#Harlequin Heartwarming Series Book Review | “Mountains Apart” and “A Case for Forgiveness” (Book One & Two: Seasons of Alaska) by Carol Ross

Posted Thursday, 28 March, 2019 by jorielov , , , , , 2 Comments

Book Review badge created by Jorie in Canva using Unsplash.com photography (Creative Commons Zero).

Borrowed Book By: I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists.

This particular review is slightly different from my regular blog tours and hosting features for Prism Book Tours – as an opportunity came along this March to secure a spot on a ‘review tour’ rather than a ‘blog tour’ for a novel within the Seasons of Alaska series by Carol Ross. I had previously read a novel by Ms Ross when I was attached to the five-book series “Return of the Blackwell Brothers” review tour wherein I read the entire series as a hostess for Prism Book Tours.

This time round – I am borrowing most of the “Seasons of Alaska” book series through my local libraries – either through ILL (inter-library loan) and/or local borrowing opportunities as one of my libraries had more of the books in their local catalogue than the others. My readings of this series will be spilt into review showcases of two books in sequence leading into my review for the review tour of “In the Doctor’s Arms” which is the latest release for this Harlequin Heartwarming series.

We had a lot of flexibility with this review tour – we were not required to read the entire series, however, being a serial fiction reader who likes to read more of a series than less – I elected to seek out the series in full to be read before “In the Doctor’s Arms”. The author herself was kind enough to send me a copy of the one novel I couldn’t borrow through my library which is “Bachelor Remedy”. The scheduling of my readings and my review postings for this review tour are as follows: “Mountains Apart” and “A Case for Forgiveness” (post one); “If Not for a Bee” and “A Family Like Hannah’s” (post two) and “Bachelor Remedy” and “In the Doctor’s Arms” (post three) – the third of which will be featured on my 6th Blogoversary the 31st of March, 2019.

I decided to read all the stories in this series ‘blind’ – meaning, I didn’t read each of the synopsis’s before setting into the stories as I was reading them. I knew I could trust where Ms Ross would take me as I loved her instincts for Return of the Blackwell Brothers – therefore, it became a bit of a lovely adventure seeing how her characters within this new series would develop, strengthen and grow!

I borrowed the following novels through my local library “Mountains Apart” through ILL (inter-library loan) services and “A Case for Forgiveness” through the local library’s catalogue. I was not obligated to post a review and am sharing my ruminative thoughts for my own personal edification whilst keeping my readers updated on my readerly life whilst I progress through the Seasons of Alaska series. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. Although I did not receive these novels through Prism Book Tours and/or the author – I did receive a few of the Press Materials to be used in conjunction with my reviews leading up to reviewing “In the Doctor’s Arms”.

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What I truly loved about discovering the Contemporary Romance styling of Ms Ross:

I wasn’t entirely sure what I was expecting to find in the segue between the Rancher who needed a Nanny and the Nanny who needed a second chance – at life, at romance – at everything to be honest! Lydia was running towards a place she could re-start her life, even if the one she’s left behind was still looming over her shoulders. What I appreciated about the ways in which Carol Ross introduce the elements of Romantic Suspense into her narrative is the unexpected nature of it – your thinking your settling into one kind of story, whilst being giving elements of surprise suspense where you become dearly concerned over the welfare of a character.

Ross knits in a lot of humour into her stories – even the kind of humour where it isn’t entirely meant to be funny, as it is awkward circumstances of two people trying to come together but who feel they have nothing in common with each other, so why attempt civility? Except in this case, it is the bloke who is at odds over his hired nanny (on first meeting) who makes soaking into this story quite enjoyable due to the natural high levels of tension erupting through the opening chapters! You truly feel you want to invest in reading this story if only to see if Lydia can succeed in making a positive impact on the twin girls’ lives or if she can even soften their father’s heart a small bit or if he will forever remain judgemental of everyone who doesn’t fit the image he has for a woman to be in hie life on his ranch. On that level, I was thinking about a second Hallmark Channel film which was Straight from the Heart (2003) (starring Teri Polo) where a city girl fell in love with a rancher!

Ross gives you such a firm grounding of centre – she introduces us to the Blackwells in such a way as it doesn’t feel like we’re meeting them for the first time (an echo of the style I am used to from Karen Rock and her Rocky Mountain Cowboys). We are getting into the back-histories of the family lore, the angst of having your grandfather go missing without notice and the issues of running a ranch when the grandfather left no forward notice of where to find him should he be unreachable. If you stop to consider everything on Blackwell’s mind, it is understandable why he’s uncertain how to approach Lydia.

I’ve mentioned Hallmark Channel quite a heap on this review because what I loved about reading The Rancher’s Twins is the fact it has the same kind of uplifting heart I love finding in certain Hallmark Channel movies – let’s face it, sometimes they have a few duds amongst the gems, but overall, what I love most about the ones which truly wick out a love of joy for me to be watching (esp the latest series All of my Heart) is how you feel pulled into the story-lines in such an organic way of alighting straight into the shoes of the characters! You can’t wait to see if they will get a happy ever after (even if mostly its a given but how will it pan out is always the critical mystery!) – and this same feeling is tucked inside the very first Return of the #BlackwellBrothers!

I am overjoyed I am able to participate in my first serial review tour! What a wonderful start to a series I am super excited to continue reading! I have not received the second book in the series The Rancher’s Rescue but I am dearly anticipating it now!! If I dare say – this particular one I’ve just read ought to be considered for Hallmark! It would fit well with their series of Western Romances – they haven’t put together a new Cowboy / Ranch Romance in awhile… hmm,… (*nudge, nudge*)

-quoted from my review of The Rancher’s Twins

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Seasons of Alaska series by Carol Ross

Seasons of Alaska series by Carol Ross

Mountains Apart (book one)

A Case for Forgiveness (book two)

If Not for a Bee (book three)

A Family Like Hannah’s (book four)

Bachelor’s Remedy (book five)

In the Doctor’s Arms (book six)

Mountains Apart
Subtitle: Seasons of Alaska
by Carol Ross
Source: Borrowed from local library (ILL)

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780373366705

Also by this author: The Rancher's Twins, If Not for a Bee, A Family Like Hannah's, Bachelor Remedy, In the Doctor's Arms, Keeping Her Close, Second Chance for the Single Dad, Series Spotlight w/ Notes: Return of the Blackwell Brothers, Catching Mr Right, The Secret Santa Project, His Hometown Yuletide Vow

Setting: Alaska

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 25th February, 2014

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 379

Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin

Converse via: #Contemporary #Romance & #Harlequin

& #SeasonsOfAlaska

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About Carol Ross

Carol Ross

USA Today bestselling author Carol Ross grew up in small town America right between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains, in a place where you can go deep sea fishing in the morning and then hit the ski slopes the same afternoon. The daughter of what is now known as free range parents, she developed a love of the outdoors at a very early age.

As a writer, Carol loves to breathe the life she has lived into the characters she creates, grateful for the “research material” that every questionable decision, adrenaline-charged misstep, and near-death experience has provided.

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my review of mountains apart:

Considering the fact I have oft-mused what it would be like to live in Alaska despite the jaw-dropping ice-inducing temperatures the state is renown for having during Winter – the opening paragraphs of Mountains Apart gave me a hearty laugh of joy as I had a feeling nothing is ever quite as it seems when your living in a place whose harsh environs would test even the strongest of wills for a transplant! Alaska is truly one of the last places where you can honestly say going in is an experience in survival, wit and adventure; still though – if you jaunt round the Alaskan cities websites, drink in the videos on YT and find the awe-inspiring raw lifestyle of living on the fringes of the wilds a compelling reason to jump ship from the lower 48 – you can see why people opt for Alaska! I know my adventurous soul has considered it more than a half dozen times as there is just something alluring about that particular state! The lack of regional hospitals notwithstanding as you can opt-in to helio ambulance services – Alaska has a lovely niche of natural living and natural beauty which is unparalleled.

Thus, as I started to soak into #SeasonsOfAlaska – what you can gleam through online research and what you can ascertain through other stories set in this lovely state, you could immediately identify with the angst of what Emily is facing – the intensity of the cold wicking through your bones and the antiquated technology which hasn’t gone through an upgrade but still assists you in your business if you have the patience to wait out the quirks of using it. Felt like the best way to enter her life as it hugged close to what you presume might be a life set in Alaska and the quirkiness of how life has a way of keeping you on your toes even if you think you have all your ducks in a row!

You really have to wonder why big corporations think they can bulldoze through a small community like the one featured in Mountains Apart – putting their environmental health on the line and forestalling the community’s hope for sustainable economies which would benefit rather than destroy the local ecology. This story is not just relevant it is tapping into the key issues many smaller communities are facing when big companies think they can overtake a smaller region for the profitable good of their own rather than in working in tandem with those communities to find a middle ground which works for them both. Of course, when it comes to oil and gas production – I’m on the opposite fence as I can’t foresee any argument in the positive for fracking or extraction due to the truth and knowledge of what has been presented in countless counties, communities and cities thus far which have been environmentally compromised. Ergo, despite feeling the angst of Emily’s plight, I could whole-heartedly relate to Mr James’s position in putting Emily to rights in regards to what is really going on behind her campaign to swoon the locals into agreeing with her company’s projected growth for the area due to those specific extractions which decrease an area’s ability to self-sustain itself.

Emily’s battle with dearly debilitating headaches was something I could relate too (being a former #migraineur – as I’ve finally had a break-through in how I address my chronic migraines these past five weeks) however, there was something else happening to her which I couldn’t quite put my finger on as she was presenting a lot of symptoms that felt like she might need medical intervention. There is a particular scene with Mr James which first makes you smirk and then, your heart goes out to Em – as honestly there is something seriously wrong! I felt he handled it with both decorum and swift thinking – as the situation was fast growing out of proportional logic!

By the time the crisis is averted we gain a bit more insight into Mr James and the compassionate heart he has when he’s not going toe to head with an executive at an oil and gas company! I had to smirk a bit round the edges as the conversation about Emily’s recovery quickly shifted over to eating healthier foods and of reducing stress-induced lifestyle choices which amounted to less food than her body required on a regular basis. I could relate to her choices in one way, as my Dad used to work in a 24/7 industry which in effect lent unhealthy practices itself except for one main difference – Dad had my Mum and she made sure he found the balance he needed. Apparently Amanda didn’t evoke the same influence over Emily – which is why Emily is in the predicament she’s currently in – although all things related, there were worse ways to find the soft spot in a bloke’s heart than collapsing in front of him!

As an aside – in the hospital, Emily’s odd behaviour is also redirected towards her aversion to food and her sudden interest in healthier eats. The reason this rubbed my funny-bone a bit is because after my Dad’s stroke, his first weekend at the hospital he couldn’t get enough of the food! To such an extent he ordered more of it – the situation is a bit different than Emily’s – as the food she was eating really was wicked awesome compared to what Dad was having – but it made me think that either Ross knew someone who had been hospitalised and suddenly was more food centric or she knew of the quirky reactions people have after medical crises! I loved how real she wrote that sequence and how much I could relate to the dialogue exchanges between Emily and Amanda!

When it comes to back-stories on characters, Ms Ross warmed my heart with the back-story on Bering James – especially in regards to his parents, their romance and why he was named ‘Bering’. It spoke to the heart and the soulfuness of love – how we try to find tangible ways to keep ourselves in touch with the past and the hopefulness of the future. I loved hearing this part of Mr James life but also, how intuitive it was of Ms Ross to include an anchour of his past to his parents and how this effected him as a person as much as how it gave depth to his character.

The two (Emily and Mr James) have been sorting out ways of seeing each other since the incident – more on his side of the ledger than hers which was more than slightly amusing to me. Mostly as even his cousin Tag pointed out – this is the last person he’d want to socialise with on a normal day much less after an emergency! I kept thinking about how sometimes love is not just blind but it came randomly attach itself to you when your least expecting it. Bering just seems to be the kind of bloke who is surprised by his emotions and sometimes doesn’t quite know what to do with himself once he finds himself emotionally connecting to a woman he’s interested in – even if that particular woman is Emily and a woman working for a company which goes against his own principles.

After all – even on Heartland they explored this same kind of relationship between Lou and Peter; as Peter was the oil and gas executive of whom Lou was standing up against in the series. The only difference being I felt they mishandled their relationship and their marriage; as Peter came out on the wrong side of the tracks when in theory I felt he deserved more than what he was given in the series. I was considering their relationship as I settled into musing about Bering and Emily; as these two felt like something could simmer between them as much as it had with Lou and Peter; but then again, if your on opposing sides of an argument – where does love fit in?

When Ross starts to describe Rankins – from how the water moves into the bay and how the hardwoods reach into the meadows surrounding the town and the mountains behind it – you can feel yourself immersing into the background of an Alaskan experience. These depictions of Rankins also are reminiscent of why I was drawn into the canvas of Alaskan townships and cities – there is a pull for the natural environment Alaska has on tap – how the ecosystem is syncronised in harmony where both wildlife and man can co-habitat on the same land but still find themselves with plenty of room to roam? Except for some of the places where the wildlife and our homes have the tendency of having blurred lines of boundaries – I’ve read and heard a lot of stories where moose and bear have the unfortunate disadvantage of not knowing when their presence is unwelcome. Evenso, as Ross describes it – Rankins is a towne which understands itself and its position.

Further compelling is the twists in fates which interlink Emily and Bering; they might be opposing counsels of influence in Rankins for the present but there is an underscore of attention being made to their personal feelings about each other, about the oil and gas company’s plans and of course, how can two oppositional people find a reason to become drawn towards one another when they ought to be repulsed? Ross makes a good case for this as she tucks us close inside Emily’s pursuit of the towne and the affectionate trust of the townespeople whilst Bering re-affirms his stance on why this is an environmental disaster which will remove the sanctity of Rankins natural health.

The harder Bering worked to move against Emily the more she pushed him to accept that there are some battles your just not prepared to fight. They had this tug-of-war philosophy between them – where one of them advanced, the other critically took in their next options and sought out the next best attack to undermine their opponent. It took a more personal turn – how this wasn’t entirely about saving the town of Rankins but rather, it was a personal war of truth between the two of them. She wanted to assert herself to prove that she not only had self-worth and respectability in her job but she wanted to find a way to stand out from the shadows of an ex-boyfriend who was much too toxic to be involved in her life. Bering on the other hand was slowly seeing how influence of power and the overwhelming promise of progress might outpin his chances to convince his hometown of the dangers of trusting an oil and gas company at their word.

I felt Ross presented both sides of the argument well – even though some of the more technical aspects of what drives the risks and toxicity of fracking can do on a particular region of extraction were left for readers to research themselves, she took the compassionate route to entice the reader to view this from a community-based response – where a towne has to decide where they stand for their future and what kind of legacy they want to instill on the present lives of their residents. That is truly what matters the most – what you believe in and how far you will stand on the side of that truth to overtake a powerful company from re-identifying your own community.

However this wasn’t just an entreaty about the concerns over environmental impact and small communities – at the heart of the story remained a turning point in the lives of Bering and Emily. They were each smitten with each other but for different and very distinctive reasons – Bering saw in Emily aspects of herself she was a bit blind to knowing existed as she lived life with a very narrow focus on her career. Emily on the other hand was like a woman moving through her own personal insurrection – where she had to stop, examine and re-evaluate her own life. Bering brought out the unexpected and the unknown – he encouraged her to embrace the ordinary of the hour and the beauty of a living moment. Emily hadn’t known how to live before she met Bering because her whole life was rooted in how her family had raised her to see the world. And, this is what I felt made reading Mountains Apart even more dimensionally intuitive – how a stepping out of time and of life can re-render a world view you never considered.

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Seasons of Alaska series Books One & Two Book Photography Credit: Jorie of jorielovesastory.com. Photo edits and collage created in Canva.
Seasons of Alaska series Books One & Two Book Photography Credit: Jorie of jorielovesastory.com. Photo edits and collage created in Canva.

A Case for Forgiveness
by Carol Ross
Source: Borrowed from local library

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9780373367221

Also by this author: The Rancher's Twins, If Not for a Bee, A Family Like Hannah's, Bachelor Remedy, In the Doctor's Arms, Keeping Her Close, Second Chance for the Single Dad, Series Spotlight w/ Notes: Return of the Blackwell Brothers, Catching Mr Right, The Secret Santa Project, His Hometown Yuletide Vow

Series: Seasons of Alaska

Also in this series: If Not for a Bee, A Family Like Hannah's, Bachelor Remedy, In the Doctor's Arms

Setting: Alaska

Published by Harlequin Heartwarming

on 1st January, 2014

Format: Larger Print (Mass Market Paperback)

Pages: 376

from the note of the author:

One of the blessings of reading Harlequin Heartwarming and/or any publisher who allows their authors to write notes to their readers (as there have been several I’ve come across over the years) is getting to have a bit of a tip-off from the writer about what inspired the story, how they feel about their characters or the direction of their series (if it is just beginning or is already in-progress) whilst giving us a chance to have a sneak peek behind-the-book before it was published.

In this instance, we are given the chance to understand why the subject of the story is truly a personal one to explore by Ms Ross – as the key subject is within the title: forgiveness. I was hoping this series would shift through the residents of Rankins and I was not disappointing learning we are about to enter into Shay James life as she is the cousin of Bering of whom is View Spoiler ».

I love series which are set in small townes as you have a lovely chance to tucking into the lives of the supporting characters and/or see the growth within a singular family. Wherever I’ll be travelling next in this #SeasonsOfAlaska series is going to be a wicked uplifting burst of #bookJOY! Shay wasn’t highlighted too much during the first installment – though her presence was there, she was not focused upon too heavily. I was so entrenched in the story of Bering and Emily, I honestly was properly surprised to learn I would next be cheering for Shay and to see where we enter her life as the series progresses forward!

I also think stories of forgiveness are necessary – both from a mainstream and/or an INSPY perspective because one thing in life that can derail a person’s soul is the art of not ‘letting go’ and forgiving either the past, a person or an event. There is too much in our lives which can clutter and choke our spirits and after a period of time has passed which is necessary to process those emotions and those reactions, we all have to remember to be kind to ourselves and simply ‘let go’ of whatever happened otherwise those are the moments which become the new baggage we must carry with us until we recognise we no longer have to feel burdened by what affected us in such a heavy-hearted way.

my review of a case for forgiveness:

Shay has an interesting job owning the Faraway Inn as she regularly encounters the general public and people with the most peculiar requests when their checking in! She has a tender heart and a giving spirit – as she’s part of the food crew who gives back their time and cooking to a retired attorney who lives in towne. This particular attorney has a closer relationship with Shay, as his grandson was the infamous ex-fiance of hers who didn’t seem to share her compassion for his grandfather. I could understand where she was coming from in one regard – of how once you love and lose your own grandparents, you have this missing part of your life. I could see why she bonded to Jonah’s grandfather and why his presence in her life was considered a special joy.

I have been familiar with the continuity of a series involving Ms Ross’s writings but from the reverse – meaning, I was familiar with her starting a limited series (ie. Return of the Blackwell Brothers) and then, watching as new authors would step forward and carry the story-line from whence she began the originating plot threads. In this instance, I get to see first-hand her own style of continuity and cohesive threadings of plot and I am most excited finding the secondary characters are all tucked inside A Case for Forgiveness. Including Piper and her sister Laurel (of whom owned the local paper) – Piper was the gossip-monger of Rankins and I had a soft spot for them both in the last novel, as Laurel was integrated into the story-line of Emily’s as she had specific information which was helping Emily prepare for the case against Bering’s opposition for the oil and gas company’s takeover of the towne. It was an interesting dynamic – how the local paper was choosing to stay neutral but also lend a hand to Emily who in many ways was soon becoming the least liked person in Rankins for what she stood to gain.

Similarly, Tag and his friends were making a return appearance – which gave more definition to how the inner circle of friendships in Rankins has longer reaching ties – as Tag is Shay’s older brother but he’s also within the friend circle of Jonah. This of course, brought back Bering into the foreground as all the men are interconnected. I love this about Small Towne Fiction – you get to stay within the community and see how everyone becomes integral to the plot.

Ross is etching a firm grip on the art of living within A Case for Forgiveness – as we view Jonah going through the motions of life in Rankins, we find a bloke who has forgotten that there is more to life than living for work. He’s a predominately Type-A personality – he can’t stop thinking about work nor can he separate his corporate life as a lawyer in the Mid-West for the slower paced lifestyle his grandfather (whose also a lawyer) enjoys in coastal Alaska. For Jonah, if your not billing hours you’re defeated – he views everything in his life by the bankable hours he could be earning at his firm and it doesn’t take long to realise how backwards he has set his life to run. Having a stable income is viable and important but Jonah takes this to the next level – he cannot separate himself from the job and it is this obsessive compulsion to work without having a life outside of it which Ross brings to the center inside his character’s journey.

Jonah is the kind of guy he’s facing his own insurrection of sorts – he has caught between the life he believes is the right one for him to claim and the life that someone a bit wiser thinks he should reconsider. He’s also a bit of a lousy friend and lacks better judgement in knowing when to route information to people in his life – such as the exchange between him and Shay at the restaurant wherein he discredited the importance of making a phone call. He tries to side-step it with Shay but if you read between the lines, he simply didn’t place an importance on that call as much as Shay had herself. It was another glimpse at his disconnection with Rankins and of the life they once shared together whilst he lived there.

You have to give it to Ms Ross – this is the second series I’ve read of hers which involves the craftiness of an old gent who is bent on proving a point to the younger generation! lol I won’t say what exactly is going on in this regard, but I happen to think one of her assets as a writer is setting the field for characters to become involved in a moment of truth reckoning that is set-up by someone close to them who feels they need to take a better stock of the kind of life their living and if that life is the one they really wanted to choose to live. From that – I love how she puts a spin on Contemporary Romances – where it is not merely about the two persons who need to develop or reconsider their own relationships but how she carries the arc of the narrative through all the characters’ in her series. She paints the broader picture of how individual lives are at the intersection of affecting other people’s lives as much as their own but also, how as a community, everyone’s life has a purpose towards the benefit of the whole. I love that adage of insight but I also love how she writes Contemporaries rooted in family and the benefits of finding family even if they are outside the ones you’ve been raised. She has both sets of family in Seasons of Alaska – giving you a proper glimpse into how all of her characters have chosen to live intuitively next to the wilds and to live authentically with the persons who call this remote Alaskan towne home. This is of course one of the underlying testaments of the series – how if your not living authentically and owning your own choices in life, how then, can you have proper friendships and relationships?

On the flip-side, counter to her own struggles and upheavals in her life recently, Shay’s sister Hannah has her own cross to bear by having to reconcile her life as a competitive skier has come to an end. What I appreciated about this secondary story arc is how Hannah owns the truthfulness of being a competitive athlete – how you can’t predict your injuries nor the devastating effects of receiving them but you also, have to somehow find a way forward after the dreams you had for yourself are taken away. This is one of my favourite secondary story arcs within the novel as Hannah has a winning personality – she tries not to take life too seriously due to her recent experiences but at the same time, she wants to endeavour to sort out what her next chapter might entail moving forward.

My funnybone was tickled during one of the community bingo nights – mostly as it is a prime example of how Jonah is singularly focused and can’t get outside his own head to see what is in front of him! It is one of those comedic moments that was turnt into a life lesson for Jonah and how Ross played that sequence was brilliantly perfect! Secondly, it is how he starts to handle his grandfather’s lapsed cases as a visiting attorney which starts to breathe a note of strength into his personality as he is most comfortable when he’s dealing with the law. It is is happy place in life – he’s also quite a credible lawyer by all accounts and of course, that brings a few wrinkles of angst for him when a mysterious visitor in towne called ‘Adele’ starts calling on people including Jonah!

When it comes to segues and secondary focuses – the insertion of interest in koi fish and how the koi in this story are integral to Hannah’s journey was a key favourite of mine! I love exotic animals and pets, but koi have fascinated me for most of my life! I oft-times see them in aquariums at certain places of installation but most recently, I found them housed in the entry lobby of an Asian Fusion restaurant and I love taking the time to ‘speak to the koi’ and peer down into their watery world. Their markings differ a bit from one another and you can start to observe their individual personalities (similar to other fish as well) just by interacting with them. Having koi featured in this installment was a burst of joy as I oft wondered what it would be like to have koi in your life as they seem to have a calming influence on whomever engages with them.

There is so much to this story involving family – something I truly loved about it as it strove to discuss how even after a lifetime of questioning who you are – as one of the characters in the story-line never had a clear impression about whom they were – you can still find redemption in your life at an unexpected moment where the past and the present start to collide. I loved the sense of ‘forgiveness’ being multi-dimensional in the story as well – it wasn’t strictly a he said / she said situation where two people were in the midst of a fractured relationship; this is partially true, but it isn’t the whole truth.

Truly the layers Ms Ross instilled inside A Case for Forgiveness is what keeps you turning the pages! You truly fall for this series – you breathe in the angst their living through and exhale the moments where they find respite, relief and a chance towards a newer beginning. Their lives are lived well in these pages – everyone becomes knitted out to where you can truly appreciate their presences and their interconnections to the lead characters. It does make you stop and consider whose story is next in-line for the series – as there were a few glimpses of thought towards that revelation in my own mind as I was reading. I didn’t fully want to tip the scales and find out the bones of the next story as part of the joy of reading Seasons of Alaska is the slow-brewing pace of the series. Of reading one novel after the other and letting it all organically flow into my heart and mind.

In the end, I truly appreciated the time Ross took to knit together Shay’s heart and to heal her from the past she could not reconcile until now. There is so much going on with Shay in this story – it is her family who has the strongest roots in Rankins (the James’ family) but it is how their lives move through the towne and the community members which speaks to my love of not just this series but others like it. Their formidable people who have found a place to lay down roots, become industrious and find ways to return the graces they’ve been given to others they consider neighbours or extensions of their immediate family. And, that dear hearts is part of the heart of the series itself – of finding the authentic way in which to live your life which lifts your spirit with purpose and thanksgiving.

on the contemporary rom styling of carol ross:

I love how Ms Ross enters us into Emily and Mr James’ lives – she tucks us close to their everyday lives but she also presents them as if she has known them for quite a lot longer than they have been greeted on the pages of this novel! I love when Contemporary Romances feel like they’ve been round longer than the girth of their stories as it deepens our awareness of how an installment like this one could lengthen into a proper series. I had previously realised I loved how Ross begins a series for Harlequin Heartwarming in the forementioned #ReturnOfTheBlackwellBrothers – a limited series of five stories penned by different writers – of which I would love to see return for another five-book series! There seemed like more to be explored and explained within that world! This series – is kicking off equally as well – as Ross knows how to pull your attention into a series she’s writing – setting down the bones of the series but also, giving you captivating characters to feel compelled to follow alongside as the series shifts forward.

The fact she set this one in Alaska is wicked brilliant as I have a personal affection of interest in the state and I also like how she brought current events and environmental issues into the foreground of the story itself. Ross has a true gift for bridging you into the lives of persons who have a very dramatic life – they’re going through this epic life shift and sometimes, they are not even aware of how much change is about to enter into their lives until their living through it. I find this to be the most relatable aspect of her writing style as she knits in real world situations into her characters lives in such a way as to be not just believable but honestly compelling. You start to feel for her characters – the unresolved angst, the anguish of striving towards something they feel they need to prove and the overwhelming odds stacks against them – you take this incredible journey alongside her characters and along the way, your spirit soars with their triumphs and their heartaches.

I was hoping #SeasonsOfAlaska would be family centred as much as #ReturnOfTheBlackwellBrothers and I was not disappointed! Bering has such a close-knitted family – you can’t help but become caught inside his love for his nephews which are in-scene with both Emily and Bering whilst they babysat the boys together. It was lovely finding young boys not just articulate in a Contemporary Romance but also very matter-of-fact and interesting just like their composites would be IRL. The two were a bit opposite of the other – one was intellectual and the other was more game oriented but the blessing was how much admiration they had for their Uncle Bering. I loved finding this thread of familial connection inside the Seasons of Alaska series and I was definitely intrigued at how the series would progress forward – would it remain within Bering’s family or extend to other families in the towne?

As we made our return back into the series with A Case for Forgiveness – what I loved the most is how I felt whilst I was reading the story. When you read serial fiction, your looking for the moment where you feel as if time has stalled and where as soon as you re-direct yourself back inside an installment of the series you’re progressing through – it is as if nothing has happened before your return. I felt this rather immediately as soon as I was keeping in step with Shay, Jonah, Caleb (Jonah’s grandfather) and Hannah (Shay’s sister). Everyone is just as I had remembered them being – they didn’t change their personalities and the continuous line of entry into the evolving series felt organic and natural. I love series which reflect an awareness of their characters and setting – Ross has definitely maintained this scope of identity within Seasons of Alaska!

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I honestly cannot wait to continue reading #SeasonsOfAlaska! I am definitely an appreciator of Rankins, as a towne and as a community. The craftiness and cheekyness of Ross’s signature style is also present which I love as she truly knows how to move between touching your heart & giving you a hearty burst of laughter as you move through the lives of her characters.

This series is a heartwarming one which owns to the imprint it is published under – as these are characters whose lives felt real as you read them – they had everyday struggles which are relatable but it is more than that – they fought for what they believed in, leant on family & close friends or the ‘found’ families they curated into their lives and tried to live life with a positive attitude even if life took a few left turns and felt rather adverse.

It’s the kind of series you love dissolving inside as you know your in for a bit of heartache but a lot of cleverly spun healing & a chance for a second beginning.

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Which Harlequin Heartwarming series do you appreciate reading?

Do you have a preference? Western, Contemporary, Historical, Suspense, etc?

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This review tour is courtesy of: Prism Book Tours

Prism Book Tours

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it.
I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst
readers who gravitate towards the same stories to read.
Bookish conversations are always welcome!

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Reading this novel counted towards
my New Year Reading Challenges & Focuses:

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These reviews will be cross-posted to LibraryThing.

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{SOURCES: Seasons of Alaska series collage graphic, the author photo of Carol Ross and her biography; as well as the Prism Book Tours badge were all provided by Prism Book Tours and used with permission. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Beat the Backlist banner provided by novelknight.com and is being used with permission. Tweets embedded by codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: Book Review Banner using Unsplash.com (Creative Commons Zero) Photography by Frank McKenna; Seasons of Alaska series Books One & Two collage graphic (Book Photography Credit: Jorie of jorielovesastory.com), #LibraryLove Challenge banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2019.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Thursday, 28 March, 2019 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Contemporary Romance, Family Drama, Family Life, Indie Author, Inheritance & Identity, Life Shift, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Second Chance Love, Small Towne Fiction

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2 responses to “#Harlequin Heartwarming Series Book Review | “Mountains Apart” and “A Case for Forgiveness” (Book One & Two: Seasons of Alaska) by Carol Ross

    • You’re most welcome, Angela. I love talking about the stories I am connecting with in the hopes that something I talk about on my blog will inspire a reader to either a) re-discover a favourite author we share in common and/or b) see if they might meet a #newtomeauthor of their own! Thanks for stopping by and leaving me a kind note of gratitude.

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