I’m a fan of author Megan Crane whether she writes under this pen name or as Caitlin Crews. While the recent Crane books I’ve read have been Western style romances, I saw that she has a new series The Fortunes of Lost Lake (with a slight variation on a pen name as the author of Bold Fortune is listed as M. M. Crane) set in Alaska which seems to be a popular setting lately (Jackie Ashenden, Sarah Morgenthaler and Adriana Anders have set books there in the last two years). With the almost assured guarantee of a forced proximity setting (possibly with only one bed??), I settled in to read Bold Fortune and enjoyed it thoroughly.
Violet Parrish, a scientist who studies how new technologies can be used to find solutions to environmental problems, entered a long distance relationship with a fellow researcher she met at a conference only to discover that he’s taken her for a ride. He’s stolen her research (that she’d naïvely shared with him over the computer), passing it off as his own just before an important international conference at which she’d planned to present her work. In an effort to make it up to her boss and co-workers for the error, she’s headed to Lost Lake, Alaska to try to convince Quinn Fortune, the representative of a land trust that contains an abandoned gold mine of what her non-profit organization could do for him. It will be a real coup for her company if they can get Quinn to work with them and will do a lot to rehabilitate her reputation. But Quinn isn’t interested in talking mineral rights and land development with a stranger, even one whose parka is a fetching shade of pink. He’s been approached one too many times by outsider corporate-types with no knowledge of his responsibilities to the people who live in Lost Lake and the surrounding communities. He tells Violet he’ll only listen to her proposals if she’s willing to spend some days – maybe weeks – getting to know what it’s like to really live there.
Violet is prepared to do whatever it takes to make up for her failure – including spending a few nights in a tiny shack with an outhouse, learning about subsistence living in an Alaskan winter with a grumpy guide. Quinn’s plan is to scare her off by showing her what his family fondly refers to as the museum, his great-grandfather’s cabin, and passing it off as his current home. But Violet is steadfast and curious and helpful, making him feel more and more like a jerk as he realizes that getting rid of her won’t be as easy as he expected it to be – and that maybe, things are a lot warmer and brighter when she’s around. As for Violet, her fascination with the land and the people, and Quinn, make things suddenly more complicated. Going home to San Francisco with the trophy of Quinn’s cooperation was her original plan but could her future be moving in a new direction?
Grumpy meets sunshine, and trapped in a blizzard (with only one bed, hurrah!) are the tropes covered in this delightful romance. The author has done a great job researching Alaska and what it takes to live in isolated communities, as well as introducing a colourful cast of hearty characters. I really enjoyed how the setting and characters fit together, and seeing it all from the perspective of the wide-eyed, naïve, but determined Violet. Quinn’s plan to scare Violet off does the opposite, but as they end up spending a lot of time together alone, it also draws them closer through conversation and discussion. Quinn feels a lot of pressure in his role as protector for the community and Violet helps him see that there is more to his life, and that he can have a life, outside of that role. His attraction to Violet is annoying but irresistible and they share some sizzling love scenes.
Without getting too spoilery, there is a ‘misunderstanding’ that does cause them some grief but isn’t overly long or drawn out, and serves (as most of these literary devices do) to make them both realize that they belong together. Things set up nicely for their happy ending, and with the secondary characters of Quinn’s siblings giving fodder to the series continuation, it’s a world I’ll be happy to visit again.