Thanks to Partner NetGalley and Gallery Books for the digital ARC of Sarah Morgenthaler’s Enjoy the View in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published on Tuesday, January 19.
Sarah Morgenthaler’s Moose Springs, Alaska series has been one of the joyful reads of 2020 for me. Beginning with The Tourist Attraction and continuing with Mistletoe and Mr. Right, Morgenthaler has built a world centered on authentic friendship, gentle humor, and adorable animals. In books one and two, the central relationships reveal characters’ complexities and quirks, and the love happens *because* the characters understand each other, even when they don’t agree.
Book three, Enjoy the View, is a gorgeous cap on the trilogy. Easton Lockett, a well-established character from the previous books, is a gentle giant, a skilled mountain man, and a faithful friend. He and his twin sister Ash are anchors for the friend group who populates the earlier stories. In this novel, his meet cute with River Lane, a 30-year-old movie actress-turned-director, happens when he insists on helping the lone woman walking by the side of the road with her suitcase. When he discovers that he ruined the film shoot for her documentary about Moose Springs, he’s drafted into preventing other helpful Moose Springs citizens from interrupting her stroll by the side of the road . . . and then, eventually, into guiding her and her film crew in climbing Mount Veil, the daunting Old Man that looms over Moose Springs.
River is independent, dedicated to rehabilitating her career, and obsessed with climbing. As she and Easton journey up the mountain, they come to understand each other and to find a mutual affinity for climbing, risk taking, and nature. But can they, at their cores, find common ground when Easton is so firmly attached to his home and River is determined to find success in Hollywood?
As in the previous books, I love the conflict—never fully resolved—about just how good tourism might be for the small town of Moose Springs. The exploration of its pros and cons is thoughtful and avoids easy answers. I also appreciated Morgenthaler’s vivid descriptions of mountain climbing, both the perils and the triumphs, and of Easton and River’s growing feelings for each other.
Enjoy the View would work as a stand alone, but I would highly recommend beginning with book one and doing a deep dive into the isolated world of Moose Springs.
Thanks to Partner NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for the digital ARC of Sophie Sullivan’s Ten Rules for Faking It in exchange for an honest review. I’m also thrilled to have read this in the first official buddy read for @lovearctually (on IG)! The book will be published on Tuesday, December 29.
Sophie Sullivan’s Ten Rules for Faking It is an excellent contemporary romance with a great, complex protagonist. Everly Dean has a history of bad birthdays dating back to her childhood, but THIS birthday (her 30th) is the worst yet. First, she finds her boyfriend cheating on her, and then when her best friend Stacey, a radio host, tries to give Everly an on-the-air birthday surprise, she accidentally broadcasts Everly’s outburst about the horror and humiliation of this birthday.
Everly, the producer of Stacey’s show, just wants to forget about the whole thing. She’s an introvert who hates surprises, hates being the center of attention, doesn’t love strangers, and craves rules and order to help manage her anxiety. So she’s surprised to agree to a clever idea from the owner of the radio station, Chris Jansen. He proposes that they should capitalize on the attention and sympathy Everly’s embarrassment has garnered and launch a dating show to find love for Everly.
Here’s what I loved about this book: Sullivan does a great job portraying Everly’s anxiety and introversion. As someone who shares those traits, I appreciated the way that she showed Everly working through her feelings and seeking solutions to the problems they sometimes cause. But Sullivan doesn’t imply that Everly needs to do a complete turnaround or change herself: instead, it’s more of a gradual willingness to try new things.
Everly and Stacey’s friendship is fabulous. Stacey is an extrovert, and watching the push and pull of their relationship is a lot of fun. They also love Veronica Mars (a win for me!), support each other both in and out of work, and push each other to be just a little bit better, a little bit braver. Oh, and they do that with a list of rules that Everly creates for herself . . . and I do love a checklist.
Everly’s parents are a big part of her backstory, and Sullivan beautifully addresses both the ways that they support and love Everly AND the way they’ve contributed to her anxiety.
I also appreciated Chris, who is sensitive to Everly’s anxiety. While he encourages her to do the dating show, he also supports her as she works her way through the experience, making small changes to each date that will make her more comfortable. He pays attention to her (another win for me!). He’s sweet and sexy and has his own issues and backstory to deal with. (The novel’s perspective alternates between Everly and Chris.)
There are a couple of secrets that run through the book that cause some conflict at the end, and that’s not my favorite trope. Others in the @lovearctually chat were, however, just fine with it, so I think that’s a me thing.
I really enjoyed the added nuance of Sullivan’s writing—the complexities she gave the characters made Ten Rules for Faking It a joy to read and discuss.
I'm Jen Moyers, co-host of the Unabridged Podcast and an English teacher.