The Wallflower
by Dana Marie Bell, paranormal (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-918-2

Emma Carter had a high school crush on Dr Max Cannon. What do you know, her high school love turns out to be a case of true love forever after all in The Wallflower. Me, I've my doubts about being married to an alpha werepuma with a name as ridiculous as Max Cannon. No, "his body muscular without being a temple to the god Steroid" is not going to get me to overlook that name of his. But I suppose that a romance heroine can't afford to be picky.

Also, I am rather familiar with how pumas live - blame that to my now retired animal biologist husband - so I am not really happy with this story because Ms Bell has these Pumas living in a pride when these cats are solitary creatures in real life. They certainly don't live in a pride that comes complete with alpha and beta males. Something tells me that Ms Bell has merely changed her werewolves to Pumas in this story to fit the submission guideline for this Hunting Love line.

Anyway, oh yes, the story. For a wallflower, Emma spends the rest of the story speaking like a pink bubblegum bimbo type on crack, so I have a hard time getting into a story where the heroine is trying way too hard to be cute by saying things like, "Okay, now I'm totally confused. Maybe I've got food poisoning from my seafood alfredo and I'm actually in the hospital having hallucinations and heaving into a bucket." There is comedy and there is very scripted attempt at comedy, and I'm afraid Ms Bell is channeling the latter in this story. Any heroine who goes "Duh!" is really trying too hard to be chic if you ask me. As for Max, he's an alpha type who growls, stalks, prowls, and does that mate-mine-mate-mine thing.

And throughout everything, I keep hearing this voice in my head telling me that these Pumas are not cats, they are wolves, dogs, whatever. Just not pumas.

What can I say? The Wallflower doesn't really work for me at every level. The Pumas feel like wolves pretending to be cats. The humor feels forced since Ms Bell's attempts to portray Emma like... I don't know, a caustic female blogger, I suppose, are quite obvious and unoriginal in an "I've read way too many MaryJanice Davidson's books and I want to write just like her!" manner. Okay, I concede that the heroine calling Max "Lion-O" is pretty funny, if obvious, but that's about it. The heroine and the hero feel flat. Where this one is concerned, I don't think Ms Bell and me are going to get along well together.

Rating: 58

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