Enjoyable, contemporary romance set in a quirky, small-town community in a scenic portion of Alaska
Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: December 10, 2015
Pages: 242 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Thirty-year-old Marley Adams was raised in the small, quirky town of Diamond Creek, Alaska, but she hasn’t been back except for flying visits since she was eighteen and left for college in Seattle, Washington. She worked as a well-paid code developer for an app company ever since she graduated from college, typically putting in 60-70-hour weeks at her job. As a result of her workaholic schedule and being an introvert, she rarely dated. Then, suddenly one night, her apartment was broken into, and the intruder robbed her at gunpoint. The traumatic experience left Marley too fearful to concentrate at work or stay in her apartment. In order to overcome her PTSD, she has left her job and apartment and sought safety and family support in her hometown, returning there for an indefinite stay. She is currently living in a little cabin on her parents’ property.
Thirty-four-year-old Gage Hamilton is a retired Navy SEAL who has inherited, jointly with his siblings, his grandparents’ ski lodge, the Last Frontier Lodge, in Diamond Creek. Gage was born in Diamond Creek, but his parents moved to Bellingham, Washington with him and his three younger siblings when he was a child. He had not been back in Diamond Creek since his grandfather died when he was a teenager, and his grandmother came to live with his parents until she recently passed away. During his years as a SEAL, Gage avoided committed romantic relationships, because of the high probability that the risks of his career would destroy it. His last mission as a SEAL was so traumatic that it prompted his retirement and, like Marley, he is seeking peace and sanctuary in Diamond Creek. He is also very excited about fixing up the dilapidated ski lodge and holding a grand opening by Christmas, which is only a couple of months away.
Marley and Gage are very near neighbors who both like to run on the scenic trails in Diamond Creek, so it is inevitable that sooner or later they would meet. And when they do, they are instantly, strongly drawn to each other. Since they are both physically fit, gorgeous, intelligent people who share a love of the outdoors, the mutual attraction is quite understandable. However, each initially tries to resist the other, because neither is looking for romance. But when Gage offers Marley a job setting up a website for the lodge and handling online promotion and reservations, they are thrown into each other’s company every day, and the sparks flying between the two of them prove to be an irresistible temptation.
I really enjoyed this contemporary romance novel. The story is told from the point of view of both romantic protagonists, which is the classic format for adult romance fiction. It allows the reader to get to know both Marley and Gage very well. They are strong, active, very sympathetic protagonists. Though there is plenty of romantic conflict, and a bit of romantic suspense thrown in as a subplot, this is not a novel filled with melodrama. Which is a big plus as far as I’m concerned.
I love the fact that these protagonists earn their requisite beautiful bodies through actual exercise, which is all too often not the case in romance novels. I also enjoyed the fact that the sex scenes are not crude or kinky and are “slow burn,” that is, they occur later in the book, after the protagonists have had time to get to know each other and form a solid friendship. The sex is also both hot and tender which, for my taste, is the perfect combination.
I also strongly commend the author that Gage is NOT a cliche billionaire business executive! What a relief in the midst of the endless CEO tycoons flooding the romance marketplace these days.
I enjoyed the many colorful, well-drawn subcharacters in Diamond Creek, which is set in a very scenic part of Alaska. The locale is so vividly presented, in fact, it made me want to hop on a plane and fly there for a visit.
This book is part of a series, but the books don’t have to be read in order. I’ve currently read this book, which is the first in the series, as well as book 2, and book 7. I am looking forward to reading the book which features Gage’s younger sister and his best friend as the romantic protagonists.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 4