“The Simple Wild” by K.A. Tucker, was an unexpected addition to my TBR list. I had seen the book on quite a few Instagram accounts and when a “flash giveaway” appeared in my Stories, I decided to enter myself. Believe it or not, I won the contest (my first ever book victory!) and a few days later, received a mint condition paperback in the mail. I will forever keep this copy- It’s an advance uncorrected proof version, with “compliments of the publisher” stamped on the front page; Without knowing the plot or overall rating, I pushed my other March reads aside and flipped to the first page of “The Simple Wild.”
In summary, this book moved me. I began reading it at 10PM after a long workday and didn’t stop until I skimmed the last line of the 388th page, looked at the clock and it was 3AM. I cannot remember the last time I read a book in one sitting, especially one that long. But “The Simple Wild” had all of the right elements to keep the pages turning.
Calla Fletcher had it all- A good job, a handsome boyfriend, killer looks, and the luxury of affording expensive nightclub martinis and designer heels, since she still lived with her mother and stepfather in the Toronto city. Calla didn’t have a care in the world until it all came crashing down: She was let go from the bank after her risk analyst position became automated, she found her boyfriend at the club she was dragged to by her best friend, arm around another woman, and worst of all… she received a phone call about her estranged father, a family friend letting her know that he was diagnosed with cancer. Wren Fletcher was a pilot, owner of Alaska Wild, a charter plane company in a barren small town of Bangor, Alaska. He refused to leave his world behind when the love of his life grew weary of the simple lifestyle; They parted ways and carried on in more comfortable surroundings. But now, after twenty-four years, Calla has nothing to lose, decides to fly to Alaska and see what has kept her father occupied for so long.
It takes Calla a while to warm up to her father, the Alaskan landscape and all that it lacks; She meets a pilot named Jonah who is more interested in giving her grief than being her friend. At first, it all rubs me the wrong way, as the reader: Wren is reserved and unemotional, Calla is superficial, more concerned with taking photos for Instagram and downright rude about her lost luggage, angry with her father for abandoning her for some silly pilot career, and Jonah, Wren’s second in command, who seems determined to break Calla down, calling out her conceitedness and privileged preferences, claiming her as an ungrateful houseguest, unfit for Alaska and a space in Wren’s heart.
But Calla sees Jonah’s ambush as a challenge to overcome, family friends assist with mending old wounds, and what evolves is a close-knit family unit that relies on each other for literal and emotional warmth. My heart began aching for Wren and the realization of his numbered days. Cunning, downright brutal banter between Calla and Jonah became entertaining: Sometimes the jabs were so clever that I found myself smiling and thinking to myself, “Dang, I’d definitely fall for an asshole like this.” And when the two finally kissed, I shed my first set of tears, the chemistry was so potent.
And those wet little remnants of emotion didn’t stop there: The story of Wren’s battle continued to hit home, reminded me of my mother’s slow deterioration and the effort to make up for lost time. Jonah’s change of tune, his loyalty and brutally honest love, was swoonworthy to a point of downright yearning. And the twists and turns at the end left me breathless.
Calla’s mother warned her before leaving Toronto, “Don’t fall in love with a sky cowboy,” like she did so many years ago. But it seems like we all have a soft spot for those Alaskan gentlemen, who love harder than even imaginable, and refuse to let go.
Final Score: 5 I haven’t read a romance fiction in quite some time and now I know why: I have a tendency to crush hard on the male characters. My imagination is vivid and when you introduce a blue eyed, blonde haired, big burly Alaskan pilot to me I can’t promise that I’ll be unaffected. Jonah made it to the pages of my private journal, and if my husband finds and reads it, well- at least he’ll know that it’s a fictional flame.
But the book is more than that. The main character, Calla, is smart, witty, and seizes opportunity like no other. She has a beautiful heart, a fiery spirit: I fell in love with her like Jonah, Wren, and everyone else did. High maintenance or not, she shines as she explores lesser known parts of her life, of herself.
BEST FOR: Those who want an easy read without sacrificing good writing: K.A. Tucker is amazing at character arcs, smart dialogue, and strategic plot choices. She knows how to create chemistry, isn’t afraid to tug at the heartstrings- I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t moved to tears throughout the course of the book.
NOT GOOD FOR: Anti-romance readers: This love story is sweeping and doesn’t end with the final page. I liked the book and downloaded the sequel, “Wild At Heart” in about five minutes, knowing that my Kindle would allow me to start reading faster than a mail delivery could… but not all may share my love of Jonah, the Alaskan Yeti.
IF THIS BOOK/ AUTHOR WAS A HIGH SCHOOL STEREOTYPE: Calla and Jonah: “Most Likely To Have A Million Followers On Instagram.” Jonah, for his lack of posting (except for the occasional sky view) and Calla… for all of her posts of Jonah.
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