweet Savage Surrender separated as he tries to prevent atrocities from being committed against her people. He succeeds, and they meet up and live happily ever after.
I wouldn’t recommend this book unless you enjoy romances where the love story takes a back seat to the action and history. Then again, there’s not much action here, either, just talking, worrying, and introspection. This was not a fun book to experience.
Rating: 1/2 Star (The cover points don’t count!)
With skin of creamy satin and hair of ebon silk, Skyraven was the pride of her Arapaho tribe. But the voluptuous maiden had not yet met the warrior who could stir her blood… until the day she came upon the golden-haired man in the clearing — a man as sleek and powerful as the most magnificent brave. She quickly freed the handsome stranger from the cruel bonds that held him captive… only to succumb to his seductive charms once he’d regained his awesome strength. And though their passion was forbidden, the hot-blooded half-breed soon burned for the fiery rapture of her lover’s embrace!
TENDER TORMENTSWEET SAVAGE SURRENDER by KATHRYN HOCKETT
After his capture by the Utes, Major John Hanlen thought death was a heartbeat away. Instead, he opened his eyes to see an enchanting, indigo-eyed angel sweetly tending his wounds. He knew he shouldn’t jeopardize his peace-seeking mission by making love to the young beauty, but just the sight of her aroused him to distraction! And once he’d tasted the secret sweetness of her deepest desires, he became her willing slave, yearning only to savor, again and again, her Sweet Savage Surrender…