MILD SPOILERS 😉
4 1/2 Stars
Reviewed by Blue Falcon
This review is of First Love, Wild Love by Janelle Taylor.
First Love, Wild Love, a Zebra Lovegram romance, begins in Texas, where Calinda Braxton, the heroine, has come from England to investigate the disappearance of her father, Elliott “Brax” Braxton. Her arrival in Texas is not welcoming, as the stagecoach she’s on is robbed. The stagecoach guard is killed, and the other passengers blame her because she fought back. Disconsolate and penniless, Calinda is taken in by the madam of a house of ill repute and given a room. What happens here sets the tone for the rest of the book.
Calinda is given laudanum by the madam (not for nefarious purposes, but to help her sleep). Into the room comes the owner, Lynx Cardone, the hero of the book. Thinking that Calinda either was sent to his room or heard about him and decided to come on her own, Lynx has dubious consent sex with Calinda. She agrees to have sex with him, but she’s under the influence of the drug. Afterward, they argue and vow never to see each other again.
Later, Calinda is visited by Rankin Cardone, Brax’s former partner in their ranch and, unknown to her at the time, Lynx’s father. Rankin invites Calinda to come to the ranch (not entirely for altruistic reasons; he also wants to know what happened to Brax, and he’s hoping to match Calinda and Lynx, not knowing they already know each other in the biblical sense). When Lynx comes home, he sees Calinda and thinks she’s a gold-digger out to trap him, which is not the case. Once that issue is resolved, Calinda and Lynx fall in love and marry. Calinda’s happy, Lynx is happy, Rankin’s happy.
One person who is definitely NOT happy is Salina Mendoza, the Cardone’s housekeeper, who fancied herself the future Mrs. Lynx Cardone. She tries various tactics to get rid of Calinda, from defiance to trying to seduce Lynx, to kidnapping to conspiracy to commit murder. None of these efforts ultimately succeed, but they do drive a wedge between Calinda and Lynx.
Another issue between Calinda and Lynx is his frequent absences from home. Eventually, the reasons behind this are explained.
By the end of the book, the reasons for Brax’s disappearance are explained as well, and Calinda and Lynx have their Happily Ever After.
Calinda is a strong character. She has to deal with a lot of heartache, pain-physical and emotional-as well as various forms of danger, but she survives.
Some of Calinda’s dangerous situations occur due to her naivete, and she finds herself in trouble and relies on Lynx to save her.
Lynx is too perfect a hero. He finds himself in dangerous situations and always comes out scot-free without a scratch. I found this unrealistic.
What I REALLY didn’t like, however, is the way Mrs. Taylor resolved the Brax issue. Rather than Brax explaining in his own words, there are hints throughout the book and a summary at the end. I feel the book would have been better if Brax–and the others involved–could have spoken in their own words about what happened and why it happened. I found the ending very unsatisfying.
Lots of love scenes with lots of euphemisms and purple prose. That’s how Mrs. Taylor writes her love scenes.
In addition to the stagecoach guard being killed, Calinda is shot in the shoulder but survives. Plus other scenes of shootings, assault, and batteries. The violence is not graphic.
Books like First Love, Wild Love deserve a gradient of stars. It’s not really a 5-star book; more like 4.25 or 4.5 stars.