Wild Notion by Cathy McDavid
(Neighborhood Press, $12.00, PG-13) ISBN 0-9655340-3-0
Wild Notion is a contemporary romance set in Arizona. Claren Phillips is thirty-eight, on her own with three kids to raise. Her small ranch northeast of Phoenix is hanging on barely. In Phoenix to collect rent on a small apartment she owns, Claren and her young son witness a violent mugging. The muggers flee when she turns her headlights on them. Against her better judgement, Claren puts the injured victim into the back of her truck and takes him back to the ranch.

The mystery man, who calls himself Tanner, is big, dirty, unkempt, and suspicious of this Pollyanna. Claren offers him a job helping around the ranch for room and board. Since Tanner needs a place to hide out for a while, he accepts and the two of them edge into a cautious friendship. Physical attraction soon follows. But Claren knows Tanner is being secretive, and Tanner can't trust Claren with the truth. That mugging was no accident. And the more he gets to know Claren and her family, the more Tanner wants to keep them safe.

There were a lot of things I really enjoyed about Wild Notion. It has a gritty, slightly hard-edged feel to it; Claren is a woman who has had to deal with plenty of hardship, and it comes through in her actions and her language. Tanner is a likeable enough hero, kind and considerate under a blustery exterior. The climax is action-packed, as the villains finally catch up and Tanner's identity is revealed.

The structure of the book, though, made it read more like a screenplay for a Movie of the Week than a romance. Claren and Tanner both hold their own, but I didn't feel I got to know either of them particularly well, and their quick attraction to each other seemed more physical than anything substantial. The sex is plenty hot. The romance is lukewarm.

At 250 pages, the $12.00 price tag is steep. However, for readers who like a fast-paced story with plenty of action, Wild Notion may be a worthwhile purchase.

--Cathy Sova

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