All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Wild At Heart – Charmaine Ross

on January 10, 2013

Wild At HeartWild At Heart
Charmaine Ross
Destiny Romance
2013, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Park Ranger Victoria Price has no tolerance for poachers. When she rescues documentary maker Dan from the jaws of ‘Big Mama’, a local crocodile, she at first suspects that he’s looking for the eggs, especially given he was right near her nest when Big Mama attacked. In order to preserve both Dan’s life and Big Mama’s, Victoria (who is perhaps not that crack a shot) inadvertently shot Dan in the shoulder when she was attempting to scare Big Mama into letting him go.

Unbeknownst to Victoria, Dan’s cameraman Harry was filming everything, including Victoria’s barnstorming rescue and the documentary’s financial backers have seen the footage and they absolutely love it! They want Victoria on board with the project as a kind of co-host/expert, someone that finds the animals for filming and then talks about them to the host Dan. Although Victoria knows this isn’t the job for her, because she freezes up talking in front of people and especially to a camera, she agrees because she feels guilty and like she owes Dan one. She did shoot him after all, no matter how much of an accident it was.

So Victoria agrees to spend some time with the crew tracking and filming some of the wild animals in the local area but the attraction between Victoria and Dan has her firmly out of her comfort zone. Victoria is far more at home with her animals than people and her distraction over Dan leads to interesting interactions with crabs, fire ants, wild pigs and more crocodiles. And always, at the back of Victoria’s mind, are the poaches and how she can go about finding them and protecting the wildlife that means so much to her.

Wild At Heart is a romantic comedy with just a touch of drama. Victoria had a very different childhood, living with her father in remote mostly indigenous communities, learning all there was to learn about the bush and its inhabitants. She’s far more at home in the bush than she is in an office and seems to have little in the way of a social life. She’s dedicated to her job, devoted to it and it fills her days. She’s passionate about stamping out poaching and it seems like keeping them away is a daily struggle.

The way in which Dan and Victoria meet is quite funny – he’s about to be dragged off by a huge crocodile although he manages to fare rather well out of that stand off with really only the bullet wound courtesy of Victoria to show for it and an injured foot. He’s fascinated by Victoria, who stormed in there like a sort of Park Ranger Wonder Woman and pulls out all the stops to get her to agree to appear in the documentary. The documentary is Dan’s chance to make his dream program, not just assist on someone else’s and there’s not much he wouldn’t do to make it happen. Even he begins to wonder though, just how this is going to work when he sees just how dire Victoria is whenever there’s a camera pointed at her.

I quite enjoyed the blossoming attraction between Victoria and Dan. I felt that they were really quite different from often-used character types in romance. Victoria is a real outdoors girl, dusty and dirty, spending all day out in the sun. She plays with trap door spiders (just reading that scene gave me the squicks, I thoroughly sympathised with Dan during it!) and tags wild hogs and fights off mama crocodiles with oars from a boat. Dan, by contrast at the beginning of this book is more at home in his air conditioned office than he is out in the bush. Even though it’s the basis of his documentary, it’s like he doesn’t really see it for all that it is until he experiences it through Victoria’s eyes. Her passion is infectious and he begins to understand just what it is that drives it. They end up sharing something quite special.

There’s a small dramatic sub-plot of the poachers running throughout the novel and it’s quite well done. It doesn’t detract from the comedy and push the novel into a more serious genre and actually it ends up providing some giggles as well. This novel definitely touches on the importance of the environment and treating it with respect, especially the animals that live within it but it’s not done in a pushy or preachy way. Probably my only qualm was that pretty much every time Dan came into contact with an animal of any description, something disastrous happened, which was kind of funny for a while but then just got to be a bit too much.

7/10

Book #5 of 2013

AWW2013

Wild At Heart is the 3rd novel read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013

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