My Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: MM
Alexei Lebedev’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail begins with saving a hot stranger from a snake. Alexei was prepared for rattlesnakes, blisters, and months of solitude. What he wasn’t prepared for is outgoing and charistmatic Ben Caravalho, and yet they keep running into each other. It might be coincidence. Then again, maybe there’s a reason the trail keeps bringing them together . . .
Ben has made his fair share of bad decisions, and almost all of them involved beautiful men, but there’s something about the gorgeous and quietly nerdy Alexei that he can’t just walk away from.
There are worse things than falling in love during the biggest adventure of your life, but when their paths start to diverge, Ben and Alexei begin to wonder if it’s possible to hold on to something this wild and wonderful.
I took a long time to read this book even though I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed this book, but also read it at a stressful time in my life and while that sometimes meant I could really get absorbed in the story and certain sections or sentences hit me really hard, other times I couldn’t quite get into the story due to my own mind space.
Something Wild & Wonderful caught my eye due to the premise of romance evolving between two guys while hiking the PCT. I read a romance series last year about trail hiking and loved the trail hiking aspect of the story, the romance less so after book 2 ruined things for me, so I was excited to give another book a try with trail hiking and hopefully enjoy this one more. I am so glad that was the case. The trail hiking is there, but it’s also a wonderful romance as well as a bit of a journey of finding yourself for both guys.
There’s just something so fun and unique about a romance set during hiking. It made for such an unique setting with how it kept changing and they visited so many places and walk so many miles. They meet different characters along the way and see different places and animals. The only complaint I have is that I would’ve loved to see even more of the actual hiking, the places they see and how they experience it. And I would’ve liked to see even more of the personal development as I felt a lot of the latter half of the development now took place in the last few chapters with a few time skips.
I really liked both Alexei and Ben, they are both such vibrant and realistic characters. They really feel real. They each have their own struggles and strengths and they feel so alive. I really liked getting to know these two and the slow burn romance between them was awesome. I liked how the book touches upon some difficult and interesting topics and the way both of these characters had to find themselves and deal with a big change in their life. I liked reading about Alexei opening up about his family disowning him and how Ben was there for him. And how Ben struggled with believing in himself and struggled after some failed relationships in the past.
Seeing these two characters find each other and fall in love was awesome and I really enjoyed their romance. They have their struggles to overcome and things to figure out and its not always going smoothly, but it was a great journey. I wasn’t a fan of some of the drama later in the book, but I did feel the route the characters took made sense for them and I liked how they resolved things and the ending is wonderful.
The part of this book I struggled most with is towards the ending. There is a bit of a struggle the characters have to get through and the narrative switches to letters for a bit and that was a bit jarring to me. I can totally see why the author picked this way of conveying those few months, but it didn’t work for me. The switch threw me out of the book and even read another shorter read in between before getting back to it. I also struggled to remember which letters were sent and which not and then to incorporate that in the characters and what they knew. And I felt like I missed so much of the character development. It’s like the pace suddenly speeds up and so much happens. I love the slow way things progress and develop earlier in the book and this part felt too fast, like I couldn’t quite catch up and envision the changes they went through and who they are now. Then the epilogue makes another 11 months jump and I struggled a bit with that as well. Again some big personal changes and development in there and it just felt like I didn’t have enough time to get to know the characters as they were now. I liked all the personal development, i just would’ve liked to see it more up close and as some of it happened or have more time afterwards to incorporate the changes in my view of the characters.
To summarize: This was a great romantic read with trail hiking. I picked this one up for the trail hiking and fell in love with the characters and slow burn romance. I read this one during a stressful time of my life and struggled to get into in some moments, while getting pulled in deeply and sentences of scenes hitting me hard at other times. I really liked reading about Alexei and Ben, they both feel so real and alive. I liked how they both have their strengths and struggles and I could get a good feel for their personalities. Seeing them grow closer and fall in love was awesome and I really liked their romance. I struggled a bit with some of the later chapters when the narrative style switches to letters, but could see why the author decided to handle things that way. I wished I could’ve experienced more of the character development they go through. That part of the book felt a bit too fast for me compared to the slower rest of the book. And I would’ve liked more time to get to know the characters they are now after all that change. I liked how the epilogue shows a view of their future and they way they’re doing now.