When this book was offered up for review I was immediately intrigued, as it was not only set in my fav...more Reviewed for Romantic Historical Lovers 12-17-12
When this book was offered up for review I was immediately intrigued, as it was not only set in my favorite era, but in South Africa, a place completely foreign and fascinating to me. The story begins with Georgina Blake. Newly arrived in South Africa, she has fled her native England to avoid the shame and disgrace she would face as an unwed mother. Fabricating a web of lies that includes a dead husband, she journeys 3 months by ship to Cape Town where her brother resides, only to discover he has died. With few choices, Georgina resolves to make the best of it and settles herself in her brother’s home, only to learn that it is owned by another, an undeniably attractive trader named Anton Villion.
I found Anton an admirable hero from the start – honest, fair-minded, generous, loyal and loving to those he cares about, I had trouble warming to Georgina at first, although much of her stiff reserve was due to insecurity of her circumstances. Throughout the story, however, Georgina’s beliefs and mores are challenged on all fronts, forcing her to change and adapt. She became more tolerant and caring, and I liked her much better for it.
The sexual tension between Anton and Georgina is evident at the outset as both are at once fascinated and repulsed by each other- Georgina by Anton’s forwardness and relaxed manner, and Anton by her prudish ways and prickliness. When they part on antagonistic terms after their first meeting, both suffer almost instant remorse, and although separated for weeks, the mutual impression on each other is indelible.
While billed as a romance, THE WILD HEART is really more about each character’s journey to one another as they spend more time apart than together, but always lingering on the edge of each other’s thoughts. Their developing relationship was fraught with conflict on all fronts, internally through various misunderstandings and secrets they dare not share, and externally by the people who would keep them apart- Georgina’s obnoxious neighbor-cum-suitor and the beautiful English woman Louisa Summerville who sets her cap most decidedly on Anton.
The setting of 18th century South Africa is exquisitely depicted showing the author's love and an intimate knowledge which could never have derived purely from research. This came across on every page, and while I normally shy away from books with abundant descriptive narrative, I was almost as captivated by the author's rich descriptions of the lush landscape as by the characters. I never felt that it bogged down the story, but rather, the setting formed the essence of Anton and was essential to Georgina's character development.
Truly, my only grievance which kept me from giving it five enthusiastic stars was the anti-climactic ending. I desperately wanted Anton to show Georgina how deeply he really felt for her and to see Georgina melt, yet they both continued to hold back. After all they had gone through to finally be together, I expected the simmering passion they felt for one another to finally burst out. The heroine was not virginal and they had both experienced highly suggestive dreams of one another, yet the author ends with merely a declaration of their feelings and a very chaste kiss. Argh! There was potential for so much more and I felt cheated!
Nevertheless, this was a fantastic story and highly recommended for those seeking a “clean” romance with an exotic setting and an original plot rife with adventure.(less)