SPOILER WARNING. Those who have not yet read to the end of book #2, The Winter Rose, might find this review slightly spoilerish.
The Wild Rose begins about eight years after the close of The Winter Rose. Seamie Finnegan is now a famous explorer and the pride all of England. Willa Alden, on the other hand, still carries a lot of emotional baggage from her climbing accident on Mount Kilimanjaro, and when not drowning her sorrow and misery in alcohol and drugs, she lives by and climbs the *foothills* surrounding Mt. Everest. Just when Seamie thinks he can put Willa behind him and move on with life, Willa’s father passes away and she returns to England for the funeral…
So as not to spoil, I’m not going to reveal anything else that happens in the book.
This is another big ole’ fat soap opera in the same style as the first two, cliff hanging chapters and all. I really liked the way Donnelly brings back characters from the earlier novels, plus she gives them an actual story instead of a quick nod and fade to black like you see in other series (although I would have like more of Fiona and Charlie after…). I also appreciate the way Donnelly brings social issues and prejudices into her stories and involves her characters in them, you can see that these are issues she cares a great deal about. That said, I do have a few quibbles.
One of the greatest aspects of the first two books were the strong female characters. No matter what adversities and crappy things life dealt them, Fiona and India always picked themselves back up, dusted themselves off and got on with life. Not so with Willa. She’s self-destructive, pouty and some times just gawd-awful miserable, and she spreads that sunshine to everyone around her. Yes, I know it sucks she lost a limb, but Joe’s in a wheelchair and gets on with life quite nicely thankyouverymuch. Willa would have been more sympathetic (and interesting), if the woe-is-me attitude was dropped and we see her carving out a new life dealing positively with her handicap.
As for the handicap itself? Willa has a prosthetic leg in lieu of the one she lost after her climbing injury at the end of book two. Unfortunately, there are times when that limb virtually disappears from the storyline for lengthy periods of time. While I don’t want to be clubbed over the head with constant reminders of her artificial limb, I’d have preferred seeing more of the day-to-day impact it has on her. Does she take it off when she showers? Goes to sleep? What about when making love, and why is it when we do get *the big love scene*, is there no discussion/mention of it between the pair? Seriously, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to imagine Willa being a bit sensitive about her partner’s first look at it in the *flesh*, nor that her partner could reassure she’s beautiful to him as she is. Why doesn’t she worry about damage to it whilst hiking those dangerous slopes around Mt. Everest? After arresting a dangerous fall, all that’s mentioned are a couple of broken fingernails??!!
I did enjoy this a lot, but just not as much as the first two books (which I loved to bits) and I’m knocking off a half star for the quibbles listed above. Fans will definitely lap this up like kittens with cream and I do recommend it, but I just wanted a little bit more. 3.5/5 stars.
FTC disclosure, I obtained a copy of this book from Net Galley.