The Simple Wild – K.A. Tucker – Atria Books – Published 7 August 2018
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.
Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.
Gorgeous scenery, a heartwarming story of family and reconnection and a from-enemies-to-lovers romance that smoulders; The Simple Wild is a contemporary novel that grabs the reader.
Calla hasn’t spoken to her father for years and hasn’t seen him since she and her mother left Alaska when Calla was just a child. When she hears that her father has cancer, Calla makes the decision to travel to Alaska and reconnect with him. Facing all the challenges of life away from the city, Calla is surprised to enjoy her time getting to know her father. Making things more complicated is rugged (yet undeniably handsome) pilot Jonah. While he is counting down the moments until Calla leaves Alaska, she is determined to prove to them both that she has what it takes to survive the wild.
The enemies to lovers storyline has to be my favourite of all romances. There is something so thrilling about the sparks that fly – starting as sparks of anger and conflict and transitioning into the slow burn of passion and love. Calla and Jonah butt heads straight away. Calla is fresh from the city and Jonah seems determined to make the transition to the wilds of Alaska as hard as possible. From bumpy flights in the smallest of planes to missing luggage, Jonah is quick to point out all the ways Calla is unfit for life in Alaska. Meanwhile, to Calla Jonah appears to be an unkempt, brutish type who does nothing but judge her and grump around. As they start to throw verbal barbs at one another, the words they share slowly becomes less aggressive and more familiar. As they continue to prank and insult each other, they bond over shared humour, impending grief and other family history, and the attraction between them continues to grow and deeper until they can ignore it no longer.
While their beginning starts off rocky, their future is uncertain. Calla doesn’t want to fall for a man who will never leave Alaska and she certainly doesn’t want to repeat the troubled history of her parents. I was impressed by the ending. It is sad yet uplifting, romantic yet realistic. I was at first a little worried about how things would be resolved but I was impressed and thankful to the author for giving due credit to the characters, not skipping corners to make things easier for the sake of a romantic ending and yet providing a totally satisfying conclusion to the novel.
Along with the romance, The Simple Wild combines heartwarming family reconnection. As Calla gets to know her father and starts to heal the broken bond between them she also starts to heal from the feelings of abandonment and anger she has felt all the years of them being apart. The unique scenery of Western Alaska, the feeling of family that is the Alaska Wild plane group employees, and the community of Bangor all create a wonderful backdrop to this contemporary novel. While not as tumultuous as some of K.A. Tucker’s previous novels, The Simple Wild is touching and heartfelt, the perfect novel for readers of new adult or adult contemporary romance.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: New adult fiction.
Themes: Family, cancer, abandonment, romance, pilots, flying, Alaska, father-daughter relationships.
Reading age guide: Ages 18 and up.
Advisory: Sex scenes and sexual references. Coarse language, fu** (16), sh** (35), pi**(11), bi*** (3), di** (6), as***** (10).
Published: 7 August 2018 by Atria Books.
Format: Paperback, ebook, audiobook. 388 pages.