Corey: I’ve read all of Karis Walsh’s books, rating them from “satisfying” to “yippee!,” so I was stoked to read her newest romance. Her books trend to two kinds of settings: the world of horses or women starting over and trying to build a new home (sometimes literally as well as figuratively). Wingspan falls into the latter.
Blu: I’ve not read all of the author’s works, but those I’ve read do tend to follow this pattern. Would you agree that as they also often occur in physical realities very familiar to the author, (i.e. the Pacific Northwest) they benefit from beautifully described settings?
Corey: Yes, and the setting of Wingspan is central to the story. Architect Kendall “Ken” Pearson is drawn to a “wild acre” of land on the Olympic Peninsula, where she plans to build a new home away from Seattle. Almost immediately, any dreams of sharing that home with her current city-centric girlfriend are dashed. We are also introduced to Ken’s inner conflict: She’s afraid to let her freak flag fly after some unnamed trauma in her past. Ken’s eagerness to blend in and be accepted runs right smack into the individualism and single-mindedness of Bailey Chase, wild bird rescuer.
Blu: The main characters’ back story forms a substantial portion of this tale. It might slow the pace somewhat, but we are curious to discover what event has led to Ken applying such drastic self-editing. How this will mesh with the almost oblivious Bailey is another puzzle we anticipate being solved.
I related to both characters. The need to suppress one’s “otherness” is a very familiar experience for a foreign transplant adjusting to a new environment. Similarly, finding the world a harsh and intolerant venue, Bailey is well known to us, indeed, may be many of us.
Corey: I actually was somewhat frustrated with how long it took to learn about Ken’s past. In too many ways to count, Ken shows the contrast between her inner life and her outer mask. I could understand Ken’s reasons, but I identified more with Bailey, who is a deliciously socially-awkward, get-away-from-me-world-and-let-me-do-my-job introvert. Her passive-aggressiveness regarding the intrusions into her life that come with a grant meant to expand her bird rescue was priceless, especially if you’ve ever worked with interns or major donors.
I was rooting for them both, hoping Ken would share her inner geek and creative skills and that Bailey could learn to compromise enough to accept help from others. I think each character’s individual journey stayed with me more strongly than their romance together.
Blu: I’ll admit to being surprised by Bailey’s responsiveness to the events and personalities that are intruding upon her world. She initially appears less capable of interacting with the external, and yet she bravely adjusted and took control of the intrusions, owning them. Ken’s reticence does frustrate, but I am also sympathetic to the huge step she must take to accept her barriers’ permeability. Both character’s redeem my time with them, even as their romance slowly and subtly rises to the surface.
The romantic aspect is almost crowded out by the aforementioned back story and the setting. In some ways it pops into existence and we have no heads-up to anticipate their emotional bonding. I am ambivalent about this, but it did nudge me out of the story somewhat.
Corey: Yep, I was invested more in getting a peek into Ken’s sketch book than in their relationship at times. Or put another way, I wanted them to fall in love and get together because I was dying to see what kind of house Ken would design and if Bailey would track bird droppings into it. Ah, true love.
Blu: We are granted just a glimpse of their emerging relationship. After the author’s detailed efforts to introduce us to Ken and Bailey, I want to be reassured that these two women will succeed in holding onto one another and defiantly holding off the world. Having witnessed their devotion to the plight of wild birds and the gorgeous Puget Sound, I am optimistic.
Corey and Blu read this book as an advanced reader’s copy uncorrected proof. This review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
You can purchase Wingspan, or download a sample, from the C-Spot Reviews Amazon Store