You may not realize it from the cover or back cover copy, but Wild Desires is a rather intense historical romance set in India with a fairly prevalent paranormal element. I wasn’t disappointed to find this instead of the road trip romp I had expected as it remains a thoroughly enjoyable journey of a story.
Beatrice Edmunds was raised by a strict grandmother in a castle in Scotland — a childhood far lonelier than privileged. She longs for adventure, so she jumps at the chance to go with her cousin Leo and his wife Ella to visit Ella’s cousin Colin Fitch in India. Bea and Colin get off to a pretty rocky start, but when anti-British rioting puts the four of them at risk, Bea and Colin are separated from Leo and Ella, and find themselves on a trek across India on a quest to find a mysterious power-giving statue that could be devastating if it fell in the wrong hands. Colin has been seeking this statue for years. He has a secret power of his own, that of healing. He can bring people back from the brink of death — but not without cost to himself.
The background of the statue and the people involved was very hazy. There are a lot of components — a stolen necklace, a ring, several other statues, evil relatives, and a mysteriously immortal man. I assume that much of this was explained in the prequel to this story, but for those who haven’t read Wild Heart, this book can be pretty confusing.
But I went along with it, because the rest of the story was so engrossing and exciting. Bea and Colin are both great characters that build a truly strong relationship based on trust and understanding. The building of that understanding took longer than necessary, perhaps, but it got there and I was delighted by it. Colin’s power added a fascinating dimension to his character, one that Bea didn’t appreciate as much as I did. She tended to be stubborn and wear blinders around Colin, which was a bit frustrating if also understandable.
The exotic locale was wonderful. The lush descriptions gave a strong contrast to the typical settings of historical romances. There are some fabulous details included that bring the jungle to life — for better or worse. This includes a scene involving a “mystery meat” that made me shudder.
More depth and development on the paranormal elements of the story were necessary, though — the lack of explanation was one of the few problems I had with this book. However, if you decide to just accept it, as Bea does, with little true understanding, you can go with them on the journey and still enjoy the ride.