Author: Jan Irving
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary Suspense/Murder Mystery/BDSM Light/Paranormal Light
Length: Novel (236 pages)
Rating: 1.5 star out of 5
A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
Noah Matthews brought his son Josh to the pristine woods of Washington State to make a fresh start. The first night in their new home, Noah meets Kell Farraday when the laconic police chief shows up on his doorstep searching for two people lost in the forest. It’s the start of a sexy new friendship when Kell decides to pursue the shy but flirtatious Noah.
But a new beginning won’t be so easy. Noah’s former boyfriend shows up to try to reclaim a place in his life, and worse, Josh is drawn to the growing mystery in the forest. People disappear and then one turns up dead. There’s something haunting the forest. Something watching. And soft-spoken and confident Kell’s reassurances can’t ease Noah’s fear when Josh goes into the woods alone.
Wylde is the second book by Jan Irving that I’ve read (The Hired Man, which I generally liked, is reviewed here). Unfortunately, this offering did not have the same effect for me and frankly, had I not been reading it for review here, it would have been a DNF by the second chapter. More on that later.
Widower Noah moves him and his son to a mountainous area of Sullivan, Washington State from Seattle in the hopes of starting a new life. Within minutes of their arrival, there are missing people, dangerous happenings and a ghost tale in the woods surrounding his house, threatening what he hoped would be a peaceful existence. Police Chief Kell, investigating the disappearance of two locals, decides he wants the shy Noah for his own alpha self, making his intentions known quite clearly despite gay Noah’s relative inexperience with men. The bad happenings continue, with more missing and dead locals, and as the authorities investigate, there is question as to the tangibility of the attacker(s). It allows, however, for Kell to take on a protective role in Noah and Josh’s life, with the added benefit of putting the moves on Noah every chance he gets.
I have difficulty believing this was penned by the same author of The Hired Man, which was relatively well-written and -plotted. Completely disjointed and fragmented in the telling of the tale, we get no less than nine (and possibly ten) points of view from as many characters in choppy sections based on where they are in the story, some just a paragraph long. As a result, I simply could not lose myself in the story, nor even really follow along at points. I often felt lost and I was totally nervous in reading it, making for an unrelaxed experience at best. The writing here is amateurish and unbalanced. I am usually one to find something good to say about a book I didn’t like very much, but I am hard-pressed here to do that. Ultimately I have to wonder, based on the generally quality offerings DSP puts out, how this book made it to publication through them.
There are many plots and sub-plots going on here, way too many, in fact, to keep track. There is the relationship, if you can call it that, of Kell and Noah. There is Noah and Josh settling into their new life. There is the relationship between waitress Jade and deputy-on-loan Alec (warning: with a bit of descriptive het sex). There is a ghost story. There is a wild-man living in the woods. People disappearing and dying. Native American lore. Lost and dead animals. Affairs and blackmail. Noah and a returned stalker. I found myself skipping parts and rushing through just to get to the end to get away from the TSTL characters, ridiculous dialog and unbelievable plot.
I found neither protag endearing or really even likable at all. I didn’t believe in their partnership, or even the attraction. The interactions between them were odd and totally inconsistent, with Kell being overly-overbearing and hankering for casual, kinky, domineering sex, then acting tender, in his approach to wanting Noah, and Noah blowing inexplicably hot and cold (alternately turned on, pissed off and scandalized by Kell’s “caveman,” “rock for brains, primitive, he-man, hick, barbarian” ways). There is inappropriate and uneven seduction and touching and words in the midst of the danger and suspense that just didn’t ring true. They could be in the middle of a conversation or fight and Kell starts squeezing Noah’s crotch. Kell offers to bottom, then backs out saying “Well, maybe for Christmas.” How romantic. An example of the dialog:
“You can’t just grab me and kiss me like some kind of goddamned wild man!” Noah stated, looking pissy. The soft, cloudy look that he’d worn directly after Kell had kissed him cleared, and the familiar snap was back in his affronted gray eyes.
“Wild man, huh?” Kell bit his lips before continuing, focusing on Noah. “Baby,” Kell said in a deep, husky voice, his erection throbbing hungrily under the sheets, “I’m sorry if I scared you. I just had to be inside you.”
Regarding the mystery angle, I am still a bit confused as to the lame who/what/why, but honestly, I just didn’t care by the end and the reveal.
If there is one thing I could point out as as positive, I guess it would be that I generally liked the character of son Josh, who, while at times was inconsistent in his twelve-year-old actions and feelings, and had the TSTL trait that other cast exhibited, seemed to want the best for his gay father by being open to his dating the “right” man. And if that man needed to be Kell polished up a bit with some library books as assistance, then so be it.
From inconsistent characters, an unlikely plot to the disjointed writing style, this book was a miss for me in every possible way. As always, I am only one opinion, and perhaps there will be others who feel differently. I welcome those views.