Off the Map
Grade : B

Off the Map is the third book in the Beck Sisters series. In it, leads Carla and Eamon travel across a gorgeously rendered Ireland to reach Anna and Keane’s wedding (Float Plan). This is a love story about two people learning to follow their dreams. I liked it, but it's not as marvelous as the first two books in the series.

Carla Black and Eamon Sullivan meet at a pub in Dublin. The plan is that Carla will ride with Eamon to his brother's wedding--Eamon is the best man--in Tralee. After a lot of Guinness and a yummy dinner, they end up back at Eamon’s apartment where they spend the night, fool around, and decide to have a temporary fling. Eamon dreams of travel but has never done it. He's always too busy with work, family obligations, and, until recently, a demanding girlfriend. (She recently dumped him.) He's frustrated that even though he makes digital maps other people use when they travel and he watched his brother Keane sail around the Caribbean with Anna, he never goes anywhere. He owns a bright yellow Range Rover that’s he's hardly used, along with a pile of brand new camping equipment he has never taken out. He's clearly stuck.

Carla couldn't be more different. Her wonderful father, Biggie, was a teacher and they spent every chance they had exploring the National Parks in their jeep. He raised her alone after her mom took off when she was five. Biggie is now suffering from dementia. His portions of the story are sad but also very sweet, especially their camping memories. Carla has been working in Ft. Lauderdale at a pirate bar during peak tourist months to earn enough money to continue her travels of the world. She has been to over 400 parks in America and more than a dozen countries with her father and now on her own.

Eamon has always wanted to go backcountry camping in the Wicklow Mountains which are only a one hour drive from Dublin so, after Carla shows she knows her way around a Range Rover and camping equipment, he and Carla decide to make a detour there. The hiking trail is beautiful with waterfalls and purple clover. Carla shows Eamon how to use a cookstove and how to make a tasty easy dinner. I almost felt like I could smell the pinewood and hear the crunch of the pine needles as they walked along the trail. They found a small pool to camp by with the sound of a river splashing nearby. It's a great place for romance and the two make the best of it--this book is spicy and filled with many sexy outdoor love scenes. There's even dancing in the moonlight. <3

They decide to make another detour on their way to the wedding and this one felt risky to me, especially when Keane reminds Eamon he has the rings. There are new challenges like sheep roadblocks, an angry bull, and more. I was worried about whether they would make it to the wedding on time and how Anna, Keane and their family would feel about the detours. I felt as though Eamon wasn't as responsible as he might of been and that made me anxious.

I also found Carla a bit tough to like at times. There's a place early in their trip where Eamon and Carla climb to the top of a mountain where they can see beauty all around and even the Irish Sea. Eamon asks Carla what she thinks, she tells him she’s driven her jeep over a mountain seven times higher. I agreed with Eamon when he tells her, no one likes a braggart. Carla can also be brutally direct and her responses to Eamon were sometimes harsher than they needed to be. Eamon nails it when he says she has the tactfulness of a machete but, honestly, her lack of tact clearly bothered me more than it did him!

One of my favorite things about Doller’s books is the scenery, like the Caribbean in Float Plan, Kelly's Island on Lake Erie in The Suite Spot and now the Irish backcountry in Off the Map. In some ways, the travelogue was my favorite part of the book. Eamon's and Carla's romance felt a bit undersold to me and I wasn't as fond of them as I've been of the leads in Doller's other books.

But I do really like Doller's writing and I did enjoy this book. I can recommend it especially if you like your romances with adventures. Just be prepared to long to head to Ireland!

Reviewed by Kayne Spooner
Grade : B

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : March 7, 2023

Publication Date: 03/2023

Review Tags: road trip romance

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Kayne Spooner

Kayne Spooner is a retired science teacher, dog owner, and proud grandma who lives in beautiful Colorado. While she's an avid reader of all genres, romances have always swept her off her feet. Kayne gravitates toward stories with humor, swoon-worthy love interests, and memorable furry sidekicks, although really, if there's a happy ever after, she's here for it! She loves sharing her passion for books with the romance community and connecting with fellow readers.
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