The Wild Child by Mary Jo Putney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I picked this book up randomly at the bookstore and, before I knew it, I had read the first six chapters and was on my way to skimming the rest of the story. Before the store clerk approached me and demanded me to buy the darn book already, I decided to save him the trouble and went straight to the cashier - with the book in hand, of course! :)
Considering the fact that I couldn't stop reading the book at the store, I was more than certain that I would love it. What can I say? It's good to be right! (LOL) As I write this, this gem is sitting neatly on my keepers shelf.
I really enjoyed MJP's writing. I'm not a big fan of overly descriptive scenes and, considering how Meriel, the heroine, was basically mute for more than half of the story, I was wondering how MJP would pull this off. Not to mention her relationship with Dominic, the hero. If she didn't speak, how could they communicate? And if they didn't communicate, how could they fall in love with each other in a believable way? Well, MJP made it all work! Her descriptions of Meriel's flower arrangements and her garden were so vivid, I could almost see them. No wonder Dominic was fascinated by her, and the more time he spent with her, the more he got to know her and see behind her facade. From there to falling in love with her, it was only a matter of time.
Meriel was not a typical heroine. Although stunningly beautiful - in the eyes of Dominic, anyway -, she started out as a rather selfish person. I understood why she chose to retreat into her own world - aside from the whole murdering of her parents and her being kidnapped at the young age of five, there was one particular event that had me cringing in horror even though she herself didn't seem to pay much importance to it - and I never blamed her for it, but it prevented her from maturing. She was just too comfortable living as she pleased and having every one of her whims fulfilled - after all, she was "mad". In a way, the way she seduced Dominic was the ultimate example of her selfishness because she wasn't thinking about anything else but her own wishes. Was it wrong of her? Was she despicable? No, because there wasn't any malice in her mind. She just didn't understand the so-called "society´s rules of proper behavior". It took Dominic's love to make her finally grow up and take responsability for her own life. But her journey back to a "normal" life wasn't an easy one - as it shouldn't have been - and I had a very fretful moment when she was sent to the asylum. Thankfully, she had Dominic...
And what a wonderful hero Dominic was! Decent, sensitive and caring, he started courting Meriel out of deceit, pretending to be his twin brother Kyle. But he wasn't comfortable with it and never intended to hurt any part involved. Unfortunately, that was bound to happen once he fell in love with Meriel and he had to choose between saving her life or betraying his estranged brother. There wasn't any doubt about what he would choose to do, but it wasn't an easy decision and I could really feel how much he regretted having to hurt Kyle. I have to say, MJP's depiction of Dominic and Kyle's relationship was as powerful as Dominic and Meriel's, and I really rooted for the two brothers' reconciliation. As this is a romance novel, Dominic and Meriel's HEA was a given, but I wasn't sure how, and if, Dominic and Kyle would ever make amends.
The Wild Child was basically focused on Dominic and Meriel, their growing relationship and her slow but steady "recovery", but there was room for a bunch of interesting secondary characters: the already mentioned Kyle, Meriel's uncles and aunts, her Indian servant Kamal, her childhood friend Jena, Dominic's sister Lucia... All of them were three-dimensional people and had stories of their own but, all the while, didn't detract from the main storyline. They actually added to it, since they were all connected.
The "unexpected" villain in the end wasn't much a surprise for me. Suspicious that I am, I saw it coming a mile away, but this wasn't a romantic suspense so there was nothing wrong with that. In fact, it was a nice way to set everything "right". I also loved the epilogue, because I got to see that Meriel would never be a "normal" woman and, especially, that Dominic had learned that being "mad" once in a while had its advantages... ;)
This was my first book by MJP but I can safely say it won't be my last!
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