by Judith E French, historical (2001)
Ivy, $6.50, ISBN 0-345-43760-8
The Taming Of Shaw MacCade couldn't follow the usual Romeo-and-Juliet retelling formula any closer. It adheres to all the old storytelling conventions, but it leaves me cold.
The MacCades and the Raeburns are at it like the redneck Missourian hillbillies they are. Four years ago, however, Shaw MacCade and Rebecca Raeburn were sparking until she broke up with him (she couldn't handle the choice between family and boyfriend). She then found him with his hands up her sister's dress. The sister turned up pregnant and claimed that Shaw was the father. Shaw however had left for whereabouts unknown, disgusted with the whole feud thing that he was caught in.
Four years later, everyone thought Shaw was dead. Becca, however, encounters Shaw one day out of the blue. A woman scorned can hold a grudge for a long, long time, however, and she pushes Shaw off the ferry of hers. Shaw, however, is back for good. Yet as he is about to try to rekindle things anew with Becca, he learns that the Raeburns may have killed his brother Laird.
The author creates an interesting spin in that the Raeburns and the Shaws, as separate family units, are actually warm, loving and supportive of each of their own. Becca and Shaw each have a strong family to fall back on when times are hard, provided they don't go out into the open about their relationship. Everything else is pretty familiar - the murder, the stubborn fathers, the long-suffering mothers, the wise grandmothers who are the only ones to support the heroine in her love affair, and the usual lot. When the romance between Shaw and Becca take a backseat to the family conflict resolution, the result is less than satisfying. It is one thing to read a familiar story, but The Taming Of Shaw McCade doesn't pack a punch emotional enough to provide a satisfying payoff.
Still, the drama is readable. Sometimes Shaw and Becca just can't seem to make up their mind - snog or stay away for family's sake? - but The Taming Of Shaw McCade remains nonetheless an entertaining read. Not exactly great, but good enough.
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