UNTAMED is a bit of a different story line for Nora Roberts and as an avid reader of her books, I found myself perplexed. I usually enjoy escaping the stress and deadlines in my life for a short while by becoming absorbed in the fictional book currently in my hands. With UNTAMED I just kept wondering WHY? - there was no escape for me in this one.
Jo Wilder comes from a long line of lion trainers and has made it to center ring when the new owner of the circus shows up to review the business aspect of the show. Jo, along with many of the other long time performers are worried that Keane Prescott will sell the circus or even disband it. She decides to try to convince him that the circus is more a family than a business and is frustrated by Keane's entire attitude.
She convinces Keane to travel with them and see first hand the excitement that can only come from being involved in a small-time circus like this one. Jo begins to think that he is softening towards her but after her performances with the big cats and her no-fear attitude, he puts the shield up once again. She can't figure it out and continues to wonder. Yep, it's the old "does he love me or not" plot. I won't give you any more details or the outcome since it doesn't have a lot going for it, you might as well be surprised with the ending! (By the way, I found the ending to be out of character for Jo, and it seemed as if Nora Roberts had to hurry and end the story so she threw it together at the last minute with little forethought).
Even though the story is mundane, there are a few touching scenes in this book. One of the best passages is when Jo is comforting her oldest lion. She's known for some time that he's ill and not going to live much longer. She makes the decision one night to end his suffering and euthanizes him. The warmth and compassion shown for this animal can be a prime example to many humans on how to care and open their hearts to other living things (human and animal alike). This is a great glimpse at what a human can accomplish if they open their heart and care.
Other than that, UNTAMED is weak on plot and subplots. Nora Roberts misses the boat with the opportunities to create unforgettable characters and has mediocre ones for the most part. Can you image the subplots when you could choose from the trapeze family, the circus clowns, roadies, etc.? My mind was in overdrive trying to fathom the possibilities. Unfortunately, Ms. Roberts's didn't come through on this aspect.
I'm not really sure if I recommend it or not - I guess I do, after all there is a lot of garbage on the market nowadays. It's a thin book and will only take a couple of hours to get through so you wouldn't be spending tons of time with it. If it consisted of several hundred pages, I have to advise against it. How's that for waffling?