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Tender Savage Mass Market Paperback – April 27, 2010
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About the Author
Iris Johansen is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including Killer Dreams, On the Run, Countdown, Firestorm, Fatal Tide, Dead Aim, and No One to Trust. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
“It will be dangerous, Miss Clavel,” Paco said gravely. “I won’t lie to you. You could be raped or tortured, even killed.”
Lara Clavel tried to hide her shiver of fear from Paco Renalto’s keen gaze. In the short time she had been in the major’s tent, she had learned that there was a great deal more to Renalto than elfin features and an air of insouciance. He had a sharp, probing intelligence. She shouldn’t have been surprised. He couldn’t have risen to be Ricardo Lázaro’s second in command with only puckish charm to recommend him. She forced a smile. “I really wish you wouldn’t tell me about all these dire things that could happen. I’m scared enough already.”
“You have to be warned. Ricardo wouldn’t permit you to go into such a dangerous situation without your knowing full well what it might cost you. I can’t either.”
“Not even to save the leader of your great revolution?” Lara’s tone was deliberately flippant.
“Not even then.” A sudden smile lit Paco Re?nalto’s face. “You cannot choose without knowing the facts, and that’s what this revolution is all about. Ricardo wouldn’t thank me for discarding those principles just to save his life.”
“No? I find that hard to believe. Self-preservation is the first law of nature.”
“Some things are worth dying for.” Paco paused. “And so are some people. I’d give my life for Ricardo Lázaro.”
And so would a hundred thousand other revolutionaries on this blasted island in the Carib?bean, Lara thought wearily. The man seemed capable of hypnotizing everyone who came in contact with him. Lázaro was not only a brilliant military strategist, but the most charismatic of leaders, and the war he had waged against the Communist junta on Saint Pierre had made headlines around the world for the last nine years. It wasn’t often a figure as dashing as Lázaro came on the scene, and the media had made the most of every opportunity to capitalize on the general’s magnetism. Five years ago Lázaro had smuggled his book Right to Choose out of Saint Pierre and it had become a worldwide best seller acclaimed both for its philosophy and for its poetic style. A poet and a warrior. How was anyone supposed to fight against a combination like that? She just wished Brett hadn’t been one of those thousands to fall under his spell. She looked intently into Paco Renalto’s eyes. “Yet you caution me against risking my own life for the man.”
“You’re not one of us. You’re an American and you’ve told me yourself you have no sympathy for our cause.” Paco leaned back in his camp chair. “I’ve been with Ricardo since we were students together at the university. He’s closer than a brother to me.”
Brett had been with the revolutionaries for only six months and he expressed the same kind of loyalty to Lázaro—loyalty that had landed him in a wheelchair in a clinic in Barbados. “I don’t have to be one of Ricardo Lázaro’s so-called adorers to help him escape from prison. You said yourself that the fact I’m not a citizen of Saint Pierre is in my favor. The junta’s secret police has no record or fingerprints on file for me.”
“True.” Paco gazed at her thoughtfully. “We could falsify your documents to make sure you appear to be a vulnerable target to Jurado.”
“Captain Emilio Jurado. He commands the security police at the Abbey. You’ve heard of the Abbey?”
“Yes.” Everyone in the world knew of the security prison known as the Abbey. Formerly a religious monastery, it had been converted into one of the most horrendous political prisons in the world. Human rights organizations were constantly condemning the atrocities reported to take place there.
“That’s where they’re keeping Ricardo. He’s been there for over five months.”
Lara flinched and her grasp tightened on the wooden arms of her chair. She should have known they’d keep a prisoner of Lázaro’s importance at that hellish place. Dear heaven, what was she doing sitting there in the middle of a military stronghold trying to talk Renalto into letting her help free Lázaro? She wasn’t one of those tough guerrilla women she had seen as she had been led through the camp. She hated even the thought of war. “I’m surprised that Lázaro’s still alive if he’s been at the Abbey that long.”
“They stopped torturing him after the first few weeks. They knew he wouldn’t break and they didn’t want to make a martyr of Ricardo by kill?ing him.” Paco’s lips tightened grimly. “How?ever, they still hope to damage his image by forcing him to betray us. Jurado’s been coming at him from another angle for the last month.”
What kind of man could withstand weeks of torture inflicted by men more sophisticated in the art of cruelty than the priests of the Spanish Inquisition, Lara wondered. “How do you know all this?”
“We have a man at the Abbey. He’s one of Jurado’s officers. We couldn’t get him in the cell block, but he works in Jurado’s office and is occasionally able to exert a certain influence.” Paco looked down at the papers on his desk. “Why are you willing to help us, Miss Clavel?”
“Lara,” she corrected. “And I told you why.”
He nodded. “I knew your brother well. He’s a brave man.”
“He’s an idealistic idiot who fell under Lázaro’s spell like all the rest of you,” she said bluntly. “And look where it got him.”
“And you don’t consider yourself an idealist?”
“Of course not. I’m as hardheaded as they come. The only reason I’m here is that I know the moment they release my brother from the hospital he’ll be back here on this godforsaken island trying to rescue Lázaro from that prison.” She gestured impatiently. “The doctors say he needs another six months of outpatient therapy, but there’s no way he’ll do it. If I don’t get Lázaro out of prison before he’s released, he’ll be hobbling down here on crutches.”
“And that’s the only reason?”
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Lara Clavel, an American, is out to make sure her twin brother Brett isn't wounded again, or worse, in the fight for freedom of St. Pierre, a Caribbean island country (fictional). So she agrees to risk her life to save the life of the poet warrior who is the rebel leader, Ricardo Lazaro. She agrees to purposefully get caught and taken to the dreadful Abbey prison where he is being held and the guards use her to try and get to him, forcing Lazaro to take her virginity. In the process, Ricardo falls in love with her. Once free, he does not intend to let her go. Then suddenly all that changes...
Don't get me wrong. This is a well-written romance by one of the greats. But there could have been so much more story. I didn't want it to end so soon. So, if you're looking for a quick read that won't disappoint, get this one--and the related one, ONE TOUCH OF TOPAZ (I'd read it first). But if you like her very complex stories, you might want to consider her other historical novels that I believe justify 5 stars:
--The Wind Dancer series: The Wind Dancer, Storm Winds, and Reap the Wind (buy the 1991 version of this last one) and there's a 4th, Final Target I've not read (for which the reviews are not as good)
--The Beloved Scoundrel
--The Magnificent Rogue
--The first in the Sedikhan Series: The Golden Barbarian
Ricardo Lazaro, legendary poet-warrior and rebel leader of Saint Pierre, had been captured saving her brother, and Lara Clavel had come to the Caribbean island ready to risk her life to free him. She knew the rescue plan would work only if she persuaded his jailer that the powerful freedom fighter had fallen in love with her...but once she faced the daring man of danger in his cramped cell she felt a savage desire to be possessed, to be bound to him in every way a man and woman could be! Ricardo was desperate to spare this golden angel any pain her brave act might cost, but he was wild with desire - and trapped by circumstance into taking all she offered. Only his strength had kept him alive through years of war...until Lara's sweet fire made him remember what the struggle had taken away. Once, he'd told her that some things were worth fighting for, but could she make him see that happiness and love were the most precious of these?
The image already scanned by someone else, here's the 'back of the book':
The Charistmatic Revolutionary:
Ricardo Lázaro, legendary poet-warrior and rebel leader of Saint Pierre, had been captured saving her brother, and Lara Clavel hd come to the Caribbean island ready to risk her life to free him. She knew the resue plan would work only if she persuaded his jailer that the poweful freedom fighter had fallen in love with her... but once she faced the daring man of danger in his cramped cellshe felt a savage desire to be possessed, to be bound to him in every way a man and woman could be! Ricardo was desparate to spare this golden angel any pain her brave act might cost, but he was wild with desire - and trapped by circumstance into taking all she offered. Only his strength had kept him alive through the years of war... until Lara's sweet fire made him remember what the struggle had taken away. Once, he'd told her that some things were worth fighting for, but could she make him see that happiness and love were the most precious of these?
The plot involves an idealistic young woman who works to free a handsome rebel who is determined to dethrone a militaristic government. They escape into the jungle where they live and make passionate love. When the rebellion ends, there are some obstacles which must be overcome if they are to be together. In the end, all is well and they live happily ever after.