White Tiger's Fancy
I knew this book was in trouble when I found myself rooting for the man-eating tiger to finish off the hero and heroine during their hunt for the beast. White Tiger’s Fancy does win points for trying something different than the usual historical romance: the setting is mostly in India, and the descriptions are vibrant and interesting. Too bad the characters don’t live up to the setting.
Pauline Carrington is the younger sister of Lily from A Dangerous Fancy. As the book opens, Pauline is traveling to India to stay with her sister because she has driven her parents crazy with her hoydenish ways. They are afraid she will ruin herself in society. Pauline craves adventure and excitement. She is athletic and prides herself on her expert use of a bow and arrow. She has no use for “girlish” things such as clothes, parties, gentleman, etc. She is hoping India will be much more exciting than American society. Did I mention she wants adventure?
Unfortunately for Pauline, her sister Lily is all too interested in society and parties and they spend much of their time in British society in India. This all changes the day she sees the famed White Tiger, Nate Savidge, from her window, welcomed as a hero in the street. He is utterly magnificent and obviously not a groomed gentleman. At a party later she scales the clematis trellis to hear the story he’s telling another gentleman, only to fall off the trellis and be rescued by Nate, who keeps her from ruining herself in British society.
Pauline decides that Nate is the perfect person to show her some adventure. There is a man-eating tiger prowling one of the villages and she plans on dispatching the creature! In Pauline’s own words to Nate, “I want to come face-to-face with a ferocious tiger intent on eating me, and win.” Did I mention Pauline isn’t the smartest girl? When she presents her plan to Nate in his bedroom (after he kisses her, of course), he turns her down flat. What does Pauline do? She decides she’ll dress up as an Indian native and join the hunt anyway, even though she doesn’t speak the language!
Pauline doesn’t figure out her idea was stupid until she’s in the midst of the natives, and kudos to the author for having Nate immediately see through her disguise. Before he can tell her that her ruse is pathetic, Lily shows up and begs Nate to take Pauline with him. Lily hopes her sister will see that an adventure isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As a bonus, she’ll pay him for his trouble.
Nate needs the money and is attracted to Pauline, so he agrees. He’s not going to act on his attraction however, since he has been wronged before by a lady – surprise, surprise. He knows Pauline will want to return to her silks and drawing rooms once they reach the remote train station where he will send her back to Lily.
Pauline and Nate spend the rest of their trip fighting, and also fighting their attraction to each other. Well, Nate fights it anyway. Pauline acts like a shameless wanton. Nate still believes Pauline wants to live in society and could never live his life in India. At one point he tells her that she is selfish and immature, which pretty much sums up her character. Her crowning achievement, however, is when she follows Nate on the tiger hunt and they share a steamy kiss – all while being hunted by the man-eating tiger!
These two send mixed messages to each other throughout the entire book. Nate continually lectures Pauline about people not being able to change who they are, but he is carrying a secret of his own that makes him a big hypocrite. In response to his behavior, Pauline decides to use him for sex. Of the two, I disliked Pauline more at the beginning, but she does come to realize that her behavior has been incredibly stupid, childish and selfish at the end. Nate continues to believe that Pauline will choose her life in society over him, couldn’t possibly love him, or live his lifestyle, etc., ad naseum.
Tracy Cozzens’ grades at AAR before this trilogy were all quite good, but she seems to be on a downward slant at the moment. I don’t plan on taking any more trips into the past with her. Alas, the poor tiger never did get to eat either Pauline or Nate. Too bad.