“Fire and Ice” Book 3 of Wild at Heart series by Mary Connealy

As a finale for the Wild at Heart series, I was rather disappointed with this book. Given that readers were introduced to this novel’s main characters from book one, I expected depth and entertainment, the culmination of two stubborn hearts finding love. Yes, they fell in love, but the how and why left me more than vaguely dissatisfied.

The man who always gets his way, despite having to move mountains to succeed, can’t stand up to his own mother.

The woman who doesn’t need or want a man, turns desperate after a winter alone.

I can appreciate the irony of these situations.

However, I found the relational development was somewhat truncated. Each had moments where they suddenly understood the deep feelings of the other, even though they had had very different life, and even war, experiences. The romance was too easy. Events kept them from talking deeply most times, yet when they did, they suddenly responded with perfect spiritual truths that didn’t necessarily match their personalities and experiences. Also, more than one plot thread was cut and tied up instead of developed, such how they dealt (or not) with Gage’s matriarchal issues.

On the antagonist front, one of the villains was well chosen, but the others’ purpose wasn’t explained at all and he came too suddenly on the scene. I found the portrayal of the main villain too similar to that of the other villains in the series (sneaking around the woods, looking for opportunities to harm).

It wasn’t so much bad writing to blame, in my opinion, rather the sense I got that the author was limited to a word count and ended up skipping important transitions and plot points. I think in a series such as this (where characters introduced in the previous novels become main characters of later novels), it should be understood that the sequels will end up longer than the first book of the series. I noticed this same thing happened in her previous series, Trouble in Texas.

I realize that people are in more of a rush these days, and perhaps haven’t time to read what they might call tomes, but sacrificing plot in light of word count is what keeps most good stories from becoming classics. I’d rather see less books with better development in all areas on the market, than a plethora of great, but underdeveloped plots, as is the case with most novellas and short novels. Surely we haven’t forgotten how to read? Or how to enjoy it?

Thank you to NetGalley (https://www.netgalley.com/) and Bethany House for giving me the opportunity to read and review this novel. I’d love to see a fuller version of both this novel and Stuck Together book 3 of Trouble in Texas.

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