The first novel I wrote, Jayna Incarnate, was, at heart, a bodice ripper featuring a beautiful, twenty-something woman who falls into the clutches of a notorious sea captain (feel free to read pirate into that) named Shoale. Wow, was he was a terrific bad guy! A dark, complex, determined alpha male, obsessed with possessing the heroine. The premise of the book was more complex than that, of course, involving time travel and daring escapes and true love found in the Scottish highlands. It was good enough to get an Eppie nomination under the category of mainstream novels. It’s not currently on the market, but I plan to rework it and get it back out there because … did I mention what a delicious bad guy Shoale was? Mackenzie MacAndrews is equally as wonderful in the role of the good guy, but somehow the good guy doesn’t resonate as strongly.
Upon hearing that erotic romances sell well, I wrote nearly a half dozen. In the first of them, an area in a now-wooded area in modern day time was the same place where a horrific Revolutionary war crime occurred. On Halloween evening in 2004, the fabric of the time/space continuum is lifted and a lonely, disconnected woman steps back in time to 1783 and into the life of a man who is haunted by his past, restrained by eighteenth century manners and yet consumed with desire for woman he believes he willed to him.
Another erotic romance was a rather twisted, modern day tale of abduction where the tables eventually get turned. The review from The Romance Studio said the book, ‘will have people talking. What would you do if a man kidnapped you and then went about trying to make every one of your dreams come true?’
Untamed, my newest release, is the authentic reimagining of the legend of Tarzan. Once again, there is a strong, complex alpha male and an abduction and a torrid love scene. Still another of the erotic romances was also abduction for the sake of revenge, because a man believes his true love betrayed him. Anyone sense a recurrent theme in the vicinity? What’s astonishing is that I didn’t see the pattern until I was probably a dozen books in. Once I saw it, it glared right back at me like a crazed, hairy monster. Unblinking. Unrepentant. Insatiable.
As a side note, and not that I’m disagreeing with the fact that I desperately need therapy, but, in my own defense, I have written books that involved no abductions or forced captivity. Not many of them, but some.
Before I wrote Untamed, I put a lot of thought into where and how to begin the story. The question became, if the story was true, how did it come about? I wanted a logical base, and so I researched until I found it. The next effort was to flesh out this man who’d been abandoned in an African jungle as a six year old and spent the next twenty years cut off from civilization. Civility and language is buried deep within in his mind, but he’s lived according to his most basic needs for two decades. When he sees a woman in the camp of men – a camp of men scouring the jungle for him – he senses she is his mate, and sets out to make it happen. There is no question as to morally right or wrong – not until much later when he’s being reintroduced to morals and the rules and expectations of society.
There have been many comments on the ‘love’ scene between the untamed man and Arianna, the female protagonist. Some positive; ‘I loved the rawness,’ some feeling it wasn’t necessary. And it’s not the first time a scene I wrote caused controversy, but, as an author, it is vital to be true to a character. I want to write characters well enough that they come alive on the pages. More than that, I want them to direct each action and scene. It doesn’t matter if I, as the writer, like what they’re doing or saying or thinking or not. What’s important is that it’s true to them. The question – the only question – is what would this character do at this time?
In Untamed, Arianna is just as interesting a character study as Zan. She’s an outsider of sorts in that she’s a transplant from America. She came to live with an uncle at the age of nine, so she’s able to blend perfectly, but she’s still ‘an American, whose father is in trade,’ as her suitor, Marshall Derringer, reminds her.
She’s spirited and intelligent and self-aware, but some of that awareness came from mistakes she made in the past, mistakes born of a desire to please the father than eagerly gave away custody of her. She’s also living in a century in which women are not fully in control of their destiny. In 1908, things were changing for women – fashion, opportunities, expectations, but amongst high society, there was often a fierce resistance to change. It was still expected that women would marry correctly and according the wishes and best interest of their family.
Most young women her age were fixated on their appearance and their apparel, their position in society and on the man they would (or did) marry. Arianna isn’t immune to these pressures, but she has the advantage of having been taken in by an uncle who is a renowned photographer and avid adventurer and who is open minded enough to allow her to tag along.
Like most of us, she’s fumbling her way along toward what feels like the right path, but there are so many complicated roundabouts and unexpected forks in the road. The sudden obstacles and difficult choices are what make us who we are, and both Zan and Ari face a lot of them.
For as many stories as I’ve created that feature some form of forced captivity, I’ve written even more in which two ‘outsiders’ strive to come together to form a perfect union. Untamed is one of them. At least, I don’t think that’s something I need therapy for.
So What’s The Book About You Ask?
In 1908, on a mission to find a new breed of ape in central Africa, an unfathomable thing is discovered – a wild, white man, living amongst gorillas. Local villagers call him matokeo ya utafutaji kwa, the untamed one.
Joining the team of hunters and trackers searching for matokeo ya utafutaji kwa is Arianna Day, the 21-year-old niece of the expedition’s leader. She catches the untamed one’s eye and, believing she is meant for him, he takes her captive and claims her for his own, body and soul.
When Arianna is rescued, the untamed one is captured, and they are sent their separate ways: the wild man to learn language and social skills he’d long forgotten, Arianna back home to England to try to fit back into her old life. A promising marriage proposal awaits, but thoughts of the untamed one haunts her.
Amidst the backdrop of London in the summer of 1908, as the Olympic Games are hosted and the Franko-British Exhibition is held, the now-civilized wild man returns home, with his original name restored: Sebastian or ‘Zan’ Shaffer. He and Arianna are drawn together again only to be ripped apart by social convention and Marshall Derringer, the man determined to have her as his wife. But Zan is not the only one with an untamed heart…
About Jane Shoup
Originally from Southern Indiana, (born in Evansville, grew up in Newburgh,) I now reside in Greensboro, North Carolina. My day job is that of a real estate agent, although the goal is become a full time writer … who actually eats regularly and pays the bills. I’m exceedingly proud of my young adult daughters, Mackenzie, Allyson and Hayley. They’re lovely and wacky and smart and basically my favorite people on earth.
If I had to describe myself . . . I’d say upbeat, highly imaginative, passionate, restless, easily bored, humorous, stubborn, spiritual and truly blessed.
I love writing. I love getting caught up in another time and place. Honestly – it’s often a disappointment to have to return to reality. My favorite genre tends to be whatever I’m working on at the moment. I write historical fiction, action/adventure, suspense, fantasy and more, all of it with an element of romance to it.
That’s about it, but if you want to know more, read my stuff. I’m in every page.
Jane Shoup’s Website: http://janeshoup.com/
Jane Shoup on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jane-Shoup/338170666219714
On Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18159631-untamed
Diversion Books: http://www.diversionbooks.com/ebooks/untamed
Jane Shoup is giving away an e-copy of Untamed to one lucky commenter on this blog post. Tell us your most favorite romance set in the wilderness and why you loved it so.
Don’t forget to leave a valid email id to contact you with if you happen to be the winner.
Giveaway starts: September 10, 2013 – 00:00 hours MVT
Giveaway ends: September 11, 2013 – 00:00 hours MVT
MVT -> GMT +5
Best of luck and don’t forget to help spread the word!