Review: The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

The Simple Wild 
K.A. Tucker
Publication date: August 17, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Source: Atria and NetGalley
Calla Fletcher was 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 her father reaches out to inform her that his days are numbered, Calla 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 new subarctic environment, Jonah—the quiet, brooding, and proud Alaskan pilot who keeps 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. As time passes, she unexpectedly finds herself forming a 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.


Tucker has outdone herself. I do believe The Simple Wild has just taken the top spot when it comes to all I’ve read from this talented writer (or at least given the others a good shake-up).

I was captivated even from the prologue, when two year old Calla is taken away from her father by a mother who can no longer tolerate the reality of rural life in the Alaskan wild. More than two decades pass before Calla returns. Now twenty-six, she is very much a city girl but her life in Toronto is also at a crossroads. Receiving a call that her father has terminal diagnosis, Calla packs a bag (actually many bags) and returns to Alaska. Filled with questions about her parent’s past, uncertainty about a father she barely knows, and years of hurt over his absence in her life, Calla is unprepared for what she finds. Not only the harsh reality of life in Alaska, but also her taciturn father and Jonah, the gruff and grouchy pilot who instantly pegs her as high-maintenance, pampered and shallow.

Calla starts off as the classic fish out of water when she arrives in the fictional town of Bangor. Bemoaning her missing luggage, teetering through the mud in high heels, and annoyed without her morning latte with soy milk, she doesn’t exactly fit in. But as Calla spends time with her father, and with Jonah, she sees a different side of life in Alaska - the beauty of the land, the tenacity of the people, and a way of life that is unlike anything she has known.

I loved the evolution of Calla’s character over the course of the novel. From arriving with little more than a sense of duty and a desire to quickly return to her life, to slowly getting to know the father she barely knew and understanding the choices he’d made, Calla shows real growth and questions what she truly wants for herself. It was obvious she wouldn’t leave Alaska the same person as when she arrived. I felt her frustration as she tried to get to know her father. Watching the two of them tiptoe around each other and seeing the small, tentative steps they took towards one another touched my heart.

Jonah and Calla appeared to be total opposites. With a strong sense of commitment to his job and the people it impacted, Jonah was hard-working, adventurous and a risk-taker. He was also close to Calla’s father and understood him in ways that Calla didn’t.  He had no problem putting Calla in her place at every opportunity and their bickering and banter was priceless. As the animosity turned to attraction and then a relationship, it seemed inevitable that history would repeat itself and Calla would follow in her mother’s footsteps.  I loved the way their relationship unfolded. I’m not a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope but this didn’t feel like a trope at all. Instead it felt utterly realistic. Calla, with her preconceived notions of who and what she would find in Alaska; and Jonah with his suspicion of Calla and disapproval of her relationship with her father. The long thaw between them helped to make the eventual turn in their relationship feel completely believable.

Tucker made rural Alaska come alive and the setting felt as if were another character in the story. The imagery is stunning and brought every scene to life, making it easy to fully immerse myself in the story.

Powerful and emotional, this is a tale of coming to terms with the past, recognizing our parents as flawed individuals, acceptance and forgiveness, and having the courage to embrace a future that is unlike anything you imagined for yourself. At times so raw and real that it made my heart ache, The Simple Wild pulled me in from the very start and kept me completely invested in these characters and their lives through every turn of the page. One of my top reads of 2018.

4.5/5 STARS

Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. This does not my opinion of the book or the content of this review. I received no compensation and my review is voluntary.

19 comments

  1. This sounds really heartfelt and wonderful! Great review!

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  2. I've been reading K.A. Tucker and have loved most of her books, but I think this might be my favorite from her. I loved Calla's transformation and the romance! Glad to hear you loved it too, Tanya! :)

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  3. YAY! Glad you enjoyed this and it was a top read. I Loved this book so much and definitely my favorite from her. Great review!

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  4. I have been wanting to read this book for quite a while. I am adding this to the long list of rave reviews. Fish out of water + Alaska + character evolution = I want to read this.

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  5. Do you know, I've never read a book by KA Tucker. I always meant to but I just never did.

    I think my only question on this one would be whether there's a nice long epilogue that makes it clear that the couple make it and she doesn't do what her mother did and leave the pilot guy high and dry after a few years...

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  6. This sounds like such a lovely read and I love that rural Alaska setting.

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    1. The setting was so unique and definitely played a part in the overall story. I definitely recommend this one!

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  7. Okay sis, you wrote the hell out of this review! Another friend of mine also had good things to say about TSW and with you confirming that its a great read, I definitely need to pick it up. I feel as though I held off mostly because I didn't enjoy He Will Be My Ruin as much as I thought I would (still was a solid 3 stars, which made me apprehensive about diving straight into this. Welp, let me add it to my list of books to buy this week! Phenomenal review girl :)

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    1. Okay, you just made my day. :) I’m actually with you on He Will Be My Ruin. I’d read 4 or 5 of her books before that one so I knew I enjoyed her writing and storytelling, but with that one... it was just kind of meh. It was fine but nothing that blew me away. The Simple Wild is leaps and bounds from that. I was so drawn into the story, into Calla’s complicated relationship with her father. There was a lot more depth here. I can’t wait to read your thoughts if you decide to try it!

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  8. I've seen so many bloggers I trust saying good things about this book and your review has just reminded me how utterly fantastic a read it was. I need to get myself a copy! I am trying to be sensible about money, though, so it might have to wait a little while.

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    1. I read an ARC but just recently purchased a physical copy. I very rarely reread but I can definitely see myself wanting to revisit this one someday. 💜

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  9. Fantastic review! Many say that she outdid herself here. I had only read Tne Tiny Breaths from her but got this one after reading so many enthusistic reviews. I still need to read it. Scoop: her next book "be the Girl" is fantastic! She will surprise you! I've read the ARC in one day today ;-)

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    1. I totally agree, Sophie - I think she did outdo herself with this one. Ten Tiny Breaths is the first book I ever read by her and I loved it. It’s was got me hooked on her. :) I’m so excited for Be the Girl! Especially hearing that you read the ARC in one day... wow!!!

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  10. This sounds like an amazing book. I will have to get this one my list and read it. I love stories about Alaska - my brother has been there a few times now but I have yet to go. Thanks for the great review!

    Mary

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    1. This might be the first book I ever read that took place in Alaska. How cool that your brother has been there! I highly recommend this one, Mary!

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  11. Ooh, this one sounds like a great book. It's going right on my wishlist. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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    1. Thanks Rowena! This one really hit me in the feels and I loved every aspect of it. Tucker is such an amazing storyteller!

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  12. Gah! This is another one I'm dying to read. I really need to binge on KAT. ;) Where should I start? I've only read Four Seconds to Lose.

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    1. Oh my gosh, Brandee, I think you would love K.A. Tucker! And The Simple Wild would be a great one to start with. I actually started with Ten Tiny Breaths and that whole companion series was wonderful. Another of my favorites by her is Until It Fades. That one is pretty much straight-up romance and I just loved it. Brett is totally swoon worthy! :)

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