A few years ago, romance author Penny Reid “opened up her Universe to allow several different authors to publish stories set there, either new stories about characters readers are already familiar with, or brand new characters.” These books are being published under the Smartypants Romance publishing house and have allowed fans of Reid’s (like me!) to enjoy a wide range of stories. “Happy Trails” is the first book in the Park Ranger series and was a fun, quirky addition to the Green Valley Universe Reid created. You don’t have to be familiar with any of Reid’s books to enjoy this one but if you are, I think you will like seeing some familiar characters pop up for a scene or two.
From Goodreads: A man of few words, Ranger Jay Daniels values the calm, quiet solitude of the Great Smoky Mountains. Never quite fitting in with either side of his family, he prefers the company of birds and trees to people. The path of true love never has run smooth for Olive Perry. After getting dumped and promptly abandoned in the middle of her multi-month hike, Olive swears off men. Determined to finish the long trek by herself, she doesn’t need a prince—or broody and taciturn ranger—to save her. Yet, when an early snowstorm threatens the mountains, and Ranger Daniels is charged with getting hikers to safety including hot-tempered Olive Perry. Snowed in and forced to share an abandoned cabin, can Olive’s heated intensity melt Jay’s cool reserve?
This book had some familiar romance tropes while featuring some truly unique characters. I really loved that Jay was bi-racial (half Japanese, half White) and that Prescott didn’t shy away from exploring the difficulties Jay faced because of his ethnicity, while also not making that a central theme to the book. Jay was hard not to love and I could easily see someone falling for him in real life. Olive is where I struggled with this book. I admire the changes she made throughout the story and how she grew as a person but I found her back story hard to believe. I wish she had been more believable as a character because I would have believed the romance more if she was.
The “stranded together” romance trope is used to great effect here and I found myself liking this part of the book the most. The time Jay and Olive spend trapped in the cabin allowed their true selves to come out and for them to grow closer. But how I wish Prescott had spent more time showing them falling in love! From the last quarter of the book to the end felt very rushed to me and the love felt between Jay and Olive felt forced. What was a fun, enjoyable book to that point fell flat for me at the end.
Even though this book had some bumps along the way, the writing was clever and I liked the story and the leading man. While I don’t feel the need to read this one again, I would continue the series. Let’s hope the next one is a bit more even.
Favorite Quote: “I want her beside me as I take this journey through life. She’s both the path I’d follow anywhere and my destination.”
Author: Daisy Prescott
Published: October 22nd, 2019
Rating: 3.5 Stars