Leisure, Dec 2003, 5.99, 358 pp.
In 1870, though on his way to California to start over since his wife and son died two years ago from a fever, Jonathan Blair detours south from the Oklahoma Territory to Fort Worth because he feels his best friend Lawrence Bendalin needs him. Jonathan knows he will probably run into Lawrence's brother Lamar whom he detests for cowardice during the recent war. While fighting for the Confederacy, Lamar fled the battlefield leaving behind his severely wounded sibling whom Jonathan rescued.
Welcomed by the extended Bendalin family except for Lamar, Jonathan is shocked to find he is attracted to the coward's intrepid daughter Eliza Kate. Used to her independence having run the ranch while her father and uncle were at war, Eliza Kate reciprocates Jonathan's feelings including the fact that they want to reject the attraction. Everyone expects her to marry her father's whiskey selling business partner Fletcher Monroe but Eliza Kate and Jonathan fall in love though family ties make it seem impossible for anything to come of this.
WILD DESIRE is an action packed Reconstruction Era romance filled with complex post American Civil War problems and traumas contained in different subplots that ultimately tie together through the relationship of the lead couple. Though Phoebe Conn is a highly regarded, deservedly so, experienced author, the novel tries to handle too many issues so that the cast never fully develops beyond a superficial level. Still Ms. Conn packs quite a wallop with her panoramic look at family, individual, and community problems.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner