Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Review: The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

Heidi Reads... The Road to Paradise by Karen Barnett

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


In 1927, Margie Lane, an avid naturalist, convinces her Senator father to procure her a position at the fledgling Mount Rainier National Park. Since Ranger Ford Brannon lost his father in a climbing accident, he doubts his ability to protect the park and its many visitors. He certainly doesn't relish the job of watching over an idealistic and privileged young woman with no practical survival skills.

When Margie's former fiance sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, Margie and Ford will have to work together to preserve the beauty and simplicity of this mountain hideaway, but the developer's plans might put more than just the park in danger.

My Review

The first thing that caught my attention about this book was its amazing cover. I collect the vintage-style postcards from national parks, sites, memorials, and cities that we visit on our road trips, and earlier this year I mounted them all on my living room wall :) Since I love national parks and I enjoy this author's writing I knew this would be a perfect book for me! The early 20th century setting in the Washington wilderness had a distinct feeling and I appreciated seeing the park and characters in that era. There are so many great details from the wildlife to the conditions the rangers lived in, but they all were woven in naturally to the story, so I didn't feel like the plot was bogged down but kept a steady pace. Margie and Ford start out with a stark contrast between their views of the wilderness. Margie is an idealistic naturalist who loves the poetry written of nature and acquiring knowledge of the flora and fauna through reading books since she doesn't have any experience in the great outdoors. Ford, on the other hand, was raised in the mountains with his ranger father and understands the harsh realities of the terrain, the wildlife, and the weather. Over time Margie and Ford become acclimated to each other and learn the value of the other's perspective. While Ford strikes a healthy balance between practical knowledge and a new appreciation for the small wonders and great majesty of God's creations, Margie goes to the opposite extreme and discounts all her book learning as worthless when it comes to survival, which kind of bothered me. But her personality tends to see things in black and white so I guess that made sense. The villain popped up periodically to aggravate Margie and Ford and I was frustrated that they weren't productive in thwarting his plans and seeing a way around his slick strategies. My favorite part of the book is the sense of adventure in an untamed wilderness and how people have a responsibility to respect and preserve it while enjoying the challenge of discovery. And the romance, of course ;)

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

About the Author

Karen Barnett is an award winning author of four novels who draws on her firsthand experience as a naturalist, former park ranger, and outdoor educator to transport readers to America’s national parks. She lives in Oregon with her husband and two children.

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