Wanting You
by Nan Ryan, historical (1999)
MIRA, $5.99, ISBN 1-55166-521-2

This book is hysterically funny, and for the wrong reasons. It also cost me a nice banana split and I am not happy.

Nan Ryan's previous book, The Princess Goes West, is so unbelievably campy with its cowboy-novel tone and one-dimensional caricature of a lone cowboy hero, that I am sure at the time of reading that Nan Ryan is having fun. So in the spirit of fun, I enjoy reading that book. Now, this book made me groan when I realize that maybe Miss Ryan wasn't having fun in The Princess Goes West - perhaps this sort of cheeseball writing is her style after all. Believe me, I've read bad cowboy novels with just the same tone and characterization as Wanting You.

When I sat down to read this book, I just had a long day in the lab and I was totally exhausted. My husband has just brought back some giant bananas (believe me, they were big) so I scoop out two scoops of chocolate chip ice cream, two scoops of chocolate ones, two more of raspberry swirl and another peanut butter cookie one for good measure. Then it's chocolate sauce oozed liberally and sprinkled over with peanut flakes. Yummy. Sometimes we need calories to function.

I prepare to dig in and die of bliss when on page 39 we have the Other Woman grabbing our hero Brit's Mr Wonky and leading him into the bedroom, followed by the most unappealing... uhm... eating of banana splits ever. I looked at my nice banana split and lose my appetite.

The story sounds fun. Anna Regent Wright is rescued from an Apache settlement and returned to her long-lost family. She's now the heiress. The erstwhile heir, Brit Caruth is not exactly ecstatic - not outside the bedroom anyway - because it seems he has worked hard for his inheritance. So there you go, the stage for a long I hate you let's boink feud.

Anna starts out a determined woman intending to seize whatever chance that comes her way to happiness. Good for her, I thought. Then comes Brit and all her brain cells got poisoned by estrogen overloading. There's this awfully hilarious scene in the beginning when Anna is ogling Brit's muscles that moved like well-oiled machinery while he eats at the dining table. She sees his biceps moving and grows so nervous she felt beads of perspiration forming at her hairline as she noted how the fabric of the white linen shirt he wore stretched so tantalizingly across the flat, hard muscles of his chest, and that the shirt's collar was open, revealing his smooth, tanned throat. Uhm, nice. Reminds me of the time I taught my daughter how to select good meat at the market. No wonder people make fun of romance. Brit must have a hard time eating because let's face it - to flex muscles you need to hold your breath and pull in your tummy while stretching the muscles you want to show off. To eat and flex one's muscles... aye caramba, they better have the paramedics nearby. And since when does one's throat muscles move like well-oiled machinery? Brit must have a very large tree trunk of a throat. This scene alone had me in fits of laughter as I imagined really funny scenarios.

Oh, and Brit, I'm convinced he's not human, but a giant walking Mr Wonky. The maternal LaDextra, Brit's stepgranny, describes her step-grandson as intelligent and hardworking, but I'll chalk that up as observations of an indulgent grandmother. He is so frequently described as lusty, virile, and there are so many scenes of him with his mistress and references to him and other women that he ceases to become real to me. He's a caricature of the oversexed hero, with no real depth or personality. He can't be too smart if he can't even see the obvious signs that Anna may be the real heiress after all. That he can sleep with her while all the time plotting to overthrow her and not trusting her smacks of The Gigolo Club charter. And when he declares he is in love with her ever since he met her, I have to chuckle. Yes, he's in love with Anna because he can't get it up with his mistress. How quaint!

Then there's this funny scene where Brit initiates Anna to the joys of procreation. Never mind that she's quite a dimwit to think a man who is cold to her all the time can be in love with her. Never mind that when Brit makes obnoxiously sexist pig remarks about seducing her she gets all tingly and warm at her womanly parts instead of kneeing his Mr Wonky and kicking him in the stomach as that disgusting oaf falls down in pain. In fact, I don't think I can post snippets of the Grand Defloration Scene here without being arrested for bad taste. So I'll just say that you shouldn't read it in a public place. Collapsing in fits of laughter in front of everyone isn't really dignified.

What is Nan Ryan thinking, I will never know. I hope this is just another book where she's just letting her hair down and having fun at our expense. I sincerely hope this is not her usual writing style. But hey, for grand comedy, I'd recommend WY. It's only a bit sad that I end up laughing at and not with the characters.

Rating: 19

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