Jeri Wright is a longtime reader (and often reviewer) of romance and
most other types of fiction. Her husband, Terry is also a voracious
reader whose library did not have a romance section until she joined the
staff. <g>, Having tried, and enjoyed, a few specific titles she
recommended, Terry was willing to discuss his reactions to a specific
romance novel. This being a discussion, not a review, be aware that it
may contain minor spoilers.
Mary Jo Putney's The Wild Child, is the story
of a twin who takes his brother's place and undertakes to court his
brother's fiancee. Who happens to be mad. Obviously, things get, well,
Jeri: Why did you become interested in reading The Wild Child?
Terry: Because you were so enthusiastic about it, and because I
enjoyed Silk and Secrets, the first MJP you recommended to me.
Jeri: So do you think my reactions to it influenced yours?
Terry: Influenced the decision to read it, but not my reactions to
it. We both have different tastes, with an area in the middle where our
Jeri: So, what did you think?
Terry: I enjoyed it. Without the flowery cover, I don't see why this
would be considered only a "woman's" novel. Good fiction is good
fiction. If MJP started writing SF, I'd probably read that too.
Jeri: I did notice you read it pretty fast.
Terry: I stayed up last night to finish it.
Jeri: Must have been good! But you did enjoy the romance, the
relationship? For me that's the essence of a romance -- did I believe
in the relationship.
Terry: Yes, I did. But I enjoyed the way it was woven in with the
mystery (what had happened to Meriel and why she didn't speak), the
setting, what was going on with the twins, and everything else.
Jeri: Okay, on to specifics ...
What about the hero? One complaint that I've seen voiced when the idea
of men reading romance is raised is that men feel (or would feel) that
romance heroes are really too feminine, too much a female fantasy for a
male reader to relate to. How did you feel about Dominic?
Terry: No, he was real. One of my first comments, after I got into
the book, is that "I was Dominic". I liked seeing myself as the dashing
English gentlemen riding around on his fine steed. He was too fond of
gardening, though. You know how fond I am of working in the garden.
Jeri: Yes. But then he was trying to please Meriel, wasn't he?
Terry: Okay, you have a point.
Jeri: Well, as you know, I generally do fall in love with MJP's
heroes. We obviously share similar tastes in men. So it makes sense to
me that you'd be able to identify with one of them. <g>
So what about the heroine, Meriel?
Terry: She was an interesting character. Once you saw things from
her point of view, her not speaking made sense. As Dominic says later
in the book, by keeping quiet, she is able to keep things the way she
likes them, dealing with the world on her own terms.
Jeri: So you were intrigued by the mystery she represented? I found
her fascinating. I think I almost fell in love with her myself.
Terry: Yes. I was as curious as Dominic to learn more about her and
Jeri: I was particularly interested about your reaction to the
historical setting, the details, and how you thought they added to the
enjoyment of the book. Since you spend a lot of time re-creating late
18th century life, and The Wild Child is set not too long after that, I
knew you'd be very picky about authenticity. (I've seen Terry give up
in frustration when an author gets something wrong!)
Terry: I thought it was done very well. Not only did it feel
accurate, but I could easily visualize the settings: the house, the
Jeri: The madhouse?
Terry: <wincing> Yes, that too.
Jeri: To me, the scariest thing was the doctor's good intentions and
belief in what he was doing.
Terry: The doctor was just one shining example of the state of early
19th century medicine.
Jeri: I loved the garden and the way Meriel interacted with the
things around her, and how trying to figure her out has Dominic looking
at things in a new way.
I was a little worried that there might not be enough "action" in The Wild Child
for your tastes. Your first MJP book, Silk and Secrets, had
more external adventure, exotic locations, and a daring rescue. This
one focuses more on the relationship and the puzzle that Meriel
represents. Did the "less adventure" aspect bother you?
Terry: Not really. What I was expecting was an enjoyable novel, and
that's what I got. There is a lot going on in addition to the romance.
Dominic's early life, his brief military career, and his experiences at
Waterloo, for example. I enjoyed the relationship with Meriel, but I was
also interested in what was going on with the other twin, Kyle (I
thought for a while they might change places permanently), and in some
of the other details. For example, I just knew there was something
fishy about Kamal.
Jeri: Yes, I thought he was a bit of a mystery too. I knew we were
going to find out more about him later.
How did you like the way Dominic reacted to Meriel's determination to
Terry: I appreciated his behaviour <sic> as an officer and a
gentleman. Just what I'd expect.
Though I did notice he didn't tell her his true identity until after
they'd made love the first time. Obviously, he wanted to make sure it
was too late for the brother to get her!
Jeri: Well, you can't really blame him. I thought it was pretty
much the "right" time.
What other details particularly caught your attention?
Terry: I loved the scene when they get back from London and she says
"do please come in for coffee".
Jeri: This is when she has just stood up to her uncle and shown
herself to be sane (and speaking) to everyone in the household.
Terry: Yes, and I can HEAR her voice, very proper, when she says "do
please come in for coffee" like it was an everyday social event.
I like her style.
Jeri: Yes, that's what I said too. I like the scene where he says
"I like it when you're imperious" and she says "Then in the future you
should be a very happy man." That kind of exchange makes them very real
So, are you going to read more romances?
Terry: I don't see why not. <g> I know you've been feeding me the
good stuff, the best of the best; don't you think it's time I tried
something more "ordinary" for purposes of comparison?
Jeri: I have purposely been selecting titles that I think are
wonderful --and -- that I think you would enjoy. I guess it is time for a
more representative sample now.
Why do you think most men don't/won't read romance? Do you think many
have tried and disliked them, or is it am image thing?
Terry: I think a large number of men wouldn't like romance. These
are the men who read, say, only hard-boiled mysteries and are less
interested in primarily character and relationship-based stories. The
other side, men who would be interested, are likely put off by the image
and the covers. If they tried some of the "good stuff", they might well
June 27, 1999