'You and I are humans, and there is something complicated between us”: Untamed and Queering the Heterosexual Historical Romance
McAlister, J, 'You and I are humans, and there is something complicated between us': Untamed and Queering the Heterosexual Historical Romance, Journal of Popular Romance Studies, 5, (2) pp. 1-21. ISSN 2159-4473 (2016) [Refereed Article]
Anna Cowan’s Untamed was one of the most discussed and reviewed historical romance releases of 2013. It was a polarising, unusual text, particularly due to its hero: a bisexual cross-dressing duke who passes as a woman for more than half the book. While it adheres to the structure and many of the tropes of what we might think of as a typical heterosexual historical romance, it is also recognisably queer. Untamed is a text preoccupied with the rigid becoming fluid. In this article, I will explore its queerness by reading it alongside Georgette Heyer’s The Masqueraders, which also features a cross-dressing hero. I will draw on David Halperin’s explication of the word "queer" to explore three key aspects of Untamed: the ways in which it approaches gender, social roles, and history, and how these contribute to the book’s project of fluidity. I will also examine online reviews of the book to examine how readers reacted to Untamed’s attempt to queer the straight romance: is this something for which there is an appetite? If so, what does this mean for historical romance in the future?