I gave this story 4 stars and that is for the story itself. Compelling all the way through, enough to make me want to read the entire series - I am a sucker for a series.
There are problems with the writing, but I have attributed that to the "era" in which it was written. This was published in 1981, according to the back matter in the ebook. Though I wasn't reading romance novels at that time, I suspect, rather strongly, that publishers published using a more liberal acceptance quotient.
This was produced by Kensington Zebra as a mass market paperback. There were some severe editing problems. I don't know if they occurred during e-book formatting or were actually present in the printed version. Such things as abundant misspelled words outside the generally accepted range, odd font characters such as upside down question marks, exclamation marks mid-sentence, double periods, captitals in mid-sentence and myriad other problems in that vein.
Many paragraphs contained endless sentences beginning with I, she, he, their. One paragraph had 8 sentences beginning with He. Makes for choppy reading.
Some phrasing struck me as much too modern for the period. "Miss Goody Two Shoes" came into being with "The History of Little Goody Shoes," which was published in 1765 by John Newbery. Savage Ecstasy takes place about that time. It seems a bit of a stretch that the heroine, Alisha, would be familiar with the phrase.
"Knight in Shining Armor" came into being in the 1790's.
"He is handsome and cool." Cool is definitely 1950s and '60s.
"Save face," was used repeatedly, to mean save his (the Indian chief's) reputation. I'd only heard it with reference to losing face in the Chinese culture and upon research, I found that the phrase never appeared until the June 1899 edition of The Harmsworth Magazine.
"Fill you in on." Sounds too modern to me, though I couldn't find any origin for the phrase.
Same with "Go easy on you."
"Serious gravity of her situation," begged my answer, "That's the best kind."
"Winning him points," again sounded an odd phrase to use in this historical.
None of the above phrases are deal breakers, but as someone who reads historicals and writes them, it is important to me that the tenor of the book is set by the phrasing.
The omniscient point of view is very cumbersome and something I suspect a publisher would never allow a writer to do today. I admire Ms. Taylor for her mastery of it, but it makes the reader a mere spectator, removing us from everything that is happening, much like watching a play with a narrator.
Omniscient is the epitome of "telling." With phrases like, "She had no idea what her actions would cause." "She didn't know why..." "She was unaware of the stares..." "She didn't realize..." "Little did she know," the reader is made aware of coming plot points that, in my humble opinion, we shouldn't be. I'd rather have the story unfold, without me knowing something, but not knowing quite what.
The reader is clued in that there are things that will happen without any lead up to them in story form.
I found the setting of time (1760's) lacking, particularly in dialogue. There was little effort made to account for social mores. Even in the wild and woolly west, people behaved in certain ways, either by the dictates of their religion, or possibly their upbringing. An officer says, "When I head back to the colonies." Alisha, the heroine, says, "Believe me, I would grab the opportunity." She is an English woman of breeding. "There only one catch." "She's crazy about him."
Also, there is a character, Jeffery, who thinks that because Alisha has been the captive of Gray Eagle, she is to be used by said Jeffery as well. Though during this period in history women were treated with respect, Jeffery barely knows her before he invites her to share his quarters and his bed. When she refuses him, he gets rough with her and forces his attentions on her. She rebuffs him, and he's angry, but the narrator tells us that he will make her see things his way.
I found that not at all in keeping with what I've read of history, though in isolated cases, I'm sure it happened. However, he had re-captured her from the Indian camp, witnessed the hardships she'd endured, yet sought to inflict more damage by his own actions. All the while, another woman at the fort touted his gentlemanly manner.
There are entirely too many men attracted to her for my taste and vowing, the narrator tells us, to make her their own. They are falling in love with her at first sight, all over the place. Four in all, with one old guy thinking she's quite attractive, but he has a shrew for a wife, which, honestly had to have made Alisha even more appealing. Most only want to possess her, but all love her, at least privately.
Men routinely curse in front of the lady, something that I find difficult to believe they'd do so en masse. Certainly one of cruder demeanor might, but not as a matter of course. Men thought much of their honor in that time period.
The use of Indian words was rampant, and understandably so on one hand, but then there was often no explanation as to the meaning, making it difficult and stunting.
I have read several reviews of this book, where readers decried the story because of the way Alisha was treated by her Indian, Gray Eagle. By today's standards, it would indeed be considered appalling, but one mustn't judge a story set in the 1760s, which depicts events as they actually occurred, by today's standards of behavior. Indian women were submissive, as were white women. Men were the lords and masters of their domains and "ruled" their kingdoms with that authority.
To fault an author for portraying life as it was, as unpleasant as that might have been, is unfair, as Ms. Taylor got the history absolutely correct. It is also patently unfair to critique the book in 2012, when it is 30 years old, because the publishing company "allowed" a style that we no longer see. Ms. Taylor has had 9 NY Times best sellers in her long career, so the lady isn't shabby.
The purpose of this review isn't to criticize, but merely point out the things that bothered me about the book. However, none of them detracted from the story itself, which was strong and compelling, as I've said. I look forward to all of the sequels, which I have queued up on my Kindle.