Release date: October 8th
The first two chapters of Love Always, Wild slayed me. They were like a punch to the gut. I thought I was prepared, but apparently I wasn’t. Johnson’s stories are always emotional. Her writing always hurts. It’s raw and tragic and honest. In other words, brilliant but painful.
Synopsis: This is the story about Wilder and Jaxon, their love, their separation and their fight for each other. The story starts with a prologue of Wilder and Jax in College. Wilder is out, Jax is not. But they’re in love. Then everything changes in the worst possible way. The story continues in present day, nine years later, with Wilder not knowing what happened to Jax so many years ago. Wilder’s a newly published author and his book about his and Jax’ secret relationship has become a bestseller. Meanwhile Jax, who’s been trapped by circumstance and prejudice, stumbles across Wilder’s book and decides to risk contacting him.
After the first two chapters, the story lightened up a bit. But Wilder’s life in present day, even as a successful writer with close and loyal friends, is still empty since he’s never managed to get over Jax. Then, a guy – “Jordan” who’s read his book – sends an e-mail, and Wilder answers. They start writing each other and even though Jordan is a total stranger, Wilder connects with him in a way he hasn’t connected with anyone in a long time. But the sense of betrayal and shock when Wilder discovers Jordan’s true identity is heartbreaking.
Love Always, Wild is very different from Johnson’s earlier books. Her usual, almost poetic, writing style is missing. This read is more straight forward and blunt. Also, the nooky is explicit as heck – which is not at all Johnson’s usual M.O. But it’s safe to say I liked it!
This is a beautiful story. Tragic, but also hopeful. I loved it. I loved Wilder in particular. So strong on the surface but with the old hurt from Jax’s disappearance keeping him from trusting and loving again. I had more trouble with Jax. Maybe it was because I couldn’t really understand the choices he made.
Religion is central to the storyline of Love Always, Wild. And I can readily admit that the society Johnson describes in the American south might as well have been on another planet, it seems so alien to me. Alien, or something from the the 1950’s. And I have no way of knowing if such close-minded, sanctimonious hypocrisy is an actual thing, or if it’s just used for dramatic effect. If it’s the former, then that’s bloody tragic. But either way, the fact that some kind of twisted, hateful, so called faith, was the reason for Jax’s and Wilder’s separation made me pretty mad.
And it’s too far removed from my own reality for me to really accept such narrow-mindedness as an acceptable excuse for Jax to cut ties with Wilder.
But it’s the ‘promise to God’ thing that in the end lowered my opinion of this read, from a 5-star to a 4-star. I have very little patience for religion when it’s of the denouncing and hateful kind. And I thought the story lost quite a bit of credibility with that small detail. I just couldn’t see Jax as a person believing in the kind of God that would condemn him for the way he was born.
That being said, Love Always, Wild is still a beautiful romance with a love-conquers-all ending, and I highly recommend it for those who need the HEA but can handle angst and tears in the middle.