In the Shadow of Denali

denaliAuthors: Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse

Series: The Heart of Alaska Book #1

Publisher: Bethany House

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Rating: 5 Stars

Reviewer: Jessica Higgins

Awesome historical fiction about the Curry Hotel along the Alaskan Railroad in the early 1920s.

Allan Brennan has had a lifelong dream of climbing Mount McKinley, or Denali as it is called by the locals. He wanted to climb it with his father back in 1917, but he was a Captain in the US Army during the Great War and missed the expedition that his dad did with his business partner.  His dad made the summit, but lost his life during the climb.  Six years later, Allan has taken a job as an apprentice guide at the Curry Hotel along the Alaskan Railroad, which is currently the gateway to the new McKinley National Park.  When he meets his new boss, he is shocked to find that it was the guide, John Ivanoff, his father hired for the climb back in 2017. Unsure if he can control his anger and frustration with John, Allan tries to find a way to work alongside him.  If that doesn’t complicate things, Allan has become infatuated with John’s lovely daughter, Cassidy, who works in the kitchen as the assistant head cook.  As Allan gets to know John, he realizes that he is not the man that has been portrayed to him by his late father’s business partner.  As he dwells on the past, things about this man don’t start to add up.  Can Allan finally uncover the truth about his father’s death?  And can he finally let go of his anger against God?

This was my first Tracie Peterson book and I have just found an author who is a master at writing conflict into her story. There was just the right amount needed to keep me hooked throughout the whole story.  Never was there a dull moment.  And the character development was fantastic.  The story follows four main characters, John Ivanoff, Cassidy Ivanoff, Allan Brennan, and Frank Irving.  Three of the characters continued to have growth throughout the entire story while the antagonist, Frank, managed to spiral further downward.  I felt an instant connection with these characters and felt that I was alongside them rather than reading about them.

The history within the story was well researched too. I’m a little familiar with the railroad, but I had to go and research different parts of the story and found them to be in-line with history.  Even the dates of the bridge in the last chapter lined up.  I bet it was a sight to see.  I recommend this book to history lovers as well as those just needing a great book to kick off the new year!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed within are my own.

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