{Review} WILD HEARTS by Jessica Burkhart

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   MOM SHRIEKED AS DAD slammed on the brakes. Behind us, tires squealed, and several people blew their horns. I twisted to look out the back window and counted four pickup trucks.
   "My God, Michael, you don't have to speed everywhere!" Mom said, smacking her hand on the gray dashboard.
   Rolling my eyes, I leaned around her to see what was in front of us. I loved my parents, but we had spent excessive amounts of time together over the past several days. Being trapped in the car 24/7 with parents wasn't anyone's idea of fun. Welcome to another one of the Carter-Brooks family's permanent vacations, otherwise known as a move. The current destination: Wyoming.
(Page 1, US ARC edition)

WILD HEARTS is the fourth stand-alone so far in Bloomsbury Teen's If Only... line, and I've reviewed the first three as well: FOOL ME TWICE, WISH YOU WERE ITALIAN, and NOT IN THE SCRIPT. You can pick up any of these books and read them on their own. They're not related to one another in any way. The theme tying If Only...together is "centered around an impossible problem: you always want what you can't have!"

WILD HEARTS is a great title to pick up during the summer. The characters are on summer vacation from school, and a lot of people take trips to ranches or camps with horse-back riding, etc. The theme of cattle and wild horses in Wyoming will appeal to those memories and remind readers of summer. The "impossible problem" in WILD HEARTS is very Romeo and Juliet: Brie moves to town with her family because her father is a developer. Logan's dad is at the head of the group protesting the construction site, upset because the build will displace wild horses. Brie and Logan wind up falling in love despite their father's opposing views and try to find a way to appease both families while still saving the mustangs.

Brie has always been exceptionally close to her parents. They've moved around a lot over the years due to her father's job. When her father decides he hates Logan's father, Brie feels she can no longer tell him things because they'd hurt him. She confides a little more in her mother, but still doesn't tell her the extent of her relationship with Logan. After her father finds out and grounds her, Brie starts lying to both parents in order to be around Logan. She used to have her older sister Kate to confide in, but Kate is away at college now, and she's alone as she falls in love for the first time. Brie had always said she wouldn't have a boyfriend or be close enough to anyone to have a "best friend" until she was in college and not moving around all the time, but both Logan and a local girl named Amy test her resolve.  Her goals and resolutions work with the lifestyle she was brought up in, moving around all the time, and it's nice to see a book showcasing that life doesn't always work out the way we expect it to. Sometimes, people enter our lives and shake things up in ways we never anticipated!

Logan's family, on the other hand, is much more multi-dimensional than Brie's. There are reasons to protest moving the wild mustangs that run deep in their family, and really bring a new layer to the story. Logan's father isn't black-and-white, either. He's actually a really good guy, and doesn't take his relationship with Brie's father out on Brie, which was really awesome. At the same time, even knowing Logan's feelings, he still isn't willing to give up the fight. The fight between the two fathers doesn't dominate the book as much as you may think it will reading the summary, but it is still present and motivates both Brie and Logan to act in ways they otherwise wouldn't.

Bloomsbury's If Only... line of novels is always good, clean fun. It will appeal to tweens, teens, and even adults. WILD HEARTS was probably the least clean so far, and it's still clean enough to give to a tween! There's a lot of making out, and some innuendo/discussion that will go over younger readers' heads because nothing is every explicitly talked about or stated (I've talked about this below in the Content Ratings area for anyone seeking to know more about this). Even with these elements, I would still recommend it to tweens, though I might recommend other titles in the series first if the reader wants a little less romance. If, however, they want all the romance and the parent is steering them away from "older" teen titles, this book is absolutely perfect. This is also a great choice if the reader grew up with middle-grade series Canterwood Crest, since Burkhart wrote this as well and will be a familiar face to new tween readers, especially since horses are once again involved! The If Only... line bridges the gap between young reader and teen titles without going too far, making it a perfect series for young readers new to the teen section!

Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: PG13 ( It's really very clean, mostly kissing/making out. There is some innuendo that had me bump it up, but it will really slip past young readers and they won't get it. There's the slightest innuendo that most readers won't pick up: Logan mentions that some tourist girls are "belt chasers" and Brie responds, "You thought--But I wold never...forget it!" (page 58, ARC edition), and that's all that's said on the matter. Brie and Logan also have to herd cattle up a mountain overnight, so Brie is a little flustered and calls her sister. Her sister asks, "You haven't said anything to me about being in love with Logan enough to take that big step. Have you two been together? ...Do you want to?" (page 197, ARC edition) and there's some stuttering, and then a "not yet," followed by a discussion on if Logan respects Brie or pressures her. During the camp trip, nobody tries anything and it's a non-issue. They only make out. So I would still say this book is very clean because what IS in the book will go right over most heads!  )
Language: PG ( I noticed a "bitchy" and a "hell" and a "crap," and a 'pissed off," but nothing else stood out; this is still very clean! )
Violence: --
Other:  ( a mother who left her family; lying to parents )
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I  like the way this series of covers are a mix of real photography and illustration. It creates a dreamlike atmosphere that really works for the wish-fulfilling nature of the If Only series!
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Jessica Burkhart
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Received: For Review

Enjoy WILD HEARTS and the other standalone titles in Bloomsbury's contemporary If Only romance line centered around an impossible problem: you always want what you can't have!

Brie Carter's father's land development business has taken her family all over the world,but as soon as they arrive at their new home in Lost Spring, Wyoming, the town turns out to protest. They don't want a new hotel if the resident mustang population will be displaced or hurt as part of the deal. 

Then Brie meets Logan, a gorgeous local who has a special connection to the mustangs, and she is immediately drawn to him . . . and the horses. 

However, with Logan's father leading the protests and Brie's father refusing to budge, it's clear that their parents are heading towards an all-out war. Can Brie and Logan find a way to save the mustangs and be together? Or is their love doomed from the start?

This new title in the If Only line is the perfect summer read and proves that love flourishes in the wildest places!