The Savage Past: The Evolution of Native American Romance
By Alexa Day
Liz Everly’s Tempting Will McGlashen releases this week, and to celebrate, my Lady Smut comrades and I are examining little slivers of the Revolutionary War era. It was suggested that I write a few words about the Native American romances from back in the day. Another colleague of mine described them as the first interracial romances, and with Columbus Day approaching, the subject has some relevance.
But I have to confess that my first thought was that those romances with the lurid covers and the titles featuring the word “Savage” probably came after Mandingo and are just as problematic. Mandingo, in fairness, is not so much a romance as it is a large dogpile of stereotypes and questionable sexual content. The “Savage” books are closer to the definition of romances, but their spines are built from the same stuff.
The shopworn figure of the Noble Savage. The ever-so-pure heroine’s dubious consent to life-changing Othersex. And the men on these covers … well … they look about as Native American as Tonto.
Not Jay Silverheels’s Tonto. Johnny Depp’s Tonto.
Maybe these are the first interracial romances, but I’m not sure it’s something I want to brag about.
The world has changed for the Native American romance, though. The two-dimensional Noble Savage has given way to the fully realized hero. More importantly, the Native American romance has stepped into the present day, recognizing that Native Americans are not locked in the past.
So where does a girl go to get a good Native American romance? I sought the advice of wiser, better read women. This post from Janga at Heroes and Heartbreakers praises Kathleen Eagle. The commenters at Romance Novels for Feminists add their own recommendations. Start your search with those references, and you’ll soon build an inspired TBR list.
As for me, I’m new to the subgenre. Janga’s post on Kathleen Eagle’s books mentioned This Time Forever, a romance featuring a hero whose life as a rodeo cowboy allowed his true identity to transcend racial labels. That’s a story I can get behind!
There have got to be newer titles out there. I’m definitely curious to hear about where these stories are going, so I’d love to hear from readers with experience with this subgenre. And while you’re out there checking out the state of the Native American romance, be sure to pre-order Liz Everly’s Tempting Will McGlashen. It’ll be hot and all ready for you on the 14th.
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