Ehd’s life since he lost his tribe has been quiet, simple, and lonely. While he’s managed to survive and find shelter, he’s certainly not thriving. Used to hunting with and working with others, he’s been alone for too many seasons, barely managing to provide for himself in an unforgiving world. So when he finds a strange young woman caught in his pit trap, he’s determined to make her his mate.
Only she doesn’t behave like any other human he’s met. Her name word is too complicated… she’s dressed strangely, doesn’t seem to be impressed with his wood stores and dried meat, and makes altogether too much noise. She can’t even weave baskets and doesn’t seem to know what to do — other than wash far too often in the cold water just through the forest. But surely if he can show he that he can provide for her, that he will protect her, she will come to like him, maybe even enough that she’ll want to stay.
I didn’t actively compare it to the fanfiction version, but given that I read that one several times, I’m sure any big changes would have stood out. For those that have read it before, the book doesn’t offer much in the way of anything new, though that may not be a bad thing. I think adding some new twist or changing the storyline in any significant way might well have ruined it — or at least taken away some of its shine.
Caveman is the new sexy, as crazy as that may sound. And while I’ve read the story many times in its fanfiction form, it was no less entertaining this time around. I can’t say I ever imagined a story about a modern woman landing in prehistoric times to be such a sweetly emotional adventure, but at this point, I’d expect nothing less from Shay Savage. Somehow she always manages to pull me into tales that I never expect to have any interest in, and each time I finish them, I’m left wondering just how the hell she does it.
Transcendence is told almost entirely from Ehd’s point of view, and his thoughts are simultaneously simple and complex. He wants Beh for his mate, and he’s determined to show her that he’s worthy. But at the same time, he’s accutely conscious of her moods, reasoning out her possible reactions, making every effort to be accommodating — even if he doesn’t understand her odd ways at all. Seeing it all through his eyes makes for a fascinating view, and while that sets it apart from your typical romance story, in many ways it makes it so much better.
So many books in the romance genre rely on contrived drama — someone stretching out a lie for far too long, someone getting jealous of a modelesque ex, someone refusing to admit their feelings or allowing themselves to be put in a situations that “isn’t what it looks like.” Transcendence is free of the expected cliches and spins romance in a fresh, almost pure way. Sure, there’s angst and danger and miscommunication and crazy hormones at play — what do you expect with a caveman to whom language in any form is foreign? But it’s all part of being in another era, not another soap opera.
The story is smartly written, never truly divulging the time era in which everything takes place, although there are plenty of clues to suggest Paleolithic. And since that era saw several species of humans living concurrently, it stands to reason that Ehd’s kind weren’t necessarily capable of language. Then again, the distinct lack of evidence as to when language among humans even became possible will most likely leave that question forever unanswered. The point is that while Transcendence is most certainly more for fun than anthropological accuracy, it’s pretty damned impressive that it doesn’t trounce all over history just to make itself work. I can really only spot one thing that doesn’t fit — the hyaenodon. Technically, it existed alongside some of our very earliest predecessors, but it was long extinct before anything even resembling a human emerged and began creating tools.
What I loved most about the story, though, was the ending. I’d forgotten how affecting it was, how much it made me feel for Ehd and his Beh, how much it made me want to look up every fact and theory and wild supposition about the Lovers of Valdaro. It’s impossible to know whether our distant ancestors — especially these fictional ones so much older than the Valdaro pair — were even capable of the kind of logic and emotion that make this such an incredible read, but Ehd and Beh certainly make me want to believe in the beautiful possibility.