July Reading Challenge Discussion

July’s Reading Challenge was to read a book set in Alaska or Canada.

The first book I selected is The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker which is set in a remote Alaskan town. I was initially not sure if I’d like the novel because of the main character, but thankfully my first impression was wrong!

Twenty-six year old Calla Fletcher might have been born in Alaska, but since she left before age two, she is a city girl through and through. Following her parents’ short marriage, her mom, Susan, returned to Toronto where she remarried psychiatrist Simon Barlow. Calla remained in touch with her bush pilot and charter plane company owner father, Wren, until she was fourteen. But when her father’s friend, Agnes, calls to let her know Wren has cancer, Calla decides to return to Alaska to see if she can salvage their fractured relationship.

Since Calla goes into her trip without any research, she is ill-prepared for life in the Alaskan bush. Jonah, one of her father’s pilots, picks her up at the airport and well, he does not do ANYTHING to make her comfortable. As a matter of fact, Calla is convinced he is going out of his way to make her as miserable as possible especially when he never cuts her any slack after they arrive in Bangor. And well, Calla deserves part of the blame since she does not make any effort to assimilate to bush life. She is spoiled and pampered and she is rather disdainful of the townspeople. I have to admit I really disliked her for about half the novel because of her terrible attitude and high maintenance lifestyle.

Jonah is gruff and impatient but there is a heart of gold underneath his bush man look. He is comfortable in his skin and while he considers Wren family, he does have regrets about his own unresolved relationship with his father. While he has plenty of empathy for her situation with Wren, he has zero patience for Calla’s prissy lifestyle and well, he is unfailingly honest about his opinions.

Calla and Jonah continually clash but underlying their mutual animosity is a growing attraction. Their banter is funny and there is plenty of tension every time they are together. As Calla becomes more accustomed to life in the bush, she is less prickly and they actually begin to get along. But their truces are uneasy since it does not take much to put them at odds.

As Calla’s departure date draws near, she is making progress with her relationship with Wren. However, she is conflicted about whether or not she should extend her stay. Jonah offers helpful advice and as they grow closer, she is unsure if she should invest her energy in a romance that has a definite shelf life. Her parents’ doomed marriage is always at the back of her mind and plays a huge role in her decision making progress.

The Simple Wild is a very charming novel that is fast-paced and engaging. Calla is an irritating character in the beginning, but she grows and evolves throughout her stay. Jonah is bit annoying as well, but because I lived in Alaska, I understood why both he and Wren felt such an affinity for their life there. K.A. Tucker brings the setting vibrantly to life and she perfectly captures why so many people love living in Alaska. But she also does a fantastic job underscoring the harsh living conditions that a lot of people just cannot endure. I loved the pitch perfect ending and I thought all of the storylines were realistically wrapped up. All in all, a wonderful novel that I am SOOO glad I read!

Please click HERE to learn more about The Simple Wild.

The next book I selected to read for this month’s reading challenge is Arctic Sun by Annabeth Albert.  And well, while I liked it, I didn’t love it.

Gruff, grumpy and not a fan of people, Griffin Barrett very reluctantly agrees to guide an upcoming photography tour.  Griffin is a recovering alcoholic who relies on his routine and the isolation of his family’s home and business to maintain his sobriety. He realizes he is not putting in as much effort to the family business as everyone else so maybe taking over this tour will be just what Griffin needs to take on more responsibilities.

Former supermodel turned author River Vale is on the photography tour. After undergoing treatment for a serious eating disorder, River turned to travel to find some much needed peace. Now working on his second travel novel, he is looking forward to exploring Alaska.  But he a little distracted by his attraction to Griffin. Will River convince Griffin to break his rule about mixing business with pleasure?

Right from the start, Griffin misjudges River but he quickly realizes his mistake. River proves more than capable to keeping up with the tour but Griffin is annoyed by River’s flirty behavior.  He is drawn to River, but he is not willing to do anything that might risk his sobriety.  A very convenient reservation mix-up sets the stage for River to seduce Griffin but can their vacation fling turn into a real relationship once they are back in the regular lives?

I absolutely loved Griffin. While I had a basic understanding of his downward spiral, I would have liked more backstory about the preceding incidents. I found River to be irritating but I gradually warmed up to him.  Like Griffin, his past is a bit glossed over, so again, more details about his eating disorder would have helped me understand him better. River comes across as a bit superficial but by the end of the novel, he has more depth as he makes some much needed changes in his life.

Arctic Sun is a sexy romance that is very slow paced. The most engaging and fascinating part of the story takes place during the photography tour. Annabeth Albert’s descriptive prose brings Alaska vibrantly to life.  The romance between Griffin and River is overshadowed by their respective baggage.  But their desire to turn a vacation fling into something real and lasting proves to be a powerful motivator for them to finally deal with their problems.  The ending is very sweet and I am looking forward to reading the next installment in the Frozen Hearts series.

Please click HERE to learn more about Arctic Sun.

Did you enjoy the book you selected for this month’s challenge?


Check out August’s challenge HERE.

1 Comment

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One Response to July Reading Challenge Discussion

  1. Suze

    i read Whisky Christmas, Sawyer’s Ferry 2.5 by Cate Ashwood, set in Alaska.
    A quick read as this is a .5 book, with the Alaskan scene setting already done in other books. Learned about funfetti cakes, how did i not know about those!!!
    This gives a quick glimpse of Holden and Gage’s life now in SF and is mostly about Holden’s attempts to plan a surprise party, which he does, but an emergency at the hospital means they don’t get to it – but have their own party later!!!
    Enjoyed this quick read