Val's Book Reviews

Love Naturally

by Sophie Sullivan

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

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.

“The Ormsby Review, named for pioneering historian and UBC professor Margaret Ormsby, is a remarkable and comprehensive online review of more British Columbia books than you ever imagined existing — the west coast publishing market is lively. It covers fiction, poetry, politics, memoir and much else, as well as a lot of local and west coast history.” – Christopher Moore, September 14, 2020.

Editor and Publisher: Richard Mackie

Mission Statement:  The British Columbia Review, formerly The Ormsby Review, is a lively and inclusive Vancouver-based online journal devoted to the literature, arts, culture, and society of British Columbia. Our mandate is to review books by BC-based writers wherever they choose to publish them. We review books from the member publishers of the ABPBC (Association of Book Publishers of BC), but we also review books that are privately printed, self-published, or published by BC writers at publishing houses elsewhere in Canada or abroad. When possible, we also find BC reviewers. Our accessible and authoritative reviews and essays, written by experts in their fields, are packaged as illustrated magazine articles.

The British Columbia Review works with writers, publishers, and literary professionals across Canada to promote books published by BC writers or about British Columbia in all its diversity. We include books by all authors, regardless of race, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, ethnicity, religion, political belief, marital or family status, and/or status as Indigenous, Métis, or Inuit.

The editorial offices of The British Columbia Review are located near Commercial Drive in East Vancouver, in the traditional, unceded, and sometimes overlapping territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Wauuth peoples. Indigenous British Columbia, the land on which we live and create, extends over a large area comprising three culture areas, eight language families, and 32 distinct languages. We endeavour to review all books by and about Indigenous BC. Those reviews can be accessed directly here.