Spotlight Review: LUCY ON THE WILD SIDE by Kerry Rea

From the publisher:

A zookeeper always on the fringe learns to go after her wildest dreams—including a certain television star—in this charming and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by Kerry Rea, author of The Wedding Ringer.

Lucy Rourke has two great loves in her life: the gorilla troop she cares for as a primatologist and the laundry list of reality TV shows she watches to escape the fact that her actual love life doesn’t exist. And like a reality contestant gunning for the final rose, Lucy’s laser-focused on one thing: getting promoted to head keeper. So when a wildlife docuseries hosted by hotshot TV personality Kai Bridges chooses her zoo as its summer filming location, she sees an opportunity to showcase her beloved gorillas to the world and land a starring role in her department. 

When Kai and his film crew arrive, however, it’s obvious to Lucy that Kai cares more about sky-high ratings than the gorillas, and he considers her a camera-averse know-it-all whose wardrobe consists entirely of khaki. But she’s surprised to discover there’s more to him than his rugged good looks and cheesy catchphrases…and that maybe a promotion isn’t the only thing she wants. But when secrets from their pasts threaten to complicate everything, Lucy discovers that happiness and success aren’t the same thing—and that finding joy just might mean getting a little wild.

“Rea elevates the enemies-to-lovers trope with crackling chemistry, light humor, and genuine emotional nuance. Rom-com lovers should snap this up.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Rea’s second novel, following The Wedding Ringer (2021), is a compelling romantic comedy with a refreshingly unique storyline..Rea’s heartfelt, well-paced novel with realistic and well-developed characters is elevated by the parallel storyline of the gorilla troupe.”—Booklist

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a zoo, this is the book for you! Lucy fell in love with gorillas when she was a little girl, and was thrilled to get the job as a gorilla keeper now that she’s all grown up. She has her sights set on moving up to senior keeper, but her stage fright might be holding her back.

Kai hosts a program on the Animal Planet and is a huge success. His mother is the world’s premier expert on gorillas, and is Lucy’s idol. Kai shows up at the zoo, and he and Lucy get into it over a nickname his mother claims the natives gave her. It’s in her book, which Lucy wants to smack over Kai’s head, but instead he grabs it and takes it away with him. Part of the problem is this guy with the bushy beard is unrecognizable as the TV star, but this is their meet cute and we now know we are in enemies-to-lovers territory.

Both Kai and Lucy have a lot of issues stemming from their childhoods and their famous mothers. When Lucy turned ten years old, her mother landed a starring role on a TV drama, and dropped Lucy off with her grandmother to raise her. Her mother’s show is long over and she’s remarried and has another kid, Mia, who worships her big sister. But Lucy doesn’t have time for either of them.

Kai grew up in the wild with his mother, but it turns out they don’t have the relationship the world thinks they do. We can see how much they have in common, but it takes Lucy and Kai a while to figure that out. There is a lot of arguing before they reach their happy ending.

This was a really interesting book, especially if you like animals. The characters are believable and I couldn’t help rooting for them to finally wake up and realize what they had. There are a lot of laughs and some angst before they get there. A thoroughly enjoyable read!

9/2022 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LUCY ON THE WILD SIDE by Kerry Rea.  Berkley (September 13, 2022). ISBN:‎ 978-0593201862. 352p.





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