Title: The Simple Wild | Author: K.A. Tucker | Genre: Contemporary Romance
“‘Up here it’s about having enough food to eat, and enough heat to stay alive through the winter. It’s about survival, and enjoying the company of the people that surround us. It’s not about whose house is the biggest, or who has the nicest clothes, or the most money. We support each other because we’re all in this together. And people either like that way of life or they don’t…’”– K.A. Tucker, The Simple Wild
I know they say not to judge a book by its cover, but I have to admit that I chose to read The Simple Wild solely due to its eye-catching exterior. That being said, I’m SO glad I did because this book turned out to be just as pleasing to my mind and soul as it was to my eyes.
Calla is a city girl who is suddenly thrust into the Alaskan wilderness where she struggles to adapt, and local pilot, Jonah, is no help, dubbing her “Barbie” and creating more obstacles for her. If that wasn’t enough, Calla also has to face meeting her estranged father for the first time and trying to release the resentment she feels towards him if she wants to move on.
This book made me feel so many emotions. I finished it a few days ago, and my heart still throbs when I think about it. Part of that is due to the character development that got me attached to these characters as if I know them. I went back and forth with my feelings towards Calla, at first feeling as if I could relate to her and then suddenly feeling as if there is no way I could relate to someone so vain and ignorant. But, as every good character should, she has a lot of depth that was revealed as the story progressed. Calla was difficult and entitled at times, but I honestly can’t blame her given the situation. Jonah, though – hello, new book crush! Let’s just say, if you mixed Thor with a sexy hipster and Bear Grylls, you’d get Jonah (at least, that’s how I imagine him). While our main characters loosely follow their stereotypes of a sheltered city girl and a rugged mountain man, both show that there is much more to them than meets the eye. That goes for all of the supporting characters as well; Calla and Jonah’s friends and family are all very distinct and well-developed characters, and you can’t help but love them.
I have to give praise to K.A. Tucker’s ability to set the scene throughout this entire novel. Part of what sucked me in was the setting. The way it was written, rural Alaska became a character in itself. The misty skies, the sprawling wilderness, and the unique way of living took me out of my reality and into what seemed like a whole other world. As I said, I initially chose this book because of the cover’s aesthetic, and I was not disappointed when that exact mood was carried throughout the book.
While this is undeniably a romance novel, the romance honestly takes a backseat to the rest of the plot for most of the book. It’s not that it’s not there – the relationship is being established throughout. Still, it’s overshadowed by the larger plot at hand, i.e., Calla’s relationship, or lack thereof, with her father and her trying to acclimate to the Alaskan way of life. Luckily, the plot held my interest enough to not need the relationship to stand front and center. Without giving too much away about the story, (spoiler alert, maybe??), this book is an excellent study of regret and grief and proves that life is too short to hold onto things that may no longer serve you, like resentment and pride.
Now, let’s talk about the juicy stuff, the romance. From the second Calla meets Jonah, you just know it’s going to be an enemies-to-lovers romance. Very few things make me happier than snarky remarks and hateful glares between characters who have undeniable sexual tension. And the banter between Calla and Jonah was just, *chefs kiss*, delectable. The instant rift between them makes sense – they couldn’t be more opposite of one another. The playful nature of their arguments and interactions brought levity to a book that held some heavier themes. There were some intimate scenes, but they didn’t go into much detail so, I gave this a two on the spice meter. There was enough spice to tickle the tastebuds but not enough that you need to wash it down with a cold glass of water. When it got to the romance, I was a bit worried there wasn’t going to be enough time left in the book to really get into it but, I was SO happy with the pacing at the end of the book. It somehow left me both satisfied and wanting more at the same time.
In the end, I loved this book. It made me cry and laugh, and it’s one of those reads I can’t get out of my head. While you could read this as a standalone and be pretty satisfied with how it ends, I’m so thankful there is a second book that I am about to start immediately. I gave The Simple Wild four stars, aka you need to pick up this book and don’t be surprised if you hear me talk about it often.
Check out my The Simple Wild inspired Spotify playlist!