Author: Anna Cowan
Original Title: Untamed
Release Year: 2013
Literary Genre: Romance
Setting: England, regency
This is definitely an unusual novel and that's why I think it probably won't be really appreciated by everyone, and that's a pity.
Having said that and if you haven't already figured out, I really liked it, it's sweet, funny and sometimes tragic and especially entertaining.
As an aside: I read many Untamed reviews and I completely disagree with some of them, is a unique story, I believe it's quite difficult to find something like this settled in the same period (XIX century) and honestly I think that, also if it was contemporary, someone could have turn up his nose and that's way, before “we” give opinions maybe “we” should reflect more...I'm going to explain myself better at the end of the review, firstly I'm going to write the plot, otherwise it might be a bit difficult to understand what I mean...
From here on, there are some spoilers, especially at the end.
Lydia, seven years younger than Kit, is married to the Earl of BenRuin because of one of her father's lost wager; she hasn't an easy character and probably she is the one who suffer the most form her parent's obsessive disposition, who saw in her and in her beauty the solution for all their financial problems. A good marriage is the answer, but the young Lydia hasn't never take well the arrangement and the groom (who, on the contrary, is utterly in love with her) and that's why she cheats on her husband, repeatedly, with the handsome and charming Jude, the Duke of Darlington.
Kit, who is visiting her sister in London, does everything she can to convince Lydia to stop her affair but her younger sister won't listen to her and that's why Katherine decides to handle the problem by herself and talk directly with the Duke to persuade him to leave Lydia.
During a ball, where as always Kit doesn't feel at ease because of her behaviour, she meets a charming, captivating, handsome and mysterious gentleman, he is not like the other noble men she has met during her staying in London, he isn't snob or pompous.
Kit, shortly after they separated their paths, finds out that that man was the Duke, moreover che catches him during a menage with Lady Marmotte, married woman and host of the ball and this does no more than make her opinion about him worse.
Kit meets the Duke again some days later and when she renews her request he agrees to put an end to his affair with Lydia on condition that he can follow her to live for a while in her countryside house. Kit, firstly reluctant, then accepts. She can't imagine that to realise his plan he will live with her dressed up like a lady.
The masquerade works perfectly: neither Kit's brother Tom, nor her mother, suspect the Duke's real identity and his actual sex, on the contrary, they find his company highly enjoyable and reinvigorating.
Kit doesn't know that Darlington's plan is organised in order to be at her side and to sleep with her: Jude, after their first encounter at Lady Maromotte's ball, has developed a strong interest in Kit, he is touched by her sharpness and her frankness and that's why he thinks she could be the one to help him to cure all his pains (quite oppressive pains by the way).
Jude quickly begins to feel his nearness to Kit as an idyll and he can't conceive to live without her anymore but firstly the sudden Lydia's arrival (who found out about Jude and Kit's arrangement and who has never accepted the separation from the Duke, her only true friend), shortly after followed by the impetuous coming of the Earl of BenRuin (who is furious because of her wife's former affair) and finally a problem recently came up in London about his title, put an end to their masquerade, separating them abruptly.
But the feelings Jude and Kit feel for each other are too strong to be forgotten...
In case it wasn't clear enough, yes, Jude, the Duke, for more then half of the book goes around as a woman and he does it pretty well too.
Resuming what I said at the review beginning:
1. someone defines the Duke as the heroine and Kit as the hero, marking this sort of ambiguous sexuality of them both.
Now, Jude is bisexual and we know he sleeps with men too and sometimes he has manners that someone could think as effeminate (I'm not one of them); on the other side Kit occasionally can be considered as not particularly feminine...well, I wouldn't define these aspects as many did...“simply” because they are the same height, because he dresses like a woman (there is a reason, it isn't to pass the time), because he's bisexual and because sometimes she is rough, doesn't mean that there is a sort of sexes inversion, it's a bit simplistic consideration; say that she's the man and he is the woman is quite idiotic and inappropriate.
2.Bisexual and drag queen are not the same thing. Seriously, it's distasteful. One can be homosexual or bisexual, like in this book, and doesn't show it off in the appearance. To me Jude doesn't seem effeminate at all, it's much more pronounced Kit's masculinity. 3. Woman who works as Kit does, normally has scared hands and a strong musculature, the author never said that she has man's physicality.
However it has to be said, unlike Jude, Kit sometimes behave a bit too extravagantly.
What I mean is that we can't always be influenced by stereotypes...maybe we should think more and then speak.
I really liked Jude, he is opportunist and he used everyone indiscriminately to obtain what he want but behind the appearance he is quite fragile and insecure, I enjoyed how the author built his personality. Kit isn't my favourite and she is the main reason of my vote, I could have given more.
I loved, really loved, Tom and Crispin's relationship, how Tom deals with his sexuality, how Crispin is protective, sweet and sympathetic; Tom himself is a beautiful character, marked by his father behaviour and by his feeling different and inadequate, he is really close to Kit.
I liked Lydia and his husband's relationship as well: he is deeply in love with his wife and suffer a lot from her affair with the Duke, she is dour and cold but when finally BenRuin understands the reason for her attitude and he tries to explain that he will never hurt her, she decides to give a chance to their marriage and their love.
Essentially, if you like this book will depends mostly on you than the novel itself; on my behalf I truly appreciated it but in the end it looses something both in story and characters. The epilogue is beautiful.