Desert Isle Keeper
Having enjoyed Bold Fortune, the first book in M.M. Crane’s Alaska-set Fortunes of Lost Lake series, I was looking forward to reading more about the Fortune family and Bowie’s story Reckless Fortune does not disappoint! Combining a pioneering reality show, a mail-order ‘bride’, and adventure in the Alaskan wilderness with witty banter and a sexy romance makes for a very entertaining read.
Bowie Fortune is a bush plane pilot whose entire family lives out in Lost Lake, Alaska. It’s an isolated place where the extreme cold of winter would make anyone think twice about living there, and yet his family has thrived. He loves his risky job, flying in and out of isolated places that would make even seasoned pilots blanch. But being dared by his sister to take part in a publicity stunt/contest that entails pretending to be married, pioneer style for an Alaskan summer, all for a little prize money (and to whip up tourist interest in the Alaskan interior) might have been a mistake. Because when he meets his ‘bride-to-be’, a woman with killer curves who could have been the star of any of his fantasies, he can’t shake the premonition that he’s gotten himself into deep, deep trouble.
Autumn McCall is ready to leave her protective father, stepmother, and three blonde, willowy, beautiful sisters and their ranch in Montana. She’s used to being invisible next to her much prettier sisters. Since her mother passed away when she was twelve, she’s been the one to take care of everyone and now she wants to do something for herself, to be herself, away from all the people who know her. But she’s dismayed to discover just how attractive Bowie is in person, and she misinterprets his arrested expression at seeing her in person as disappointment that she doesn’t look like her sisters.
Autumn tells Bowie she wants to win the contest so that she can take the money and go on a tropical holiday. But the truth is that she needs $5000 (half of the prize money for the winning couple) to reclaim her mother’s jewelry that her father (unbeknownst to everyone but her) had pawned in order to have extra money for his daughters’ clothing for his second wedding. So, she’s going to pretend to be a hard-hearted reality show contestant and try to ignore the dismayingly attractive man she has to work with, who’s only doing it on a dare. No romance, no sex, she tells Bowie up front and matter-of-factly, in case he has other ideas. But as they spend time together, things get complicated and their attraction to each other leads to some loosening of boundaries. At the end of the summer, will what they’ve built be enough to keep them together?
As in Bold Fortune, the wild frontier of Alaska gets center stage. Autumn is fortunate to be visiting in the summer, a time appreciated greatly by all the inhabitants, with long summer hours and warmer temperatures. But it doesn’t make it any less dangerous in some respects and there are some scenes in the story that bring this to the forefront. I love the descriptions of the land and the people who reside there. The small town of Hopeless, nearby to Lost Lake, has some eclectic characters and a warm community spirit, a necessity in this land where the helping hand of a neighbour can mean the difference between life and death.
Autumn is a wonderful character. She’s practical, hard-working, and resourceful, throwing herself wholeheartedly into the role she’s chosen to play by studying ahead of time what pioneer women would have had to do, such as making a gill net for fishing and gathering edible greens. Occasionally she feels the grief of having lost her mother, and how she’s had to be responsible for so many things in her life. In Alaska, she learns that she can do things that she wants for herself and no one else (or not do them, if that’s what she chooses). It’s a freeing experience.
For Bowie, having Autumn in his life creates conflict. He harbours a secret that makes his attraction to Autumn inconvenient and unwanted. Bowie is intensely loyal, a trait that served him well in the Marines, and that defines his relationship with his family. Bowie is also a risk-taker, a bad-boy type of character who appears to have no cares in the world but living in the moment. It’s only half-true. He enjoys female company but isn’t looking for or offering commitment. Having Autumn living in his home (that he built) and seeing her, being around her, day in and day out eventually comes to a head where he has to face the attraction he feels towards her. And then it’s Autumn’s chance to live in the moment and take a chance on having what she wants – Bowie. Their love scenes are intense and sexy, their conversations deep and expansive, binding them together in ways neither expected.
Things take an unexpected turn later in the story that ratchets up the tension and make Bowie and Autumn take a good hard look at where they are and where they might go (and if it should be together). It certainly pulls at the heartstrings and there were a few moments when I had tears in my eyes. I was fully invested in their getting their well-deserved happy ending. Reckless Fortune is another winner in this series, and I look forward to what’s coming next (hoping it’s Piper, Bowie’s sister’s book).
Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local bookshop
Visit our Amazon Storefront
I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.