Wildflowers, by Suki Fleet
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: July 13, 2016
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Xavi doesn’t believe in love anymore. Love has never changed the outcome of anything. It has only hurt him.
Sam is sick, and he wants one last thing. He wants Xavi to be with him, to stay with him until the end. Xavi drops everything and promises Sam he will be there.
As they travel across the countryside in a stolen sea-green Cadillac, they search for something neither has the courage to admit he’s looking for. But as the days slip away, Xavi isn’t sure he can keep his promise; he isn’t sure about anything. He can’t help Sam do this. He can’t stand by and watch Sam suffer, can’t be content to let Sam give up.
Saving Sam becomes the only thing that makes any sense, the only thing Xavi wants. Loving Sam becomes the most important promise he will ever make. Now he just has to convince Sam that life—and love—are worth fighting for.
So let’s just cut to the chase. It’s clear from the blurb that Sam is deathly ill. I was apprehensive about reading this book, thinking I would spend the majority of the book bawling my eyes out and praying for an HEA that might never come. Instead, I spent about three-quarters of the story frustrated at Xavi. I even re-read the book just to see if I’d have a change of heart, and if anything, the character became even more frustrating.
I don’t often nitpick characters in books I read. I tend to take them at face value, that is, how they come across to me on the page. And I don’t question why an author gives them a certain personality or make them do certain things – I mean, I’m just along for the ride, aren’t I? I either like a character or I don’t like them, or connect with them or I don’t. While many (if not all) of my favorite characters in books are deeply flawed, Xavi was particularly vexing to me.
I’m not even talking about the sex scene that will probably break some romance readers’ hearts. He’s just so frustrating and indecisive. Or I should say, he makes bad decision after bad decision. Sam, innocent, guileless Sam, a beloved face from Xavi’s past, not to mention his biggest romantic regret, wants to spend his last days on earth with him, and he can’t even tell the guy how he feels? And instead spends the whole time denying their crazy intense connection? Sure, he redeems himself in the end, but quite honestly, if this had been a full-length novel, I might not have gotten far enough to witness it.
Okay, deep breaths.
Despite my issues with Xavi, the book is incredibly well-written. And it tells a beautiful story of hope. In a way, Wildflowers is an awakening for both Xavi and Sam; from the limbo that is Xavi’s life, and the loneliness and desolation that defines Sam’s. In many ways, the book contains some NA themes, even though I’m not sure if the book falls into that category (Xavi the narrator is 28, Sam is approximately 22).
The novella has a dreamy quality that dips into delirium and despair, but ultimately ends on a poignant, hopeful note. The writing is mostly straightforward and simple with little sprinkles of gorgeous, vivid imagery – a definite trademark of the author. Something tells me Suki Fleet fans will not be disappointed. Don’t let the 3.5-star rating fool you – I’m happy to recommend the book on the strength of her gorgeous prose alone.
Suki Fleet grew up on a boat and as a small child spent a lot of time travelling at sea with her family. She has always wanted to be a writer. As a kid she told ghost stories to scare people, but stories about romance were the ones that inspired her to sit down and write. She doesn’t think she’ll ever stop writing them.
Her novel This is Not a Love Story won Best Gay Debut in the 2014 Rainbow Awards and is currently a finalist in the 2015 Lambda Awards.
You can contact Suki at email@example.com
– she’d love to hear from you.
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.