Series: Northern Rescue, #1
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Amazon Publishing on February 23rd 2021
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Brielle Ives prefers dogs to people, and who could blame her? Her sled dogs are loyal to a fault, trust her implicitly, and couldn’t care less about the scars that mar her face. The only human who’s never disappointed her is her mentor, Dr. William Hunter. When his plane goes missing in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Bree will do anything to find him . . . even if it means turning to a frustrating, irresponsible, and too-sexy-for-his-own-good California boy for help.
When Ellis Hunter enlisted in the Army at eighteen, he put Alaska—and his womanizing drunk of a father—in his rearview mirror. He promised himself he’d never return, but even he can’t resist Bree’s panicked plea for help. If she’s hell-bent on trekking into the bush to find his father, then he's determined to go with her. But Ellis isn’t the only one shadowing Bree’s rescue attempt…
When the search for answers leaves Ellis and Bree trapped together in the wilds of Alaska, they’ll have to put aside their differences—and an attraction hot enough to melt glaciers—to survive the elements. Because someone dangerous lurks in that icy wilderness—a killer desperate to keep Dr. William Hunter's secrets buried deep in the snow.
If the Alaskan wilderness and the legendary Iditarod race and the idea of sledding across the miles of untouched land are long-standing points of fascination, then Tonya Burrows’s ‘Northern Rescue’—built around the reluctant reunion of three estranged brothers who have a long time ago, left each other to fend for themselves now back in search for their missing father—would be the book to pick up.
At the centre of the mystery is Brielle Ives, who doggedly (pun intended) pursues every line of inquiry she can in her search for Will Hunter, but gets saddled with his son instead—newly returned from California and proves more of a hindrance than a help.
As an establishing novel, it isn’t surprising to have many questions left unanswered by the end of it, but there’s still so much to enjoy about the atmospheric setting and the world of sledding. Burrows writes lovingly about the dogs famed for their endurance, endowing them with the distinct personalities that made Brie’s every interaction with her huskies a joy to read about.
From the romance-perspective however, ‘Northern Rescue’ is just one of those books where I find my sympathies skewing towards one protagonist more than the other. I found myself intrigued by (then later, cheering for) Brie, whose issues in the form of her illness and choice of profession more relatable than Ellis. Her determination, capability and strength made her the alpha woman for me and I was in fact, admiringly happy to see a female protagonist taking so much of the lead in her push to get to heart of Will Hunter’s disappearance, so at home in the inhospitable environment of the Alaskan wilds as Ellis floundered time and again.
On the contrary, Ellis made a poor first impression—screwing around in L.A. with married women?!—with his deliberate choice to lead an irresponsible, shallow, womanising lifestyle because of deep-seated his daddy issues. While I also do understand that ‘Northern Rescue’ is one that charts his personal growth, his sudden change of heart and seemingly-quick instant-love with Brie didn’t really convince me about the ‘worthiness’ of his character so to speak, as a romantic hero. Then again, there are some character flaws that are more palatable to some readers more than others; Ellis just wasn’t likeable to start with as he crossed some of my personal hard limits and pretty much stayed unconvincing and not quite redeemed throughout the whole book.
Burrows does however, drop enough loose threads to keep me wanting more, setting up the second book with some tantalising hooks that you’ll want to willingly bite into.