This is a Spoiler Free book review for The Simple Wild by K. A. Tucker, which is the first of (currently) 2.5 books in the “Wild” series.
My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♢ (8.86/10)
“Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.
She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.” –Goodreads
- Cancer/terminal illness, mourning/death of parent, doomed love, cheating, jealousy, pranks, sexual content, planes, lost in the wild, divorce, step parent, plane accident, and pregnancy.
In this wilderness romance, the reader grows with the cast of realistic and flawed characters as the story progresses. The main character is an egocentric city girl, with little compassion/empathy for others at the beginning of the book, but her character does have some growth by the end. Although Calla is realistically flawed and not as likable as most main characters, she is still enjoyable to follow on this journey. Even if most people would hate Calla as a person in real life, she is a well developed character that the reader still roots for and understands in the end. It is reasonable to assume that not all people will find her egocentric tendencies tolerable in this story, because her character will be enjoyed or not based on individual preference, so keep that in mind.
Jonah is the most developed character in this story, because he is flawed yet a good person. Jonah is a more likable character than Calla… like a lot. And his journey in this story is a joy to follow. Additionally, every side character in this book feels real, with their own stories, feelings, personalities, and flaws. Every character has a history and motive that corresponds to their actions, relationships and personalities; every side character, big or small, is very realistically developed.
Lastly, the reader is not only led to be highly invested in the characters, but also their changing relationships. Each character has their own feelings and motives that keeps the reader guessing as to who will say or do what next. Not to mention, this is an enemies to lovers plot, that develops in a tasteful and suspenseful sequence of events. It is hard not to root for the main characters to put their differences and biases aside in order to be happy together. And said romance is worth the time it takes to develop! The romance is spicy, realistic, raw, and satisfying.
My favorite character is Jonah, because his motivations/actions made the most sense to me and his personality is much more likable than Calla’s. Also worth mentioning, is that I tend to not prefer the enemies to lovers trope common in romance, but I very much enjoyed it in this novel.
Having the Alaskan Wild as a backdrop to a tense/steamy romance with strong themes of family and love is nothing less than satisfying. Any reader who enjoys woodsy vibes and nature scenery with cozy cabins in small towns of unique people in quirky situations will enjoy this book’s atmosphere. Additionally, the fact that a majority of the story takes place near or in planes also adds an adventurous flair with high stakes and danger. It is easy to feel immersed in the world Calla has just been thrown into, and the vastness of the characters’ histories root the reader to the setting.
In terms of tone/mood, this book has some heavy topics surrounding Calla’s divorced parents, her father’s cancer, and everyone seems to have lost someone in this story. There are a lot of heavy scenes depicting mourning, reconnection, and difficult conversations that come with life, because life is complicated. People are complicated.
K. A. Tucker’s writing is accessible, enjoyable, and filled with banter. Reading this story is a joy, because the plot/relationship is well paced, the world is well written with deep histories, and the characters are realistically flawed. This book is hard to put down, and the writing makes it feel as though the reader hasn’t just been reading for hours. It is easy to get lost in Tucker’s leisurely writing style, and the scenes play out almost like a movie. Not to mention the buckets of banter keep the reader smirking, despite the heavier topics this book tackles.
Although this story is quite predictable, it is an enjoyable one. There is something comforting about knowing where a story is going and having that itch scratched at just the right moments. The pacing of this story is perfected in such a way, that the relationships and character development feel real and satisfying. Tucker takes the time to build a memorable foundation in order to prepare the reader for the larger plot points and developments. This gives the last half of the book an emotional weight that may not have been the case otherwise.
It is easy to feel invested in the characters of this story, since their relationships and personalities are just as complex as people in real life. As Calla finds family in her new friends, the reader finds friends in the characters and ends up rooting for them as if they are real people. Once invested in the characters, their relationships, and the story, this book flies by. Even if the reader knows where this story is going, it is still exciting to see how the characters get there and follow them on this heartwarming/breaking journey.
The portrayal of mourning and loss in this book are realistic enough to make the reader feel seen and heartbroken all at the same time. Those who have lost someone they love or had to deal with divorce will connect with the more emotional scenes in this book. On the other hand, the main character, Calla, can be a bit hard to relate to at times, if the reader isn’t a younger person who hasn’t fully adjusted to adulthood or figured out what compassion is. Calla is very self-centered the entire novel. She does have some character growth by the end… some. Even once she begins to care about other peoples’ feelings, although anger seems to always be her first reaction to difficult situations. It would be expected that a 26 year old woman could think about others and learn to control her emotions (especially with a psychiatrist for a stepfather), but Calla’s emotional intelligence is more along the lines of a teenager and she is very much controlled by these egocentric emotions. This can make it a bit difficult to feel sympathy for her, but that will be based upon the personal preference of the reader.
There are also a few whimsical and convenient events in this story, but never absurd. This book does not require too much suspension of disbelief, and where it does it is usually comical or satisfying to the relationship. There really aren’t any points that make the reader question the possibility of the situations the characters are in, and their actions/decisions reflect that of what we assume a real person would do.
I personally didn’t like Calla, but didn’t find her to be intolerable either. I still think she is a well developed character with a realistic personality, just not for a 26 year old woman. I just personally wish she had a bit more character growth by the end of the story.
Anyone who enjoys a satisfying romance that covers some of the heavier topics in life with realistic characters and strong family themes will enjoy this book. There is an abundance of banter, several steamy scenes, and a lot of emotion in this book. This is a perfect read for Fall or Winter because it takes place in rainy Alaska with a lot of cozy scenes. Not only is this story scenic and steamy, but it’s also wholesome and heartbreaking. Lastly, it is very well written and overall enjoyable to read.
Thank you for sticking around during our unexpected break! Big news coming next week, so stay tuned!
-Knight of Cups ❤
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