I enjoy reading books set in unusual places, and picked Northern Lights to review because it’s set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. While the author did a good job conveying what the area is like, I didn’t care for either the hero or heroine and can’t recommend this book.
Judith Caldwell has fond memories of her family’s summer vacations in the U.P. When her fiancé puts their wedding on hold for a year and orders her to stay put in Washington, DC, Judith rebels and takes a high school teaching job in the U.P. Right from the start, nothing goes as planned. Her luggage is lost, and her hotel catches fire while she’s asleep her first night in the area. Judith is rescued by a volunteer firefighter with whom she fights with throughout the rescue.
The next day, Judith heads to a restaurant to meet her honorary aunt, the woman she’ll be staying with during the school year. Instead, she’s met by the volunteer firefighter who lets her know that he’s her honorary aunt’s son, someone Judith knew as a child.
Paul Anderson is known around town as a ladies’ man. Although he’s currently involved in an affair with a local waitress, he’s attracted to Judith right away and makes a play for her. Judith is initially put off by Paul and is appalled that she’ll be living in close proximity to him since he lives above his mother’s garage. Judith is also unhappy to discover that instead of teaching high school, she’s going to be teaching third graders. Although she initially decides to return to Washington, she suddenly decides to stay.
I had a hard time getting into this story. The first person, present tense POV threw me off. Even worse, I didn’t like Paul at all and found Judith to be only slightly better. This is also a very short book and much happens off the page, while there’s very little action within the story. We spend a lot of the book inside Judith’s head and, since I didn’t particularly like her, it wasn’t a place I wanted to be.
While I appreciated some of the authenticity of the feel of the U.P., I didn’t like Judith’s reactions to the people of the area since she seemed to do a lot of stereotyping. Then, when her fiancé shows up, she’s mad that he stereotypes the town residents.
I just didn’t buy the love story between Paul and Judith since the two have very few actual interactions. They think about each other a lot, and spy on each other through windows, but we just don’t get to see much of their actual relationship. Paul also has a big secret he’s keeping from Judith, although everyone else seems to know about it. I also didn’t understand Judith’s relationship with her fiancé. She didn’t seem to even like him, let alone love him.
I would still like to read a good romance set in the U.P. Northern Lights just isn’t it.