I can’t say that I’ve been a huge fan of this series since the beginning, but I’ve enjoyed the Alaskan setting enough to want to continue. And I’m glad I did because I found this book to be much better than previous installments.
The writing in this book took me a while to get into and I was a bit bored initially. But once the winter season started in the story, it was interesting to get to know more about how the volunteers work along with rangers, what are their responsibilities and what kind of incidents should they be equipped to deal with. There was always this sense of danger, especially related to avalanches which felt real and visceral and gave me a real appreciation for the work all of them do to keep the tourists safe. On the flip side, this book doesn’t showcase the beauty of the Alaskan backcountry but concentrates on the issues travelers might face – but I didn’t mind this shift. I had enough of the picturesque locales in two books and it was nice to see the other side too. The last third of the book was also quite emotional and I ended up crying a lot (it could have just been my mood too though). It’s probably one reason I liked this book more despite not connecting with the characters a lot.
Quill wasn’t an easy person to like. Not that he is bad, but he has so many internalized issues about relationships and being out as gay that sometimes I wanted to give him a hug, but other times I wanted to give him a good shake. But he was great at his job and I really liked that he didn’t shy away from talking about all the dangers, even if his audience didn’t appreciate it. Owen on the other hand is a cancer survivor, who now has a bucket list and wants to get through it all because he doesn’t want to waste any time. He is also a very social, talkative and extroverted person which makes him an exact opposite of Quill. And I totally understood his wish that Quill be more open, but I don’t think he completely empathized with Quill’s hangups. They are so different from each other that I couldn’t understand why they liked each other in the first place, but there was a lot of friendship and relationship development which I enjoyed. It felt very domestic and adorable and I liked those quieter moments. However, there was also a lot of back and forth, especially on Quill’s part and while I could feel where he was coming from, it got frustrating after a while. When the conflict happened, it seemed inevitable but I was also so upset that I kept sobbing for quite some time. However, the ending felt a little rushed but also earned and very very sweet.
Overall, this was an enjoyable read despite some of the issues I had with the characters. I loved following the rangers and getting to know their daily life, and that’s one main reason this is probably my favorite of this trilogy. This book also has the hurt/comfort trope – so if you enjoy these themes or the setting of Alaska, you should definitely check out this book. Even if you have been disappointed by the previous books in this series, I have a feeling you might enjoy this better just like I did.
PS: Thank you to Carina Press and Netgalley for providing me with this advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.