Bantam (Random House)
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Jackson Davies’ parents died when he was in his first year of law school, which meant he had to drop out and come home and take care of the 11yo sister that he didn’t even know. Making a home for himself back in Bishop, Arkansas, Jackson ends up becoming the local mayor, inheriting an absolute nightmare. The town was broke, unable to pay the pensions of the local retired fire and police workers and it has been a struggle for Jackson to keep the whole town functioning. The closure of a factory five years ago seems to be the sound of the death gong for the town and if something doesn’t change then Jackson faces having to close the library or something as distressing.
By chance he sees a competition on a morning television show – an American business mogul who has a biscuit factory in South America is pulling the factory out of there and choosing an American town in a reality-tv show type event. Interested towns must submit an application and eventually those will be narrowed down to six finalists. The finalists will be filmed for television and then the public will vote on the winning town and they will gain the factory, 100+ jobs and more. It is exactly what Jackson feels that Bishop needs and he submits an application immediately. If only they can just win this, he will be free. Elections for mayor are soon and he’s not re-running. His younger sister is about to graduate and go to college and Jackson will be free to do whatever he wants, go wherever he wants, pick up the life that paused when his parents died.
Only one things stands in his way: Monica Appleby. The wild child former teen reality-tv star and rock groupie and author of a tell-all book has come to Bishop to write a book about the night her father was killed in Bishop over 20 years ago. That’s just the sort of publicity that Jackson doesn’t want highlighted. He wants to prove that Bishop is progressive but also family oriented and safe. He doesn’t want someone stirring up the events of a vicious murder and domestic incident, not right now. He pays her a visit to ask her to be discreet. What he gets is an attraction that threatens to undo everything he has ever worked for – everything he thought he wanted. Turns out that Jackson might not really know what he wants….unless it involves Monica.
Wild Child is the first of a new series set in Bishop, Arkansas. I didn’t know this was a series when I first started reading it but when I sat down to write the review, I saw the beginning of another review that had the information so I checked it out on the author’s website. The fact that I know that now alters a bit of what I thought about a subplot in this book, which seemed to go no where when I thought it was stand alone but now that I know this is kicking off a series, it was clearly setting up a future main character. I do kind of wish that publishers would broadcast books that are the beginning of a series a little better – I’ve read a couple lately that don’t highlight this at all and you do read series and stand alone books differently. Readers are more tolerant of plots that go no where in a series because you assume that they will be taken care of at a later date.
Anyway, that aside, this is another refreshing story that reverses some stereotypical gender roles making Jackson the responsible, dedicated (trapped) town mayor who is desperately trying to save his dying town. He thinks he’s found the answer only to panic when he realises that Monica Appleby who shot to fame in a reality tv series with her mother in her teens about her mother’s inability to control her and is known for sleeping with an awful lot of rock stars and then writing about it, is in town to write another book. Jackson thinks that this will spell disaster for his plan and he wastes no time telling Monica she must be discreet if she won’t give up and leave. What he doesn’t realise until the film crew arrive is that Monica could actually be the drawcard they need to tip the balance in their favour. When he finds that out, Jackson does use her a little bit – he wanted to hide her away but he’s not afraid to then flaunt her when he needed to! That was a bit naughty of him but Monica was more than capable of handling herself and Jackson.
Both Monica and Jackson have experienced long dry spells and although their attraction to each other is instant and pretty white hot, I liked the fact that O’Keefe wasn’t afraid to give them stumbling blocks to the road to sex. Monica has used others and been used so many times that she no longer seems to find much enjoyment in sex – it’s a mechanical going-through-the-motions experience for her. Jackson figures this out and he puts a halt to things, changing his tactic and getting Monica to switch off her brain and just enjoy things. I really liked their sexual interactions but oh lord these two have some petty fights and obstacles. They take offence to everything the other says. Jackson was kind of a jerk but Monica was also nosy and a bit of a bitch, which doesn’t seem to be addressed in the way Jackson’s rudeness is. I don’t think Monica was perfect but she was portrayed a little too much as the Mary Sue who has all of the answers.
I was curious about the subplot with teacher Shelby which was the one that went no where but now that I know this is a series, I’m hoping that Shelby’s is the next book in the series. I liked her a lot and I want to know her story.
Book #269 of 2013