Enjoy the View
Sarah Morgenthaler’s Moose Springs, Alaska is usually a funny, charming, and dare I say quirky place to visit. But its third installment, Enjoy the View, about a starlet looking to remake her Hollywood career and the mountain man who helps her ascent, goes rancid from the second we meet our heroine. Thanks to her mediocrity, this is the weakest installment of the franchise, and something of a downgrade from the previous volumes in the series.
River Lane used to be America’s sweetheart, but the sweet turned sour after she became box office poison. She decides to resurrect her career by starting life over as a documentarian. Heading to Moose Springs, River decides that a tourism documentary about the small town is just what she needs to fix her flagging career, so she embarks upon the assignment with a crew, and nothing’s going to stand between her and accomplishing her goal. Unfortunately, the townsfolk are done with Hollywood types after what happened in the last two books, and refuse to help her.
Adventure tourism company co-owner Easton Lockett picks up River while she’s hitchhiking at the side of the road in Moose Springs and quickly finds her to be quite snippy and self-determined. The quiet mountain man finds himself hired to guide River and her crew on a climb up Mount Veil, where part of the documentary will be filmed. He finds her heedlessness annoying; she hates his bossiness. But he looks great wet, and she looks fabulous even when she’s risking frostbite. Sparks do fly, but can two such polar opposites ever find love, and will River’s documentary ever get made?
Enjoy The View disappointed me, and much of that is due to the incredibly single-minded-to-the-point-of-cruelty female lead. River is not my favorite heroine by a longshot, nor is she a pleasant person; she thinks of Easton as “boring” over a hundred pages into the book (he’s also cute, natch), and she’s downright nasty about any limitations he imposes on her – limitations that stem from his mountaineering expertise. She’s so stubborn she causes ninety percent of the trouble she gets herself into, solely due to her own determination to do things her own way. If her mistakes were small but boneheaded things, this wouldn’t bother me nearly as much, but first she endangers the crew by dragging heavy equipment up the mountain, and then, to get a “perfect” shot, she further endangers her life and Easton’s. When the book decides that River’s quest for independence against the Hollywood system is more important than the lives of her crew – specifically Bree, one of her best friends, who gets injured during the climb, which causes Easton to suggest they turn back and River to choose to quest for the summit alone – this reader wanted to strangle her. We’re told she has climbing experience, but no experienced climber would do half of what she does. There’s having a strong, feminist heroine and then there’s having a selfish, TSTL one, and River falls into that TSTL chasm easily. It’s impossible to admire her, even at her best and most determined. Girl, it’s just a tourism short for the Alaskan State Film Board. It’s not even a nature documentary! You can’t prove anything to the creeps who keep cancelling your projects and sending you skeezy roles if you’re dead!
I really liked quiet, hermit-like Easton from his appearance in the series’ first two books, but here he comes off as a chider. He ‘tsks’ River’s poor decision-making but forgives her; she’s so beautiful he’s willing to nearly die for her multiple times. He’s a private mountain man, and I can’t imagine him enjoying marriage to a Hollywood starlet, even if they try to divide their lives between her world and his.
The romance feels like an impulsive fling for almost the entire book. I didn’t know why Easton wanted to be with this woman, and couldn’t fathom why Bree and Jessie (the other crewmember on the doc) didn’t fling River from the side of the mountain.
I desperately wanted something different and better for Easton, but as River learns herself, sometimes you’re the starlet, sometimes you nearly die trying to photograph a marmot. And Enjoy the View dies right on the table along with it.