Weston “Major” Marian left home at age seventeen and found a second home in the Army. Fighting in the Vietnam War takes its toll on everyone, but the experience binds Major together with his fellow soldiers, including Liam “Doc” Wilde. From the moment the men meet, Major is attracted to Doc, and when the two are paired together as part of a medevac team, their friendship begins to grow. Soon the men are becoming the closest of friends and when tragedy hits, the near death experience and shared confidences make them like brothers. When their time in the Army is over, it is only natural that the men want to stick together.
When they leave the service, Doc returns to the family ranch in Texas and to his wife and young children. While he enters medical school, Major gets a job working for Doc’s family on the ranch. Major becomes a part of the family — a good friend to Doc’s wife, Betsy; a surrogate son to their parents; and an uncle figure to their children. He also begins to take on more responsibility on the ranch and the Hobart family farm. While Major cherishes being a part of the Wilde/Hobart extended family, it is also difficult as he is in love with Doc. Major knows Doc loves Betsy and he would never interfere with Doc’s marriage, but being with the man he loves and can’t have is still painful.
When life throws them multiple curveballs, Major is there for Doc and for his family. And when the worst happens and Doc is left alone, Major is the one he leans on for support. Until that point, Doc never saw Major as anything other than the closest of friends, but suddenly he is finding more romantic and sexual feelings developing between them. When the men finally act on their feelings, it is everything that Major ever wanted and a new chance at happiness for Doc. But two gay men raising children in small town Texas isn’t easy, and Doc and Major will have an uphill battle in order to be together.
Wilde Love is the sixth novel in Lucy Lennox’s Forever Wilde series and easily my favorite of the group. Doc and Grandpa have been a fixture throughout this series as the loving patriarchs of the Wilde clan. So I was eager to get their story, particularly as it follows the men from first meeting back in the Army during the Vietnam War, all the way up through present day. However, I wasn’t prepared for how emotional and truly lovely this story would be. Watching these men fight for their happy ending through war, marriage, bigotry, and raising children and grandchildren is incredibly rewarding. I particularly loved the later portion of the book that focused on these men in their older years. We so seldom get romantic heroes in their 40s or 50s, let alone men who are in their 70s and 80s, and seeing them still so madly in love just made my heart warm.
The story can kind of unofficially be broken into three parts: the men in Vietnam, their years together as friends in Texas, and then their time as a couple. I find the Vietnam War era to be such a fascinating time in our history and so I am always looking for the rare romance set in that period. It is clear that Lennox did her research about the war and military during that time and this portion of the book had a great sense of tension and excitement as Doc and Major work alongside one another to rescue injured soldiers on the front lines. I enjoyed seeing these men build a friendship and an intense bond and Lennox made it easy to see why the two of them couldn’t bear to be apart when their time in the Army was over.
The second portion of the story follows their growing friendship out of the Army. We see not only how their connection continues to deepen, but how Major becomes a true part of Doc’s family. We can also feel Major’s pain as he loves Doc, but can never tell him. Here is where I will also give Lennox major appreciation for not going the easy and all too common route and making Doc’s wife Betsy the villain of the story. Instead, Doc loves Betsy deeply and she is a wonderful, kind woman who cares for Major and accepts him warmly and without jealousy into her family (even when she senses there may be more to his feelings for Doc). In fact, Major and Betsy become incredibly close friends and confidants and it is really beautiful to see how the three adults become an extended family, all looking out for the Wilde children and providing friendship to one another.
The last section of the book focuses on Doc and Major’s ultimate romantic relationship and the men finding their way together after so many years of friendship. This evolution felt very real and my heart just sang when Doc recognizes he has true feelings for Major, and Major realizes that he is finally able to have the man he has loved for so long. I loved watching the flashes of their lives together over the years, and even though things go quickly, it is so rewarding. Having seen these men in present day through the prior books, it was wonderful to have their story come full circle from their first meeting through present day.
I also want to note that this story has a crossover toward the end with the characters from Lennox’s Made Marian series (Major is Aunt Tilly’s brother). I think fans of both series are going to enjoy seeing these two clans reunite for a few scenes. However, as someone who hasn’t read the Made Marian stories, I did find myself a little overwhelmed by the sudden influx of new characters just as this story is wrapping up. I knew this book featured a series crossover going in, so this didn’t affect my rating, but I do think this mix of characters will be more appealing if you are familiar with both series.
Overall, I found this story everything I wanted and more. I loved watching Doc and Major’s friendship grow and then blossom into love. I really appreciated seeing how these men built a life together, first as friends and then as lovers, and to see that love so strong even in their later years. This story is warm, romantic, sexy, and so satisfying. I can highly recommend it.
P.S. Can we talk about that cover for a minute? Because this series is known for gorgeous covers but this one is my favorite of the group. The picture is by the super talented Michael Stokes and the cover design is done by AngstyG. I can’t stop staring at it.