Mary Connealy’s Now and Forever picks up just after the first book in the Wild at Heart series, Tried and True. It pairs the second Wilde sister, Shannon, with the almost mythical (which you’ll be told he is several times) mountain man Matt Tucker.
Tucker has headed straight for the mountains after one look into the eyes of Kylie Wilde’s “brother” Shannon. He knows she isn’t a man, and he knows that she is The One, though he had sworn never to marry. Distracted by thoughts of her, he ends up running into a grizzly bear, being flung off of the mountain and over a cliff into the Slaughter River – in Shannon’s arms. What follows is quite the adventure, leading to the perceived compromise of Shannon’s honor and a wedding. But the adventure doesn’t end there. How could it with a carnivorous mountain man now legally owning his vegetarian wife’s homestead and beloved sheep? And then there is the crooked new land agent, Pa Wilde and his quest to build a legacy, homesteaders being burned out, and Gage Coulter, who now owns Kylie’s homestead and wants Shannon’s as well. Happily ever after may take awhile.
Kylie and Aaron’s story in Tried and True was a whole lot of fun and excitement, leaving me anxious to read Shannon and Bailey’s stories as well. The pairing of Shannon and Tucker was quite apparent, and I thought it would be fun to see them together, though not as fun as Kylie and Aaron. I was wrong. It was as good, or perhaps even a bit better. The romance is wonderful, the adventure felt even faster paced and does not let up, and there are genuinely funny moments as well. The mountain men were a wonderful addition, and I wish there had been more scenes with them. I really appreciated learning more of what life was like for their wives and children, through the back-stories of Tucker and his Shoshone “Ma,” Sunshine. Tucker’s strong grounding in faith, and Shannon’s being haunted by her Civil War experiences and doubting God are well portrayed and serve to deepen the reader’s understanding of their characters.
Returning characters were consistent in personality and behavior, though I found the oldest Wilde sister, Bailey, to be a more sympathetic character than before. Good thing, as she is the main female protagonist for the third installment in the series.
So, if you like your romance to be inspirational, historic and focused on action/ adventure, then the Wild at Heart series is one I would highly recommend. I rated Tried and True 3.5 out of 5 stars, though retrospectively I think it was just about close enough to be a 4, which is what I am rating Now and Forever. Now the only problem is that I have to wait for the third book.
Now and Forever by Mary Connealy | Bethany House Publishing | June 2, 2015 | 336pgs
This review refers to a NetGalley ebook review copy, read for free courtesy of Bethany House Publishing, in exchange for an honest review. And honestly, I feel like I would need to reread it to see if there is an explanation, or gloves in use, for a metal container (I believe it was a cup) being held for long periods of time with coal burning in it without the handle heating up and burning anyone’s hands. But maybe it wouldn’t? Oh, what does it matter – I’m too lazy to check, it was a darn good story and I’m still going to preorder a physical copy.