This week’s book is Harloe Rae’s newest release Left for Wild. Now I must say I was VERY excited for this book. As someone who loves both romance novels and the great outdoors, nothing excites me more than a love story that unfolds between two people abandoned in the woods. I feel like it adds more complexity to the story, and more tension. The characters are not only sorting out their own feelings for themselves and each other, but literally fighting for survival. It’s a great trope. Yet, Left for Wild fell a little flat for me.
I’ll start of course with my NO SPOILERS review:
Left for Wild follows the fight for survival between Halder and Blakely. Halder is a man wrongly convicted of a crime, recently released from prison after serving five years. The people behind his crimes worry that he will expose their operation, so they kidnap him, and Blakely a social worker who often worked at the prison Harder was in, and leave them to fight for their lives in the Canadian Wilderness. Blakely is a target because of the interest Halder showed her while he was in prison. The pair find themselves fighting both nature and their own feelings for each other. As all love stories often go, there’s angst and drama, but for some reason their love fell flat in my eyes. Halder and Blakely had ok chemistry but their story felt very surface level, and the timeline of the story was confusing for me. Overall I felt that Rae didn’t flush out these characters enough, and their backgrounds and histories were very bare or skimmed over. This kind of flushing out of the characters would have added more clarity to the story (like how Halder knew how to survive in the wilderness). While it was an interesting read, and I truly believe the story had amazing potential, this Harloe Rae book just didn’t do it for me, which was a let down considering I really loved both Keeper and Loner.
Now my WITH SPOILERS review:
As I said above the timeline of this story wasn’t hugely transparent to me. We start off with Halder seeing Blakely for the first time while in prison (at least that’s how the scene feels). He then goes on to talk to his lawyer who says he’ll be released within the next few weeks. Yet when Blakely and Halder get stuck in the wilderness together (which is only a week or so after Halder is released), he keeps telling her how he’s been attracted to her since the first time her saw her two years ago? I’m not sure if maybe it took him two years to get out, or if the prologue is not the actual first time Halder sees Blakely, but the whole timeline felt so off to me. I would have ignored that minor detail had it not continuously popped up throughout the book. The story flows nicely with Halder and Blakely traveling through the forest to try to get to a space where they can light a big enough fire pull some attention to themselves. I thought the way Rae wrote this part seemed to work well as Harder and Blakely’s relationship grows with each obstacle they face. My only issue is that Halder seems to be VERY proficient at survival, yet it comes up over and over that the reason he left his farm was because he wasn’t good at the work done there? On top of that the reader never fully gets an explanation as to what he learned while living on the farm, leading us to just having to be okay with the fact that this computer genius is also a very good survivalist? The other part of the story that irked me was that Blakely’s character felt very superficial and also came off as teeangery (a word I just made up lol). She was constantly thinking about only her attraction to Halder, and only tried to help or learn skills from him a couple of times. If I had been out in the wilderness I would have tried to learn everything it took to survive. And she was constantly okay with him taking the lead on everything, and trying everything first which made no sense considering she would die if something happened to him. I also took issue with the ending. It all felt very rushed, the surprise pregnancy seemed to not even fit into the story line very well, and it overall felt very unfinished. The concept was so good, but the execution fell flat in my opinion.
My Likes and Dislikes: Loved the premise, and I also did enjoy the banter between the characters. I disliked the rushed feeling of the ending, and the very surface level information about the characters, which took away from understanding the story and the people. I never really felt connected to these characters.
Favorite Character: Is it bad if I say Paul the lawyer? Lol. Kidding (kind of). I guess Halder would be my favorite. He really did everything he could to ensure Blakely’s survival and felt very responsible for getting her into the situation. I respected his determination and grit.
Favorite Quote: I honestly didn’t have one. Nothing stood out to me. BUT I admit I liked a lot of the survival tips at the beginning of each chapter. Those were interesting and fun.
Would I read it again? Unfortunately no. It just didn’t work in my opinion. BUT I love Harloe Rae and will continue to read her books, because she has some that are very very good.
As a side note, if you like this kind of story and want to read another survival romance book, I would highly recommend Alaska Wild by Helena Newbury. It had a very similar story line to this book, and the characters and story line are done so so well.