Firstly, the setting. Oh the setting! Are you a fan of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies? If so, there you go. Read no further in this review and just go order the book and devour it once it arrives. That's it. Trust me.
Because it takes place in New Zealand and we get to travel with our fellow enthusiasts on a Tolkien tour. And let me just say that there are some real enthusiastic fans traveling along! (A little too obsessive perhaps? But then again, it is a tour created for just those sorts, isn't it?) I enjoyed getting pictures in my mind of each place and Ms. Isaac swept me into the majesticness and awe-inspiring views of the countryside. As someone who'll likely never visit such a place, I really enjoyed getting to experience it vicariously. All the literary Tolkien references made me grin, only I'm positive I missed half of them (having only read the books for the first time last year).
But it's Jackson and Allie who grabbed my heartstrings and kept me turning pages. Their antagonistic attraction is simply too hilarious and adorable! I wanted so badly to bash their heads together in exasperation one minute, and then swooned over them the next. Simultaneously sweet and annoying, Jackson kind of had to grow on me, like he did for Allie. But she, on the other hand, I loved her immediately! And wished I could reach through the pages and made everything all better for her. Neither character is perfect, both have made poor choices in their pasts and now have the scars and consequences with which to live.
That's where the meat of the story came in, the hard things they had to handle. They weren't quick and easy fixes. For all the cuteness between them, there's quite a bit of growing both need to do. Yet they challenge each other! Sometimes unknowingly and sometimes quite on purpose. Their individual trajectories were every bit as compelling as the romance developing. I got hooked into each of their plights and quickly turned the pages hoping good things were on the horizon. Of course, good things do come! But not without some heartbreak and difficult choices.
Allie and Jackson felt real to me. Their doubts and fears were understandable and I could no more figure out what they should do than they could for themselves. On the other hand, there were definite moments where I clearly knew where I wanted them to go and when they refused, I had to sigh in frustration. Don't you love it when a story brings out your emotions? The feels arrived with pomp and circumstance and I happily relished every bit of it!
This is, simply put, a wonderful adventure. And I look forward to reading more stories from this author in the future! If you're a fan of romcoms with adorable leads, this one is definitely to be added to your library. :)
**I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
"I was walking back to the house and I slipped down a bank and I'm in some mud and I can't get out."
Things were starting to connect, but not fast enough to beat his mouth, which decided to bypass his brain. "Sorry. Who is this again? Are you sure you've got the right n-"
An icy tone he was intimately acquainted with rang down the line. "Ha ha. Don't worry about it. I knew calling you was a bad idea. I'll find someone-"
"No, wait!" Finally, it all clicked together in a blaze of light and a choir of angels singing. "Where are you?"
"In the paddock behind the house. I can see the main barn from where I am."
"And you're stuck in mud?"
"That's what I said, Einstein."
A smile slid across his face. he was probably never going to get this opportunity ever again. "Okay. I'll come, but first I need you to say it."
"Jackson, please come and rescue me."
"You cannot be serious."
"Fine. Jackson, please come and rescue me." The sarcasm in her voice was so thick you could have eaten it with a spoon.