Book Review: Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets

February 2016 Berkley

If you’re not familiar with this title and you like strong female protagonists, you should be. Especially since the book divides the lead role between two equally tenacious individuals, and because neither of them are perfect.

Interested yet? Then pick up Breaking Wild by Diane Les Becquets. The author has made some interesting choices here, so if you’re a writer and read to see how others do their jobs, you’ll want to get this book, too.

Readers will find chapters that alternate between following Amy Raye, a woman who gets lost in the woods, and Pru, an archaeological law enforcement ranger who has been trained–and who has trained her dog–in search and rescue techniques.

When Amy Raye goes missing during an elk hunt, Pru is called in to help. What follows is a long search (I won’t say for how long because that might spoil the read for some) on Pru’s part and a battle for survival on Amy Raye’s part. Bears, cougars, snow, starvation…all the usual issues present for both women.

What isn’t as usual is the history both women bring to their individual struggles. Pru was left a single mom when a casual affair ended before she knew she had become pregnant. Amy Raye has different difficulties that revolve around men and a childhood spent growing up on a farm.

As the search continues, both women look deeply into their pasts. They try to fit themselves into the lives they have built, looking always for some sort of redemption. Their goals are never guaranteed, and not until the very last chapter do readers discover whether they succeed or fail.

The interesting choices made by the author include making Amy Raye a hunter…hunting is generally frowned upon–sometimes quite strongly–in America, and having a woman take on the role potentially means that some readers will dislike her from the start…or simply not pick up the book.

A second is Amy Raye’s history, which she struggles with even in the midst of struggling to survive. I can’t reveal that but let’s say it’s not anything a woman is “allowed” or encouraged to do, unlike men who tend to get away with the same behaviors quite easily.

Finally, the author has loaded in quite a bit of technical information. It was wearying after a bit (for me, anyway) to learn the exact types, weights, and other specifications of the equipment each woman used. It really dragged the pace.

However, I can also defend the author’s choice. Since the characters are women, readers might need more of that information to be convinced that both of these women know what the hell they’re doing. We all know that women in fiction are not as respected as male characters, so the author might have needed to compensate by loading in much more than she might have given a different story.

All in all, however, this is a strong presentation of a story that will captivate readers…even if they don’t like hunting, even if they have never set foot in the wilderness.

If you love strong female leads, try Beloved: A Sensual Noir Thriller, which features a female FBI agent.

4 stars!

I received a copy from the publisher so that I could write this review.

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