Book 18 of 2018
I think this may be one of my favorite K.A Tucker stand-alone novels yet. (It’s also my favorite cover!) The Simple Wild was a slow-burning romance, yes, but was also a beautiful story about forgiveness and the power of family.
Calla Fletcher and her mother left their lives in Alaska when Calla was just two years old, and she hasn’t visited the state–or her father– since. Calla hasn’t spoken to her father, Wren, since he didn’t attend her grade eight graduation like he had promised. That empty promise was the straw that broke the camel’s back for that little girl; since that day, Calla decided that her broken heart didn’t need her father anymore.
Fast-forward to present day: Calla is in her twenties and living a fun, colorful life in Toronto. Things become miserable very quickly, however, when she gets laid off and breaks up with her boyfriend. The same day she loses her job, Calla also gets a call from Wren’s friend in Alaska. She’s informed that her father has cancer, and that if Calla wants to see him again, this may be her last chance.
Calla has no idea how to forge a relationship with Wren, and how to approach his ‘simpler’ life in Alaska. But despite these reservations she flies to see him, and in the process meets a rugged pilot who works for Wren. His name is Jonah: he’s got a bad attitude and seemingly has a handful of preconceived notions about Calla, some of which aren’t untrue.
Our protagonist can be vain, and she can be righteous, but author K.A Tucker does a great job of walking the line to also make Calla feel relatable and loveable. I sympathized with Calla – her heart was in the right place and she had been hurt by her father’s actions over the years, yet she didn’t know where to start with him and how to approach a relationship that may have a shelf life. They are essentially two strangers who are supposed to love one another because they are father and daughter.
Jonah, along with some community members that are close friends of Wren’s, help Calla to chip away at her dads notorious closed-off emotive state. Slowly but surely, Wren and Calla learn to love one another, let each other in, and forgive themselves for their mistakes. In the process, Jonah and Calla become closer, and learn that their surface judgement of one another was hasty and relatively unfounded.
I loved this story and bawled my eyes out at the end. (I think I read it in two days, which doesn’t happen as much for me now that I have a toddler running around!) The setting also added an imaginative, almost mystical layer, and I kept thinking of my honeymoon trip to Alaska. Also, for those of us from Toronto, it was fun to read the bits about our city weaved throughout the narrative, since Calla was raised in Toronto!