by Rachel lee, paranormal (2001, 1994 reissue)
Silhouette Dreamscapes, $4.50, ISBN 0-373-51126-4
A living mountain - that's right, a mountain that thinks and feels and kills people by dropping big rocks on them. That's the secret Gray Cloud, the Renegade of Thunder Mountain, guards, and that's the secret Mercy Kendrick stumbles upon when she comes to Conrad County to study wolves.
Mountains... wolves... if you think this is a contemporary American Indian romance, you've hit the bullseye. Rachel Lee lays the American Indian mythos, in this case Lakota lore, really, really thick that there are moments when Thunder Mountain seems like a Lakota Cultural Awareness and Tourism Promotional Brochure masquerading as a romance novel. Heck, even Mercy has a honorary Indian name: Tomorrow Woman.
Meanwhile, we have Anglo-Saxon anti-nature capitalist pigs who want to plunder our Thunder Mountain's secrets and hidden riches. Can Gray Cloud and Mercy overcome their distrust and save Nature, Tradition, and Culture? Gray Cloud, being an Indian Shaman, makes a lot of stupid, hasty assumptions about Mercy - she's White, ergo, she's a nasty capitalist pig who has lost her roots (or something). At one point he is even ready to kill her to protect Thunder Mountain, all the while imagining what she looks like naked. I hope this is not a sign of some necrophiliac tendencies. But since he's, you know, a Minority, all his bigotry is a-okay, because his ancestors' suppression gives him the privilege to be a moron according to Bad Overly-emotional Fiction Standards.
Things get better when they finally realize the word count is almost up and they have to trash some baddie butts or else readers would be demanding their money back. The Wakinyan and wasicu no mix unless wasicu learn to love Mother Earth like Poho Sapa people cheap schtick disappears and things actually become exciting. Will Cloud die? Will the Thunder Mountain stop trying to kill Mercy with big rocks? Why are the wolves so friendly towards Mercy? Is it a sign of Greatness?
I start to care. I want to play with the wolves too. But one chapter later it's the end. Gray Cloud finally turns into a sensitive new age guy, promising to live where Mercy would live as long as they come back here to Thunder Mountain for summer holidays. "Will you be my tomorrow?" he asks his Tomorrow Woman.
It's quite touching. But I can't help feeling cheated, because I am finally getting into the story when it ends abruptly on me. Bah.
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