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?Series: Where the Wild Hearts Are | Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4.5 CupsChallenges Read For: Literary Pickers Handcuffs
I was not expecting this one to have as much substance as it had and I was pleasantly surprised. I guess because of the cute and cuddly animals on the cover I was expecting this to be a bit fluffy but it had weight to it and delved into a serious matter. So yeah…it was definitely surprising.
Here’s what’s going on. When Katie stumbles upon three abandoned cougar cubs, she didn’t expect her high school tormentor to be the one to rescue them and, oddly enough, he doesn’t seem to remember her. When Katie finds herself working with him to raise money for the zoo, she’s determined to keep him at an arm’s length while getting a little payback of her own. Although the longer they work together and the more she seems him care for his daughter the more her heart starts to melt but will it be enough to put the past behind her.
When I discovered that Bowie was Katie’s high school bully, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to warm up to him and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to believe that he’s a changed man. Thankfully, that worry was for naught because I really ended up liking Bowie and, as his story progressed, I understood where was coming from and I believed he changed. He ended up being a solid guy.
I also worried that Katie would hold a grudge. While that could make for interesting reading, I find that it often holds the plot captive and makes the character seem cold. Katie was completely different than I was expecting her to be. I mean, she was leery and wounded from her treatment but she didn’t let that take over her life and turn her into a shrew. She was willing to forgive Bowie and let him into her life.
Their relationship had some obstacles to overcome and I liked the way it played it out—it showed that they both had grown and matured.
While this book had some heavy stuff in it, it was also adorable. The animals stole my heart from the start, especially Fluffy, the match matching honey badger who lends his own POV to the story.
The one thing I could have done without was Bowie’s ex showing back up. It felt a little odd like something that was thrown in just to add a bit of external conflict.
Overall, this is one not to miss. I think this is the first book I’ve seen that’s had a zoo keeper as the hero, so it was unique. I also liked that Bowie was a Byronic hero—he wasn’t perfect but he was realistic. Plus, he adores his daughter. This one’s unique, heartwarming, a tad bit heavy at times, humorous, and just an all-around good romance.