Wanting You is an “Anastasia” type story. A young woman, who survived life as an Indian captive, arrives at The Regent cattle ranch, claiming to be the long lost granddaughter of matriarch LaDextra Regent. If it turns out that “Anna” is really LaDextra’s granddaughter, then she is the heiress to the ranch, possibly displacing LaDextra’s unofficially adopted grandson, Brit Caruth. The old lady wants to believe that Anna is her granddaughter and invites her to come and live at The Regent with she and Brit. Brit takes one look at Anna and decides she is an impostor who must be exposed. He also vows to seduce her. She vows never to be seduced or exposed, which sets the stage for the story.
By the time I was a third of the way into Wanting You I was sure it deserved an “F.” The opening paragraph contains four consecutive sentences beginning with the word “He” and the literary style, such as it is, doesn’t improve for the next hundred pages. Grammatical errors and awkward phrases abound. A number of characters described in detail in the early part of the book disappear by page forty, never to be heard from again. If this were not enough, the heroine comes off as a money-hungry opportunist with little to recommend her but beauty. The hero behaves like a promiscuous, cigar-smoking lout. Of course they hate each other on sight. He vows to seduce her and expose her as a fraud. She spits back her dislike, trembling with lust.
Yawn. By the time I got to page thirty-eight I was witnessing a full blown sex scene (“love scene” would be inaccurate) between the hero and his mistress. When the mistress began leading the hero to the bedroom by his “awesome erection,” the book came perilously close to damaging my living room wall. This story, I thought, cannot possibly improve.
After insulting one another for a hundred pages Brit and Anna finally make it to the love scene. Though they have barely said two civil words to one another they have three chapters (thirty-eight pages) of sex! Anna must be the most energetic and pliable virgin in the history of virginity. And guess what? She manages to do it all while convincing Brit that she is not a virgin. Amazing! Apparently Anna’s experiences as an Indian captive taught her to disguise her reaction to pain. After the initial deflowering she has no discomfort whatsoever. To the contrary, Anna has orgasm after orgasm and manages to perform in a variety of positions. No wonder Brit doesn’t realize she’s a virgin.
You won’t believe this but after this astonishing – and long – and unbelievable sex scene, I began to have some sympathy for Anna. She wakes up the day after the lovemaking thinking that Brit is in love with her. Anna is so happy that it is pitiful to witness Brit’s predictable coldness. Yes, I thought, finally some genuine and believable emotion. Brit also becomes more human after the seduction because he is in love, though he doesn’t know it.
Unexpectedly, this is the start of a trend. Wanting You improves in the second half. There are longer conversations, less dull narration and the story becomes more compelling. Good secondary characters also make the second half of the book more readable. They include Anna’s friend Sally and her beau Buck. There is a very funny, albeit sketchily drawn, subplot where Beverly, Brit’s randy former mistress, seduces Dr. McClelland, Anna’s shy, would-be admirer. When Dr. McClelland says that he is late as he was “tied up” we wonder how literal are his words.
I cannot recommend Wanting You, but having read the whole book, I now believe that Nan Ryan is a writer who can do better than this frustratingly bad western romance. When one finishes, there is a nagging feeling that with another draft, the book would have been much improved. Why MIRA chose to publish Wanting You without further re-writing, is a mystery to me. At $5.99 I suggest you pass it up.