“”Helped me?” he repeats.
“Yes. Maybe now you have a shot at getting laid. As long as you don’t speak.”
The wicked smile he flashes makes my throat go dry. “Do you think I have problems in that department, Calla?”“
Ok, now THIS is how you write a romance novel. I can’t believe I loved this so much! I adored everything about this story. I’d say my rating is more like a 4.75, but for the sake of not getting mega technical, I am rounding it up to 5 stars 😊.
This was so gooooooooooddddd!!! I read this book in a single day because I was literally obsessed with finding out what was going to happen. And I needed to reach the payoff for all of that delicious tension, because oh my god 🥵.
My absolute favorite thing about this book is how it was so much more than a simple love story. It went way beyond just a romance and had a depth to it, a substance, that I was not expecting. I went in thinking it was just going to be a light, fluffy, steamy romance (like the Christina Lauren books I have read recently), but I got so much more. I guess for me, that is what I need from my romances, a little bit more grit and life to them, to make me truly fall in love with them. Not to say the fluffy ones aren’t also good; they just don’t make me connect to the story as much.
This book is about 26-year-old Calla who lives with her mom and stepdad in Toronto (Which, sidebar, I loved??? I really enjoyed how normalized it was that Calla still lived with her parents at that age, because it is still very common and the stigma that people need to be moved out by a certain time is not always accurate.). Her mother left her father, and his home in rural Alaska, when Calla was two and she has never met him. Their relationship is very strained, to say the least, but when she gets word that her father has lung cancer, she decides to fly to Alaska to finally meet him and confront their issues.
I am a sucker for a good father/daughter relationship and this book had me feeling all of the things: happy, warm, tense, sad. It was such a wonderfully written journey between them. Calla had a great relationship with her stepdad, too, which was refreshing. I really enjoyed watching her and her dad come to know and love each other. And come to terms with their regrets over the course of the book. The ending was heartbreaking, but also had a comforting sense of rightness.
All of the side characters were fantastic! Tucker does an amazing job at writing them all (and there were a lot) effortlessly. Not one of them seemed like a gimmick or a token character and they were all very developed. I enjoyed the look into the Native Alaskan culture that we got to see through them, as well. It was great seeing the lives and struggles of all of the characters here, not just the main character of Calla and her love interest. Again, putting this book way above the other romances I have read. Such substance!
Speaking of the love interest, I thought Jonah was great. He has worked for her father for 10 years now and knows him way better than Calla ever will, probably. He is very hard on her from the get-go, judging her harshly as she does him, and their interactions and banter gave me life. I loved their exchanges! Tucker really doesn’t hold back and some things Jonah said at first were very rude, blunt, sexist, abrasive, and harsh. He grows throughout the book, just as Calla does, as they come to understand one another and themselves a bit more. I thought it was all very believable. Some things were a little out there, the hiding her luggage and her shaving his beard primarily, but WAY more believable than most situations in romance books! And yeah, if a guy stole my luggage and makeup and kept making cracks about how I only look good bare-faced, I might be annoyed, but this was a book and it was funny and I was totally here for it. He became such a supportive and caring character, I really liked him (the whole kind of dominant thing didn’t hurt either 👀).
You know what else made this a top tier romance, in my opinion?? SLOW BURN. Thank GOD this was a slow burn romance. It was tortuously slow and I was so happy!! Not only was the drawn out sexual tension brilliant, but it made their journey to each other so much more believable. It felt so raw and real. I can’t stand when a romance has the characters get together like a third of the way into the book. First of all, the romance always feels flat after that, but it is way too fast normally. This one, though – perfection. And when it finally did happen?? Holy shit. Steamy as all hell! Tucker knows how to write a great sex scene. Hot, not cringey, realistic. 🙌
Honestly, her writing in general was just so good. There was a depth to it, as I’ve mentioned. The setting was very atmospheric and had a wonderful energy throughout the book. Her banter was crazy good and very funny! It sounded so true to how people would actually speak to each other, which is probably what stood out to me the most. It takes me out of a story if the dialogue sounds like wooden lines that an author wrote and orchestrated. Here, it sounded so natural. She has a way of writing simply, too, that transcends her face-value meaning and ends up telling a much bigger story. I loved it.
One of the themes that Tucker wrote about that touched me the most was how differently people love. There were so many examples of love here and I was struck by how they all seemed so different, in varying degrees, but that did not make them any less real. Calla’s parent’s situation broke my heart, as well as her stepdad’s, who was kind of like collateral damage in the whole thing. A similarly with Agnes’ story. It was such a beautiful exploration of love — old, separated, one-sided, unrequited, new, all-consuming — all kinds of love and I greatly enjoyed how she wrote that.
Needless to say, I absolutely adored this book. It was everything I wanted from the story and more. That gorgeous cover is an added bonus too (I have alwaysss been drawn to that cover)! The ending did make me a little bit hesitant, because, while I wanted Calla and Jonah to be together, I also didn’t want her to just give up her life in the city for him. I am glad there is a sequel, because I think that ending needs to be expanded upon and explored even further. I know there will be consequences to their choice, so I am also a little apprehensive to read book two. But I will soon! I NEED to know.
Thank you for reading!