Texas Wildflower
by Susan Wiggs, historical (2002, revised 1987 edition)
Zebra, $6.99, ISBN 0-8217-7335-6

Why do authors do things like this, "expanding", "revising", whatevering their backlist books that are best left locked up in the closet or sold to die-hard fans on eBay for a zillion dollars? Texas Wildflower is a 1987 romance, and no amount of tinkering short of completely tossing out the book and writing a new story can change the fact that it feels dated. Moldy. Ridiculous, even.

Remember those good old days when romance novels feature strange, bizarre plots that serve no purpose other than (a) force our hero and heroine to get married, and (b) have them spend the rest of the book hurling insults regarding her non-existant sluttiness? It is either reassuring or disappointing to learn that Susan Wiggs also isn't above at least one of such books in her career.

Not that I blame her for writing one - we all have our growing pains and all, don't we? - but egad, to rerelease it to the general public? That's like selling your used baby diapers at K-Mart.

Shiloh Mulvane's biggest aspiration in life is to be like, since she can't marry, her Greatest Daddy Evah. Daddy is a Texan PI, so she is a PI too. A crooked judge hires her to bring back Justin McCord, who is more alpha than all the alphabets put together, whom Judge Dredd here says has debauched his daughter. Justin then forces, lies, or whatever you call the exploiting of a heroine's stupidity for his advantage - whatever he did, he and Shiloh end up married and they spend their time unraveling secrets of dirty politics and saving Texas from being run by corrupt politicians - HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA - ahem, anyway, yeah, they save the world.

Along the way, he calls her a slut, she stomps her feet and pout, but he kisses her and everything and the clothes just melt, repeat, repeat, throw in some annoying information withholding and tedious brickbat snipings and I get a roughly 480-paged epic of nostalgia best left forgotten.

Texas Wildflower is very polished in the prose - I guess that's where the "revision" comes in - but ultimately, the plot and the conflict and the characters all scream "old school". If you want to relive the old days, well, saddle up and let Susan Wiggs take you on the roller coaster ride back in time. Otherwise, wait for her new new one.

Rating: 51

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