An adventure in unfamiliar territory is often the perfect way to reboot one’s life after a setback. In Cree, a new romance takes a woman on the ride of her life.
Divorced and facing an empty nest, Elle Baxter says “yes” to a working wilderness vacation that will allow her quality time with her son and daughter before they decamp for college. While exploring the wild lands of northern Minnesota, she meets and falls for Cree, a younger man with an intuitive sense of the natural world. When her daughter’s jealousy comes between them, things take an unexpected turn. In the wake of tragedy, Elle reaffirms her values and prepares to move forward with her life.
Author Verena Andermatt Conley knows the romance genre, and her story flows accordingly, but there are a few snags along the way. Elle is a sociologist but she’s solicited to write about the woods for a travel magazine, which seems unlikely. Dialogue can be stiff and mannered, or over-explained: “‘Quite a spectacle,’ commented Mike, who always liked to put everything into simple words.” The prose can also seem overwrought at times: “Elle sighed while putting on her lavender lotion that would smooth at least her skin if not her soul.”
And it must be noted that despite being a popular trope in romantic fiction, some readers may be put off by the inclusion of a noble Native American who knows all about nature and how to please a woman.
Bearing those things in mind, Cree still has much to offer romance fans: An engaging story, gorgeous outdoor setting, and hope for second chances in life and love. If those things appeal, this novel provides satisfying “staycation” reading.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.