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.
Wren sets the two navy suitcases next to the stroller and then reaches for the cigarette precariously perched between his lips, taking a long. slow drag.
Isn’t it a bummer when you end up having an unpopular opinion about a beloved novel?! So many of my bookish friends adored The Simple Wild and I completely understand why. There is a lot to love about this story and I felt that the main characters had true chemistry, but yet I found myself feeling a little bit disappointed.
First, I want to talk about what I loved about it. The thing that instantly comes to mind is the setting. I have read very few novels set in Alaska and there is something about the isolation and the way that everyone looks out for one another that was compelling. I have always been someone who has been drawn to stories set in small, isolated towns. They lead to interesting dynamics! I also loved that Calla was from Toronto. It is always fun for me to read about Canadian towns, especially a place like Toronto because I can recognize some of the locations.
While there were things about the romance I enjoyed, it was the relationship between Calla and her father that kept me reading. Seeing the two of them navigate and overcome an uncomfortable situation was a delight. They are both very similar and that made it difficult for them to open up. There was something so endearing about Wren, even though he was far from perfect and definitely made mistakes.
Now a couple things that I didn’t love about the book. I have to say that the first half of the novel was a struggle for me. I did not particularly like Calla or Jonah and it was hard for me to root for them. I love a good unlikeable character but not in a romance! I found Calla self-centered and Jonah extremely condensing. I am the biggest fan of enemies to lovers, but there were times where I thought that their banter crossed the line into cruelty. Also, Jonah’s fascination with the fact that Calla wears makeup was just plain annoying- let the girl do what she wants with her own face. I will say that there was a turning point about halfway through the novel and I appreciated the character development.
So, overall I had mixed feelings. I was satisfied with the epilogue and I am not sure that I feel compelled to read the sequel, Wild at Heart. I have heard that both Calla and Jonah fall into their old ways and I don’t think that is something I want to waste my time on. If you have read it, please let me know what you think!