Review of Wild on My Mind by Laurel Kerr

Wild On My Mind by Laurel Kerr
Where the Wild Hearts Are #1
Published 25 September 2018 by Sourcebooks Casablanca

Love runs wild at the Sagebrush Flats Zoo, where a motley crew of big-hearted animals helps the most unlikely couples find love.When Katie Underwood discovers a litter of newborn cougar cubs, the last person she expects to come to the rescue is her former crush―and high school nemesis―Bowie Wilson. The worst part? He doesn't seem to remember the trouble he caused her.

As a single father and owner of a cash-strapped zoo, Bowie struggles to balance budgets while raising his pre-teen daughter and a host of rascally animals. He considers himself lucky when Katie agrees to lend her talents to a publicity campaign in support of the zoo's animal rehabilitation programs―until he learns just what she's planning...

This time, Katie is determined to resist Bowie's charm. But a lovelorn camel, a matchmaking honey badger, and a nursemaid capybara have different plans. Can they and the rest of the zoo's menagerie help Bowie break through the barriers surrounding Katie's heart?

I've actually struggled a lot (weeks!) with this review but I want to talk about this book and this series and this author. Because I fell in love with the characters when I read the second book and had to go out and buy the first book.
I read this series out of order and, I'll be honest, if I had encountered Wild on My Mind before the second book (review in the works btw), I would have passed on the whole series. I don't like bullies and I hate redemption arcs. Yes, there may be a backstory for their behaviour, but that doesn't mean that makes it okay for them to terrorise someone else to the point of hating themselves or even killing themselves. So yeah, if I had known before reading this that Bowie had been Katie's bully, this book would not have been bought. Frankly, the "I love my former bully" trope can fall into a deep dark ravine to the very depths of Tartarus for all I care for it, please. It's a 'never shoulda been conjured' trope. And it hearkens to the line of BS we're fed as children that "boys are only mean to you because they like you". That being said, Katie's bullying was enough to give her nightmares years later and it is referenced throughout the story. If you were/are a victim of bullying in school, please take care of yourself if you choose to read this.
As long as we weren't playing up the former bully aspect of the story, I was fine with Wild on My Mind. I liked the quality of writing Ms Kerr presents in Wild on My Mind and the obvious research she put into the residents of Sagebrush Flats Zoo. I learned a lot about some animals that I know of but never really paid much attention to and kept bothering my best friend with random "dude. did you know that...." texts. My friends put up with so much when I'm reading a book.
For me, the real hero of this story is a honey badger named Fluffy. Fluffy is Sagebrush Flat Zoo's resident honey badger and escape artist who only cooperates for Bowie's preteen daughter. Fluffy visits the other residents of the zoo and considers the whole place his domain, especially the food storage. When he decides that "The Black Haired One" (Bowie) needs a mate so that there will be more "wee ones" to sneak him honey-covered larvae, he decides on Katie - yes, you read that right. Fluffy gets his own POV and that is beautiful. He also deals with trespassers in the best ways. That is all I'm saying. I am totally here for the matchmaking territorial honey badger. #TeamHoneyBadger
Sagebrush Flats is also home to a capybara named Sylvia who plays foster mom to all the orphan babies that come to the nursery. And that means Sagebrush Flats Zoo is home to two of my favourite nondomesticated animals. Excuse me, I need tickets!
Now, the ideas Katie comes up with for publicity for Sagebrush Flats Zoo are hilarious and I snorted more than once in the middle of the night whilst reading the book. I'll be honest, I'd go to the zoo regularly to try to get photos of Fluffy sneaking around for the Where's Fluffy segment. Although, I'm hesitant to wonder what Fluffy's reaction would be to a service dog's presence in his domain!
I love the instant connection Katie has with Bowie's daughter, Abby, even before knowing who Abby is. Not only does she connect with this random kid, but she befriends her and tries to help her without being that "cool" adult. Just give me a whole heaping pile of that type of wholesome interaction, y'all.
Katie has two best friends in her life, June and Josh. I adore June but right now, I could toss Josh into a volcano while drinking iced tea and it wouldn't bother me one bit. He's as mean as a snake and I hope a honey badger takes care of him sooner rather than later. When Katie's brothers learn about Bowie and Katie's teen years, you see an abuse of power as a police officer and it makes me mad. Don't do that ish, we're done with cops getting to do ish because "he done did my sister wrong and I has a badge". But Katie's dad straightens that malarkey out, because it is not cute. But still, the nonchalant 'minor' abuse of power shown by Katie's cop brother, especially in this era where we need to hold our law enforcement officers to the highest standard, shouldn't be further romanticised. Abuse of power is still abuse of power.
I love adult Bowie. He's got his shit together (that's going to be edited for certain reviewing platforms, ha!) and he works hard to be a great single dad to his daughter. The sun rises and sets on that girl of his and he puts in so much work for his zoo. But he's also the kid that had the shit life and he's a little bit broken. He's immediately attracted to adult Katie (not knowing she's his former victim) and wants to try to start a relationship with her, his first since Abby's mother. My heart breaks for the guy left, right, and center. And I hate that the bully-turned-lover bit was used in this story or I'd be absolutely in love with the book. You know, just in case that wasn't clear.
Wild on My Mind was my first and probably my only romance novel that involves a bully-turned-lover situation and, while I'm not going to be looking up my former bullies anytime soon (*shudder*), I think I got one of the well-written ones out there. I'm not going to roll out the red carpet for bully romances any time soon, don't worry, but I did like how this one romance that plays on the trope turned out. Overall, I'm going to give Wild On My Mind 3 out of 5 stars. While I enjoyed most of Wild on My Mind, it also brought up a couple tropes that should have gone extinct before they ever existed. The quality of writing and the amount of research put into Wild on My Mind still makes this book shine. I loved this series so much that I bought both books for my grandmother and my sisters and shipped them off to them. They can't put off reading them if they're delivered to their door, right?

Laurel Kerr is a full-time romance writer and mom, who occasionally still dabbles in the practice of law. Her debut novel, Wild on My Mind, reached the Golden Heart® finals under the title of Volunteering Her Heart in 2016. Laurel Kerr was also a 2017 Golden Heart® Finalist for a historical manuscript. She lives in Pennsylvania with her daughter, husband, and loyal Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. 

Her social media links are :: Facebook|Instagram|Twitter 

Manatee's ears are all cleared up but since it's too hot to function here or storming which gives me migraines, so we're mostly just staying home and watching TV or reading. I've binge-watched Love O2O (A Smile is Beautiful - 微微一笑很倾城) repeatedly this summer and I love it! It's more accurately subbed on Viki than on Netflix for those of you who don't know Mandarin. My mum prefers Viki subtitles. I'm also working on my other posts so you'll have more content, so that should be popping up soon-ish?
My charity of choice for this review is Stomp Out Bullying.
As always, please go through a legal manner of acquiring this story. Until next time, have a happily ever after!

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