ARC given by HQN in exchange for an honest review.
This review is being published after the release date (September 24th, 2019)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Loss of a loved one/parent, grief, graphic injuries/treatment, talk of alcoholism
Oh friends, I loved this book so much! I love the Hallmark holiday movie vibes this book gave off, I loved the Alaskan setting, so many small town vibes, and just so many other great qualities this book has to offer. It was the perfect holiday read and I’m eager for book two to hurry up and get here!
Our story follows Erika Sheraton who’s a workaholic surgeon that’s officially been ordered to take a vacation. Reluctantly, she hangs up her scrubs and heads off to her home town Wild River. While Erika is happy to try to reconnect her friendship with her best friend Cassie over wine and addicting fudge, nothing will compare to the feelings she gets when Reed, Cassie’s brother, comes into the picture. Reed is a search and rescue member for Wild River, head strong and stubborn as an ox, the last thing he was expecting was seeing his sister walking into his bar with her best friend. Skilled and strong-willed, Reed never expected Erika to be the perfect fit for his team and he certainly never expected to be everything he’d end up craving.
I’ll be honest, I’m very much a workaholic and I never expected to have that kind of rock hit my stomach. Erika runs off large quantities of coffee or espresso and small amount of sleep, and that hit me like a ton of bricks. Aside from that, I really connected with Erika as a character. More from the aspect that she’s a hard worker and she’s a very determined woman to chase after her goals. And also she’s super awkward and I felt it on a whole other level. Reed, however, took me by storm. Oh my gosh, so much of what he wanted to do to show his affection for Erika and how much his feelings for her caught him off guarded was so good. I’m incredibly glad we got both perspectives. I think a lot of readers will be happy to see both point of views in this book.
“Crazy as it sounded, nothing else seemed to exist when he was holding her. Both an amazing feeling and a terrifying one.”
I also fell head over heels for the sideline romance between Cassie and Tank. I loved that we got to see a single dad dynamic. It might have been my favorite thing in this whole book because it’s a family dynamic that we don’t often see in books. So that made me incredibly happy. But the subtle tense vibes between Tank and Cassie throughout this book was so good. I can’t help wanting more. They have such a great dynamic and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll be seeing more of them in a later book.
While there were many things that I loved, there were also some not so good things. While it wasn’t the worst issue, I felt that there was a strong lack of communication between the main characters as well with side characters. If there was better communication, I don’t think it would have stuck out so much, but there was barely any real communication and there were a lot of scenes where communication was brushed off with little to no effort.
My biggest issue with this book lies with the body issues which is essentially what prevented me from giving this book a full five stars. We are told at a certain point that if it weren’t for her (extremely unhealthy) workaholic lifestyle that Erika would be a much larger woman. The way it comes across in the book is as if it be the most unthinkable and terrible thing to happen to her. The only thing that has been made obvious about Erika is that she “filled out” more and has more curves to her body (by curves it means large breasts and fuller shaped backside). There’s also a scene where there’s a conflict about weight over fudge. This would have been a perfect opportunity for the author to treat the scene as a “yes, it’s okay to indulge every once in a while, but not all the time” lesson, but instead turned the fudge it a “forbidden fruit” kind of situation where it can only happen once in a blue moon. There are also many points in this book where the author could have taken the opportunity to have Erika realize her unhealthy behavior and see herself in a new light. This would have been something so wonderful to read about and experience as a reader because loving ourselves and our bodies is something to be excited about and love. Instead, we’re given multiple point of views of Reed marveling at how tiny her waist is, how flat her stomach is, while he still appreciates having curves in “all the right places.” All of this made me cringe and have to do a double take to make sure I was reading things properly. There was plenty of opportunities for any of it to be addressed or solved, but it felt like all those opportunities were missed or brushed to the side.
“And it surprised him that two people who were so incompatible on the surface could be so perfect together at the core.”
Overall, I think this is a really cute book and it’s definitely great for the holiday season. I also really appreciated the amount of effort that went into showing what the men and women of search and rescue teams sacrifice for their job and what they put at risk for their jobs. I also really enjoyed and appreciated the complications between family relationships. I’m always here for different family dynamics, finding a way to find the healing in all the aftermath of hardships, and how to find yourself and deciding to become the person you want to be. I truly believe this has set the foundation for a solid series and as I mentioned, I’m eager for the next book to come out in the series. If you truly want a book that gives you a steamy, sexy, but also Hallmark type of romance then this is a book you want to pick up this winter!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.