Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Fated love. It’s the thing of many romance stories. Finding your soulmate when the odds are stacked against you is the miracle of many a romance story. It’s also why romance readers flock to read them. There is something encouraging about the truth of a fated story about soulmates.
Rachel Blaufeld’s Wanderlove is that type of romance. Emerson is off to New York City to find her long-lost mother. Having abandoned her with father as a newborn, Emerson has lived her life, wondering about her mother. After high school graduation and a fight with her father, Emerson takes off to solve the mystery of her mother.
Price is a good ole farm boy. Growing up on a farm in Pennsylvania has been the foundation for his future: remaining on the farm and marrying his high school sweetheart. Unfortunately, his biological father re-enters his life and negotiates a new life for Price, one that entails a college education in the city. Price accepts it to make his mother happy, but he hates his father and the city.
Until he meets Emerson. From the moment they meet, Price and Emerson are drawn to each other. While both of them begin as friends, their interest in each other evolves into stronger feelings. As Emerson searches for her mother, Price tries to live and accept this new life. With each other, everything seems right until the moment it isn’t. When fate steps in, all might be lost for these two.
At its core, Blaufeld’s romance is an angsty contemporary romance. Price and Emerson are drawn together, and their chemistry drives the book forward, probably more than the story. In reading the blurb for the book, I was drawn to it for the story of Emerson searching for her absentee mother and Price’s anger over his father’s insertion into his life. Yet, it was Price and Emerson’s relationship that kept me reading it. I have to be honest. I struggled with various aspects of the story. The timeline of the story is uneven at times, and the surprise of this story felt thrown in. I struggle with stories where a twist seems manufactured in that it doesn’t seem to fit the rest of the story. It reads as manipulative. Thankfully, Price and Emerson’s relationship is such that I looked beyond that issue.
In terms of their characterizations, Price and Emerson are likable. I was a bigger fan of Price’s character after the first part of his story. Yes, he is older than Emerson making him more emotionally mature. But it’s his honor that endears you to him. He has a level of integrity that is $exy. This makes his pursuit and care of Emerson noble, elevating their coupledom. As a heroine, Emerson has moments of depth in her love for Price. She can love him in the ways that build him up. However, her character can also be quite immature. This is notable at the beginning of the story with her fight with her father, in her friendship with her friend, Bev, and during the plot twist when her response seems untenable. I struggled with Emerson. I wanted to adore her, given her backstory, but there is something uneven in her characterization, just like the story progression.
I think this is really the issue I had with Blaufeld’s Wanderlove: its unevenness. We often read lines by romance characters about having “whiplash” — when one character changes pace from one minute to the next. That phrase best describes my thoughts about Wanderlove. There is an unsteadiness about it. It has so much incredible potential in the type of story it is telling. It has a hero that you cannot help but adore. But I struggled with its pacing because it simply read as off-balanced to me. Do I recommend this book? Sure. Just read the other reviews about it to see that others enjoyed it. I don’t know that I would run out and read it right away, however. I generally hate to offer this type of review because I know that writers live their books. And Blaufeld’s Wanderlove has the elements many readers will love: a hunky hero, a happy ending, and some moments of fierce emotion. Yet, this reader struggled to feel the depth of the story, and it was a little disheartening. Rachel Blaufeld is new to me, and, even though I struggled with this book, there is enough here to tell me that she is an author to try again.
In love and romance,