by Patti Berg, contemporary (2002)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-81683-0
Cowboys, horses, city girl in horse valley, oi vey! What a spectacular splash of originality this is! I tell you, horse porn in a romance novel?
Okay, no horse porn, sorry. This isn't even Debbie Does Dallas, which is a pity, because gratuitous, cheap, sleazy (and badly filmed and acted) sex could do wonders for this missed opportunity. The hero, Mike Flynn is a preacher, while the heroine Charity Wilde is a showgirl. (Note to Ms Berg: naming a showgirl Charity as some attempt at irony is so overused - next time, try Skanky Tutti-Frutti.)
But Mike is a Horse Whisperer Preacher. Why is he a preacher? Gee, I don't know. I guess the publisher and the author don't want to offend the Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Scientologists, Shintoists, Wiccans, atheists, and satanists who will then not give $5.99 to Avon, so this is one amazing story about a preacher who doesn't seem to have any religious bone in his body. Mind you, I'm not asking for another pompous asshole frigid priest hero - there's already one Seventh Heaven on TV, thanksverymuch - but at least some convincing depths will be nice.
Charity, of course, is the sweetest, bestest, innocentest, mostest, Silhouettest ever. She flees the sinful city lights of Las Vegas after witnessing a murder - right into her brother's place in Wyoming, land of horse and cowboys and everything trite and boring about smalltown contemporary romances. She meets Mike.
Oh! For her, it's a difficult choice between Fame/Money or Family & Republican Smalltown Values/Cowboy. But in a shocking twist that stuns the world, Charity dumps Mike in the end for a life of sin, sex, and groupies in Hollywood. Kidding. As for Mike, for a most unreligious preacher (come to think of it, he's a preacher for what, exactly?), protests so often - oh, how can he even want that Vegas showgirl with big boobies and legs that go on forever? Besides, he doesn't want to leave Wyoming, so it's a no-go. But Little Buddha of Mikey here has its own ideas.
But surprise, Charity is a virgin! (Gee, I am so surprised, I tell you. So. Surprised. Yawn.) She is a sweet gal! She has a Bitch Preacher Daddy (which is why she is a showgirl, you know, because we all know showgirls are skanks and sluts except for that virginal heroine who is driven into this by her daddy - or something), but Mikey is different. He is a cowboy, after all! Lasso me, bay-bee!
The trite and stereotyped characterizations run all over the place as if the author is trying her best to score a home run in a baseball game where the winner gets a Duncan Mill Sweatshop Slavery Contract. The plot is just as uninspired, and the emotional conflicts don't ring real. If Something Wild has any intention of being deep and complex, or even wild, it has taken the wrong turn somewhere around Wyoming and ends up right in Mundanesville.
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