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Wild and Willful by Cayla Kluver
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Wild and Willful

by Cayla Kluver

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My first work read by this author. Tis strange, but the book started off with me having a sense of déjà vu. I’m fairly certain I hadn’t read it before, but . . .

Okay, so, this is a choose-your-own-adventure book. For adults. Book starts in 1507, Muscovy with a woman being awoken in the night by her papa. Who tells her to hurry. She attempts to change but is told there is no time. So she flees wearing her sleeping garments (no real idea what that could consist of – something shockeningly embarrassing, I’m sure, to be seen in, but is it something that covers head to toe? Something less? Thin? Thick? No idea).

Family flees through a secret tunnel, father, mother, young woman, young boy of 10. Exit into, as it is put in the story, ‘hell’. A village on fire, people on horseback rushing around swinging swords. Killing. Mother and father tell young woman to take brother and flee. Eventually she does.

By this point I realize that this isn’t a ‘you-choose’ book. At least the beginning doesn’t seem that way. Because I, the reader, am only present in the sense that I’m reading this as it unfolds. It’s from the point of view of the young woman, but in the form of “I could feel”, not “you could feel”. Maybe it’s that other kind of ‘you-choose’, wherein there are, like, three plot points I, as the reader, have control over, but otherwise I’m just along for the ride. Hmms.

Ah. ‘His gaze drifted lower, taking in every curve beneath the thin fabric of my summery gown . . .’ so now I know what is meant by sleeping garment. Well, night dress or whatever word was used. Oh, and, now I learn that the main character is 18. Odd, the man who captures the young woman allows her companion, the young 10 year old brother, to flee. Especially odd considering that he had no real need to show such ‘mercy’, and later events show that these invaders enjoy occasionally letting loose some boys, then hunting them. So odd that the man let the brother flee.

Ah yes, I see now. So, this is a ‘you-choose’ wherein certain plot points are under the control of the reader. The story can turn one of two directions, then continue. The first such comes when the young woman ‘saves’ a young boy being tortured. She’s told that she has to offer something in the boy’s place, since he was to be the evening’s entertainment. At least if she wants him not to be continued to be tortured. The two choices given to the reader are “offer to take the boy’s place”, or “offer to dance for the raiders”.

I chose ‘offer to take the boy’s place.’ Mostly because it’s the first link offered to click on. I shall not describe what happens next, as, from this point, events unfold on different paths that, I believe, branch even further later on (unless my first choice here gets the woman killed, don’t know yet). So, from here on, I cannot continue describing what is occurring. I assume I’ll mention something about the overall story after the fact.

Okay then. Characters. Reasonably presented for lacking much in the way of details/back-story. I have a vision of them, even if I don’t really know them.

Writing. Well-written. Kept my attention. I didn’t notice anything ‘wrong’ or written incorrectly. Nothing, at least, that hooked upon my eye and stabbed me, thereupon pulling me from the story. The writing flowed smoothly, pulling me along.

I’m not really sure what I think of branched fiction, as opposed to ‘you-choose’ fiction. Branched being a genre I’ve only read once or twice before. By branched, I mean that the book is a ‘normal’ book that has a few spots, very few, whereupon the reader can move the action one direction or another. The last one I read like this involved a young woman who got sent from NY to . . . hmm, Montana I believe, or Wyoming. Bloody irritated me. Mostly because I thought I had been about to read a ‘you-choose’ book and kept waiting for me, the reader, to chose stuff. Plus, the main character – of that other book – was bloody annoying. Irritating, kept making decisions that I itched to change. Bloody annoying. (wait, no, while I did say ‘once or twice’, I’d only recalled one prior ‘branched’ book. But I just recalled that another ‘choose-your-adventure’ was much more of a branched book than choose book).

This time, despite how and what I’ve written, I already had a vague idea that this wasn’t actually a full ‘you-choose’ but more of a branched story. Since that’s what was in the description. I just had gazed over that part before I started and kinda forgot. No matter. I had some vague idea that this might be branched, and I had some prior experience, so the lack of lots of choices didn’t adversely impact me this time.

Eroticism – the path I chose was interesting – erotically. I have no idea what I mean. Okay, I do, but I pretend otherwise. Interesting things occurred. Better than some others which claimed to be ‘erotic’ books but were as erotic as vague shadows on the wall that may or may not be ‘erotic’ shapes.

This was, unexpectedly, a pretty good romance. Which I did not expect. Nor know if it is if I went down any other path. That’s the danger of these types of books. If I read something, a path, that seems ‘good’ or ‘perfect’ I become very reluctant to try any other, and therefore find myself disappointed, and rearranging the thoughts I had had about that ‘perfect’ path.

Re: Dark Erotica – I’d added that one when things began seeming to go that direction. I mean, a young woman, captured, on the way to being auctioned off, may or may not be ‘played with’ by her captors. May or may not experience great pain, maybe even death. Seemed kinda dark. The path I chose, to be fair to anyone coming behind me, was one that made it be more of a lite dark erotica.

You know, this was actually a pretty damned good little book. I kind of expected, to be frank, crap. I’d also, I admit, been both holding off reading this because of its ‘choose-your-adventure’ aspect, and keeping it on my shelves because of that.

I’d say that I actually might have preferred this to have not been a branched book. If it had just been a straight forward story. But then the author might have chosen some other path as the one path. The one I followed was great. I can’t make myself go looking at the others to see what might have been if one of those others had been made the main path. On the other hand, all paths might actually lead to the same conclusion. I’ve read books like that before. ( )
  Lexxi | Sep 28, 2015 |
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