While reading Untamed Heart by Judy Veisel, something unexpected happened. I was only a few chapters in when I began to feel a friendship forming between myself and Caro, the heroine. I liked her. I cared about her. She was strong, resilient, capable of killing if necessary, but at the same time had flaws and fears just like the rest of us mortals. She was like the ultra-cool girl in high school that we all wanted to know but felt somewhat unworthy of.
Caro is a white woman who has been raised by the Shawnee. She is also an English heiress. When Englishman Taggert Asherton arrives in her village looking for Caro’s dead father to aid him in catching a killer, Caro knows what she must do. She must return to England with Tag and cut out the heart of the man trying to harm her family.
Tag may be worldly, but he’s still English and he refuses to escort an unmarried, attractive young woman alone. It is so improper. Unfortunately, Tag’s sense of propriety lands him in the middle of a Shawnee wedding dance. He also almost ends up bedding a bride he doesn’t want. Not that he doesn’t want Caro, but he already has a suitable bride selected back home.
Rejected by her husband, Caro vows revenge on him as well. She makes the silent promise to herself that she will make Tag want to be her husband, and she does everything in her power to make it so. But even Caro will only allow her pride to suffer so much.
Caro was great. She was able to love Tag without sacrificing herself. She was loyal to a fault to those she cared about, and even faced her deathly fear of rats to help her ailing grandfather. Never once did she waver from her mission to destroy the man who wanted to kill her and her family.
Tag, however, was a little bothersome. He was determined to act as the gentleman, even though he wanted Caro badly. He couldn’t believe he is attracted to a would-be killer! I loved his stuffy English demeanor, but he had a unfortunate tendency to bend the rules to suit himself. And Tag’s reasoning for not wanting to marry Caro was weak. We’re told about his tragic past later in the book – so late that it almost seemed to be an afterthought. He bounced back and forth between blustering buffoon and arrogant rake with surprising ease, almost as though Veisel didn’t want him to be seen as too weak or too overbearing. I much preferred him as a snob rather than a tortured soul.
The villain in the story was not surprising nor anything unusual. What was a lovely surprise was that Caro saved the day! Veisel actually created a strong heroine and allowed her to follow through to the end of the book. By the end of the book even Tag had to admit that Caro was a force to be reckoned with.
There was a lot of sexual tension in this book, but the actual physical intimacy between Tag and Caro was a little lacking. It was very anti-climatic, if you’ll pardon the expression, when they finally consummated their marriage. Veisel teased us with sweet confection up until that point and then handed us a stale biscuit. Very unsatisfying. There are also quite a few scenes that while interesting, did little to further the plot of the book. I found this a little annoying as far as the romance plot was concerned, but I enjoyed getting to know my new friend Caro a little better.
Untamed Heart has its weaknesses but might please fans of both Indian and romances set in the regency – not an easy feat. I would recommend it to readers yearning for a strong female lead, but if you’re looking for a fast paced, solid plot or a hero to dream on, you’ll find this book decidedly tame.