Author: KJ Holliday
A hilarious love story featuring an overdramatic city boy and an incomparable girl from the country.
In an attempt to knock out the long-awaited follow-up to his best-selling first novel, Alexander Jones lets his best friend convince him that trekking into the wilderness for a survival boot camp was the only way to get the creative juices flowing.
With the help of a detailed itinerary, Luke, and Luke’s childhood friend, Penny, they’d committed 10 days to help Alex forgo his Urbanite roots and embrace the countryside.
It took a lifetime to get to the mountains where Luke and Penny had camped as kids, and only a second for Alex to know he was out of his element.
In a surprising twist of fate, it also took 10 days for him to fall in love with Penny Foster. The question was, did Penny feel the same way, and what would Luke say when he found out?
I was surprised at how entertaining this novel was! I expected it to be more sweet, but I loved the amount of humor that was put into the story by the different characters. Two different worlds, the city and the country, are brought together as three people take time to camp out in the middle of nowhere without any additional amenities. Additionally, I expected the entire story to take place in the camping setting, but was interested in the fact that some of the story takes place after. In my mind, the story was going to wrap up on day ten in the wilderness right before they all return to their own lives, so it was nice that the story changes settings and the reader can experience the characters in multiple environments.
Alexander Jones is an author who is experiencing writer’s block for his next novel about an ex-military survivalist who has to live in the wilderness. I first must agree with other reviewers when I say that Alex Jones was not the best name for a character that a reader is supposed to love. For those that do not know, Alex Jones is an American far-right radio show host and conspiracy theorist. The name itself is famous enough to immediately associate with the real person. I am not sure that was the direction the author was trying to go for as the character was nothing like the real man with the same exact name. Alex the character was very funny as he is how I was when I first started going camping and had absolutely no experience in the wilderness and survival. He was weirded out by fishing and having to prepare the fish to eat after catching it. He does not like waking up with the dawn and prefers to sleep in. The list goes on and on and it made him very entertaining and relatable. He gave the story a lot of humor with his sarcastic comments.
He ends up on the wilderness trip at the suggestion of his best friend, Luke. Along for the journey to assist with Alex learning about the outdoors is Luke’s childhood friend, Penny. She and Alex actually first met while they were in college, but the two of them did not become super close over the years. Luke was a great teacher and I loved his moments, but I feel that he got left behind at times as the story was focused on Alex and Penny and their developing relationship. It would have been nice to get to know more about Luke, too, as he seemed to be an interesting character. Penny was an interesting character who was very outgoing and seemed to be prepared for any situation. She has a more tragic backstory compared to Alex and Luke that gets discussed in some detail, but it does not get fully resolved like I thought it would.
The majority of the novel is very light-hearted as Alex tries to learn more about survival. I liked that brief pieces of actual advice are thrown in there too that are great in real-life situations, such as finding and preparing drinkable water, how to find your way around, not relying on your phone as your only survival tool in case you are in a place it won’t work, where to build a shelter, etc. It was nice that this type of information was included considering it was the whole purpose of Alex being out in the woods in the first place. Penny and Luke are both great teachers, but it is Penny who takes the lead in most of the teachings. I like how she was very patient with Luke and it showed a more caring side to her and also how skilled she actually is.
When Alex and Luke interacted, I loved their brotherly dynamic. They are two different personalities, but you can see how they became and stayed friends for many years. They each supported the other and considered the others feelings, which was nice to show their bond. Luke and Penny, although the interactions in the story were more brief, were also great together and you can see how they have a great bond, as well. Alex and Penny’s relationship starts flirty at the start of the story and I love how it progresses, considering that Alex starts with some unconscious cuddling with her while they all are sharing a tent. Their bond grows the more time they spend together and it was nice that they talked about real topics and it was not a relationship solely built on lust, although lust was a huge factor. Over time, Alex and Penny share more and more about themselves and it was nice how the other listened and was present for the conversations. They each cared about the other and they were not just placating the other each time they interacted.
Overall, the story was fun as the main character is a fish out of water learning about survival with some experts, who also happen to be his friends. It was very entertaining reading about him learning each new skill; some better than others. The romance was well done as it progressed naturally given the time constraints that the two characters shared. Alex is the main narrator, so we see how fast he is falling for Penny and also how he perceives Penny’s feelings for him. There is some unexpected drama that takes place and brings some heart to the story. It seemingly comes out of nowhere, but it made it very realistic as events happen out of nowhere in reality, even if they aren’t the extremes presented in this story. The characters and writing handle the transition well and it was a delightful read. There are pieces that I wish were explored in more detail, such as their backgrounds, but I enjoyed reading the words that were presented and I would read more from this author!
**I give a special thank you to Book Sirens and the author, KJ Holliday, for an ARC to read. The opinions expressed in my review are completely my own.**