I'd always wanted to try out one of Lisa Wingate's books so this looked like the perfect opportunity. However, it turned out nothing like I had expected. This is a hard review for me to write. I never wanted to be the one poor review amidst a slew of positives ... yet here we go.
I did not enjoy this story like I had hoped I would have. The premise attracted me at first.
With love and loss tangled together, how was she to know where her life would lead?
Allie Kirkland has always heard the call of her father's unfinished destiny. When she's offered a production assistant's job on a docudrama filming in the hills near Moses Lake, Texas, the dream of following in her director-father's footsteps suddenly seems within reach. The reenactment of the legendary frontier settlement of Wildwood is a first step into the film industry. A summer on set in the wilderness is a small price to pay for a dream.
But in 1861, the real Wildwood held dangerous realities. Town founder Harland Delavan held helpless residents, including young Irish schoolteacher Bonnie Rose, in an iron grip. Mysterious disappearances led to myths and legends still retold in the region's folk songs. Eventually, the entire site was found abandoned.
When filming begins, strange connections surface between Allie and the teacher who disappeared over a century ago, and everyone in Wildwood--including Blake Fulton, Allie's handsome neighbor on the film set--seems to be hiding secrets. Allie doesn't know whom she can trust. If she can't find the answers in time, history may repeat itself...with the most unthinkable results.
What's not to like about that you ask? I love suspense, romance, western flair and the whole filming plot thread drew me in. However, probably the biggest problem for me was the constant flip between present and past. The main story is about Allie Kirkland but is countered almost equally with a story about Bonnie Rose a young woman from 1861.
Both stories are written well and I loved the first person point of view. However every time the switch was made it jolted me from the story and I felt the overwhelming urge to close the book. It was like dragging myself from page to page. I kept it up, hoping I would settle into the flow. Unfortunately, I didn't.
On the bright side, I enjoyed the characters in the story and there was enough surge to keep me wondering what was next. I truly believe if the chapter changes hadn't been such a jolt, I would have enjoyed either story line immensely.
Unfortunately I did not finish the book, so I can't speak to the ending (and for that I am sorry) but I made it half way. The last straw for me was being almost 200 pages into the story and finding what should have been the first line of the story. The moment that the reader goes, "oh, this might get interesting". That was where I quit. It was like starting over again and the haul had been too sluggish to re-commit.
It is important to note that the basics of story-telling were there and done well. So for many readers who can enjoy the inter-mixed story lines, the writing is superb.
The plot was interesting; the film industry, the colourful secondary characters, the mysterious cowboy. It was all well done. The historic story of Bonnie Rose was moving and had me cheering for the strong, determined young woman on every page.
The setting was intriguing. I especially loved the basement of the old theater. I felt cold and cramped every time I read those parts. It was amazingly written.
To recap, I didn't enjoy the structure of the teeter-totter stories. It made it difficult to stay invested. Without that aspect I think the story was strong and well written. I urge you to look around and check other reviews of this book, as I have and there are so many lovers out there. Here is one particular review to read from someone who thoroughly enjoyed the book - and finished it!
And despite my disappointment with Wildwood Creek, I will definitely consider reading another book from Lisa Wingate.
Thanks to Bethany House for the free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.