As you can see in the title, today I’m trying something different. I’m calling it “My Read Along Review” because instead of reviewing the book after I’ve finished it, I’m going to try to make myself stop reading periodically and write notes on my thoughts without revealing any spoilers. My hope is to take you along on the emotional journey in a way that will help you decide whether this is the type of book you are searching for.
Why This Book?
I’m going to be honest with you. If I had not met the author at a writer’s conference I probably never would have chosen to read this book. And that is all because of the cover. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the cover, it looks more like a travel guidebook than a romantic novel, to me. It also has the word “vintage” on it. I’m just not that into vintage things. My tastes, especially in books, typically run much farther into the past.
All that said, I now know that I would have seriously missed out had I never read this book. So I am very glad I met the author. And yes, I did receive a free copy of this book.
But with that being said, while she seems to be a very nice person so far as I know, having met the author will not sway my review. I’m the kind of person who tells you when there’s lettuce in your teeth whether your my best friend or the stranger in line behind me at Walmart. So as always, I will give you, my readers, my 100% honest thoughts. If I didn’t, I would just be wasting your time and mine.
The first scene was interesting. I was intrigued by the heroine, her duplicitous lifestyle, and the hints about her mysterious past, but I don’t know that I was hooked yet. For this book, it is definitely the hero who pulled me in completely and kept me reading. I think he won my heart with this quote (from pg 11):
On a day like this, Clark longed to disappear into the trees, follow the streams to their sources, and not speak to another human soul for days on end.
Unfortunately, another group of tourists probably waited for him. Boorish, overly talkative city folk who spoke of “getting back to nature” and calming their nerves. Didn’t they realize the secret to tranquility resided in quiet?
Okay, yeah. I have been dealing with more than the usual amount of less-than-pleasant-people lately. Taking a trip into the woods to get away from them all for a while sounds pretty amazing right now. So the hero and I bonded right then and there.
Reading On …
Pages 16-22 are where the romance started to take shape in my mind. It’s where the hero and heroine meet and have their first few conversations and reactions to each other. There is a definite chemistry between them which, combined with obvious friction, promises for a fun story moving forward. These are two strong-willed characters with clear motivations to avoid being vulnerable with each other, nevermind developing romantic feelings.
By the end of Chapter 4, a twist has been thrown in that cranks up the suspense and suddenly I don’t want to put the book down. Meanwhile, the interactions between the hero and heroine just keep getting better.
So this is a completely personal thing, but Coulterville has always been one of my favorite little towns that not everyone knows about and seeing it mentioned on page 56 totally made me grin.
The surprise near the end of Chapter 5 has me mentally rubbing my hands together in anticipation of more trouble. I think I can be forgiven my gleeful anticipation seeing as these are purely fictional characters. Right?
I’m in Chapter 8 now and I don’t want to stop to make notes. The romance is developing nicely right along with the tension. I feel as though I’m right there in Yosemite Valley. To top it all off, another wrench has been thrown in to muck things up nicely. I can’t wait to see what happens next!
The twist at the end of Chapter 12 has left me heartbroken. I didn’t see it coming and I’m just so sad for the character primarily affected.
Chapters 13 – 18 Hmm… the detective in me is starting to put theories together. Also, things are definitely getting good in the romance department and the spiritual thread is stepping forward (but in a very natural way).
Chapter 20 – Oh yeah. I definitely smell a rat.
I’m near the beginning of Chapter 23 now. You know the typical movie scene that makes you want to shout at the heroine, “Don’t go in there”? Well, I’ve got a bit of that going on right now. Not in a “this-is-predictable” way, or a “she’s-so-stupid” way, but in an “Ooooh. She shouldn’t have done that. This isn’t going to go well for her. I MUST. KEEP. READING!” way.
Aaaaah! What a climax! Wow. Fantastic!
And the conclusion … *happy sigh* just perfect. Absolutely, beautifully, perfect!
Wow, am I ever glad I had a good reason to look past that cover. This is one of my favorite reads this year! Obviously, with the time period it’s completely different from my usual fare, but even above that uniqueness is the author’s incredible skill with teasing a story forward. Just masterful! I am completely hooked and more eager than ever to read the other books by this author which are sitting on my TBR shelf! Also, I didn’t even realize this was the second book in her Vintage National Parks series until I was reading the acknowledgments at the end. Book 1, The Road to Paradise, has now been added to my TBR list and I cannot wait to get a chance to read it!
5 out of 5 stars
In celebration of the release of Karen Barnett’s Where the Fire Falls, her publisher is giving away inspired artwork, stationary and a copy of the new book!
Have you ever read a book you wouldn’t normally have read just because someone asked you to or raved about it? Who recommended the book (i.e. a friend/neighbor/blogger) and how did it work out for you?
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