Wild Enough For Willa
by Ann Major
(Mira, $5.99, PG) ISBN 1-55166-623-5
**
In Wild Enough for Willa we are introduced to the dysfunctional Longworth family. Big Red, the father is a cold tyrant who despises his illegitimate son, Luke McKade. His daughters are, for the most part, vicious and mean spirited. His namesake “Little Red” is doing time in the penitentiary for a crime he claims he did not commit. “Little Red,” upon his release, intends to “kill himself a lawyer and a bastard brother”. The lawyer is Brandon Baines, Luke’s law school classmate who represented Little Red at his trial.

Luke, in a effort to prove himself to his father and halfsiblings, had gone to law school and drove himself to become one of the world’s most successful and richest men. It was Luke who arranged for the highly sought-after Baines to help his brother. But after his conviction, Little Red felt he had been set up.

As the book opens, Luke’s estranged wife, Marcie, is dead after a single car accident. Luke is stunned to learn that she was pregnant, and is overcome with guilt over having pushed her away. His remorse in interrupted by Baines who calls to let him know that Little Red is out of prison and is dying.

The scene melodramatically shifts to a hovel in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, where Luke interrupts Baines, who has a female tied to the bedpost. The woman is Willa, who is, in reality, Baines’ pregnant lover. Baines had taken her to Mexico to have an abortion performed, and had drugged her so she would not be aware of what was going on. Luke rescues her; and they head back to the States.

Suddenly Luke is mugged by hoods. Willla steals his car and drives off with Little Red. They agree to marry and Willa’s adventures begin. Eventually Little Red dies and the Longworth family continues to shun and detest her. Struggling to rear her son, Willa finds several million dollars that she knows probably belongs to the syndicate or to Baines. She grabs the money and runs……and eventually finds herself in Luke’s arms.

Wild Enough for Willa is too frenetically paced for leisure reading. The story catapults from one location to another, without the benefit of any attempts of easy segues, and centers around characters who are at best, very difficult to like or care about. But despite its chaotic pacing, the book drags along, sometimes making little headway, and then suddenly one crisis follows another and is often solved with little preparation or warning.

Most of the characters are one-dimensional, and as for the romance… it is exactly what one would expect when Luke, a man for whom money is God is drawn to wacky Willa, believing her to be a whore. (But the sex scenes are steamy.)

The dialogue is sometimes out of voice - or worse, with Baines prefacing every remark with “This is Good” and Willa’s zany, and then oddly inconsistent sophomoric views. If you are looking for an easy read with characters you care about who show compassion, understanding and a maturing love, then this book probably won’t be for you.

--Thea Davis


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