Silverstone Publishing, $2.99, ISBN 978-1-946534-03-3
Romantic Suspense, 2017
The Wilde Touch is a rather bewildering amalgamation of the usual “career is bad for women, it’s time to go back to the kitchen after servicing your big strong man” story, the fake nerd hero who is actually more of an action hero on a mission to locate his missing sister, and some erotic elements that involve sex clubs and such that still manage to feel vaguely tame.
I know I’m going to most likely cite irreconcilable differences with the author some time soon when the story opens with “Emmy-winning journalist” Alexandra Reed feeling guilty because she manages to get a guest to admit to corrupt and unethical practices on her show. I’m not sure why this is such a bad thing. And then the author assures me that what the heroine did is not something I should hold against Alexandra, because the guest views the admission as a means to get a golden parachute and perhaps a big book deal out of it. So, what is the problem here, exactly? The fact that the heroine is doing her job? Or maybe it’s because the heroine even having a job instead of lying on her back to make her man happy when she’s not asking him to tell her how she should think or behave?
Or, and she also still thinks about the guy from her past who dumped her, because all she really wants in life is to be loved.
In stories such as this one, we need an excuse for the heroine to recall her small town, to remember how a woman is placed onto this world to find a man and spend the rest of her life making him happy. So, in this case, her mother has cancer. To further drive home the fact that having a career is the worst thing a woman can do for herself, her network insists that she can only be away for a few weeks and she has to be back by this time or it’s bye bye, career.
Now, such stories aren’t just hard on women, men have to live up to unrealistic standards too. Crockett Wilde, despite having a name more suited for a career in adult films, is a gazillionaire and because of this, he has to behave like an alpha boor that says sexist things in the guise of being possessive and protective. Because he is a man and hence is required to bring home not only the bread but an entire bakery along with the stamina to service the heroine fifteen times a day, there is notably no guilt or tears over him having a career. Oh, and he may be a tech bloke but Crockett’s also a hard-bodied hunk with a posse of secondary characters that involve FBI agents and more. No real nerds allowed in the romance novel nerd club!
There is some seed of romantic suspense in here, along with the seed of erotic romance with him and Alex of course sharing a past and managing to bump uglies without knowing whom the other is at first, because they happen to be in the same club. Alex also suddenly have dreams of terrible things in the past, and then she has to play mother to some traumatized kid, and don’t forget that mommy has cancer. Oh, and her sex club is up to something shady, so she wants to look into it despite acting like the most visceral and unconvincing “journalist” ever. Crockett has family issues too, plus the poor guy also has to play the Christian Grey to an emotional mess of a heroine.
Consequently, because this story clocks in at “only” 375 or so pages, instead of 800, The Wilde Touch ends up like… well, it’s like stumbling upon a hot mess with a hundred things strewn all over the ground. I don’t know where to even start looking. There are just too many things here vying for attention, and worse, more new things get pulled out from the author’s rear end as the story progresses. Perhaps this is because this is the second book in a series, and I may have missed some crucial details because I didn’t read the first book, but the end result feels like a meaningless kind of chaos. There are subplots that don’t get resolved, while other subplots that seem to be carried on from a previous story. The erotic elements don’t feel sexy, the romantic suspense doesn’t feel suspense-y. To top it off, marrying into the family is like joining some kind of cult here – the people in the “family” all talk and think alike, and there is a disconcerting tendency of these people to go into public displays of randy urges to remind me that they are 100% boinking and I totally need to read their stories to discover how they are so doing it.
To conclude, this baby tries to cover too much ground when the page count doesn’t allow for so much baggage. The result is a story that tries to be many things – erotic romance, romantic suspense, drama, reunion romance, career woman finds her true calling in motherhood, et cetera – only to end up flailing instead right in the middle of nowhere. Mess, indeed.