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Wild Pet

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by Rocsanne Shield

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Genre fiction. These two words are, in the present day, used to describe writing that is not regarded as worthy of the name "literature", and does not in fact pretend to it. Many people enjoy reading this type of fiction; many writers make a lot of money out of it, and who am I to say that is wrong? I only wish I could do the same.

The title of Rocsanne Shield’s novel, Wild Pet, in itself warns us what to expect. This makes it difficult for me (being an afficionado of the extensively-researched historical novels of Sharon Penman and her ilk) to take it seriously and give it the attention it deserves – because, make no mistake, Ms Shield has put a lot of effort into it.

Unusually, one of her main characters, Lord Armand de Marmore, is an Englishman, or rather a Norman, who has fought against that renowned romantic hero, William Wallace. Armand’s daughter, Adrienne, has telepathic powers. This does not prevent her from being abducted and mistreated. And here I will just pause to say that I do not like books that portray violence against women as if it were only to be expected. Even in the Middle Ages, there was a general respect for women which is not reflected in Adrienne’s treatment by her captor. In view of what happens later in the book, however, there may be some excuse for the episode.

Naturally, there is a rescuer at hand for Adrienne. Bran, the kind of noble savage we are used to in this style of fiction, soon discovers the true enormity of the situation. We are talking white slave trade, and in the 14th century that must have been no joke! Thanks to Bran, Adrienne is soon reunited with her long-lost mother. But that is just the plot, perhaps a little like the Winter’s Tale. What are we to make of the characters? Well, Bran perhaps has something both original and realistic about him, in that he actually considers rape before his better instincts take control and force him to do the decent thing. Adrienne and Raheela, as far as I can see, have little to recommend them.

And then, suddenly, halfway through the novel, we are in another book entirely. I’m not going to spoil that surprise, but it’s a pleasant one. Perhaps a little glib, but nevertheless pleasing. I had no idea that genre fiction could be written in this way. Perhaps I ought to read more of it. Perhaps I will. But not today.

Rocsanne Shield, 2004
257pp, e-book
Retail price $9.95

Open Book

Review by Deborah Fisher

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