BREAKING WILD by Diane Les Becquets

Publisher: Berkley
Released: February 9, 2016
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★½

In captivating prose, Diane Les Becquets tells the story of one woman missing in the Colorado wilderness and another bent on discovering the missing woman’s whereabouts, in an unforgettably moving and thrilling literary debut.

It is the last weekend of the season for Amy Raye Latour to get away. Driven to spend days alone in the wilderness, Amy Raye, mother of two, is compelled by the quiet and the rush of nature. But this time, her venture into a remote area presents a different set of dangers than Amy Raye has planned for and she finds herself on the verge of the precarious edge that she’s flirted with her entire life.

When Amy Raye doesn’t return to camp, ranger Pru Hathaway and her dog respond to the missing person’s call. After an unexpected snowfall and few leads, the operation turns into a search and recovery. Pru, though, is not resigned to that. The more she learns about the woman for whom she is searching, and about Amy Raye’s past, the more she suspects that Amy Raye might yet be alive. Pru’s own search becomes an obsession for a woman whose life is just as mysterious as the clues she has left behind.

As the novel follows Amy Raye and Pru in alternating threads, Breaking Wild assumes the white-knuckled pace of a thriller laying bare Amy Raye’s ultimate reckoning with the secrets of her life, and Pru’s dogged pursuit of the woman who, against all odds, she believes she can find.

I don’t read many survival stories, but I was so intrigued that the two main characters of BREAKING WILD were women – one lost in the wilderness, and another determined to find her. Had I known upfront that it was heavy on recreational hunting details, I probably would have skipped it, but in the end, I’m glad I read it.

Pru is a ranger who works search & rescue missions in Northwestern Colorado. When a bow hunter named Amy Raye goes missing, Pru is called in to help. The story alternates between Pru in first person, and Amy Raye, in third person. Both women are complex characters whose pasts are slowly revealed over time. Amy Raye, in particular, has her flaws, and it’s easy to judge her before realizing how her past has brought her to this point and time.

Some parts I thought were slowed down with too many hunting details, but overall BREAKING WILD was an exciting and suspenseful adventure story. The author’s descriptions of the snowy Colorado wilderness were vivid and gorgeous. I felt like there could be a mountain lion slinking up behind me at any moment. This is a perfect winter read — you’ll feel the chill in your bones.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.