Wilder at Last
Serena Bell wraps her her Wilder Adventures series with a frenemies to lovers story. This quintet of books, set in the nicest town in Oregon, Rush Creek, features five brothers (their sole sister got a short story), all tall, gorgeous, and in need of the love of a good woman. Four have found their soulmates, all of whom wish to stay in Rush Creek, and, in Wilder at Last, it’s the youngest, the panty-melter brother, Easton’s turn.
If you’ve read the series, you’ve figured out Easton’s true love is Hanna Hott with whom he’s grown up. Like Easton, Hannah is the youngest of six–yes, the next set of books will feature the five presumably hot Hott brothers–but unlike him, she doesn’t come from a loving family. (The Wilders are the dream team of families.) Hanna, who lives with her hilariously cranky 85 year old grandfather, is, however, an honorary Wilder. She works as a trip leader for Wilder Adventures, the company all the Wilders and their partners are connected to, and her girl posse is all Wilder women. Hanna loves the Wilders, loves her job, and loves Rush Creek. And she loves pranking Easton just as much as he loves pranking her.
As the book opens, Hanna has just
covered every inch of Easton Wilder’s work cube with sticky notes. His computer, his keyboard, his desk, the walls of the cube, the front of the desk. I used six different colors, arranged in many patterns, including a smiley face of sticky notes glommed on Easton’s computer screen. It’s basically art.
Today is Easton’s birthday, and my sticky-note “gift” is payback for his last birthday “present” to me, which was replacing the contents of my deep bottom file drawer with a terrarium. Stones, little plastic plants, a leopard gecko.
Some people might call our pranks mean, but Easton and I, we’ve always been like this. Finding ways to make each other’s lives… more colorful. More interesting. And yeah, sometimes a little more difficult—but in the best possible way.
I do a happy jiggle to celebrate my own brilliance. Easton’s gonna love it. Or hate it, which is the same thing when it comes to lifetime frenemies.
An astute romance reader recognizes this for what it is: sublimated lust just waiting to be set free. The device Bell uses for this is Hanna’s having the hots for another man, celebrity chef and YouTube sensation Bear Warden. Wilder Adventures has hired Bear to take their clients on trips based around foraging and preparing food in the wild. The minute Hanna sees Bear, she is struck dumb.
Bear Warden on the screen did not prepare me for Bear Warden in the flesh. He’s gorgeous.
I mean, not quite as gorgeous as Easton, standing beside him, but ever since Easton started dating mean girls in middle school, I’ve discounted him as a man and thought of him more as a work of art with a sense of humor and bad taste in women. It’s a helpful, ever-present reminder that he’s off limits, even as an object of fantasy.
The man next to Easton is probably six-foot-four. Broad as a barn, though not the Wilder-brother molded-from-marble version. Softer, more dad-bodied—if your dad was a grizzly bear. He has reddish-brown hair, a thick and impeccably trimmed coppery beard, full lips, and bright blue eyes. Up close, he’s vivid.
Something has happened to my brain.
Well, really, to my body.
As in, my body—specifically, my vagina—hijacked all the blood from my brain.
Which is a big deal, because ever since I moved Easton from the middle-school-crush category to nope, this doesn’t happen to me very often, with men or women.
Hanna promptly blackmails Easton–she overheard him asking Bear for a job, something that is verboten because Wilders must work for Wilder Adventures–into helping her get Bear into the sack. Hanna’s not looking for love–her feckless parents and absentee brothers have left her believing she’s not worthy–she just wants to roll around the sheets with dad bod Bear.
High jinks ensue, some very funny and some not. The blackmail is kinda yucky. The plot depends on both Easton and Hanna being as clueless as Dionne on the highway. There is no problem that can’t be solved by compassion, words of wisdom from your peeps, and comfy clothes because the Wilder books eschew angsty conflict or difficult choices. They, like Jill Shalvis’ Lucky Harbor books, are feel good paeans to the best of us served with a side of snark and sexy times. In Rush Creek, everyone is loved, supported, and encouraging. It’s a world where all sexual orientations are valued, all body types are beautiful, and sibling rivalry melts away in the face of regular family dinners. If books were hugs, this one is a giant happy group pile on.
So, if you need a hug, a comforting, familiar hug, you’ll enjoy Wilder at Last. Here (unlike my favorite Bell, Sleepover) the writing is sugar and spice and everything nice. This easy to read love story has quippy banter and steamy sex in tent, progressive values and a prescient dog. For many many readers, that’s a treat. It’s hard to hate on happiness and I’m not even going to try. If you love this sort of thing–and if you do, you are in good company–Wilder at Last will charm you and leave you smiling.
Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day.
|Review Date:||February 8, 2023|
|Book Type:||Contemporary Romance|
|Review Tags:||wilder adventures series|
Will have to wait to see how I feel about this one; it’s still on my TBR
I just downloaded WILDER AT LAST yesterday and am trying to finish another book before I start reading it. As you said, it’s obvious from the other Wilder books that Hannah and Easton care for each other and are meant to be together, but the “blackmail” plot doesn’t thrill me. However, even B-level Bell is usually better than about 95% of other romances, so I won’t complain about the manufactured conflict in the story. However, if Bell’s next series is about the Hott brothers, that probably means she won’t be returning to her Tierney Bay books (the ones she was writing before she started the Wilder Adventures series) which is a shame—those were a bit grittier than the Wilder books with more real-life situations & consequences, and I was really looking forward to the antagonists-to-lovers story that was brewing between two of the secondary characters.
I’ve always wanted the brother’s love story from Sleepover. But the next book is about a Hott.