Mini Review: Lucy on the Wild Side

Image created by the editor in canva. Cover image courtesy of Goodreads

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Format: Audiobook

I can’t resist a book set in my beloved home state of Ohio, nor can I resist reading about professions that differ wildly from my own. Kerry Rea’s Lucy on the Wild Side takes place behind the scenes at the Columbus Zoo, so I never stood a chance at keeping it off my TBR. 

Lucy is a passionate gorilla keeper who grew up aspiring to be like her hero — and surrogate mother figure, seeing as hers wasn’t really in the picture — Charlotte Kimber. Her mother may be a once-famous actress, but Lucy would strongly prefer never to be on that side of the camera. Which is probably why she’s not so thrilled when her hero’s son, Kai Bridges, chooses her zoo as the site for his popular show’s next season. Lucy tries to balance avoiding Kai and his cameras with angling after a promotion, but of course, nothing ever goes entirely to plan. 

I confess I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did. Enemies to lovers isn’t my trope of choice, and I expected the TV element to play a much bigger role than it did. But this book is a hilarious delight from start to finish, with a solid emotional core. Sure, it’s a romance, but Lucy is also working to heal some deep wounds and overcome her fears, both of the camera and of being away from beloved gorilla Zuri for any extended period of time. We really see her grow and change over the course of the book, with some hard-learned lessons along the way. Not to mention plenty of Diet Coke and cinnamon rolls. 

This is a great book for fans of enemies to lovers romance, stories about personal growth and ambitious career-driven women, and anyone who loves animals. There’s definitely some tough stuff re: Lucy working in a zoo, so if you’re sensitive to potential risk to animals, it may be a tough hang for you at times. 

On the whole, Lucy on the Wild Side is one of my favorite reads of the year so far, and all I can say is, “wowza!” (If you know, you know). 

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Mini Review: From Bad to Cursed

Photo (and scone) credit: Amanda Kay Oaks

Rating: 3 Stars

Format: Paperback

(Full disclosure: This post uses affiliate links.) 

When I realized several of the witchy books I read last Halloween had sequels due out this year, I was elated. Can’t repeat Witchtobers past? Why of course you can! 

From Bad to Cursed is the second book in Lana Harper’s Witches of Thistle Grove series, and this time, we’re chilling in the dungeons with the Avramovs. This family of witches is best known for necromantic magic, which means they get a bad rep compared to the sap-sweet Thorns. Naturally, Isadora Avramov has made herself a nemesis in the straight-laced rule follower, Rowan Thorn. 

The two have avoided one another ever since Issa’s volunteer stint at the animal shelter, where Rowan seemed to lurk around every corner with a reprimand. Then a mysterious curse befalls the Thorn family during Beltane celebrations, and Isadora must team up with Rowan to find the true culprits and clear her family name. 

I really liked the first book in the series, which had a very John Tucker Must Die meets Triwizard Tournament vibe that I appreciated. This second book was a bit of a tougher hang for me, with a main character like Isadora. Issa summons demons for fun and has a reckless streak that isn’t explained until over halfway into the book.

She and Rowan both felt a bit underdeveloped as characters at times, which made it hard for me to settle in to the book. Even though I struggled to get into it, the mystery that drives the plot definitely kept me invested, and I enjoyed trying to work out what was going on. This book also definitely has some fun on-the-page spice, if you’re into that sort of thing. 

In all, I’m not sure trying to force every series into an annual release cycle to meet demand serves readers in the end. There were parts of this book that felt a bit unfinished to me, like a rough draft that could’ve used a little more polish to really finish it out. I still enjoyed it overall, and will definitely be picking up book number three so I can learn more about the world of Thistle Grove and its magical families. 

I recommend From Bad to Cursed to anyone who identifies as a Slytherin, to fans of a solid enemies-to-lovers romance, and those who enjoy watching people fall in love while solving a mystery.