Hearts are Wild
Some category romances manage to transcend space and guideline limitations to become something more. And, well – some don’t. Hearts are Wild is pretty standard category fare, with a virgin heroine and pseudo bad-boy wandering hero. You’ve doubtless read the same tale before, but it probably didn’t include quite as many metaphors (if there is a world record for the most metaphors per 180 pages, this book would be a real contender).
Maggie Conner is about to open a new business. Maggie’s Matches is more than just a dating service; Maggie intends to help people find their soul mates. It’s a long-standing family tradition, kind of like the “Conner Curse” – the women in Maggie’s family are great at matching up others, but miserable failures when it comes to their own love lives. As Maggie prepares her business for the grand opening, a scruffy-looking guy walks in. She thinks Nick Kaplan is there to sign up for her services, but it turns out he’s her new house-mate, hand-picked by her match-making grandma. Maggie has no intention of allowing Nick to stay, but conveniently, every other room in town is rented and Nick has no other options. Maggie finally agrees on one condition: Nick has to let her find him his soul mate so he can provide her with some good publicity.
Of course, Maggie finds out she’s his soul mate (bet you didn’t see that coming!) and she’s not so sure she wants him dating after all. Nick has no intention of settling down, because he is a Wandering Man who must escape the oppression of his overbearing father. However, Nick is every bit as attracted to Maggie as she is to him, and he doesn’t really want to date anyone else. They end up taking a trip to Las Vegas, where once again they have to share a room because the hotel where they are staying has only expensive suites left, and apparently Maggie just can’t stay in any of the other hotels on the strip (has this author ever been to Las Vegas?). Nature takes its course, and Maggie ends up surrendering her virginity to Nick. Still she has no intention of surrendering her heart, because she is a firm believer in the Conner Curse. And how would she ever get the wild and wandering Nick to settle down anyway?
This isn’t a bad little story – just a commonplace and uninspired one. Maggie and Nick are likable enough as characters go, and they share some cute moments together now and then. The secondary characters are pretty unobjectionable, and Maggie’s grandma has a little romance of her own.
I had two major problems with the book, however. The first is Maggie’s virginity. I have no problem with virgin heroines per se, but there has to be some explanation given for their behavior. Maybe they are religious, or determined to wait for marriage for some reason. Maybe the heroine hasn’t dated much or is terribly shy. Maggie is 25 and gorgeous, but just hasn’t had sex. Why? Who knows? What’s more, her virginity is totally unnecessary to the plot, so one wonders why the author made a point of it.
My other problem was the aforementioned metaphors. There’s nothing wrong with using them now and then, but a little goes a long way. Here they just keep coming at you. Maggie’s sex drive is a thirst for water, and Nick is holding the canteen! Nick drives his motorcycle down the highway like a bullet with no target in sight! And just in case the reader misses the fact that Nick is a Wandering Man, the author conveniently has him think in metaphors from different parts of the country (off the top of my head I remember him comparing things to aspects of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Montana). Every time you turn around there is a new one coming at you. After awhile, I started to wish I had been counting them, just so I could have had a final tally.
Hearts are Wild isn’t the worst book to pick up if you’re looking for a quick evening’s read, but it’s not the type of thing I’d go out of my way for. The author is relatively new (this is her third book), so perhaps she might improve in the future. A nickel’s worth of free advice? Cut the metaphors by half. Then do it again.
I've been at AAR since dinosaurs roamed the Internet. I've been a Reviewer, Reviews Editor, Managing Editor, Publisher, and Blogger. Oh, and Advertising Corodinator. Right now I'm taking a step back to concentrate on kids, new husband, and new job in law...but I'll still keep my toe in the romance waters.