A zookeeper always on the fringe learns to go after her wildest dreams—including a certain television star—in this charming and laugh-out-loud romantic comedy by Kerry Rea, author of The Wedding Ringer.
Lucy Rourke has two great loves in her life: the gorilla troop she cares for as a primatologist and the laundry list of reality TV shows she watches to escape the fact that her actual love life doesn’t exist. And like a reality contestant gunning for the final rose, Lucy’s laser-focused on one thing: getting promoted to head keeper. So when a wildlife docuseries hosted by hotshot TV personality Kai Bridges chooses her zoo as its summer filming location, she sees an opportunity to showcase her beloved gorillas to the world and land a starring role in her department.
When Kai and his film crew arrive, however, it's obvious to Lucy that Kai cares more about sky-high ratings than the gorillas, and he considers her a camera-averse know-it-all whose wardrobe consists entirely of khaki. But she’s surprised to discover there’s more to him than his rugged good looks and cheesy catchphrases...and that maybe a promotion isn’t the only thing she wants. But when secrets from their pasts threaten to complicate everything, Lucy discovers that happiness and success aren’t the same thing—and that finding joy just might mean getting a little wild.
Rea's excellent sophomore novel (after The Wedding Ringer) follows a couple who must face the trauma of their pasts to find happiness in the future. Zookeeper Lucy is thrilled when it's announced that the zoo she works at will be featured on the next season of On the Wild Side with Kai Bridges. Reading about Kai's mother, a famous primatologist, is what inspired Lucy to dedicate her life to gorillas, and Kai might be the closest she can get to meeting her hero. So of course, their first meeting is disastrous: Kai corrects Lucy's facts and she dismisses him as a conceited mansplainer. When Lucy's boss asks her to head a project pairing an orphaned baby gorilla with a surrogate mother, a process Kai wants to feature on the show, she's not as excited as she could be. It means both spending time with Kai and appearing on camera, something Lucy's avoided ever since her mother abandoned her to act in soap operas. But as Kai helps Lucy prepare for her close-up, the pair bond over their shared love of weird animal facts and their tense parent-child relationships. Rea elevates the enemies-to-lovers trope with crackling chemistry, light humor, and genuine emotional nuance. Rom-com lovers should snap this up.