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Maine’s wilderness is part of Devin Savary’s DNA, bringing her joy in a way that nothing else can. She loves her isolated cabin without electricity or running water, and ice skating her way to work in the winter. Devin is also one of the best guides in the state for hiking, hunting, camping, or fishing trips, any time of year. She knows that the only way to survive harsh winter conditions is to respect them and be prepared, which is why she prefers to plan the excursions she’s hired to lead. Devin isn’t happy when she’s brought in at the last minute to take a trio of Texans on an ice fishing trip in March, but she’s a skilled enough pro to make it work.
Sunny Thompson is a damn good real estate lawyer who enjoys a pampered life and shares a practice with an old friend from college. While Hank’s brashness and bluster might be a bit much at times, Sunny knows he has a good heart in there somewhere. Keeping that in mind helps when Hank drags Sunny and another colleague all the way from Dallas to Maine for a winter camping trip with “no safety nets,” after reading about adversity being a great thing for teambuilding. Thankfully their guide is attractive, kind, funny, and resourceful, taking some of the sting out of the forced fun exercise.
Their trip should be a straightforward few days, but misfortune and Maine’s harsh conditions determine otherwise. Devin and Sunny both find themselves changed forever, and despite living thousands of miles apart, they can’t forget about each other. Can two people so different possibly find their way to a happily ever after?
The official blurb for Vacationland makes it sound like a fun, lighthearted book. And while parts of it are fun and lighthearted, it delivers so much more. It tackles serious issues including the difficulties of rebuilding a life after trauma and the problems that can come with toxic family members. And while that might sound like a lot of ground to cover in a contemporary romance novel, at nearly 500 pages, Vacationland manages to do so in a way that is natural, nuanced, and doesn’t rush past anything to get to the finish line.
Between their personalities and their lives, Devin and Sunny are the epitome of “opposites attract.” Their attraction is obvious and understandable, however, since they’re both women who are as warm, intelligent, and hardworking as they are beautiful. It takes very little time for them to realize that they’re like pieces from completely different puzzle boxes.
“We’re hardly members of the same species,” Sunny said, amazed that someone around her age lived like her three times great-grandparents had. “You honestly live in a cabin?”
“I do,” she said, smiling serenely.
“I know people who have cabins on a lake somewhere, but they just use them for the weekend. You know. When they’re roughing it.”
“I don’t feel like I’m roughing it,” she said, her smile so cute Sunny was tempted to lean in just a foot or so and kiss those pretty lips. “But I go to my parents’ house all the time. They’ve got lights and refrigeration and a normal toilet and a washer and dryer and even a great big TV. I can only stand to stay a day or two, but it’s nice to have little bursts of the twenty-first century.”
“Do you have a car?”
“Uh-huh.” Her smile grew. “I guess I could ski there in the winter, but that’s a little much—even for me.”
Devin thrives in the wilderness, adores her cabin on the lake, and couldn’t imagine a life without her close-knit family and friends. And while travelling to the next city is a semi-regular necessity so she can hook up with other women, she knows she’d never want to live in town. Sunny, on the other hand, is a respected lawyer with a stunning condo, fancy car, membership to a premiere gym, and friends she enjoys meeting up with for a night on the town. She also carries all the baggage that comes from having family members who only see her for what she can give them, not for who she is as a person. With such different lives, interests, and priorities, the women have their work cut out for them as their feelings deepen. Meagher delivers character arcs for Sunny and Devin that are interesting, often poignant, and entirely satisfying as they move towards their happy ending.
Susan X Meagher has long been a go-to author for lesbian romance readers who enjoy layered stories with excellent character development, and Vacationland does not disappoint in either of these respects. Yet again she’s given us a deeply emotional story, memorable characters, and a beautiful romance. If you’re looking for a heartwarming story to sink into for a whole weekend, this would be an ideal choice.
By Susan X Meagher
Paperback, 9780998790718, 493 pp.