*I received a free copy of Under the Northern Lights from Montlake Romance via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *Under the Northern Lights by S.C. Stephens
Published by Montlake Romance on April 30, 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Mallory Reynolds is a driven woman fueled by her passion for photographing wild animals in remote locations. Every year she makes a trek deep into Alaska, but this time the unthinkable happens: she crash-lands after her plane stalls out in a storm. Injured, vulnerable, and threatened by the very creatures she loves, Mallory fears the worst—until she’s rescued by Michael Bradley, a mysterious mountain man living in self-imposed exile.
Mallory is grateful for Michael’s help but desperate to return home to let her family know she’s alive. Unfortunately, neither of them can leave Michael’s secluded cabin until spring. Mallory’s stuck with a stranger for months.
As Mallory recovers, a deep bond begins to form between the pair. Mallory is convinced that fate brought them together, but Michael is buried in his past, unable to move forward. Undaunted, Mallory tends to Michael’s heart as tenderly as he cared for her wounds—but will her love be enough to heal him?
I admit to requesting Under the Northern Lights based on having read other books from Stephens. Had I known exactly what I was getting, I might not have chosen to read it. That being said, I have to say I’m happy to have met this “other side” of Stephens.
The story centers around Mallory and Michael. Mallory’s plane crashes (she was flying solo) in remote Alaska. Fearing her chances of survival are slim in the harsh conditions, she’s surprised when she’s essentially rescued by a mountain man. Michael. He can offer her food and shelter but transportation home has to wait as winter begins to really sink her claws into the area. As Mallory and Michael spend days, weeks, then months together, tending wounds, chopping wood, gathering food and water, they get to know each other quite well. And a romance of sorts begins to blossom.
The story took a while to get going. Mallory’s exposition early on, while necessary in “setting the scene”, was a bit slow and drawn out. However, the story did eventually take off despite following day-to-day activities. Getting to know Mallory and Michael as they got acquainted as they dealt with the harsh realities of living remotely and off the grid, was interesting. Mallory and Michael spent days holed up inside playing cards as winter raged outside. They also spent days fighting off wolves and grizzlies. I thought Stephens did well in conveying the rhythm of a life lived this way.
The romance was very slow-burning but there were extenuating circumstances behind that pace. And besides, I think the story was more about family and forgiveness than romance so the slow-burn felt genuine. However, I was irritated on occasion by Michael’s hesitancy and wishy-washy-ness with Mallory.
Under the Northern Lights had a religious element woven into it. Mallory was open about her faith while Michael was candid about his lack of it. I think the events in the book made it clear that a higher power was at work, whether that higher power be God, the Universe, or Fate. Mallory shouldn’t have survived the plane crash but she did. And it seemed as though these two were destined to play a role in each other’s lives. However, Stephens was never heavy-handed with the religious element and I never felt she had an agenda.
So Under the Northern Lights wasn’t exactly what I was expecting from Stephens. But despite the slow pace at times and my aggravation with Michael, I’m glad I gave this book a chance.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- 2019 New Release Challenge
- COYER Summer 2019