Desert Isle Keeper
Lucy on the Wild Side
There’s no sophomore slump in sight for Kerry Rea in her refreshingly, intelligently funny romantic comedy Lucy on the Wild Side.
Lucy Rourke is a junior primate keeper at an Ohio zoo. Known for her devotion to gorillas and her aversion to fundraising (as her friend points out, she’s attended galas “with gorilla shit on your boots”), she lives with her grandmother and avoids her B-list celebrity mother who ran off when Lucy was ten but has now shown back up, transformed into a “sober, Peloton-riding woman who buys organic produce and reads every title in Reese Witherspoon’s book club”. When Kai Bridges, South African-American and super attractive “baby-capybara-hugging” man—and “the son of famed primatologist Dr. Charlotte Kimber” – arrives at the zoo to film his show On the Wild Side, they clash instantly and juvenilely. Then Lucy’s boss tells her that a promotion to senior keeper depends on Lucy proving she’s ready for the spotlight – which means taking part in the show.
The writing is what makes this book. I read Lucy on the Wild Side with laughing tears in my eyes and snort/chuckle sound effects. The humor is the perfect blend of intentionally funny and not trying too hard. The zoo setting gives a terrifically entertaining and interesting layer to the story (Lucy performs her job functions on the page). The secondary characters are more than a few positive adjectives put together (one of her coworkers has a TikTok star hedgehog named Ernest, and Lucy’s grandmother is
a semi-retired cardiologist . . . [who] once posed for the cover of Columbus Monthly wearing a red sheath dress that . . . probably inspired a thousand Viagra prescriptions.).
The book is definitely a romantic comedy as opposed to a comedic romance. But readers who like love stories packed with grand gestures and monologues of undying love destined to be printed on Etsy posters will be disappointed. The romance of Lucy on the Wild Side manifests itself in how Lucy and Kai show up for and support each other as they work towards and through personal and professional challenges and goals.
The one aspect of the book that is uneven is the physical side of the romance: Lucy and Kai’s first kiss isn’t so much fade-to-black as a cutaway, but their first sexual encounter is open-door with reciprocal oral. It’s also one of the only places where the writing loses its level head and Lucy starts waxing on about how
[Kai’s] cock filling up the place between my legs, is a destiny. A providence. A coming home.
Full of facts like “Scorpions die of constipation after they sting” and capably executed, Lucy on the Wild Side is a delightfully easy read.