REVIEW: A Taste of the Untamed by Susan StephensSunday, December 23, 2012 1:00
A Modern/Presents with a blind heroine! And it’s treated sensitively, although I have a few issues which seem to be partly the fault of the restrictive format. But it is refreshing to read the story of a heroine who copes very well with her condition and doesn’t get an “It’s a miracle!” cure.
The story begins with a prologue, when Grace first got an indication that there was something wrong. The story itself starts two years later, when Grace is blind. She had “a virus” that deprived her of her sight. Although the virus is never defined, there are such conditions, so I could happily accept it and continue reading.
Grace is sent to Argentina, to the vineyard owned by polo player and estate owner Nacho. Although the blurb describes Nacho as a wild playboy, there is no sign of that in this book. Instead I read about a man who cares about his family and his business and takes responsibility for his own actions. There also isn’t much polo, but there are some great horses and some riding. I like Nacho better for his character as depicted in the book rather than as described in the blurb.
Grace and Nacho had met before she lost her sight, so she knows what he looks like. That means there isn’t a Lionel Ritchie moment, for which I’m also grateful. There is plenty of touching later on, though. Having just completed writing a book about a deaf heroine, I know how hard it is to keep it up and not to assign things to the character that they can’t possibly experience, so the fact that Grace could see once meant she could describe things in a visual way. People who are blind from birth experience and describe things very differently.
Grace had been attracted to Nacho, but he found her too immature, and she had been dazzled by his star appeal, so their one near-sex encounter wasn’t successful. Now they find themselves attracted to each other, even though Nacho doubts Grace’s ability to do her job.
Grace is to assess Nacho’s wine for a big order her boss is planning to make. Nacho needs the order, although the continued prosperity of his business doesn’t seem to depend on it. But he wants Grace. There are some touching scenes where Grace learns to ride, and I know this is possible, is indeed a therapy for the blind. There are even horses trained to carry the blind, just as there are guide dogs (seeing-eye dogs).
I am concerned with the total lack of mention of protection. I’d have thought that Nacho would want to protect this woman, especially since she had no intention of staying with him when they first have sex. It’s not a matter of morality or teaching, but the lack of condoms pulled me out of the story a couple of times. It makes the story seem old-fashioned, and it also indicates a lack of concern about caring for one’s partner or oneself.
However, for me two years is too short a time for Grace to become so proficient. She’d learned Braille, learned to be independent, and learned how to be a sommelier from one of the finest wine suppliers in Europe. I’m not quite sure how she met her mentor, either. It seems a huge stroke of luck, particularly since she hadn’t been training for that career before.
Being rendered blind in a short time would set up a deep trauma that would take time to overcome. It’s not like the “normal” stages of grief, because it is a continuing condition. I could believe she is learning to live independently and even that she’s in the process of learning Braille and perhaps could have gone to the vineyard as a trainee. Then she learns to ride. In short, once she becomes blind, Grace becomes Superwoman. I would have given her five years, not two, to accomplish all these things. One at a time, maybe, but not all at once.
Having said that, I’m delighted to read a disabled heroine in such a delightful setting with a hero she truly deserves.
The wild, unpredictable polo champion is restoring his sprawling Argentinian vineyard and he needs a sommelier who can match his exacting tastes .
Without her sight, Grace’s other senses have been heightened. In spite of her inexperience, it’s made her perfect for the job, and it’s not just the wine that has her mouth watering!
Nacho is expecting meek and vulnerable, but what he gets is fiery independence, and a sensuality that excites his jaded palate!
Read an excerpt.