If it’s adventure and action you crave, Raven’s Bride might be the book for you. From the opening pages you have non-stop activity; I must admit, however, that in the end, I just wanted it to be over.
After enduring a lifetime of abuse, Cara Tarakanov sees an opportunity to escape her evil father, better known as The Butcher, while he is trading on the Alaskan coast. Instead of the freedom she craves, however, Cara is captured by an Alaskan tribe and forced into slavery. During a potlatch (the Native American term for feast or party), Cara faces an “honorable” death at the hands of her owner, and despairing, realizes that death is probably better than continued servitude and abuse. Before she can die, however, a man steps in and claims her for himself.
Tall Dancer, a half-Russian Tlingit warrior, is instantly taken with the courageous beauty who is bravely facing death, although he knows better than to take on a responsibility like Cara. He is on his way home to be married, and although he and Cara eventually become lovers, he knows where his duty is and it certainly isn’t in the red-haired slave he already loves. When the two arrive at his village, Tall Dancer explains that he will “give” Cara to his mother, and that Cara will have to pretend to be a slave, but that his mother will know to treat her better than that.
Indeed, Tall Dancer’s mother understands his son’s affection for Cara and she agrees to the charade, although this becomes more difficult whenever Kaskoe, the woman Tall Dancer marries, is around. Surprisingly (and conveniently) enough, the irritating Kaskoe doesn’t protest when Tall Dancer doesn’t consummate the marriage. Cara’s subsequent capture by a band of Russians and the inevitable showdown with her relentless father provide an action-packed story, although not a whole lot in the way of surprises.
Cara Tarakanov certainly has endured more than her share of pain in her young life and we can’t really blame her for grabbing at happiness when she gets the chance. That choice brings her heartbreak and her only solace is her relationship with Tall Dancer’s mother. She is the rare heroine who has more experience than the hero when it comes to sex, but sadly, this knowledge comes from the abuse she’s suffered, and it has nothing to do with the tenderness she encounters in Tall Dancer.
The decision to save the beautiful white slave from death changes Tall Dancer’s life in more ways than he could ever have imagined. His sense of honor, however, is unwavering as he must put aside the woman he loves and make the best he can of a loveless marriage.
The author goes waaaaay overboard with Kaskoe, Tall Dancer’s odious, evil, petty, vengeful, spiteful, childish, and hugely overweight bride – and believe me, I am being very kind here. There isn’t one redeeming quality to her and she is clearly there for the reader to hate from the first moment. Continued references to her “flabby rump,” how her dress strains across her wide girth and how she is more than twice the width of her husband are unnecessary and became nearly as annoying as Kaskoe herself.
Raven’s Bride is filled with action and conflict from the get-go, and never quite lets up. A lot of research went into the writing of this book and the plot itself is intriguing, not to mention the unusual setting; some more characterization would have made this a much better story – I certainly hope to find it in Ms. Fox’s next book.
|Review Date:||April 14, 2000|