REVIEW: Wild, Wild West by Charlene Teglia
Dear Ms. Teglia:
My blogging partner, Jayne, was a fan of your early e-work, Yule Be Mine particularly. When I received Wild Wild West, I was curious what my reaction would be. I was both excited and nervous like any virgin reader is with a new to her author. Fortunately, Wild Wild West and I fit together well. If I were to be asked what I thought erotic romance was, I would hand the questioner your book because this is what I want in the subgenre. As in any well written book, the excerpts show how wonderful the story is better than I. The collection is a series of novellas featuring three male friends and three female friends and the control games couples play in the bedroom. While these might not be politically correct novellas, they are easy to read and hotter than a wildfire on an open plain.
A Man’s Word Is His Bondage. The collection opens with the story of Gabe Wilson and Willow Daniels. Willow is the poet in residence. Her term is done and she’s heading back east to take up the reins of the “real world”. She had hoped to find her writing voice and establish her career as a writer but she did one novel and it was bad. Willow is certain that writing is not her future. Gabe is reluctantly dragged to Lemon Espresso by his two best pals. He’s sure that by stepping into the nancy coffee shop, “rumors of his advanced mental deterioration could be flying like sand on the wind.”
Gabe, Chet and Reuben have deposited themselves in chairs at “The Lemon” to listen, ostensibly, to a poetry reading.
“Love–"love–"love–"for love, I die.”
“For love of my ears, I’d get a gun and help him,” Chet volunteered.
“For love of poetry, he deserves to die,” Gabe agreed.
Teaching English to junior high kids should have steeled him to any abuse of the mother tongue but his students wrote better stuff than this.
But then Willow arrives and “Gabe heard music.”
She'd seduced him with a poem. Made him hot. Made him want to answer her invitation and then let their bodies do the talking.
Ease down, Cowboy, he thought. It was just a poem. Words. No need to take them to heart as if she'd written them for him, a personal invitation.
Before he'd recovered himself, Willow walked over. "Are you going to read tonight?–?
"Yes,–? he said, before he could stop himself.
Which was how he came to be standing on the stage at the Lemon, looking straight into Willow Daniel's dark eyes, delivering the old and well-memorized lines, "She walks in beauty like the night– –?
This better get him into Willow's good graces, because it was going to destroy his reputation completely.
Gabe is convinced that Willow is the woman for him and he spends the next 24 hours convincing Willow that staying in Montana and pursuing her writing career with him by her side is exactly the right thing. It’s not hard to guess what the ending of this novella is.
Ready to Play. Jolie McIntyre is giving herself one summer of wildness before she buttons up and takes on the practice of law. After debating her options, she picks one Chet Andrews who has been kind of a thorn in her side since he first started frequenting The Lemon Espresso. The night of Willow’s poetry reading, Jolie offers the “get me through the wild summer days” offer to Chet and he’s savvy enough to pick up the invitation and run with it.
Jolie’s a confident woman. “If you expected me to blush and get all flustered, you haven't been paying attention. I don't embarrass easily.” Chet, however, is happy to challenge her, in every way.
“Why do you want me to spend the night with you if you win?”
Chet glanced at her, then plucked his hat off her head and resettled it on his. “Because if we're going to do this, I want to do it right.”
“And that involves me spending the night.”
He shook his head and heaved a mock sigh. "Already you're giving me a hard time. Instead of claiming some other prize, I'm very generously offering to give you a night in my bed, because I know perfectly well once is not going to be enough and we'll probably need a rematch in the morning, too. Are you grateful? No. Questions, complaints, demands. You're high maintenance.”
There’s a soft humor that permeates the story. This particular passage is something you rarely see, a man teasing a woman about her weight, but Chet does it because he knows how confident Jolie is with herself, her body and her sexuality.
Jolie laughed. "What about how it'll look if you get pulled over? Caught with a woman who has her pants unzipped.–?
"It'll look like I'm about to get lucky, but we can probably explain it away by saying you ate too much dinner and felt
Jolie is certain that while Chet is great as a lover he couldn’t possibly be patient enough to live out a life with her grueling associate hours. Chet has to prove to Jolie that his patience is endless.
Reuben’s Rules. Reuben is a stoic. He doesn’t talk much and he’s slow to act. The novella isn’t the beginning of his courtship. The courtship started when he began when he first started frequenting the Lemon Espresso which was owned by and run by Laura Jamieson. He drove back and forth from his ranch each day to get a cup of coffee and say good morning. He would go in the evenings and watch over her close her shop in the evening. The novella is when Reuben tries to close the deal. “Reuben was ready to settle down and he'd set his sights on Laura.”
Reuben’s strategy was to show Laura that she could not live without him, that he was absolutely the right man for her. His whole goal, then, is to make every possible fantasy she has come true, to cater to her every need so that permanency of their relationship became a mutual goal. “‘Remember which one of you is supposed to remain in control, and which one is supposed to lose it,’ he told the man in the mirror.”
The problem is that while Reuben wants Laura, Laura wants Reuben to love her and when he can’t respond to her emotionally, she leaves him.
It hurt. It would probably hurt for some time. But she'd made the right choice. Better a clean break now with good memories on both sides than dragging them both down into a nightmare of pain and recriminations and eventual bitterness.
Which didn't make it any easier.
"Sometimes doing the right thing sucks,–? she said out loud.
Reuben is then forced to work out in his own mind what is love and what is desire.
There is a wonderful sense of comfortableness about the sex in this collection. The couples discuss condoms, the wet spot, water waste, all in a humorous but matter of fact manner. It made the stories so much more realistic, accessible. There is a lot of sexy dialogue, as if just talking to each other made these couples excited. I couldn’t give individual grades because they were all well done. My complaint? The stories were too short and I would have liked a little better balance between the emotional romance and the physical romance in the last novella. I still see this as a keeper though. A-