Thursday, 6 March 2014

Book Review: Wildwood Creek, by Lisa Wingate

Leave it to me to do something as last-minute as possible.  This review was to be posted by March 7th.  So I finished reading the last chapters on March 6th, and here it is.

It didn't take me that long because I didn't like the book.  In fact, I loved the book!  I read most of it in three evenings.  When I had to stop to go to sleep that last evening, with about three chapters left, the heroine was stranded with some long-dead people and it was creepy, and I wanted to read the rest in the daytime.  But of course I don't think to pick up a novel during the day.  On to the review.

Wildwood Creek, by Lisa Wingate is not the nostalgic cowboy romance I thought it was.  The cover art, while lovely, and the main thing that made me chose this book to review since I only skimmed the book description, could probably be tweaked to better represent the book.  This book is actually romantic suspense.  It is the perfect balance for me of fun personalities and characterisation and romance with suspense, danger, and dread.
Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father's unfinished destiny. When she's offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father's footsteps suddenly seems within reach. The reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry. A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream. 
But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region's folk songs. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned. When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood--including Blake Fulton, Allie's handsome neighbor on the film set--seems to be hiding secrets. Allie doesn't know whom she can trust. If she can't find the answers in time, history may repeat itself...with the most unthinkable results.

From the very first page, I was fascinated.  The first person narration by two different characters is well balanced.  Allie's chapters are light-hearted and nicely reflected her trusting, humourous, self-deprecating nature.  Bonnie Rose's chapters just made my heart ache for her and the trauma she experiences, both before the book begins, and throughout its pages.  But it ends with hope.  It is beautiful.  And Essie Jane is a gem of a character.  The epilogue is perfect.

I did think that the description of Allie's appearance could have been woven in a bit sooner.  Yes, we know right off that she has red hair, but I got the impression from Allie's narration that she was short and pleasantly plump (not unlike myself).  Turns out, thanks to an excellent description given by Allie's friend Kim several chapters in, Allie is tall and thin!  But it is a great illustration of female body image.  We always see ourselves worse than others see us.

The parallel story lines were both well-crafted, and complemented each other.  If the book only had Bonnie Rose's story line, it would have been morose.  With only Allie's story line, it would have been chick lit.  Woven together, the result is something deeper.

I am grateful for the opportunity to review this book, and I plan to add a few of Lisa Wingate's other books to my TBR list.  One of my dream jobs has always been to work at Bethany House.  Perhaps reviewing their books will be the closest I get.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 
Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group. 

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