I REALLY enjoyed this book. There is something so special, even magical, about slow burn and Mariana does it SO WELL. What she also does well - WOMEN. Real women, the kind I can relate to and feel like I would absolutely want to be best friends with. Aurora wasn't perfect, she wasn't always "on top" of things. She cried, she failed, she felt embarrassed by her failures, she struggled - oh, how much she struggled! But she also endured, worked hard, put a smile (or just hiking boots) on and did what she felt she needed to do. She is kind and companionate but she also knows how to stand up for herself. This is part of the reason I don't really bother with Mariana's synopsis of her books. It truly doesn't matter. I know the girl - the one I can absolutely relate to - is going to get the huge silent type - the kind I usually secretly hope for myself. I can trust Mariana to bring me a journey. A long, beautiful, heartfelt journey that would give me all I need (even a bit more).
Aurora De La Torre gave too many years to her ex but she is DONE with that. Leaving everything (and everyone) behind she goes back to her earliest memories growing up in the small town of Pagosa Springs with her mother, hiking in nature and enjoying the simple things in life. She booked a small garage and she intends to somehow make it work. Hike, remember and honor her mother and maybe even find the happiness she so wishes for in this place - not really familiar but also no so foreign.
The owner of said garage is Tobias Rhodes and though she made a deal it's not what HE expected and I won't say more not to spoiler. Rhodes doesn't trust Aurora especially not with his teenage son Amos he is EXTREMELY protective of. It takes him a bit but Aurora's actions soon show she isn't who he expected her to be and she actually has a good influence on his son.
Aurora and Rhodes circle each other. Round and round they go. As we only have Aurora's POV we don't really know why Rhodes is acting rather cold and remote towards her though he does explain himself later on (and I could get his reasoning). Also Rhodes isn't used to communicating what he wants and how he feels. This is not something his life growing up, his military service or his current job has ever requested. But now he is trying the more domestic life style for Amos and though it's not always easy it's worth it.
Aurora is quite frustrated at the beginning. She is helping out her friend from school - Clara - in her outdoor gear shop but she feels she is more of a liability than help. She also doesn't understand Rhodes and how to make him realize she truly doesn't have any ill intentions. She wants to get in shape and start doing the trails but it's not as easy as she hopes - not deciphering her mother's meaning in her diaries as well as being in the desired shape to be able to do those physically. I was really impressed with how much she fought - with tears in her eyes - to put in the effort, to try and battle her difficulties. She wasn't exactly alone in this world, she has a few very good friends as well as her aunt and uncle but she did struggle to build something new, something different.
I could say WAY more about what actually HAPPENS in this book but I would rather not, it's fun getting the little bits about Amos and how and where he grew up, his special talent (as well as Aurora's). What truly happened a year and a half ago, and even before to make her get to this point. How it's all resolved as well as how she finds a place in this small community. This book was simply an enjoyable read. I feel like I would LOVE to see this small town and the beautiful views surrounding it. So peaceful and quiet, so homey. I loved the way Rhodes and Aurora slowly got to know each other, trust each other before anything happened. I ADORED Rhode's reasoning for not simply making the first move when he could. I guess it takes someone a bit older (early 40s) to realize there is more to life, to connecting and relationship than simply jumping in bed. It was obvious he had a lot of respect for Aurora and what she dealt with even while not knowing all the details, he could see what she is going through.
My only complaint about this book would probably make any of Mariana's die-hard fans EXTREMELY angry.. but I'm going to say it.. sorry.. This book was too long. I understand Mariana's desire to give us THE BEST closure she could on ALL aspects but I don't need it. I read this book in two days, one with very little sleep and the other I was struggling with how tired I was but I WOULD NOT put the book down. I NEEDED to finish the book and I think I would have been more patient if it was shorter even if it means we didn't get this highly detailed HEA for Aurora and her loved ones.
One last thing.. As Aurora and the small town of Pagosa Springs are new to us, I hope we'll get more of the people mentioned like Clara! She needs to have her happy ending. She DESERVES it. Also there is Yuki - Aurora's best friend from her previous life. There is SOMETHING there with her bodyguard and I CAN'T WAIT to hear all about it. But you know what, I'll settle for anything Mariana puts out there, I LOVE her story telling, and her beautifully portrayed characters.
Naturally HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
3-4 July 2021