Book/Author and Year Published: Gone Wild by Eddie Cleveland (2019)

Reviewer: Bethany

Age/Genre: Mountain Man Romance, Military Romance

Preferred Reading Environment: Curled up by the fire on a snowy day

Reading Accoutrements: Hot cocoa with marshmallows

Content Notes: Cheating, References to Meth abuse, parental death, foster system

I mentioned in my review of American Bad Boy by Eddie Cleveland that I’m on the author’s email list. Well, he recently released a new book called Gone Wild and I had the opportunity to snag a copy – so I thought I’d tell you guys my thoughts.

At the beginning of this book, Sawyer is just getting back from deployment and is plotting to surprise his girlfriend with his early arrival – and a ring! He’s got it all planned out: he’ll knock on her door early that morning, give her his prepared speech, and get down on one knee, all in front of the cameraman from a local television network that will broadcast his proposal live. It’s a romantic plan, one that’s been the source of many viral youtube videos before. You can see the pending tragedy, right?

When Sawyer knocks on the door to his girlfriend’s house, the first thing he realizes is that she’s pregnant. He’s ecstatic! But while he’s on his knee professing his love, some other guy walks out of his girlfriend’s bedroom and declares that the baby isn’t Sawyer’s. Sawyer’s girlfriend had, apparently, been seeing this other guy before Sawyer was deployed; she waited to break up with him because she was worried that he’d die overseas if he was distracted by the news.

In shock, Sawyer leaves his ex-girlfriend’s house and heads for a motel room. Unfortunately for him, the video of his failed proposal goes viral and a lot of really terrible memes are made. Sawyer stays holed up in a cheap motel, getting drunk off the mini bar, for a few days before his army buddy tracks him down and drags him to a real bar. When people at the bar realize that he’s the guy from the memes, Sawyer decides he’s had enough. He tells his army buddy that he’s moving to Alaska – not to hide from the world, but because he’s decided that he doesn’t want to deal with technology anymore.

A couple of years later, Elsie – an Instagram model who is famous for her butt selfies (she calls them “belfies”) – is in Alaska with her fiance and a few of her closest Instagram model friends, celebrating her recent engagement to a handsome billionaire. They’re all having a blast drinking and hot-tubbing at a fancy resort, until Elsie finds her fiance banging her foster sister. Drunk and wearing nothing but a wet bikini under her fur coat and snow boots, Elsie runs into the woods to get away from them. She seriously underestimates the power of the blizzard that is headed her way.

Sawyer is on a supply run when he sees what he thinks is an injured bear cub heading toward him. It’s only when the bear drops to the ground with a high-pitched cry that he realizes the bear is actually a woman. He finds Elsie unconscious in the snow and carries her to an abandoned cabin he passed on his way to Anchorage for supplies. There, he warms her with his own body heat and a fire. When they wake up the next morning, it’s obvious that the blizzard will keep them stranded for at least a couple of days.

Elsie and Sawyer are very different people with vastly different life experiences. Elsie grew up in the foster system because her parents were cooking meth in their house and got arrested. She uses Instagram to try to find the connection and approval she craves. In her mind, Instagram love is the same as the love of a family. She truly thinks that she has finally found a place where she can belong and friends who support her because of the internet.

Sawyer grew up in his family’s restaurant with two loving parents, surrounded by a community of supportive people. When his parents died around the same time that he graduated from high school, Sawyer enlisted in the Army and found a new family in his fellow soldiers. After his girlfriend’s betrayal and the subsequent humiliation, he isolated himself from everything related to technology, only making the trek to a city once every few months for supplies. The funny thing is that he was so interested in the world knowing his business when he expected a joyful moment. Yet, when his moment was devastating, Sawyer decided that technology was entirely to blame. Sawyer believes that technology can only ruin connections and communities, so the fact that Elsie won’t put down her phone – even though she has no service – makes him hate her.

This book takes place over the course of several days, while Sawyer and Elsie are trapped in a run-down cabin during a blizzard. Sawyer has interacted with very few people since he isolated himself in the Alaskan wilderness and Elsie is used to internalizing her thoughts and emotions because she wants people to like her. In other words, neither of them communicate very well. For that reason, a lot of the “action” takes place through internal exposition and flashbacks.

It is, however, very difficult to survive in such an unforgiving environment without communication. Inevitably, the two begin to talk to each other – this is a romance novel, after all – and they discover that they have at least one thing in common: they both desire unconditional love.

This is a silly, sappy romance novel; it’s perfect for curling up by the fire with a (cinnamon whiskey-spiked) hot chocolate on a cold night. And if the fire and the hot cocoa don’t warm you up, maybe a few of the steamy scenes will 😉

What’s your favorite type of book to keep you warm when it’s cold outside?

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