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 “If Not for a Bee” and “A Family Like Hannah’s” 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”.
What I have been enjoying about reading the #SeasonsOfAlaska series:
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!
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.
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?
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!
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)
Places to find the book:
Published by Harlequin Heartwarming
on 1st October, 2015
Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin
Converse via: #Contemporary #Romance & #Harlequin
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: