City girl + rough outdoors man = ♥︎♥︎♥︎

Love Naturally
by Sophie Sullivan

New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2024
$24.00 / 9781250875839

Reviewed by Valerie Green

*

Love Naturally is a lighthearted, romantic romp between two people who are complete opposites. It is set at a wilderness resort in Michigan.

Sophie Sullivan, the pen name of a Fraser Valley author (who’s written romantic comedies since she was twelve years old), has created a pleasant read with characters that her readers will grow to love as the story develops. There are no surprises in Love Naturally and you know from the beginning that this book is going to be a happily-ever-after story once the protagonist, Presley Ayers, meets a local. Nonetheless, the journey is captivating and well worth reading.

Presley is an assistant concierge at exclusive La Chambre Hotel in Great Falls, Michigan. She’s been dating a man named Emmett for the past eight months. She is determined to climb the ladder of success both professionally and romantically. Now in her thirties, she wants it all. Her career is certainly on track if she can tolerate working with her difficult, demanding boss, Ms. Twain. Her relationship with Emmett, however, is going nowhere.

To move things along, Presley decides to surprise Emmett with the gift of a fishing/hiking trip to a wilderness lodge. She loathes the wilderness herself but knows he enjoys that kind of trip; she wants to show him she can also try and enjoy the same. When she books off a holiday and meets Emmett to surprise him, his reaction is not what she expects. He tells her in no uncertain terms that he would never go on that type of trip with a girlfriend as fishing and hiking are things he only does with “the boys.”  Presley is deeply hurt by Emmett’s words; they argue, he dumps her, and she walks away in anger.

She then amazes herself when she decides that she will take the trip on her own anyway. She flies off to Get Lost Lodge and realizes immediately that she might have made a terrible mistake. She hates the flight in and then the bumpy boat ride from the village of Smile to the lodge. She dislikes hiking with a passion and fishing is not really her thing, either. In addition, the room she is allocated has air conditioning that doesn’t work and is constantly set at “freezing.”

Author Sophie Sullivan

As Presley gets to know the kind family who run Get Lost and are very accommodating to her, she slowly begins to change her opinions. She is given a cabin where one of the Keller brothers (Beckett) lives and he will move into the lodge until her air-conditioning is fixed–but an immediate attraction quickly develops between the city girl and the rough outdoors man.

Presley also becomes fond of his sister, Jilly, and her small daughter Olivia (Ollie), and the other brother Gray, who is recently divorced. In his divorce settlement from his very rich wife, he was bequeathed the run-down lodge. The three siblings are now trying to restore the place—but with very little money to do it. 

The city girl soon realizes they are a tight-knit family and only want to help their brother by devoting their time and energy into restoring the lodge to its former glory so that more visitors can return every summer. They are doing that while putting aside their own lives and dreams.

Presley has social media technology expertise, so she helps by making suggestions about how the lodge can improve its image and attract visitors in greater numbers. 

Other guests also pitch in to help—Mel and Richard, an engaging couple who love the Get Lost, and Bernie Drayton who used to visit the lodge with his late wife and has fond memories of a particular cabin where they stayed. Other characters who flit in and out of the story are also memorable, such as the Mayor of Smile (known as “Gramps”) and the three women (known as the “Tiger Trio”—Gabby, Libby, and their mother) who make a beeline for the handsome Beckett.

As Sullivan’s storyline develops, the romantic and passionate relationship between Presley and Beckett grows to the point where neither of them wants her holiday to be over, and yet both know a relationship between them can never work. The love scenes are hot and frequent during a memorable week for them both. Though they’re inexplicably drawn to one another, Presley knows she should return to her job to allow Beckett to follow his own dreams. She frequently texts about her dilemma to her friend and house-sitter Rylee back home.

The holiday ends and Presley Ayers returns to civilization, where her ex tries to re-connect with her. But the story is far from over because love should always happen–naturally. So, if you are looking for an easy read which is both sweet and pleasant, this book is for you. Take it to the beach with you this summer.

*

Valerie Green

Valerie Green was born and educated in England, where she studied journalism and law. Her passion was always writing from the moment she first held a pen in her hand. After working at the world-famous Foyles Books on Charing Cross Road, London, followed by a brief stint with M15 and legal firms, she moved to Canada in 1968 and embarked on a long career as a freelance writer, columnist, and author of over twenty nonfiction historical and true-crime books. Hancock House recently released the first three books—Providence, Destiny, and Legacy—of Valerie’s four-book historical fiction series The McBride Chronicles. Now semi-retired (although writers never really retire!) she enjoys taking short road trips around BC with her husband, watching their two beloved grandsons grow up and, of course, writing. [Editor’s note: Valerie Green has reviewed J.T. Siemens, Russel Barrie, Christine Sinclair (with Stephen Brunt), Grant Heyter-Menzies, Roberta Rich, Linda L. Richards, Patti Shales Lefkos, Reed Stirling, Padma Viswanathan for BCR.]

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The British Columbia Review

Interim Editors, 2023-25: Trevor Marc Hughes (nonfiction), Brett Josef Grubisic (fiction)
Publisher: Richard Mackie


Formerly The Ormsby Review, The British Columbia Review is an online book review and journal service for BC writers and readers. The Advisory Board now consists of Jean Barman, Wade Davis, Robin Fisher, Barry Gough, Hugh Johnston, Kathy Mezei, Patricia Roy, Maria Tippett, and Graeme Wynn. Provincial Government Patron (since September 2018): Creative BC. Honorary Patron: Yosef Wosk. Scholarly Patron: SFU Graduate Liberal Studies. The British Columbia Review was founded in 2016 by Richard Mackie and Alan Twigg.

“Only connect.” – E.M. Forster

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