Lord Gareth de Montforte is known as an irresponsible rake with a heart of gold. When he takes a bullet for boldly thwarting a stagecoach robbery, he is stunned to discover that the beautiful young woman he has heroically rescued, Juliet Paige, is his deceased brother’s American fiancée, accompanied by her infant daughter. Despite his brother the duke’s refusal to acknowledge Juliet, Gareth is determined to do right by the courageous woman who crossed an ocean to give her baby her rightful name. But Juliet is wary of marrying this black sheep aristocrat, even while she is hopelessly charmed by the dashing devil.
Never has she met anyone who embraces life so thoroughly, who makes her laugh, who loves her so well. And, even when it seems the odds are against them, Juliet has absolute faith that Gareth will go beyond the call of duty, risking his life itself to give her and her daughter a home — and a love that will last a lifetime.THE WILD ONE
Reviewed by Introvert Reader
MILD SPOILERS 😉
The Book and the Setup
Danelle Harmon’s Georgian-era historical romance series of four brothers and one sister begins with The Wild One. Lord Gareth de Montforte is one of the younger sons of the de Montforte clan. His eldest brother is a Duke. Another older brother, Charles, was a soldier who went to fight in the Americas and is presumed dead. The family will soon find that particular brother left behind some unchecked baggage they will have to carry.
Each one of the de Monforte Clan has a moniker describing their personalities. Gareth is an impetuous rake-in-the-making with a heart of gold and is labeled “The Wild One” of the group. He’s like an overgrown frat boy who likes to party with his buddies and play practical jokes. It is upon his irresponsible shoulders where familial duties will fall.
Gareth daringly thwarts a stagecoach robbery and takes a bullet in the process. On that coach is Juliet Paige, a lovely woman who harbors a secret that stuns the de Montfortes. She claims to be dead Charles’ American fiancée and has borne Charles an illegitimate daughter. Lucien, the eldest brother, the Duke, and the family’s patriarch, doesn’t accept Juliet and her daughter as part of the family.
With no one else to do right by her, Gareth, the unlikeliest of brothers to be responsible, offers her his name. Juliet, despite herself, is attracted to Gareth. However, she dithers about her feelings, going back and forth so often and quickly. It was like watching Forrest Gump play Ping-Pong against a Chinese champion.
Juliet bit her lip, her stomach knotting with confusion and, yes, fear. But I don’t love him! I desire him, yes, but what if that’s only because he’s Charles’s brother? What if I only feel that desire because he’s as close as I can get to Charles, the next best thing? I should want this man for being the man he is, not for resembling, or being related to, the man I wish I could have!THE WILD ONE
Egads, woman, will you make up your mind?
A Marriage With Loose Ends
With no one to turn to but some of Gareth’s friends in low places, Juliet finds herself and her daughter spending time in a brothel as their guests. She berates her young husband for going out, getting drunk with friends, and being reckless. Gareth gives it right back to Juliet:
“We haven’t even been married a day, and already it’s obvious that you’re hopelessly out of your element. You have no idea what to do with a wife and daughter. You have no idea where to go, how to support us — nothing. Yet you had to come charging after us, the noble rescuer who just had to save the day. I’ll bet you didn’t give any thought at all to what to do with us afterward, did you? Oh! Do you always act before thinking? Do you?“
He looked at her for a moment, brows raised, stunned by the force of her attack. Then he said dryly, “My dear, if you’ll recall, that particular character defect saved your life. Not to mention the lives of the other people on that stagecoach.”THE WILD ONE
Ouch! 2nd-degree burns all around!
Eventually, Juliet loosens up a tad while Gareth straightens himself out. It’s not the most conventional arrangement, but marrying his dead brother’s betrothed to give his niece a name and home isn’t anything to be ashamed of. The pair find themselves falling for each other, and attraction turns into love.
However… The Beloved One is the next book in the series. Just who is “the Beloved” de Montforte brother? Why it’s the presumed dead Charles, who’s actually alive, and will find love with a new woman in his own book. Oopsie!
I would have preferred The Wild One deal with this juicy conflict as this romance was too breezy and lighthearted.
Final Analysis of The Wild One
I can’t say I loved this book. My quibbles with Danelle Harmon’s The Wild One are all personal. When I dislike the main characters and feel icky about the plot, it’s hard to give a book a positive rating. Sure older brother Lucien, the supposed “Wicked One,” was an intriguing character, but one side character was not enough to make me enjoy The Wild One.
Juliet couldn’t make up her mind about what she wanted. Gareth is a wet-behind-the-ears college boy. While he developed some maturity, I couldn’t see him settling down and becoming a responsible husband and father for the long haul.
Lastly, I couldn’t get over the “yuck” factor of Juliet having an affair with Gareth’s older brother, Charles, bearing Charles a child, and then marrying and falling in love with Gareth. All that, when Charles is very much alive and will be the hero in the next installment of this series.
The writing was decent here, so I can’t fault Harmon for her talents. It was the story that mainly drew me away. I don’t know how I’ll feel about Charles’ story. Maybe I’ll skip over that one and get to Lucien’s instead.