Something Wild & Wonderful
by Anita Kelly
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Pub Date 07 Mar 2023 | Archive Date 29 May 2023
Alexei Lebedev’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail began with a single snake. And it was angling for the hot stranger who seemed to have appeared out of thin air. Lex was prepared for rattlesnakes, blisters, and months of solitude. What he wasn’t prepared for was Ben Caravalho. But somehow—on a 2,500-mile trail—Alexei keeps running into the outgoing and charismatic hiker with golden-brown eyes, again and again. 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. And yet there’s something about the gorgeous and quietly nerdy Alexei that Ben can’t just walk away from. Surely a bad decision can’t be this cute and smart. And there are worse things than falling in love during the biggest adventure of your life. But when their plans for the future are turned upside down, Ben and Alexei begin to wonder if it’s possible to hold on to something this wild and wonderful.
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Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 456 members
This was a lovely read. I loved Ben and Alexei and appreciated the slow burn romance set along the Pacific Crest Trail.
Alexei and Ben may both be hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but their reasons for hiking are vastly different. Alexei is hiking after being rejected by his family after coming out to them and is trying to find “Alexei 2.0” to move forward. Ben is hiking before starting a new career while also processing grief and moving on from a negative relationship. They run into each other along the trail and decide to start hiking together. And of course they build a strong connection on the hike!
This is SUCH a special book! Alexei and Ben both absolutely melt my heart and their relationship was a joy to read about. Alexei is so sweet that I just wanted to give him a hug. I loved reading the communication between Alexei and Ben because it was so mutually respectful. Hearing about Alexei’s relationship with his family and seeing it contrasted with Ben’s family relationship was heartbreaking. And the LETTERS!!! No spoilers but my heart could barely handle them.
I can’t recommend this book enough if you are looking for a tender, sweet love story!
Thank you to NetGalley and Forever for the advanced reading copy!
This book will live in my heart forever. Alexei was so incredibly special to me. Anita has a voice that I need more of so I hope they continue to write these heartfelt stories that give unique voices a chance to be heard.
I loved this book! I found Anita Kelly by way of Love & Other Disasters. I have been anxiously awaiting the next book by this wonderful author, and it certainly did not disappoint. I LOVED the banter between the two main characters. Additionally, some books are lacking diversity in the queer experience. There is no one way to come out, be queer, and find love. This is something the two characters must grapple with, and I loved that.
A wonderful, cute, read. As an avid outdoors person, I now feel drawn to go hike the PCT and find my crew.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I immediately felt kinship with Alexai as a neurodivergent spreadsheet nerd, who loves the quiet and connects with minimal people.
I loved Ben's huge open loveable heart, how he slowly but surely coaxed Lex out from behind the walls built.
I loved how the story, while predominantly following Alexei's journey, coordinated so well with Ben's own journey.
The love, which was somewhat insta but not..(I don't usually like insta love) just worked here. It's something many people do, when you've been broken hearted, and you lack confidence, it's easier to get sucked into the orbit of someone else. But it morphed into this super aware, slow burn love of absolute acceptance of themselves and each other.
There were parts that made me smirk, laugh and many more parts that brought tears to my eyes.
The author dealt with really heavy topics of grief and loss of family after coming out in such an excellent way, highlighting that not everyone gets their preferred family ending, but that the individual can be okay with support from friends, found family, therapy etc.
The spice was perfect; enough detail to feel their desires, mutual consent, their discussions of what they liked or didn't, while highlighting the intrusive thoughts that are normal.
I thought the pacing was excellent, at first when they came together around 30 something % in I wondered where the story could go l, and while I thought the PCT setting was done so well, by not shoving 'nature is the best' etc down your throats I was a little concerned that the day in and day out of the hike would get repetitive.
The author broke it down into parts and the letter section just broke me. There's something about being able to experience some letters being sent, and some just written, weeks apart showing the characters growth...
I'm going to be thinking of this book for a long long time.
Wow! It might still be early January, but I'm sure this will be one of the best books I read this year!
Alexei was so strong with everything he was dealing with, having his parents disown him and taking to the PCT to find himself and learn who he wanted to be on his own. I don't see Alexei as being a 'grumpy' person, he was just very reserved due to his upbringing and later diagnosis. Ben was so wonderful with Alexei, allowing him to have the quiet space he needed to just think and process his changes.
I thought that Alexei and Ben balanced each other well, and there were times that one of them was strong and supportive for the other just like a well balanced couple should be.
There were so many point in this book that had me in tears because Alexei was so damn relatable for me, and while he and Ben had a vastly different experience in being gay, both were accurate to what it's really like to be queer.
I received this book as an ARC in exchange for my opinion.
Something Wild & Wonderful was, quite frankly, wonderful. I really loved the relationship development between Ben and Alexei. Their relationship is honest, genuine, and so, so lovely. Overall, this book was an incredibly comforting read. Between this and Love and Other Disasters, Anita Kelly is quickly becoming an auto-buy author for me.
- Wholesome romance
- Strong family and found family dynamics with one of the MCs)
- Found family on the trail
- Characters who aren't afraid to work on themselves
- Cameos of our favorite characters from LaOD
Watch Out for:
- Estrangement from family due to homophobia (One of the MCs)
- Snakes (scene on page one)
Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Oof, this book made me feel things.
Lex (who is Russian) and Ben (who is Portuguese) are each independently hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. They meet and then end up hiking together, sharing stories of their lives and an (unknown to them) mutual attraction. They eventually cross that boundary into more which brings up quite a bit of unresolved trauma for each of them. While it also begins the foundation for a tottery beginning with the potential for an auspicious future.
There were some choices made by one of them that had me feeling personally slighted and angry to the point of wanting to lower the star rating, however, the epilogue is what really tied things together and redeemed them for me. It gave me the additional context I needed (and should have seen) to empathize with those choices and what they were a result of.
This read has a lovely slow burn/buildup, found family, re-connection and finding oneself (plus a bit of spice sprinkled in) while also touching on some really heavy topics such as religion and religious trauma, homophobia, internalized homophobia, parental abandonment, anxiety/mental health issues, cultural identity and self-acceptance.
5 incandescent stars
Thank you to NetGalley and Forever for the E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.