Series: North Ridge #1
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What would you give up to have a second-chance at a once-in-a-lifetime love?
Wild Card is a STANDALONE SECOND-CHANCE ROMANCE from the NYT bestselling author of The Pact and Before I Ever Met You.
Rough, raw & rugged.
As the man in charge at Ravenswood Ranch, Shane Nelson has never been afraid to get his hands dirty. His sculpted physique isn't the product of a gym, but of years of hard labor under a relentless sun. His straightforward, alpha tendencies come from a man who knows what he wants and goes after it.
And what he wants is Rachel Waters.
He's never stopped wanting her.
They were childhood best friends, then teenage lovers who evolved into soulmates. But on one fateful night, Shane made a grave mistake, breaking both their hearts in the process.
Now, after six years, Rachel is back in the small, wild mountain town of North Ridge, BC.
Ready to face her past.
Ready to face Shane.
Ready to face his dark secret.
But is a second-chance at a one true love in the cards? Or will their wild hearts be broken once again?
WILD CARD is a complete standalone novel and the first book about the Nelson brothers of North Ridge.
I’ve been eyeing this romance ever since the author hinted that she’d be tackling a second-chance, first-love romance with two characters who’ve known each other since early childhood. You see, these types of romances are my jam because I love when the couple has a long history. Add to that alternating POVs and alternating timeline scenes where I get to see them grow and love and break and mend, and I am one happy camper. Wild Card claimed to have all the elements I love, and it’s created by a talented writer, so I was pleased to get an early copy of this because I knew it would be a winner.
Was it a winner? In some ways yes, and in some ways, no.
I enjoyed reading this book, and liked the storyline, the romance and how everything unfolded, plot wise. I also liked the leads, and the supporting characters–all of whom I’m very excited to meet in the next upcoming novels. I felt the chemistry between the Rachel and Shane, and was invested in the two together as well as apart (Shane in particular who is so romantic). But, all my feelings were surface deep, because I felt in some ways Wild Card is surface deep.
Some are calling this an angsty read. It’s not. And I don’t even like angst–I stay away from it like it’s the plague. It had the potential to be an angsty read, and it’s more emotional than the author’s latest releases, sure, but it’s not lasting. While reading, I asked myself why I wasn’t experiencing more intense emotions than a few heart palpitations after some revelations, and moments when I was hot and bothered during sexy times (these were consistent ;)) and I think I know why. It’s because I was cheated out of a few gut-wrenching scenes.
In Wild Card the story mostly focuses on Rachel, the prodigal daughter who returns home, because of an emergency, after six years. She left town after Shane Nelson broke her heart. Shane was the one person who she could count on to love her, after losing faith in her parents who never protected her. This girl has a lot of baggage, and Shane is the perfect guy who loved her unconditionally, until he crushed her.
Emotionality potential: maximum.
Emotional actuality: mild-medium.
What could’ve pushed this novel over the edge and made it a five-star read? The hard-to-read scenes. Rachel goes home and has very valid reasons for distrusting Shane and her mom, but there isn’t a moment of true confrontation or emotional outburst with either. Um, I want to see all that messiness. (There is a scene with Shane, but it’s made less powerful by the fact that we don’t get to see their break-up scene. It’s inferred, and it sounds heartbreaking, but, um, I want to see that messiness.) It would’ve been raw, and it would’ve been compelling. The absence of these scenes (and some more backstory on both characters’ personal tragedies) makes this a lighter read which is still touching, but I can’t help but feel it’s not as authentic as it could’ve been.
That aside, Wild Card is a novel I’d recommend to romance lovers who are looking for a pretty engaging read with two characters you want to have their happy after. Shane is the type of hero I prefer–quiet, confident, kind, and strong; and Rachel is the kind of heroine I gravitate towards–one with grit who perseveres. The setting is charming, and at times thrilling (I’ve always wanted to live in the mountains, but nature and I just don’t mix), and so is the North Ridge family (Maverick and Fox, here I come!).
Wild Card is a great opener to what I think is going to be a damn good series. It’s sexy and sweet, and though Rachel and Shane’s love story is complete, I’m comforted that I’ll (hopefully) see them again very soon.