RETRO REVIEW: BELOVED SAVAGE by Sandra Bishop

Zebra; First Edition edition (September 1, 1990)

BLURB:

Caught between two worlds, Susannah Jacobs must make a choice. Her husband will take her back out of duty, but the Algonquin warrior, who has claimed her as his woman, will cross the rivers and mountains to find her. Nothing will prevent Tonnewa from coming for her. Nothing will prevent Susannah from returning to him. Married at fifteen to a man twice her age, Susannah has lost one baby. Now pregnant again, she’s taken captive by Algonquins. Far from home and alone, she fears for her life and that of her unborn child. Tonnewa takes her as his woman rather than see her put to death. Tonnewa wants both the woman and the child. Susannah has known neither kindness nor gentleness and never expected it from a savage. She will give up her whole way of life for him. He will remake his for her.

RHL Classifications

American Frontier Period

Historical Romance

Heat Level 2.5

Reviewer rating: 4.5 Stars

REVIEW BY JILL:

“You are my soul,” he said. “I have seen its shape, and it is you. You have walked in my heart, and I hear the echo of your footsteps there.”

In the Pennsylvania wilderness of 1723, twenty-five year-old Susannah has already been married for ten years to the dreary and dogmatic German, Hans Jacobs. Having suffered a number of miscarriages and lost a baby son, she is pregnant again.

When William Penn negotiated a treaty with the Indians, the white settlers were not to pass over the Susquehanna River. The area was to remain a hunting ground. However with Penn’s death the whites have claimed the land. When a hunting party of Algonquin Indians find their land has been occupied by whites’ houses, their land plowed and animals grazing in pastures where there should be game, they retaliate by setting fire to the settlers’ homes. Susannah watches from the forest as her house burns and her husband and stepson desperately try to douse the flames, unaware that she has been seen by the Indians and quietly surrounded. One Algonquin warrior, Nikoneweh knocks her out and takes her captive.

Tonnewa is also Algonquin but from a different clan. He comes across the Indians who have taken Susannah (and Charlie, a young boy from another farm). They are of the Beaver clan, friends from a neighbouring village. Realising that Susannah is a captive and about to be raped by Nikoneweh, Tonnewa intervenes. There is no love lost between Tonnewa and Nikoneweh, Susannah’s would-be rapist. They have been rivals for many years. Nikoneweh has claimed Susannah for himself and although Tonnewa insists both Susannah and Charlie should be returned, his advice is ignored. It is a situation that must go before the Algonquin council and Tonnewa reluctantly agrees.

Perfectly balanced between the historical detail and the romance, this is a keeper. Set against the background of tensions between the British and the French, and the whites and the Indians, it portrays the gritty reality of the times. Miscarriages, infant deaths, diseases and killings are a threat and the physical and emotional hardships and daily grind of life, a constant on the frontier.

The love between Tonnewa and Susannah builds slowly, steadily as they learn to respect and trust each other. Despite the title (a by-product of the 80s and 90s) there is nothing savage about Tonnewa. He is honorable, admirable and decent. This is a man who will go to any lengths to protect Susannah and her unborn child. He is tender and possessive (without being domineering). He claims her baby as his own and calls it theirs. His rescue of Susannah to bring her back to him contrasts with the failure of her husband Hans to make any attempt at all to rescue her from the Indians.

It’s very difficult to find well-written and realistic NA historicals like this. Since the hey-day of the NA historical in the 80s and 90s, new titles are as rare as hen’s teeth.

This hidden gem is for lovers of historical western and Native American romances. The cover art does have a nice little touch by accurately depicting a pregnant Susannah.

Written in 1990 this seems to be the only book that Sandra Bishop ever wrote. Well I guess if you’re only going to write one book, it may as well be a DIK.

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