**Trigger warning** Sexual abuse/violence towards women
Bri Martin likes her skirts too short, her heels too high, and trouble close at hand. So when big, brooding underground boxer Luke Turner comes into the bar where she works and starts a fight before she brings his first drink, she can’t help being intrigued. Luke is everything she never wanted and everything she can’t resist.
Soon, Luke is showing up everywhere Bri is, and she can’t break free of his hold on her, nor does she want to. When her best friend turns on her, it’s Luke who is there. When Luke’s opponent comes after her to send Luke a message, it’s he who comes to her rescue.
Before Bri knows it, she’s caught in the midst of a rivalry between her boyfriend and her boss, both of whom are not content to settle their scores inside the ring. She swore she’d never live this life, so like the one she once ran from. But only by confronting her past can she decide where her future lies…and whether Luke can be a part of it.
E: I liked the blurb when I was browsing for review books but noticed that MinnChica already had it scheduled for review. I mentioned I was looking forward to reading what she had to say and she convinced me to go ahead and do a joint review with her. I wasn’t sure what I thought I was going to read but what I got was very visceral, elemental, and brutal in more ways than one. Bri had a horrible home life and after one especially brutal night she fled. After some time living on the street she ended up working as a bar waitress and seemed to enjoy life with the constant hum of danger.
MinnChica: When I first read this blurb I was instantly intrigued. However, I never expected the book to be as dark and brutal and ugly as it was. Wyllys touched on some very heavy topics, and she didn’t pull any of her punches. This book was raw and at times difficult to read, and yet it was such a beautiful story. I found myself staying up till almost 2:30 in the morning finishing this book, because I absolutely couldn’t put it down. I really feel as if everyone needs to read this book! 🙂
E: I can’t say this is a story I will ever re-read nor did I necessarily enjoy the characters and their choices BUT it gripped me and I was unable to stop reading. I think part of the attraction was how Bri and Luke never tried to smooth over anything. What they thought or felt was blatantly evident without any filters. Yes, each had secrets they kept from the other about their past but they were almost brutally honest about the present. It was also interesting to see the connections between the supporting characters appear, shift, and sometimes get in the way. Those connections demonstrated just how out of the loop Bri was with the other people around her and made me wonder what her best friend really knew.
MinnChica: For me, the big attraction between Luke and Bri was the fact that they didn’t try to change each other. Let’s be brutally honest for a minute, both Bri and Luke were seriously effed up people. They both had some serious, major issues. Bri drowned herself in booze and bad decisions, Luke was a fighter first and foremost, and he had no problems using his fists to solve problems. But despite the fact that they are both broken, they don’t try to change one another. Luke doesn’t force Bri to clean up her act and get her shit together. Instead, he accepts who she is and just wants to be a part of her life. Bri doesn’t force Luke to quit and go to some kind of legitimate business, instead she grits her teeth and bears the fact that fighting is a part of who he is. Like I said before, both Bri and Luke are ugly, but their romance is beautiful in and of itself.
E: That is so very true. They accepted and loved each other in all of their messed up glory. Luke wasn’t going to change his life because it spilled over and impacted Bri. He would make sure to get revenge but he wasn’t changing his life. Nor was he after her to change, except maybe not wave the equivalent of a red cape in front of a charging bull. Bri on the same hand didn’t expect Luke to quit his livelihood. It might bring her back to some of the darker places of her childhood but it was an elemental part of Luke. In a way it was refreshing to see a romance that centered around accepting who/what the characters were attracted to and that didn’t mean they were condemned to relive the past but could make the choice to be different while staying in the same environment.
MinnChica: Another thing I really liked about this book was how different all the supportive characters were. Bri’s best friend was so worried about her reckless ways that he went above and beyond best friend duties to try and keep her safe. Almost to the point that I found myself like his character less and less as the story went on. This is supposed to be the first book in a series called The Lane. I’m anxious and excited to see who will be next. I’m not sure if Wyllys is going to keep following Bri and Luke, or if we’ll get the chance to see some of the other eccentric Lane characters get their chance at finding love, in whatever forms works best for them.
E: It will be very interesting to see what characters come to the forefront as this series continues. I think Bri’s best friend knew a lot more about Luke’s world then he ever wanted to admit. It will be interesting to see if he redeems himself or is forever pushed out of the picture. While this story was brutal and vicious as MinnChica said earlier, the romance was there. I think the best thing is at the end I had the feeling that love isn’t limited to the “perfect ones,” f’ed up characters are just as eligible to love and be loved.
I give Wild Ones a B
MinnChica: All in all I thought this was a beautiful and wonderful book. Don’t get me wrong, it was ugly and violent and brutal a times, especially as Bri and Luke navigate the waters of their relationship. But despite that, it was such a truthful and real love story between two people who thought they were never capable of love. I’m not usually a fan of darker romances, I tend to prefer my romances with rainbows and unicorns, but this was story was just as wonderful as the happy romances. I’m so anxious to see what Wyllys comes up with next.
I give Wild Ones an A