Published by Berkley Books on September 13, 2022
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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A charming and wildly funny new 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.
I wanted to love it but I had a hard time connecting with Lucy.
Lucy Rourke, Junior Zookeeper is following in the footsteps of her mother, or rather the woman Lucy wished was her mother, Dr. Charlotte Kimber. A woman who roamed the jungles studying and protecting Gorillas in the wild. Dr Kimber’s book Majesty On The Mountain is Lucy’s favorite story, as well as the movie it inspired. As a child, Lucy pretended the woods behind her grandmother’s house was the mighty jungle and that she and her mother (Dr Kimber) were documenting the plight of the gorillas together. Lucy’s real mother dumped Lucy with her Grandmother and a “be back soon” so she could concentrate on her acting career.
When Lucy meets Kai Bridges, host of The Wild Side and son of Lucy’s hero, they should have hit it off right away as pseudo siblings, right? No! Kai dared accuse Lucy of not remembering what the native’s on the jungle called Kai’s mother. Lucy couldn’t be wrong since she has all but memorized the book. If anyone has anything wrong it must be the arrogant, thinks he’s so sexy, know-it-all D-list celebrity host.
When Kai overhears Lucy’s rant about him, Lucy thinks that he will tattle to her supervisor and that she is about to lose her beloved job, but what happens next is going to make her lose her lunch. Wild Side is going to be filming their next season in the Columbus Zoo, and focusing on Lucy’s gorillas. Kai also wants to step back from hosting and let the zookeepers have time in front of the camera. Lucy would stand in front of a bullet for her gorillas but stand in front of a camera? Nope, not happening. After a youth spent with her mother trying to force Lucy to become a mini-me, Lucy has developed a severe case of stage fright making even her afternoon Critter Corner talks too much.
Kai has changed his tune after learning that Lucy is a dedicated zookeeper and he is willing to help her get over her stage fright. But after their initial animosity, can Lucy trust that Kai’s help is real or is he setting her up to fail nationwide once the camera being to role.
As a rule, Lucy’s should stick together but I was a little disappointed with this Lucy’s overall attitude. Kai tries to be nice to her and help but she is downright rude and even her friends tell her that being judgmental is her default setting. Worse than her treatment of Kai is her treatment of her 10 year old half-sister. Lucy’s mother remarried and Lucy is angry because she became the perfect mother to her second child after abandoning Lucy–to her loving and caring grandmother. Her mother tries to include Lucy in her new life but Lucy doesn’t want to spend time with her mother because she still holds a grudge and she constantly reinforces that Mia is her half-sister, which you can clearly see hurts this little girl’s feelings. Mia looks up to her big sister with her exciting job and Lucy’s attitude keeps crushing the smile off this kid’s face.
There is also the idea of what happens when we build up celebrities in our heads. They become what we want them to be and so easily they can disappoint us when we learn they are flawed people or simply don’t live up to our ideals.
Lucy with her gorillas was where she shined and the funniest moments with Lucy and Kai were where they would throw out odd animals facts to each other. These moments with Lucy were wonderful and fun. Focusing on this Lucy, this could have been a favorite story. But these moments with Lucy were few and overall she was just a bitter woman still lashing out like a child who didn’t get what she wanted.