Top Shelf: The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker
Take note, readers: The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker needs to be on your summer book reading list. It's the perfect contemporary romance for the pool or beach (or anywhere)!
The story follows main character, Calla Fletcher, who is recently unemployed but also a part-time social media influencer from Toronto, and her strained relationship with her biological father, Wren, who owns a small airline company on the remote Alaskan frontier.
After 14 years without any contact with her dad, Calla learns that Wren was recently diagnosed with cancer. Without wasting much time, she heads to the small town of Bangor, Alaska, to see Wren -- to the same house her parents once shared together when she was a young girl. For a city girl, the transition to the cold, isolated town is difficult for Calla. Bangor's rugged lifestyle, coupled with the memories of her estranged relationship with her dad and her parents' struggles and eventual breakup, makes for an emotional reunion.
Calla is greeted with a host of welcoming and kind townspeople with the exception of Jonah, Wren's most trusted and savvy young pilot. Calla and Jonah start out on the wrong foot and their differences cannot be more stark. He is a bush pilot -- a risky profession in remote Alaska, and she is an image-conscious blogger from the city.
As Calla learns of life in the wild and comes to appreciate the people she meets, she undergoes a sobering transformation. Her heart softens as she focuses less on what was lost and more on what she can have with her dad and in life. Moreover, she forms an unsuspecting friendship with Jonah that quickly progresses into something more. (There are several swoon-worthy scenes!)
As Calla learns more of her father's illness, she is forced to make decisions and come to terms with her life as it is in the present. While fearing the same mistakes her parents made, she tries to move forward clearheaded and determined; this turns out to be anything but simple.
I truly enjoyed this book. Tucker uses strong, detailed writing that captivated me from the first pages. She does a masterful job describing rugged living in remote Alaska and the resilience of its people. I fell in love with all of the characters, including Alaska, which is a focal point of the story woven throughout the pages with beautiful descriptions and imagery. In addition, Tucker writes some of the most emotionally-wrought dialogue I've read in a very long time. And the best part is that these characters and story continue in two more books by K.A. Tucker -- Wild at Heart and Forever Wild. I can‘t wait to read both!