Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Boys of Bishop #1
Format: ebook via Netgalley
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Bantam (October 29, 2013)
Monica Appleby is a woman with a reputation. Once she was America’s teenage “Wild Child,” with her own reality TV show. Now she’s a successful author coming home to Bishop, Arkansas, to pen the juicy follow-up to her tell-all autobiography. Problem is, the hottest man in town wants her gone. Mayor Jackson Davies is trying to convince a cookie giant to move its headquarters to his crumbling community, and Monica’s presence is just too . . . unwholesome for business. But the desire in his eyes sends a very different message: Stay, at least for a while.
Jackson needs this cookie deal to go through. His town is dying and this may be its last shot. Monica is a distraction proving too sweet, too inviting—and completely beyond his control. With every kiss he can taste her loneliness, her regrets, and her longing. Soon their uncontrollable attraction is causing all kinds of drama. But when two lost hearts take a surprise detour onto the bumpy road of unexpected love, it can only lead someplace wonderful.
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There are books one reads as a safe, temporary escape from daily life; then there are books one reads because the words themselves are an adventure, forcibly sweeping you along by their beauty alone, leaving a changed landscape behind them. Wild Child is a book of this second kind.
When I read a book for review, I try to highlight a sentence or two that resonates to share. For some books that can be a challenge. In the first few chapters of this book I’d highlighted seventeen passages because they were beautiful, or unexpected, or awesome, or some combination of the three. Molly O’Keefe is a master of both literal and figurative metaphoric language. For example: “As she walked by him, he caught the smell of something feminine and complicated. The delicious aroma of trouble.” O’Keefe does this again and again, decorating and frosting the already delicious plot with layers of additional flavor. Everything about this book is a joy to read, despite its (at times) heavy subject matter.
Wild Child follows Jackson Davies, small town mayor in charge of saving his town from an inevitable slow decline. As he embarks on a risky campaign to nab a contract with a cookie company to revitalize the town’s empty mill, he is stymied by the problems brought to town by Monica Appleby – part of the town’s dirty secret and a threat to the success of Jackson’s plan. Jackson has to weigh the needs of the many against the needs of the one as the town and Monica’s needs are in direct conflict – the town needs Jackson, and Jackson wants Monica.
The story is a bit more complicated than that but I won’t spoil it for you. I will say that the town is filled to the brim with clever secondary characters (including a Chinese Crested named Reba), a perfectly-crafted small town experience and enough twists and turns to keep one guessing. Monica is refreshingly honest, flawed, strong, and vulnerable, and I couldn’t help but root for Jackson even though he just kept stepping in it.
This is a book to read again and again, whenever one needs a little wildness in her life.
“Say no if you want. But I’d like to kiss you.”
She didn’t say no and he stepped closer. Still she was silent, and he moved closer again. The hem of his tee shirt touched her shirt and she shouldn’t be able to feel that, but she did, somehow. She felt everything – the night air, his breath, the attention of his eyes. It was as if her skin had slipped away and all she had was raw sensation.