Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 19, 2021
Genres: Contemporary, Small Town
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A grouchy mountaineer, a Hollywood starletAnd miles of untamed wilderness...What could possibly go wrong?
Former Hollywood darling River Lane's acting career is tanking fast. Determined to start fresh behind the camera, she agrees to film a documentary about the picturesque small town of Moose Springs, Alaska. The assignment should have been easy, but the quirky locals want nothing to do with River. Well, too bad: River's going to make this film and prove herself, no matter what it takes.
Or what (literal) mountain she has to climb.
Easton Lockett may be a gentle giant, but he knows a thing or two about survival. If he can keep everyone in line, he should be able to get River and her crew up and down Mount Veil in one piece. Turns out that's a big if. The wildlife's wilder than usual, the camera crew's determined to wander off a cliff, and the gorgeous actress is fearless. Falling for River only makes Easton's job tougher, but there's only so long he can hold out against her brilliant smile. When bad weather strikes, putting everyone at risk, it'll take all of Easton's skill to get them back home safely...and convince River she should stay in his arms for good.
Easton and River are freakin’ adorable!
You have to appreciate a book that will take you somewhere and describes it so vividly that you go, “Nope. I’m never gonna do that.” Enjoy the View combines three things I hate heights, camping and hiking, mixes it with a great cast and gives us a really enjoyable story. And I am not kidding about the vividly, as River describes the views from the mountain and made me feel like I do on the fourth floor of the mall when I get too close to the railing. I do NOT like heights.
River Lane is a slightly successful actress turning 30, which puts her at the end of her career as a leading lady. River has decided that directing and production is where she wants her career to go next. But Hollywood doesn’t have that many women directors and she needs something to help her get a break behind the camera. She and her crew have come to Moose Spring, Alaska to make a promotional spot for the Alaska Board of Tourism. Well, we know how much Moose Springs loves their tourists and River can’t even find the Mayor to get her permits to film within the Town limits.
It is just Easton Lockett’s bad luck to be the next person to ask River if she needs help as she walks along the road outside of town, unknowingly ruining River’s filming and she lets out all her frustration with Moose Springs on him. Or maybe I should say it’s Easton’s good luck, since meeting River will be the best thing that ever happened to the big, quiet mountain man. Knowing the town as he does, Easton knows that Moose Springs will do whatever they can to stop someone from promoting the town and bringing in more of those hated tourists.
But when they come up with the idea to film a climb to the summit of Mt Veil, it is River’s good luck to get the best man of the mountain as their guide, one Easton Lockett. Easton and River share a love for rock climbing and the outdoors and their feelings grow as try try to reach the summit but Mt. Veil is still a dangerous climb even during the Alaskan summer. It might be warm and sunny down in Moose Springs, but up on the Old Man you still need to worry about frostbite, avalanches or simply falling into crevices in the ice. River and her crew think the risks are worth the payoff if they can film a documentary to sell to the tourism board. But the closer they get to the summit, the more the dangers become real and River has to decide if her future as a director is worth the lives that could be lost on the mountain.
Author Sarah Morganthaler uses great characters to give us a fun story which has a real underlying sense of danger. You hear stories of how people die on Mt. Everest every year (which is Easton’s dream climb) but along the climb up Mt. Veil Easton gives us an outline of the true dangers which River and her crew face while climbing even a smaller mountain like our fictional Mt. Veil. It is pretty daunting and while River and her crew are experienced rock climbers, they are so busy filming the scenes around them, they don’t always appreciate the real danger they are climbing onto.
I liked Easton and his twin sister, Ash, from the first story and this story certainly cemented my appreciation for the large, quiet mountain man, and I am not the only one since a marmot starts following them up the mountain trying to snuggle up to Easton. I hope the next story features prickly sister, Ash.
Technically, he was showing her the barn, but River was three steps ahead of him, her hands finding the side door and tugging. Her enthusiasm would have been endearing if he didn’t think they were a few precious moments from her calling the cops on him.
“Why do you keep the door locked?” River tried to peer in the cobweb-covered window. “Are there people in there? Animals? People-animals?“
This was already a bad idea. “I have cousins with small children,” Easton told her. “I don’t want anyone getting hurt.”
She watched with eagerness as he unlocked the door and twisted the handle. The stupid thing always got stuck. “You’re totally going to take me captive, aren’t you?”
Did she have to sound so happy about the prospect?
“Remember, this was your idea, not mine,” Easton said. “I was fine drinking coffee at the kitchen table.” Setting his shoulder to the door, he gave enough of a shove to force the creaky thing open.
When she started to step inside, Easton grabbed for her hand. “Hold on. Let me find a light. It’s dangerous in here.”
“How dangerous? I’ll accidentally step in the pit you’ve dug to keep innocent, naïve film crews in type of dangerous?”
“Sue me and take my business and all my family’s property type of dangerous.”
“You’re not supporting the narrative I built up in my head about this, Easton. You’re being a party pooper.”
Wiping the cobwebs off his other hand, he found the light switch. “Yeah. That’s what people keep saying.”
The small wooden barn was flooded with light, albeit the muted light of bulbs covered in dust. There were very legitimate reasons why this barn had terrified him as a child.
River turned a circle, staring up at the ceiling and walls, where every farming utensil known to modern man was either hung or suspended. A table in the corner, stained with years of cleaning game, was particularly horrific to behold. Chains hung from beams for reasons still unknown to his adult mind.
And the scythe collection. Who kept a scythe collection?
“This. Is. Insane.” River’s eyes looked about to pop out of her head, they were so wide. “No, really, Easton. Your great-uncle was a nut job. Is that a headless mannequin?”
“There are more in the next room. Want to see?”
Of course she wanted to see. There wasn’t one or two. The barn was full of so many headless mannequins.
“What did he do with the heads?” River asked. “Do you think he kept them?”
“I always assumed they came without the heads.”
“No way. Not with that many scythes.”
Scratching the back of his neck, Easton fled obliged to defend his kin. “He was a nice man. Always helped out around the community.”
“As a cover for his evening exploits?” A gasp of utter delight came from her mouth. “This is so macabre. Let me film this. Please, pretty please, I have to film this.”
“No way. Okay, you’ve had your peek.” He started to gently herd her back into the main part of the barn and toward the door, but River ducked beneath his arm, sneaking past him.
“No, Easton, it’s so awful, no one would ever believe me if I don’t have proof.” Grabbing a chain hanging from the rafters, she wiggled it. “You have to let me film this. You could sell tickets to this place. Is that blood?”
“It’s probably rust.”
“But you don’t know.”
Extracting her from the barn was going to require more effort. “I have ice cream in the house.” Sweets always lured people, didn’t they?
“I don’t eat sugar late at night.”
Except for her. Easton grabbed the chain above her hand, giving it a test tug, since she seemed determined to hang off it.
“Who doesn’t eat sugar at night?” he asked.
“People who are supposed to be a size zero for the camera but are stuck at normal human being sizes.”
Smiling down at the stunning redhead, Easton decided he liked her just as she was. “It’s a tough life being famous.”
“It had its perks.”
“Had?” Standing so near hadn’t been the plan, especially since he couldn’t take his eyes off her.
“Some of the perks are still currently being appreciated.” When River’s gaze lingered at his bicep, Easton wondered if maybe this steadily growing attraction wasn’t all one-sided.
He really hoped it wasn’t.
“I prefer a life of constant motion,” River added. “Work has become stagnant of late, so I’m carving my own path, making the most of the opportunities out there.”
“I keep noticing.” Watching her lick her lower lip was killing him. His voice lowered. “You’re hard to miss.”
“Be careful, Easton,” River warned him. “Keep going both shoulders on me, and I might like it.”
Easton wasn’t sure who had closed the distance between them, him or her. Either way, neither was backing down. The only thing stranger than standing in this barn was standing in it smelling the shampoo from her still-wet hair, wondering what it might be like to wrap his arm around her, to drawn her in close and see if this was more than the some good-natured teasing.
Suddenly, she giggled. “You are not flirting with me surrounded by what is definitely not rust.”
“You started it.”
Winking, River said, “I’ll kiss you right now if you admit your great-uncle chopped the mannequin heads off with the scythes.”
Again, Easton’s bone-deep loyalty reared its ugly head, when the other options seemed much more enticing. “I think the mannequin heads were used as part of a health class thing for the local high school. Some body part identification project.”
“That is so, so disappointing.”
Sighing, River leaned to heavily on her definitely-not-rust chain. Years of neglect and a loose bolt resulted in the entire thing giving way. She shrieked as the chain fell over her shoulders and feet with an excessive amount of clanging, dust and cobwebs and a few spiders along with it.”
“It’s in my mouth. The blood dust is in my mouth,” River wailed as she spat and flailed at her face, not that her actions were doing much to save herself. “I’m eating someone. I’ve been in the mountains of Alaska for less than a week, and I’m already eating someone.”
Picking a few spiderwebs out of her hair for her, Easton watched as she dusted herself off. “I told you it’s not safe in here. But no. You had to come see.”
“The allure was too great.” Her sigh was one of deep contentment, even as he kicked the chain aside and started herding her back toward the door.
River walked backwards on her toes, still trying to per over his shoulder. “The jars. I didn’t even see what’s in all the glass jars.”
“Trust me, you don’t want to know.” Easton and Graham had learned that particular lesson a long time ago. When the door was safely shut behind them, River fell back against the wood siding of the barn, dissolving into giggles.
“I ate person dust.”
“It really is rust.” Probably. He hoped.
Clearly, she wasn’t buying into his far less interesting narrative. “I’ll get a DNA test when we come back. Easton, that was the best thing I’ve even seen. You’re cruel for not letting me film it, but it was awesome.”
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