An ambitious debut that has polarised romance readers. Whether or not it works for you will depend on how well Anna Cowan’s narrative voice can lull you into looking past its flaws.
This review is part of the Australian Women Writers Challenge. Click here for a list of books I’ve read so far.
When I heard that Australian writer Anna Cowan had sold her cross-dressing duke novel to Destiny, I couldn’t wait to read the book. I’m an occasional visitor at Cowan’s blog, and her analyses of romance tropes, characters and themes led me to expect an extraordinary debut effort. I wasn’t disappointed, but Untamed is also not an easy book to read or even to like. It’s definitely not an easy book to review.
Kit Sutherland agrees to bring Jude, the Duke of Darlington, to her country home in exchange for his promise to end his affair with Kit’s married sister. Outwardly charming, Jude can’t help but manipulate the people around him, sometimes for no other reason than for his own amusement, so When the Duke arrives dressed as an aristocratic lady, Lady Rose, Kit recognises the danger he poses to her family’s equilibrium—as well as her own.
Jude is hovering on the brink of self-destruction, but after a chance encounter at a ballroom where his lover’s sister, Kit, inadvertently gives him her scathing opinion of the Duke of Darlington, Jude is drawn by instinct to her. He ingratiates himself into her family and her life, and thwarts her every attempt to keep her distance—and he does so arrogantly, selfishly and ruthlessly. Eventually, their deceit is unravelled at great consequence to Kit and her family, and Cowan reveals the darker undercurrents surrounding Kit’s relationships with her siblings, as well as Jude’s secrets.
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