In the grand history of literature written in English, Cassie Edwards is not even a footnote. But in the romance-novel genre, she would get her own chapter. And in the American-Indian-themed-romance-novel subgenre? Well, she wrote the whole damn book. Actually, she wrote at least 85 damn books in the American-Indian-themed-romance-novel subgenre. (Her total career output in all subgenres was at least 106 books, based on her page at Fantastic Fiction.)
Cassie Edwards, who has won the Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award and the Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award, was born in 1936 and is, as far as we know, alive and well. Her career, though, hit the skids when she was exposed in a serious plagiarism scandal. (Writing tip: If you want to make your Indian hero sound wooden and humorless, steal his dialogue from published nature writing.)
Those who enjoy romance novels say they are a distraction, an escape from the real world. Mindless entertainment — no better or worse, perhaps, than watching sports or playing video games. But mindless fun isn't the same thing as harmless fun — particularly when you're mindlessly hammering away at the same stereotype.
Of those at-least 85 books about ripped Indian men sweeping overwhelmed white women off their feet, at least 52 of them start with the word "Savage." That was kind of Edwards' thing: Books about Indian men and white ladies entitled Savage _____.
Does this strike anyone else as incredibly — savagely — wrong?
SAVAGE FIRES: Josephine Taylor Stanton gives up on love after a train wreck leaves her in a wheelchair. But when a handsome Indian chief named Wolf comes to help fight for the rights of his people, he loses his heart to this tender-hearted woman of courage and strength.
SAVAGE HERO: She thought her heart would break, until rescue came in the form she least expected; a powerful Crow warrior whose gentle eyes promised she would know nothing but tenderness at his hands. This beautiful man was both her savior and her enemy, her . . . Savage Hero.
SAVAGE DESTINY: Why would a wealthy Louisiana planter marry an Indian woman? townsfolk asked. Or raise two copper-skinned sons as though they were white? Only trouble would come of it. . . . Red Feather had grown up sensing a vital difference between his father's sons, and when his brother gambled away his mail-order bride, he knew that his younger sibling was obsessed with beating him.
SAVAGE HONOR: Shawndee Sibley longed for fancy dresses and a man who would take her away from her miserable life in Silver Creek. But the only men she even encountered were the drunks in her mother's tavern, where she had to dress as a boy for her own protection. Then warrior Shadow Hawk captured the Sibley's "son".
SAVAGE SKIES: Shirleen has always been self-reliant and adventurous, but after dealing with a husband who beat her, the disappearance of her four-year-old daughter and kidnapping at the hands of the notorious Comanche renegade Big Nose, she's almost given up hope. When the most handsome man she's ever seen sweeps in to rescue her, she sees a man in whom she can finally put her trust. Her troubles might seem an overwhelming burden, but Chief Blue Thunder's broad shoulders are equal to the task. And his hard body promises to lift her on wings of pleasure and send her soaring amid — Savage Skies
SAVAGE HOPE: With help from the guiding beams of the local lighthouse, the Makah Indians of the Pacific Northwest made a successful living from the sea. Chief Bright Arrow was proud of the quiet, peaceful life he led with his people. But his idyllic world changed the day he passed by a frozen pond and saw a golden-haired angel dancing across the ice as if by magic – until, after a loud crack, the young woman fell into the frigid water.
SAVAGE DEVOTION: Sailing the deep, clear waters of the Puget Sound, beautiful red-haired Janice Edwards was bound for a new beginning. Leaving behind the wealth and luxury shed known in San Francisco, she hoped to find a simpler, sweeter life in the towering forests of Tacoma… and a man who would love her for who she was, not what she had. But when the steamer Hope was wrecked by a sudden storm, Janice was rescued by a man like none she'd ever known. Tall, with muscular limbs and a powerful chest revealed by his buckskin clothing, he was a Skokomish Indian–from all she'd heard, a savage to be feared. Yet in his gray eyes she saw tender caring, in his strong arms she discovered untold passion, and in his wild heart she would find… Savage Devotion.
SAVAGE HEART: Lured by fortune, Christa and her family leave the comforts of Boston for the rugged hills of the Pacific Northwest. But tragedy strikes when her parents are taken by cholera, leaving Christa and her brother David with nothing but an isolated cabin to their names. The only escape from poverty lies in Christa's untouched beauty being sold to the highest bidder – and David knows just the man to marry her…But Christa rebels against reason – and riches. Her fiery heart belongs to no man. Yet in the fateful instant her eyes touch upon a perfect stranger, she proves herself wrong. Lean, dark and utterly forbidden, Tall Cloud is the powerful chief of the Suquamish Indians – and Christa's destiny. Now nothing can come between a passion that knows no boundaries – neither an enraged brother, nor a savage enemy from a rival tribe…
SAVAGE TRUST: For beautiful, golden-haired Yvette, the train ride west to a new beginning had brought only death and disappointment. First her father had been killed by renegades, and then the man she'd promised to marry had been revealed as a reclusive cattle baron more than twice her age. When still another derailment landed her in the muscular arms of a very different suitor, Yvette didn't know what to think. Tall and lithe, Cloud Walker was sought after by all the women of his tribe, but his midnight dark gaze said the blue-eyed beauty was the only one for him. Though their love was forbidden, thought their passion might bring heartache, she knew her life was on track at last.
SAVAGE FLAMES: After her husband is murdered and her daughter disappears, Lavinia Price ventures alone into the Florida Everglades, where she is rescued by Seminole chieftain Wolf Dancer, a passionate and gentle warrior who has a special gift.