To put it simply, Jessica Burkhart’s “Canterwood Crest” series was my childhood. I lived vicariously through Sasha Silver. (To be completely honest, I still do…) Unfortunately Wild Hearts failed to meet any of my expectations. What I had hoped would be a fun, lighthearted romance, ended up being a cheesy retelling of the classic girl-meets-boy, they-end-up-somehow-“saving”-horses-together story. Wait, what? That’s not a classic story? Oops, well in my defense, Wild Hearts truly is a cheesy novel.
Because of her father’s land development business, Brie Carter has gotten to travel the world. However, sometimes traveling isn’t as great as it seems; Brie’s family arrives at their new home in Lost Spring, Wyoming to protest. The town doesn’t want a new hotel, as the resident mustang population will be displaced. At first, Brie supports her father, but the situation complicates when she meets Logan, a boy with a special connection to the mustangs. However, with Logan’s father leading the protests and Brie’s father refusing to change his plans, it’s clear their parents are essentially at war. Can Brie and Logan save the mustangs and find their fairy-tale romance? Or are they doomed to being separated?
My biggest issue with Wild Hearts is that it doesn’t seem like a YA novel. From the lackluster premise to the childish characters, the story works better for a middle-grade audience rather than a teenage one. Though I was annoyed with all of the characters, I was particularly irritated with Brie’s dad. There’s no way a grown man – especially a dad – can be so childish. In some novels, it works to paint a parent as the unforgiving antagonist. In Wild Hearts, that approach backfires spectacularly.
This being said, I definitely enjoyed certain parts of Wild Hearts, especially the horses. I’ve always loved horses and books about horses. Jessica Burkhart does not disappoint in the horse department; her passion for mustangs and her expansive knowledge about them seeps through every page. I wanted to join Brie in Lost Springs, even a week after finishing the novel! (One caveat– I know next to nothing about taking care of mustangs, so I could be incorrect about the expansive knowledge part.)
Wild Hearts isn’t an awful story. Though cheesy and cloying at times, ultimately the cuteness of the horses and the romance wins over even the most reluctant reader.
Rating: 5 out of 10
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens (May 5th, 2015)
Length: 368 pages (Hardcover)
ISBN #: 9781619632585