Wilde for You
Grade : A-

Jennifer Ryan is back with the second installment of her Dark Horse Dive Bar series, Wilde for You, a subtle romantic suspense wrapped up in a small-town cowboy romance. It’s the first Ryan novel I’ve read, and I liked this standalone enough to delve into her backlist as soon as I was finished.

Layla Brock is a world renowned landscape artist from California rebuilding her life in the shadow of her husband’s suicide. His death, coupled with a tumultuous emotional period leading up to it as well as his brother Michael’s attempt to take what he feels is his inheritance, has wrung her out emotionally. The experience challenged her creativity and left her artistically barren for long enough, so when a commission for a stunning Wyoming landscape comes her way, Layla jumps at the opportunity.

Fate guided her to the Wilde Wind Ranch, owned by Jax Wilde and his sisters, and one of the pretty little guest ranches overlooking the beautiful countryside. Jax has his own emotional baggage following the end of his most recent relationship, and rather than turning to art he threw himself into punishing work schedules at the Dark Horse Dive Bar they also own. Like Layla, he’s ready to move on from the emotional wringer he’s been through.

Michael rears his ugly head often enough to be problematic, though his interference doesn’t win against the weight of Jax’s love and support that’s just weighty enough to give Layla hutzpah and triumph over the final vestiges of her past. There’s a big cast of characters who interject themselves regularly, as is the habit of a series about a large family, and the instalove Layla and Jax experience feels a little rushed, but Ryan tempers both by peppering in the small nuances of life and inspiration between Layla and Jax as the story unfolds.

Wilde for You is a mature, contemporary love story with universal truths that everyone, in every situation, can relate to. It’s timeless in its conflict and motivation and approach to finding love again. Starting over is scary, and taking chances requires bravery we don’t always know is within us. Layla’s motivation speaks for the man she loves now, as well: “Somewhere out there was the new life she wanted to make for herself.” Layla may have found it at the Wilde Wind Ranch, but Jax also finds it in her.

Reviewed by Dolly Sickles
Grade : A-

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : March 27, 2024

Publication Date: 03/2024

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