Review: The Heart of Alaska
I almost hesitate to call The Heart of Alaska a prequel to the Sunset Destiny series by author JJ Ellis. It is in fact the story of how the parents of the Mannon siblings (the characters the Sunset Destiny series is based on) met and fell in love. The mom and dad are Ethan and Charlotte Mannon, and their story is truly a stand alone novel. This is a coming of age story set in 1969 at the Heart of Alaska Lodge. The characters have all come to work for a summer at the lodge for different reasons , but mostly to experience life before settling down to either college or preparing to say goodbye before shipping off to war.
The original Four Musketeers, as they call themselves, are Ethan, Charli, Jackson and Francesca. The reader follows Charli (short for Charlotte) and Ethan through the ups and downs of their 10 year relationship, first as pen pals, then as long distance boyfriend/girlfriend, to where they both unexpectedly find each other again at the same lodge that summer. They cannot deny their attraction or love for one another, and through the rocky trials they encounter that summer, they finally agree that they are meant to be together.
Charli and Ethan also become fast friends with Jackson and Fran. They had both met Fran on their first trip to Alaska many year prior, but are reunited with her this special summer. Her fiancé, Jack, is shipping off to Vietnam at the end of the summer, so her time with him is bittersweet. The four friends all learn to grow up during this summer, and what it means to love unconditionally, and how to weather the storms that life can throw at you.
I am not going to give up the end of this story – you will have to read it for yourself. But it is sweet and poignant, and left me with tears in my eyes. I eagerly await the continued stories of both Charli and Ethan, and especially the story of Fran and Jack.