I have had The Simple Wild by Tucker on my TBR for a long time now and I haven’t gotten to it. But I’ve heard so many good things about it. So, when I saw this new release by her on the library’s new book shelf, I figured that it would probably be pretty good too. (Not always sure/safe bet, but I went with it anyways.) Plus, I was really in the mood for some romance.
Piper is the heir to her father’s real estate development dynasty. And not just in the way that makes her financially secure for life, but also in that she’s poised to step into a lead position with the company after her father steps down. And she loves the work and high-power position, even though she has to deal with a whole bunch of her dad’s old cronies who don’t think she’s up to the job. But then things get super complicated when an old camp crush, in fact, her first love, suddenly shows up as a security guard at the building she works in. Piper’s never really gotten over Kyle, but she figured he had moved on. Now though, even though he’s ignoring her and pretends he doesn’t remember her, she’s convinced that it’s not just coincidence that he turned up. And perhaps he remembers (and feels) more than he’s letting on…
This was a dual-timeline story, alternating between present day (Piper and Kyle as adults) and the past (Piper and Kyle the summer they met as camp counselors), and the pacing of both timelines was spectacular. There was your typical “young love at first sight” in the camp sections, but even with that, the development of Piper and Kyle getting to know each other better was written really well – the perfect mix of fast-moving teen/summer love and connection on a deeper level. Sweet and nostalgic in perfect equal measure. And even though I never went to camp, and was a bit leery about those parts for a number of reasons (I can’t lie, I was afraid of clichés), I feel like Tucker handled it all really nicely and actually had me remembering and feeling all nostalgic about my own first loves (something that I definitely haven’t revisited in years, haha). She also did a great job writing all about the teens risk-taking and invincibility complexes in a very realistic way, one where they acted like real “kids,” pushing boundaries but not intentionally causing harm/danger. And though it all built to some fairly major tragedy by the end, it still never went past a point of believe-ability, which I appreciated. And then in the present day timeline, I was super into the maturity with which Piper and Kyle, and really most of the other adults, handled their issues and interactions. I mean yes, there was drama (and some secrets) there too – it’s not really a contemporary romance without it – but it developed naturally and without ever being over-the-top or histrionic. That was kind of refreshing, I thought, and I truly enjoyed the drama sans melodrama. Last, and always important, both past and present Kyle were respectful and healthy the way they treated Piper and there’s not much sexier than that (well, and his full sleeve tattoos – OMG swoon), if you ask me.
In general, I thought the writing was nice and smooth. And the dialogue, always a deal-maker/breaker for me, was fantastic. There were also some cute quirks, like two truths and a lie and Fun Dip bets, that were used well in both timelines and just really got me in the feels the way Tucker used them as devices. Speaking of feels, I was definitely invested in Piper and Kyle. I liked both the physical heat (there were some nice steamy sections, but nothing too crazy) and the emotional connection they had, and loved this story of their second-chance romance. There were also some other side themes, especially regarding the socioeconomic differences between Piper and Kyle, that were explored in a way that added some nice depth to the story. Of particular note here, I thought Piper’s growth in regards to her father’s expectations and protective tendencies was genuine and well-developed. He absolutely crossed some lines that should not have been crossed, but, as I mentioned earlier, the adult relationships were handled maturely enough that, though emotions were high and real, there was also legit insight into his decisions and objective-ish consideration of his “good intentions” and, in the end, a very human balance of positive and negative outcomes for all involved. No one is perfect, particularly not with the ability to see clearly in parent-child relationships, and that was shown in such an honest way here.
This was a really satisfying and engaging contemporary romance. Nothing ground-breaking, but the escapism while reading was absolutely what I was looking for. If you like any combination of second-chance romances, “good girl”/”wrong side of the tracks nice guy” relationships, and dual timeline narration, this is a for sure recommendation from me. And I’ll definitely be checking out more books by Tucker!