Harlequin MIRA, Nov 25 2014, $14.95
Mari barely survived her harrowing Pennsylvania childhood but the conditions she grew up in still haunt her in her marriage to Ryan and her parenting of their two children, (eight year old Ethan and fifteen year old Kendra); as she believes her only role in life is to help her family. For instance, traumatized Mari obsesses about insuring the refrigerator is fully stocked and makes home-made meals for them, while also hording food in concealed locations throughout the house.
With the malpractice lawsuit brought against him by Annette Sommer’s husband ruining him and already on probation, Ryan worries about money and how to hide the truth from Mari. Feeling ashamed, Ryan would do anything for his wife since he knows her first eight years of life were so below the poverty line that few could understand. Financially desperate he insists the family go back to the home where Mari suffered as a little girl until his dad Leon rescued her; Kendra pities her mom who always acquiesces. Entering for the first time in years the house of her horrors, Mari goes under the kitchen table where she hid many times as a little girl. Now memories buried for years begin to surface.
Lovely Wild is an intriguing leisurely-paced character study based on the concept that “… in every adult there dwells the child that was …” (The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly). The present crisis is handled well while primarily serving as the mechanism to what happened to Mari in grandma’s house. Although the climax is too neat for the dark revelations of Mari’s early childhood, Megan Hart provides a strong thought-provoking drama