by Lori Foster, contemporary (2002)
Jove, $6.50, ISBN 0-515-13229-2

The guy in the stepback art needs a bra. A very big bra.

Anyway, enough of that. On to the story. Wild drives me wild. In confusion and befuddlement. It's a Fake Slut story, that starts off with a tease about the "Gypsy heroine" teasing our playboy hero with that all-time sexy line "I want you". Then as it turns out she's just some plain ol' Tamara Tremayne who just wants to have sex because she... well, it's a Harlequin Blaze thing.

Seriously. Tamara Tremayne opens a New Age shop that is currently being vandalized. Her dotty old relatives claim that it's the antic of a ghost. Tamara isn't so sure about that, but what the heck, you know what? She'll just sell the shop. Yes, that's it.

But first, before she moves out of town, she'll have mind-blowing cojone-busting sex with her neighbor Zane Winston. She has a secret weapon: an old book of sorts filled with ancient wisdom of the old and kinky. After all she has learned, she goes to Zane and tells him "I want you."

What a great education. The least she could do is to perform some amazing body contortions the way those statues in Hindu sex cult temples do, yes?

Zane, however, is more than willing. His six-inch cylinders are gearing to go. Then Tamara suddenly remembers that she is in a romance novel and goes "Eeee, I'm so shy!" Give me a break.

I finally figured out the above New Age shop subplot thing after two rereadings. Must be my age, but during the first reading, Wild seems like pages after pages of interminable sexual lusting. Alas, sexual lusting of the boring kind, filled with awkward imageries of taming wild animals, silk, hardness, and other PG-13 erotica-wannabe thingies. When the secondary characters arrive in the story, they irritate me with their annoying "Ghost! New age! Love!" squealing. When Zane and Tamara are together, they are lusting. When they are apart, they are lusting too.

There's so much lust in this story that it jettisons any semblance of plot or character development. There's so much lust that I am sure Zane's drumstick will break off due to too much pressure. I am sure at the end of the day Tamara and Zane will be admitted to the ICU due to lust-induced dehydration and exhaustion.

Unfortunately, the sex is written in silly euphemisms, so it's not that hot. With so little meat to bite on - did I say that? - Wild is a tedious, lumbering read that flounders towards the finishing line.

Not exactly the auspicious mainstream debut an author can hope for.

Rating: 48

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