Eighteen-year-old Victoria is a Wildblood. Kidnapped at the age of six and manipulated by the Exotic Lands Touring Company, she’s worked as a tour guide ever since with a team of fellow Wildbloods who take turns using their magic to protect travelers in a Jamaican jungle teeming with ghostly monsters.
When the boss denies Victoria an earned promotion to team leader in favor of Dean, her backstabbing ex, she’s determined to prove herself. Her magic may be the most powerful on the team, but she’s not the image the boss wants to send their new client, Thorn, a renowned goldminer determined to reach an untouched gold supply deep in the jungle.
Thorn is everything Victoria isn’t – confident, impossibly kind, and so handsome he leaves her speechless. And when he entrusts the mission to her, kindness turns to mutual respect, turns to affection, turns to love. But the jungle is treacherous, and between hypnotic river spirits, soul-devouring women that shed their skin like snakes, and her ex out for revenge, Victoria has to decide – is promotion at a corrupt company really what she wants?
This started off great: vibrant characters, fascinating setting, interesting backstory. And then, about a third of the way in, it lost most of its cohesion. Everything—characters, actions, reactions, plot—seemed to become just random. Suddenly, Thorn was a “Christian”—when there’d never been any mention of faith in the story at all (And, I have to say, he was a Christian in name only, because he was still okay with murder, violence, and random sex—while claiming to be a changed man.). Dean, who had not shown even a glimpse of being anything other than a jerk, suddenly had noble reasons for his horrible behavior.
We get a revelation (actually, two) about Victoria’s history that changes everything, including the worldview of the setting, yet there’d been no hints of anything before. In short, this just did not work for me. If there’s been some breadcrumbs cropped along the way, this all would have been fine, but I felt like the author kept writing herself into a corner or against a wall and had to just pull something out of a bag.
Lauren Blackwood lives in Jamaica. Wildblood is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)