Saturday, May 7, 2016

Retro Review: The Taming of Shaw MacCade
This review of The Taming of Shaw MacCade by Judith E. French was first posted at The Romance Reader in 2001.  I rated it 4-Hearts (B Grade) with a MPAA rating of "R" for sensuality content (which by today's standards would probably make it PG-13...)


Romeo & Juliet never did much for me. Shakespeare took the time to write a story of forbidden love, only to have them die in the end. Talk about a let down. Well, Judith E. French looks to rectify the situation with her own spin on the classic tale in her latest offering.

Rebecca Raeburn and Shaw MacCade met as children and became fast friends. Nothing odd about two children getting along, except that the Raeburns and MacCades have been feuding for generations, dating back to when the families lived in Scotland. However, kids have a tendency to grow up, which means that Shaw and Becca soon discover that they both have budding romantic feelings for each other. But when Becca catches Shaw kissing her own sister, Eve, she makes a break and stops secretly seeing him. Shaw then ups and leaves for adventure out west.

Four years later, in 1849, Shaw MacCade has the nerve to return to Angel Crossing, Missouri. He may have been gone a long time, but he’s never been able to forget the only girl he’s truly loved. Becca is anything but pleased to see him though. After Shaw left, it was discovered that Eve was pregnant. She claimed that the child was Shaw’s, and it didn’t help matters that the boy looked just like a MacCade. Ostracized at home, Eve then took off for St. Louis, her honor in tatters.

Shaw knows darn well he isn’t the father of Eve’s baby, but Becca doesn’t want to hear it. On top of all this, he discovers that in his absence his brother, Laird, was shot in the back, supposedly by Becca’s father. Even though a jury found him innocent, Shaw is determined to find the murderer and bring him to justice. But how can Shaw seek revenge when it’s very likely that it will cause Becca pain? And will Becca come to accept that Shaw did not dishonor her sister and abandon his child?

French adds lots of conflict to this mix, which makes The Taming of Shaw MacCade a real head-spinner. With an honest-to-goodness Hatfield and McCoy type feud, the question about Eve, and the hunt for Laird’s murderer, there is little room for the romance, which I found slightly lacking. Shaw and Becca sort of jump right in where they left off, and with so much conflict to deal with, there’s very little time for them to discover their true feelings for each other. Admittedly, I’m a reader that likes to watch a slow, natural progression of a relationship, and that’s not what is offered here. Aside from a couple of flashback scenes, the romance starts half way through the race, instead of at the starting gate.

That said though, the author does craft a real pager turner. There is no down time for this story, and things soon get even more fast paced when Becca and Shaw set out to locate Eve and her child. While the identity of the father is no real mystery, the revelation about Laird’s killer and the resolution of the feud are both satisfying to read about. While there is a touch of melodrama at the end, it is never over the top, and everything is wrapped up in a nice, neat package.

Readers who are drawn to forbidden love storylines will undoubtedly find quite a bit to enjoy, and I predict that The Taming of Shaw MacCade will land on a few keeper shelves. While I wanted a bit more exploration into the romance, nicely done conflict and a solid storyline had me easily and quickly turning the pages. As exciting as this one was, I’m sure glad I have some of French’s backlist ready and waiting.


Wendy's Reflections: So I have zero recall of this book, but then I read it 15 years ago (yes, 2001 was 15 years ago....) so that's probably to be expected.  What I find intriguing?  I was obviously willing to suspend quite a bit of disbelief.  I mean, the two families hatred for each other dates back to Scotland and yet when they move to America both families JUST HAPPEN to settle near each other in Missouri?!?!?!  The US is pretty big - they couldn't avoid each other?

(Although maybe this is explained in the book?  Again, 15 years ago....)


azteclady said...

From where I sit, the improbable part is "families that hate each other for generations."

I mean, even in places where you have ethnic groups trying to erase each other from the face of the planet, you find couples formed by people from opposing sides. But for the sake of this setup, I'm supposed to believe that, the patriarchs have brainwashed every single individual in both families for generations? That no one before the couple in the book felt even a bit of teenage rebellion?

Wendy said...

AL: I really wish I could remember this book - but, oy! Do you know how many books I've read in the last 15 years? Anywhoodle....

Your quibble is one I can swallow a bit easier IF each successive generation adds to the feud with some new, fresh scandal. But that's the rub. After multiple generations they can't still be hanging on to what happened in great-grand-daddy's day. There has to be some sort of recent drama to get me to buy into it.

nath said...

I can't believe 2001 is 15 years ago already ^_^; To me, anything 2000s is "recent" LOL.

The two families probably traveled on the same boat and hence, ended up at the same place :P