Review by Kayleigh

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“Lily had beautiful hands; long fingers–almost delicate. But capable and strong. He remembered how gentle they were when she stroked the head of her favorite gelding, how steady when handling a spooked horse. Her habit of tapping her fingers restlessly when she was lost in thought.

He remembered the way it felt when those fingers danced across his bare skin.

Wave after wave of realization left Leo wondering if he would ever get over the fact that it was Lily. Right there. Lily Wilder was just right there.

But, he noticed, she seemed to have no reaction to him whatsoever.” 

Christina Lauren has written a standout adventure romance filled with heat and drama. This may be my favourite Christina Lauren book ever.

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession…or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.

I watched the latest Sandra Bullock movie, The Lost City and howled with laughter and happiness through it. And thought: I want to read more books like this. I kid not, the next day an advanced copy of Christina Lauren’s newest book showed up at my door. This book has everything: a swoony romance, an action-packed plot filled with danger, and some fiercely wicked villains. This was the book I didn’t know I needed, and I can’t wait for more people to read it. I may say this every time there’s a new Christina Lauren book, but I really do think this is my most favourite book of theirs ever. There’s something mature about it: it deals with disappointment, grief, the devastation of losing family and just how darn hard it is to maintain relationships as adults. All set in one of the most spectacular settings ever. 

Leo and Lily are a delightful couple. This is a second chance relationship. Leo and Lily first meet a decade ago when Lily was 19 and Leo 21. They fall so hard for each other, and have the most wondrous five months of their lives. And then Leo has to head back to his life in New York City because his mom is in an accident. And Lily never hears from him again. Ten years later and life has been hard for both of them. But then, somehow, Leo ends up with some friends on a week-long cowboy adventure run by Lily. Throughout their time in the saddle they discover that being together as adults is maybe better than when they were teens. While the romance has all of the swoon and spice that you expect from a Christina Lauren novel, what I especially loved was the analysis of how a relationship comes together and falls apart. It was a reminder that life is hard. Leo and Lily’s relationship didn’t work out when they were young, not because of them, but because life sometimes gives us hard decisions. In the real world not everyone ends up together because sometimes life just gets in the way. This was a fascinating way to write a second chance romance that was especially poignant. I loved watching Leo and Lily find each other again and communicate about the lives they had lived without each other. 

This is definitely an adventure book. There’s action, a mystery and some deliciously wicked bad guys. Leo and Lily and their friends are literally following in the steps of bad ass cowboys like Butch Cassidy. Lily’s dad was a famous treasure hunter who knew the canyons of Utah better than almost anyone. When he dies the only thing Lily has is his old journals filled with maps, notes and games. Duke, her dad, was known for his puzzles that he set out for her. The group sets out to play games and ride horses similar to Duke’s adventures (but in a safe and planned way via Lily), but when something horrendous happens, the group is thrust into actually following Duke’s journals to potentially find Butch Cassidy’s hidden treasure before some bad guys with guns do. I freaking love a good romantic suspense and I hope the publication of this book will herald them back into popularity. 

We need to talk about the setting. Setting in the United states South West we get to visit Utah without leaving our chairs. The descriptions of the setting had me burning with wanderlust. I was ready to go book an adventure hike after I read this book. I was looking up hiking boots and determined to follow in Lily’s and Leo’s path. After two long years of hanging out at home this book scratched the most wonderful travel itch. In their author’s note Christina and Lauren note that they have researched the national park this book is set in and visited it. They also note: we wrote this book to be a fun, swoon-filled escape from the real world, not to serve as a guide to your own adventure. If you follow our route, you will die, lol.  I’m still ready to tie up my shoes and head out in the dust, heat and sun. Maybe I’ll even learn how to ride a horse and find my own Leo out on the trails. 

If you love your romance with some wilderness, heat and adventure then you must read Something WIlder.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.