Author: Sarah (Echavarre) Smith
Narrator: Donnabella Mortel
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 38 minutes
Nothing like a rocky start between enemy coworkers stuck together on location to prove that love isn’t just a ploy for ratings—it’s a force of nature.
Alia Dunn has finally gotten her big break. After years of working her way up at TV’s top outdoor travel channel, she gets the green light from network executives to bring her dream project to life: produce a series about Utah’s national parks. It’s a touching tribute to her late apong, who sparked Alia’s passion for travel and the outdoors as a kid.
Alia is thrilled–until she meets her newest crew member, Drew Irons. The same Drew she had the most amazing first date with two weeks ago–who then ghosted her. The same Drew who has the most deliciously thick forearms and who loves second-guessing her every move on set in front of the entire crew. It’s not long before the tension between them turns hotter than the Utah desert in the dead of summer, and their steamy encounters lead to major feelings.
But when the series host goes rogue one too many times, jeopardizing the entire shoot, Alia realizes that she’ll need to organize one hell of a coup to save her show–and she’ll need Drew’s help to do it. It’s the riskiest move she’s ever made. If she pulls it off, she’ll end up with a hit series and her dream guy . . . but if it all goes wrong, she could lose both.
On Location is my second read by the author after I completed Simmer Down last year. Since I knew the author’s style going into this novel, it was nice to see how she created this travel show tale. The story follows 32-years-old Alia Dunn, who works for a TV outdoor travel channel. After pitching shows, she gets the green light to lead a new series in the national parks of Utah where she will film for six weeks. I absolutely loved this choice for a setting, as it is gorgeous at each place complete with rock formations and a fantastic night sky. This novel definitely made me want to return and visit as it is an incredible place to visit.
Before leaving on this adventure, the story begins in New York City where the reader first meets Alia. During her time, she meets Drew Irons, who she meets on a subway and the two go on an amazing first date. Unfortunately, he ghosts her afterward and Alia has trouble getting over this fact. As this is a romance story, Drew ends up assigned to Alia’s Utah filming crew and the two now have to spend the six weeks together. While the two are forced to interact, they need to address the ghosting along with the added obstacle of the two of them being co-workers. As the story is told from Alia’s perspective, the reader has to guess Drew’s inner thoughts based on his interactions with her. For me, I am a huge fan of dual perspectives, but it was interesting to try to follow along with Alia as she tries to figure him out.
As with many romance stories, there is miscommunication among the main characters. There were times when this was a bit much as it was difficult to believe they would not talk it out a little more. For me, I could not figure out why they still had the same problem later in the story after just having a miscommunication issue a short time prior. While I could understand it happening sometimes, it was difficult to see it repeated multiple instances in a short time span. At one point Alia is upset when Drew refers to her as a coworker to his sister, yet she is the one that wanted to keep the relationship a secret during the shoot. This makes her close up afterward and it just did not make any sense that at this point she does not just ask him about it since he is following what she asked. Another instance that was difficult to understand in their relationship was her apologizing for giving Drew the cold shoulder after some remarks he made the previous day. For me, it did not make as much sense as the apology seemed out of place as it was difficult for me to connect to as it added blame on her side when I did not think it was there in the moment. Granted, there are multiple times throughout the story where each of them should apologize to each other, this one seemed like it should have not been he apologizes, she apologizes, and then they move on. Instead, I would have connected more if there were more exploration into how Alia would have liked the situation to go, and Drew acknowledged how he can approach it differently if it happens again.
Overall, I loved the premise of the story and Utah is an amazing backdrop. There are many descriptions of the various landmarks and I felt the love from the writing for this incredible place. Drew and Alia were great individual characters, but I was not quite on board with their romance. This could be due to the events between them, as it was a disagreement followed by an apology followed by another disagreement and apology in a cycle. For me, I just needed more as it was difficult to root for a couple when this cycle could be repeated in the long run and create deeper problems down the line. It is just my preference, as I prefer a little bit more learning from this cycle before I connect with the potential couple in a romance. While I did not find the novel perfect, I still greatly enjoyed the writing and I would definitely read more from the author in the future as I like her general style.