Title: Lovely Wild by Megan Hart
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher
From New York Times bestselling author Megan Hart comes a haunting and insightful novel about a woman trying to find her place in the world…
Brought up in the savage captivity of her unstable grandmother’s rural Pennsylvania home, Mari Calder once yearned for rescue. Now she struggles every day to function as an adult in the confines of normal society. Left with only a foggy recollection of her childhood, she’s consumed with being a dutiful wife to her husband, Ryan, and mother to their two children.
But an unexpected twist of events returns her to that long-forgotten house in the woods. Soon, Mari is greeted with reminders of a past life, the clarified memories only inviting a new level of strangeness into her fragile world. To protect her family, she must find the beautiful, powerful strength hidden in her inner chaos. Because someone is bent on exploiting Mari’s trauma, and as normal and wild begin to blend, a string of devastating truths force Mari to question all she thought she knew.
Lovely Wild is an absolutely riveting and occasionally heart wrenching novel about a woman fully coming to terms with her long forgotten past. Once again, Megan Hart has crafted another unique and creative story about some of life’s darker moments that beautifully demonstrates how remarkably resilient a person can be despite a traumatic and neglectful childhood.
Mari Calder is a devoted wife and stay at home mother who has a seemingly perfect life. She has an excellent relationship with her two children and a happy marriage. Mari is serene, placid and unflinchingly honest but she also has a few idiosyncrasies that stem from her very unorthodox early childhood. Her memories from that time in her life are quite hazy and Mari does not waste time trying to recapture those long ago moments. She instead focuses on the life she has now but unfortunately, current events will soon bring Mari face to face with the secrets of her past.
While Mari is an extremely likable and sympathetic heroine, her husband Ryan is not exactly hero material. A horrible lapse in judgment has jeopardized his career and his marriage, and his reaction to these problems is self-serving, selfish and exploitative. It soon becomes clear that Mari’s past has left her blind to his faults, but as she becomes more self-aware, she also begins to recognize his less than desirable traits as well. Of course, Ryan is not all bad, but will Mari be able to overlook, and ultimately forgive, his betrayals?
The couple’s children, fifteen year old Kendra and eight year old Ethan, are absolutely delightful. Ethan is blissfully self-involved with an endearing innocence that allows him to see what others sometimes overlook. Kendra is a typical teen in many ways, but she is also surprisingly mature. She is old enough to recognize that Mari is different than her friends’ mothers and although some of her mom’s behavior is a little bizarre, Kendra is very protective of her.
Lovely Wild is written in third person from alternating points of view. Mari’s perspective is the most poignant and while watching her come face to face with her childhood is heartbreaking, she is strengthened by what she learns. Ryan’s viewpoint shows him in a less than flattering light and it is very difficult to see him justify his reprehensible decisions. Kendra’s view of the unfolding events is refreshing and realistic and she plays a vital role in the story’s conclusion.
Lovely Wild is a mesmerizing psychological drama that is incredibly captivating and infinitely fascinating. Megan Hart has again created an incredible cast of characters that is flawed but likable and for the most part, redeemable. The storyline is thought-provoking and insightful with unexpected twists and turns. This extremely well-written novel slowly builds to a dramatic ending that will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.