For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.
The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and fam
If any of you readers have ever seen Stephen King’s Rose Red, Wild Beauty definitely gave off those same creepy vibes. Rose Red is a mansion with a mind of its own, much like the land of La Pradera. CREEEPPYYYYYY. I didn’t sleep for a HOT minute after watching Rose Red.
All the women in the Nomeolvides family are named for flowers. Calla, Gloria, Azalea, Dalia, except for Estrella. She is named for the stars. All these women are cursed with the power to grow flowers at will, except for Estrella, whose blue borraja flowers grow through her rafters as she sleeps. Her power is wild and unpredictable, and her family is wary.
The Nomeolvides were tormented for years accused of being witches because of their green thumbs, but they eventually met the Briar family, who in exchange for them tending their barren land, allowed the Nomeolvides to stay and make La Pradera their home.
It comes to light that all 5 cousins, are in love with the same person, a young woman named Bay Briar, the bastard of the family banished to La Pradera as punishment for her bloodlines. La Pradera takes those that the Nomeolvides women love, so in attempts to save Bay from the curse, all the girls give up their favorite items to the land as offerings. La Pradera is their god.
In return for their offerings, the land game them back a boy, Fel. He appeared where Estrella had buried her offering. With Fel’s help, the mystery of the evil land is solved, and all is made well.
Wild Beauty is not a book I would normally read. I picked it up as a cover buy and because it was the OwlCrate edition. McLemore writes in a very lyrical style and her words are very poetic. I prefer straightforward text, but McLemore’s style allowed for a change of pace to my typical reading.
I love that all 5 main characters are atypical in their love interests and that they are such empowering women. There are very few men in this story since all of them are destined to disappear if a Nomeolvide falls in love with them, so the women have had to adapt and learn to be self sufficient and rely on themselves. Their lives and family are their responsibility, not that to be shared between a male partner.
Besides, women appear to be the only safe choice for love as no female lover has ever been taken by La Pradera.
I would recommend this book to fantasy lovers, but also to those who love flowery writing (pun fully intended). McLemore’s writing is absolutely beautiful. It is not an over the top, “must recommend to every living soul”, kind of book, but with that being said, it is still worth it if you’re looking for a different sort of story.