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When I Roll Into the (Wild Wild West)

Despite its questionable cover (and title and tagline), Meghan was pleasantly surprised by Janet Fox's Faithful.

When I Roll Into the (Wild Wild West)

BOOK REPORT for Faithful (Faithful Book 1) by Janet Fox

BFF Charm: Yay
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: I Have A Secret, Nyah-Nyah-Nyah
Bonus Factors: Yellowstone, Outlaws, Feminism
Relationship Status: A Love As Wild As My Fenced-In Backyard

The Deal:

I KNOW what you're thinking, because I thought it too. The title, the cover image, the dress blowing in the wind -- this is gonna be one of those religious romance books where they make a movie version for the Hallmark Channel. And with the tagline, "A love as wild as the west itself," I knew i had to read this one just to see how bad it could be. So imagine how surprised I was when it turned out to be pretty good! And no mention of JC or any other religious anything anywhere!

It's 1904, and Maggie Bennet's mom has disappeared from judgmental, fancy-pants Newport society (think Edith Wharton or Henry James here), and is presumed dead, but Maggie thinks she's still alive. So when her dad suggests a trip out west to Yellowstone to follow some leads and find her mom, she agrees to go -- even though it'll possibly interfere with her big debut and her chances of landing a rich husband (chances that were never too high to begin with, thanks to her unconventional, bohemian mom's craziness). When they get to Yellowstone, Maggie discovers her dad does NOT win the FYA Dad of the Year Award because he's a big, fat liar, flaming pants and all. She also starts to discover maybe being a bitchy society matron isn't her deepest dream after all, and there's a bigger mystery surrounding her mom than she thought. Oh, and she meets Hotty McHotty Tom Rowland, a geological surveyor's son -- way beneath her, but with those eyes and that grin, who cares?

BFF Charm: Yay

I feel for Maggie, I really do. I can't imagine how sucky it must be to have a mom who turns against society and makes it so you can't have any friends because their moms all hate your mom, then have yr mom disappear out of nowhere. And have yr dad sink into ruin, your grandparents hate him and your whole future, which depends on snagging a rich husband, up in the air. So I liked Maggie a lot, and would give her a bff charm because gf NEEDS a good bff (especially since hers back in Newport is a major frenemy). But I would also tell her to spend a leeetle less time with self-absorbed whining (okok, I know she's a teenager) and a little less time in her own head going over and over and OVER the same things, and get her ass out there and jump Tom Rowland already. Ahem. Because when Maggie gives in to her real personality and stops being a society twit, she's pretty rad.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Ah, Tom Rowland. I love a romantic setup where the guy and girl can't stop bickering, and where even while she's telling the guy off for something jerky, she can't help noticing the curl that keeps flopping onto his forehead and his grey-green eyes like the sea after a storm. But because it's 1904, this is a pretty chaste story, so no secksin' going on. There IS a love triangle, but it's one I can wholeheartedly endorse because it's not full of Bella-freakin'-Swan angst and the other guy is a royal prick she's forced to pay attention to because her dad makes her (the guy is rich and can save their livelihood -- marriage market prostitution, folks). So there's sparking chemistry with a hot outdoorsy type and a baddie to hate enough to throw in a cheer and fist-pump when he finally gets his ass kicked to the curb.

Talky Talk: I Have A Secret, Nyah-Nyah-Nyah

This book was pretty good, but about 150 pages too long. And all 150 pages were just drawn out secret keeping, and if there's one thing I HATE it's a secret! Unless I'm the one with the secret, of course. There's all this supposed dramz about what happened with Maggie's mom, and also this one guy Maggie kisses at a ball, but it takes FOREVER for the whole story to come out. And the suspense isn't really worth it. And yeah, the big secret of Maggie's mom that gets revealed at the end is totally not a surprise, but that's ok.

Bonus Factor: Yellowstone

I've never been to Yellowstone, but I totally want to go. And the author knows a LOT about Yellowstone, and is a geologist so you get to know about some of the science-y stuff behind all the hot springs (which OMG did you know are hot enough to boil you alive and cook your flesh off your bones if you fall in?!??).

Bonus Factor: Outlaws

Specifically, a kindly highway robber who just wants to rob not murder and who I imagine looking like a young Paul Newman. Yum. And whose gang ends up being pretty awesome.

Bonus Factor: Feminism

It's still 16 years until women get the vote (sorry, but I can NEVER mention this fact without getting indignant about the fact that we've only been able to vote in this country for 90 YEARS. ONLY 90 years. And there's still a wage gap and all sorts of other inequality). ANYWAY. Maggie's learning to embrace her inner feminist and gets really riled up about guys telling her what to do (I love this one part where this obnoxious army guy -- an early park ranger, I guess -- keeps telling her what she can't do, like run or go down a certain trail, and she finally calls him on it and asks if something's ACTUALLY a rule, or just something he doesn't want her to do. And of course it's not a rule, so she tells him to bugger off and does what she wants to do). And she meets a cool photographer lady who introduces her to the idea of working for a living doing something she loves, and still being respectable. So yay feminism!

Casting Call:

Cary Elwes as Tom Rowland

I had to cast Westley as Tom because the minute Maggie described his sea-grey-green eyes, all I could think of was Buttercup describing Westley's eyes "like the sea ... after a storm" and this is the only way I can imagine Tom.

Dakota Johnson as Maggie

I don't know if she's a good actress or not, but I just really liked this picture. And really, I don't think playing Maggie will take much talent.

Kathy Bates as Mrs. Gale

I kept picturing Kathy Bates as Molly Brown in Titanic as Mrs. Gale the photographer.

Relationship Status: A Love As Wild As My Fenced-In Backyard

I enjoyed this book. It was gentle and tame, and had nice electricity between the main characters, but I wouldn't say we're madly in love, or that it was even a wild, torrid affair. But it was a very pleasant surprise to discover this book was NOT AT ALL what the cover makes it seem! Publishers, WHAT IS THE DEAL?

FTC Full Disclosure: My review copy was a free ARC I received from Penguin. I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Faithful is already available in stores.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.