Road to Paradise
By Karen Barnett
Published by Waterbrook
344 Pages

ABOUT BOOK: An ideal sanctuary and a dream come true–that’s what Margaret Lane feels as she takes in God’s gorgeous handiwork in Mount Rainier National Park. It’s 1927 and the National Park Service is in its youth when Margie, an avid naturalist, lands a coveted position alongside the park rangers living and working in the unrivaled splendor of Mount Rainier’s long shadow.

But Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is still haunted by his father’s death on the mountain, and the ranger takes his work managing the park and its crowd of visitors seriously. The job of watching over an idealistic senator’s daughter with few practical survival skills seems a waste of resources.

When Margie’s former fiancĂ© sets his mind on developing the Paradise Inn and its surroundings into a tourist playground, the plans might put more than the park’s pristine beauty in danger. What will Margie and Ford sacrifice to preserve the splendor and simplicity of the wilderness they both love?

Karen Barnett’s vintage national parks novels bring to vivid life President Theodore Roosevelt’s vision for protected lands, when he wrote in Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter: "There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods, the Canyon of the Colorado, the Canyon of the Yellowstone, the Three Tetons; and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children's children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred."

REVIEW: This author introduces readers to Margaret Lane only child of a Washington State Senator in early 1900’s; who escaped city life, run into the wilderness, to hide from social obligations. She embraces her passion and hopes to avoid the media spot light and her ex-fiancĂ©. Margaret has studied and dreamed of living in a place submerged in God’s incredible nature. She also hopes that by pointing people to the magnificent surroundings she could lead them to God.

Unbeknownst to Margaret her Dad has helped her land a job working as a Ranger’s assistant. The Rangers aren’t happy about this arrangement especially Ford Brayden. He didn’t have time to babysit a spoiled rich kid. But with money being tight at the park the Senators donation really helps.

Margaret and Ford soon learn a few things. Ford that Margaret is not a spoiled brat, she loves the outdoors, really does know her stuff about the flora and can quickly identify the names of things. Margaret, on the other hand, realizes that she doesn’t want anyone to give her special treatment; that book knowledge is extremely different when you must live in the woods (that has so many variables) For one thing she didn’t know how to start a fire and keep warm. It’s awkward until they find a place for Margaret. The Chief quickly drafts her to tell camp fire tales to guests that visit Mountain Rainer National Park. She excels at that. Everyone wins.

Margaret and Ford might bump heads when it comes to working in the wilderness but they unite on fighting against those who want to build a ski resort and dance hall. They will do anything to preserve the Mountain the way God made it;

There is a sweet budding romance that both try to avoid. Margaret won’t be joined with someone that doesn’t share her faith. Ford’s heart toward God hardened after the hiking accident that killed his father.

Margaret says, “ I love seeing God’s creation laid out in front of Us. The earth is full of thy riches.” How anyone can look at this natural order and not see the Maker’s hand. I’ll never comprehend.”

…Ford replied, “I hate to disagree, but nature is beautiful because it’s random and unpredictable. Why do you think they call it wilderness? There’s no order to nature God has nothing to do with it. The stuff men build is ordered and boring. This – This is the opposite…- “The wilderness is a dangerous, unforgiving place. If you don’t take it seriously, you won’t take steps to protect yourself.” He knew about this all too well.

Margaret’s’ prayer, “God I tried, Lord, but it’s not up to me, is it? If only you’d whisper in his ear.”

I recommend this book to those who like a story centered on God’s creation and like that the setting is as if a character in the novel. You’ll learn a bit about Parks, history, flora, how Rangers work combined with a splash of romance and a hint of danger.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”

Nora St. Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!
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