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The Beautiful and the Wild


The Beautiful and the Wild

Peggy Townsend, who has twice journeyed to Alaska while living exclusively out of her van, has penned a unique thriller inspired by her travels. Set mainly in the wilds of Alaska, THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE WILD is an exploration of a troubled marriage and one spouse who will go to unknown lengths to live life on their own terms.

When Liv Russo wakes up at the start of the novel, she thinks, “The silence was so thick I felt like I was drowning.” It won’t be long before she realizes that she is trapped in a huge storage container filled with various supplies and a filthy mattress for her to sleep on. Liv is just able to spy through the myriad holes of her surroundings and notices other small structures, snow on the ground, and a cabin-style house. She also sees something unbelievable --- her husband, Mark, who she thought was dead, standing in front of the house.

"Peggy Townsend has done a superb job writing what she knows and adding the right amount of thrills and chills to produce an engaging read."

The book ventures into the past as we see how Liv and Mark met. Liv was living in Sacramento and struggling to make ends meet nine years prior to the current action. Mark, a fledgling filmmaker and documentarian, swept Liv off her feet. He called her his warrior princess, and they fell head over heels in love.

Liv and Mark married and settled down in Sacramento. They eventually welcomed their son, Xander, who was born with some physical and mental challenges. Times got tough, especially for Mark, whose out-of-state trips in search of film deals became more frequent but with little success. He was prone to take off when life became too challenging, and after one particular bout of bad luck, he left and didn’t return. The police informed Liv that her husband was seen jumping to his death from the Golden Gate Bridge, although divers did not find his body.

Liv never disposed of Mark’s cell phone, and one day a random number pops up on it. On the other end is a woman from a grocery store in a small Alaska town who says their delivery of supplies is in and that either she or her husband can stop by to get them. When Liv admits she has the wrong number and pries for more details, the woman promptly hangs up.

With nothing to lose, and a sickening feeling that Mark might still be out there somewhere, Liv heads to Alaska with Xander. When she reaches the town where the call originated, she lands directly in Mark’s crosshairs. He gets the jump on her before she can respond.

This brings us back to the opening of the novel when Liv learns that her husband has abducted her. What transpires next is the stuff of nightmares as Liv realizes that she never really knew him at all. She has to tread lightly if she is going to figure out a way to extricate herself and Xander from this dangerous situation without Mark taking violent action against them.

An additional plot line results in more suspense being thrown in for good measure. This all combines for a nail-biting thriller that never ceases to surprise right up to the wild finale. Peggy Townsend has done a superb job writing what she knows and adding the right amount of thrills and chills to produce an engaging read. I look forward to seeing what she has in store for us next.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on November 10, 2023

The Beautiful and the Wild
by Peggy Townsend

  • Publication Date: November 7, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley
  • ISBN-10: 0593638085
  • ISBN-13: 9780593638088