Saturday, April 8, 2017

Jill Sorenson - Backwoods

When plans for a wilderness retreat with her teenage daughter Brooke go awry, Abby Hammond reluctantly pairs up with Brooke's stepbrother and his dad, Nathan Strom, for the weeklong trek. The only thing Abby has in common with the bad-boy former pro athlete is that their exes cheated with each other. That…and a visceral attraction that's growing more complicated with every step through the picturesque woods.
Nathan's wild-card reputation lost him his career and his family. After years of regret, he's ready to fight for what truly matters—and that includes Abby's hard-won trust. When Brooke goes missing, Nathan knows he's her best and only hope of rescue. But the deeper into the rugged mountains they go, the more dangerous the territory will prove—for their safety and for their hearts.

Comment: This is the fourth and final installment in the Aftershock series by author Jill Sorenson, featuring situations after a major earthquake in the first book. The following books are centered about characters related to that first story and, in this final book's case, a difficult situation where some characters mention the earthquake, which means this is probably the most "separate" story of them all.

We meet Abby Hammond in this book, she's going with her teenage daughter to a wilderness retreat but she's not really looking for it, not only because she isn't fond of wilderness but mainly because her ex and his new wife will be there as well. Things ended awkwardly between them after Abby caught her husband cheating but she will endure this for her daughter.
Surprisingly - or not - the couple doesn't show up, but Nathan Strom is there instead, trying to mend things with his son. This can be a tricky situation, Nathan and Abby meet and they know they have in common the fact their exes are now married. Although personal issues aside, the wilderness also provides a dire situation for the group, which also includes Leo, Nathan's son. Will the four of them survive the wilderness?

I was looking for to read this story by the premise: two strangers meet at a retreat and they know they were both cheated by their former spouses who are now married to each other. At the same time, one of them wanted to reassure a daughter, the other wanted to get closer again to his son. More than the suspense part which I knew would eventually happen, it was this weird family dynamic that interested me the most.
Many readers like this author's work because of how complex some family situations are and, indeed, I agree, this is the best part and I always roo for them to find a common ground in order to find peace somehow.

The plot is interesting to follow but I confess it wasn't as captivating as the one from book #1. The adventure felt like was there mostly to match the suspense label this book belongs to but I think simply the emotional baggage portrayed here would have been enough to complete the book on its own.

I liked how the teenagers, Brooke and Leo were great friends, a status that developed because of their parents' marriage but their relationship is a bit more complicated than that. they are attracted to one another but Leo especially knows Brooke is his best friend and is afraid of ruining that. His take in life isn't as confident as hers and he doesn't want to lose something special. I really liked how realistic their relationship felt like and even better was how nothing between them was perceived as a HEA...they are too young and not mature enough to settle now.

As for the main couple, Abby and Nathan, I thought their connection was believable, the doubts they had and the steps they took seemed to be realistic enough, even more when considering the problems they had because of the negative aspect of adventure they all went through. I still think they acted a bit too quickly, after all, they had just met, but maybe the family issues discussions could have added some layers to their relationships which probably gave me the impression something more was going on and that made them seem closer somehow.
Personally, I also didn't mind this book was more focused on the characters and romance, rather than the plot, which was what happened with the previous stories.

All things considered, this felt like a good story for me. I still think the emotional aspects were one the best things about it, but at the same time, it could have been pushed a bit more into perfection territory. For the page count used, it was pretty good, in fact. There is just something about it that makes me feel slightly apart from everything and I can't pinpoint what, but... something's missing, which would have made me like this more.
Still, a good read, enjoyable for the genre.
Grade: 7/10

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