Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2
“‘[…] For two people to find their perfect match and fall in love is a miracle. For that to happen between three is a rare thing.’”
Jolie Vines’s Stubborn Spark, the final book in her Wild Scots series, is her treatise. It’s a promise of change. I’ve been a fan of Vines since the second book of her storied Marry the Scots series, Love Most Say Least. Since that release, I’ve read every book as one of her ARC readers (of which I read for an honest review). Each book has developed the author in Vines, and her stories have moved from sweet, fated love stories with heroes who adore their heroines at any cost to wilder, more heated romances in her Wild Scots series. To watch her evolve feels important. There are too many authors in the romance community who “play it safe.” They find what works, and they generate it over and over again. Their readers, ones like myself, continue to read them because there is trust in that relationship, a comfort in the obvious. However, they rarely progress beyond their average offering.
Jolie Vines, with Stubborn Spark, has taken a step forward. This book is still decidedly Vines with two heroes who absolutely adore their heroine, Casey, and each other. That is standard to Vines, and I don’t see that ever changing. It’s what her devoted readers love about her romances. What this book offers, though, is innovation. It’s a stand that she’s willing to move beyond her usual M/F romances and embrace more. There is wisdom in this action in that she opens her readership to variety. Menage is popular. It feels forbidden as you read it, but it’s also deliciously $exy and captivating, earning the trope devoted readers. That Vines embraces it for baby Blayne’s story shows her courage as a writer to challenge herself. Stubborn Spark is Vines taking chances, and based on particular moments in this story, she isn’t done. It’s refreshing to read an author who is willing to embrace variety. It keeps her storytelling fresh for her readers and continually surprises them at her offerings.
As a menage story, Stubborn Spark works. For this reader, there is always quite a bit of suspension of disbelief for me with menage stories. I could never personally engage in polyamory, but there is a population that embraces this. In terms of other menage stories, Stubborn Spark is commensurate with it. At its core, it’s steamy, steamy, steamy. Brodie, one of the heroes, begins as the clear alpha, and Vines has crafted her heroes to complement each other, offering the totality of heroic characters in both. Her heroine, Casey, is a perfect match for Brodie and Blayne that their throuple makes sense for the story. I think what I love most about this story, though, is the extension of Clan McRae. I was excited about this book because I was curious as to the reaction of Blayne’s father, Callum McRae, and Vines endears me to him even more. There is a bit of nostalgia inherent to this story as it’s the last of the stories for Callum’s children, and Vines decidedly saves the most profound for last with Stubborn Spark.
Look, I have read all of Jolie Vines’s stories and been excited by each of them. However, this newest book along with the potential stories to come makes me proud to be one of her ARC readers. She is making choices that showcase her ability to draft stories of any sub-genre with any trope in romancelandia. And she does it well. Her consistency lies in writing stories that readers love to read time and time again. If you’re looking for a menage story set in the highlands of Scotland and the upper Hebrides, then run and one-click Stubborn Spark.
In love and romance,