Under the Northern Lights

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 May 2019

Member Reviews

Under the Northern Lights is filled with beautiful scenery but also a sense of loneliness and isolation.  When Mallory makes her annual trek to Alaska to photograph wild animals she doesn't expect to get caught up in an unexpected storm and crash her plane.  Her plane loses all her supplies as it is ripped apart before she lands.   With only herself to rely on to survive plus having suffered injuries and the  effects of the severe cold, will she be able to locate any of her supplies in order to make it?

Mallory is nothing if not resourceful but she doesn't expect to be fighting for her life with one of the wild animals she loves to photograph.  When someone unexpectedly comes to her rescue in this remote area she doesn't know what to think.  Michael is a mountain man who lives on his own and is a survivalist.  As we get to know them and his reason for living out there in the wilds, it's hard to envision.  Michael has more walls built up around him than Mallory expects but she tries to chip away at them a little at a time.  As he teaches her about his routines and his reasons for being there, she tries to picture things differently.  As they grow closer and even start to get romantically involved they both know there is no future for them since he won't leave Alaska and her home is back in Idaho where she has family and friends.  There was definitely more romance than I was expecting.

There are twists and turns to the story as well as many encounters of wildlife that play havoc on their living conditions as well as themselves.  There are sad moments along with some that are glorious.  Their paths do part and what will become of them then?  Will Mallory be able to embrace her old life or will Michael always be a part of her?  What of Michael after Mallory leaves him alone once again in the wilds?  There is a wonderful ending that I wasn't expecting but an epilogue would have been nice for better closure.

Ms. Stephens is a new to me author.  I may give her Thoughtless series a try.
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It took me forever to finally sit down with this book but once I did, I fell hard and fast. I loved the premise, loved the complicated emotion. All in all, a solid read.
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Thank you so much for the opportunity to read this book. Unfortunately, this story wasn't for me and I wasn't able to finish it, so will not be reviewing.

I look forward to future titles!
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This is one of those books which can’t seem to decide what it wants to be. It starts out reading like a harrowing survival story, detailing Mallory’s life choices which lead her to the point of a plane crash in the remote Alaskan wilderness, and then derails into a mountain-man romance of the type which have been very popular on Amazon of late - except without the sex and with a lot more angst, pining and religious overtones.

Michael’s decision to live out in the wilderness without any means to contact help if anything should go wrong seems just as stupid and contrived as Mallory’s failure to carry a radio or a distress beacon. Seriously? She has a loving, caring family, and none of them said “here, before you go off alone in the wilderness, take this GPS watch with an inbuilt distress beacon?” It was so contrived I was constantly annoyed.

Not only that, but Mallory is the absolute definition of a self-entitled little brat who thinks she can get everything she wants if she just pushes other people around enough to get it. Michael saves her life and she barely takes a moment to be grateful before she’s trying to push him to tell her the life story he clearly doesn’t want to share. Worst of all, her pushiness gets her everything she wants in the end, which is just appalling - I only have to think about how much I’d hate this story if the genders were reversed and Mallory were a man pushing a woman into intimacies she expressly says she doesn’t want.

For a doctor, Michael seems surprisingly unconcerned about antibiotics or anything resembling proper wound care, including his apparent need to take stitches out of a serious wound 2 days after putting them in. I’m pretty sure any medical professionals reading this would be shrieking in horror.

Honestly, I’m not even sure why I battled through to the end of this one. I haven’t abandoned a book from sheer boredom in ages, though, and I don’t believe in critiquing something without full and complete knowledge of it. So having actually finished it, I can now definitively say; oh dear lord, this was SO BORING. Don’t waste your time. Two stars.

Disclaimer; I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.
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3 stars

Goodreads review:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42118237-under-the-northern-lights
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I have struggled with S C Stephens for a while now. I cannot fault this authors writing but I think after reading the Thoughtless series my standards might be a little too high now for this author?

While this book was well written in theory, I found it slow, too descriptive, my mind started wandering, I started skimming over the words, over the pages.. 

I guess I was just expecting more, and this book did not deliver..

2 stars!

**copy received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
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I never been wilderness especially the Alaska and I must say that reading the synopsis of this story, it made me exciting.

Mallory is such a brave woman, and I admired her passion in capturing animals in Alaska. I like that she is a pilot too!

Michael, on the other hand, is such a mysterious man who have been living in seclusion for five year.

I loved how their chemistry developed, not too slow. I was surprised with the reason why Michael left his successful life.

Applaud with the ending, and it was unexpected and I enjoyed it.

Thank you Montlake Romance for the ARC!
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S.C. Stephens is a new to me author and since I started reading this novel at 1:00 a.m., couldn't put it down, and it's now 6:00 a.m., and when I'm reading a story that draws me in so completely that sleep becomes irrelevant, where the characters have substance and depth, that's a 5-star romance novel to me, and Under the Northern Lights certainly deserves those 5 stars.

Mallory Reynolds is an accomplished wildlife photographer, finally earning a living doing what she loves although her parents, who own and operate a diner have tried to convince her to get a real 9 to 5 job, photographing wildlife in distant and remote locations is what she loves, and when she flies her Piper Cub solo into one of her favorite locations, the Alaskan wilderness, where she'll camp for several weeks, and hopefully manage to take some fabulous photographs of the native wildlife that will forward her career, she's pumped and excited. Although the weather reports have told her that she'll be flying in good, clear weather, storm clouds are descending on her small aircraft, and she decides to try to find a flat place to land until the storm passes, but then it starts sleeting, and visibility is so poor she can't see the ground, and she's flying into mountainous terrain. She's flown this route before and knows there is a good, flat landing spot on the other side of two mountains, gets a break in the clouds that allows her to fly between them and thinks she's home free, but then her engine stalls, she can't restart it, her plane dropping so low that she can't help crashing into the the forested area below, eventually hitting the ground, her plane a total wreck. When she regains consciousness, she realizes that she's badly injured, alone in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness which is teeming with wildlife, like grizzly bears, moose, and packs of wolves, and she slowly and painfully extricates herself from the twisted wreckage of her plane and tries to gather what few supplies remain on board, and search for her necessities survival pack, knowing that she must find shelter before nightfall, find the rifle she always keeps on board when heading off into the wilderness, start a fire to keep warm, and stop herself from bleeding out from her leg injury, knowing that she also has broken ribs, can barely breathe because of them, and can only hobble along on one leg. She manages to get it done despite being in shock and in excruciating pain. This is one determined and resourceful heroine, and she manages to keep herself alive for a couple of days, wondering how she'll ever get out of this terrifying situation, which becomes even more terrifying when, smelling blood, she's surrounded by a pack of hungry wolves. She manages to shoot a couple of them, and the rest keep coming closer when suddenly someone out of nowhere shoots the wolf ready to attack her and scares away the rest of the pack. 

Mallory's surprise rescuer is Michael Bradley, who she learns has been living alone in the Alaskan wilderness for the past 5 years. Michael manages to get Mallory to his cabin, it was a one day walk for him to get to her, but 4-day trek back to his cabin towing Mallory there on an improvised travois, fashioned out of some the plane wreckage and branches. While stitching up her leg, she learns that he was a doctor, but he's a man of very few words, with a past he's more than a little reluctant to discuss, and Mallory is intrigued by his reasons for living in total isolation. 

Since there is no way to communicate with her family to let them know she's alive, no way to call for a rescue, and no way Michael can fly her out because his own small plane is out of commission, Mallory learns that she'll be spending the winter in Michael's cabin, and does her best to help with the many labor-intensive chores required to assure their survival as soon as she's healed enough to help. She's intrigued by this handsome though wild haired and scraggly bearded mystery man, impressed by his excellent care of her, impressed by his survival skills and surprised by his generosity toward her, her presence requiring him to double their supply of food to make it through the long and brutal Alaskan winter. 

If you're looking for some wild and wicked sexy stuff between these two characters, you won't soon find it. Instead, Ms. Stephens has written a poignant, touching tale of a broken man, still in love with his wife who was murdered 5 years earlier. The fact that she didn't have to die has made him bitter and made him lose faith in God and in humans, who heard her screams for help but didn't want to get involved. What begins as a slowly building friendship between Mallory and Michael simmers as their forced proximity gives them time to learn more about each other, although it takes Mallory's interest and questions that finally get Michael to open up to her, and he fights opening up tooth and nail. Mallory finds herself slowly falling for a man who says he has no heart, no love to give, and who plans to stay in his cabin in the middle of nowhere forever. Michael can't help but feel attracted to Mallory, but says he has nothing to give her. Once the engine part he needs to fix his plane arrives, he plans to fly her back to civilization, but he also plans to head right back to his cabin in the wilderness.

The long winter is not without its perils either, a hungry wolf tearing up the cabin and eating their supplies, a sudden whiteout blizzard while out checking Michael's trap line, leaving them blind with no way to get back to the safety of the the cabin, and even a grizzly bear attack, and through it all, Michael and Mallory manage to work through it together, each incident drawing them closer together--but only as far as Michael will allow. 

Mallory knows she's falling in love with a man who says he can offer her no future, and who she knows she'll have to leave as soon as spring arrives. There's plenty of angst and heartache along the way as these two try to come to terms with their growing feelings for one another and the impossibility of them ever having a long-term relationship since the reality is that they choose to live in two different worlds. As their feelings for one another grow, they both sense the futility they are facing and the decision they will each have to make. It all made for a deeply felt, deeply moving and highly emotional read, one that had me in tears more than once, and I absolutely loved every minute of it. While I was shocked to see some of the negative reviews of this novel, I can only say that it worked just fine for me, and I cannot wait to read more from this author.

I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this novel. The opinions expressed are my own.
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This book wasn't quite what I was expecting based on its description. The story is slower, less romantic, and more cumbersome than I initially imagined. I wanted to love it but it was just okay for me.
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Before I begin saying whatever I wanted to say about the book, I have to mention something that I had no idea that actually bothered some people since I just accepted it as a part of Mallory's character. She believes in God. She mentions stuff about faith and God, but they weren't the in your face kind. She has faith in something and that seemed to bother a number of readers. I know most characters don't have a religion or smoke or dye their hair, but this one is a little diverse. Another one mentioned the lack of tampons (seriously who thinks that when reading a book?). Some women use a cloth during the aunt flow days and that's what she probably did. I will admit that I didn't find the book perfect, but some people are just nitpicking. And I only read some reviews because I was eating and wanted something to spend my time while I was chewing.

Now, on the actual review )which will probably be shorter than the paragraph above) I will say what I liked and what I didn't while reading the book.

First of all, I have to mention that I have no idea how either character survived in this book. There were many moments where I thought they would have died but actually didn't.

Mallory is a photographer and Michael used to be a doctor, but now he is living in a cabin isolated from most of the world. He only goes into town to sell fur and buy supplies. When Mallory's planes crashes, Michael goes to the area hoping to find a part for his plane and not actually see if any people are alive, which seemed a little cold-hearted. Anyways, he finds Mallory and takes her in. Almost all the book is just the two of them, trying to survive the winter in his cabin. Keep that in mind when you consider whether you will buy the book or not. Michael is closed off as a person due to some heartbreaking events in his life and Mallory is slowly trying to find a way into his heart. They took things slow and the story is mostly about how Michael healed from the past.

The story is told entirely from Mallory's point of view. I liked her and I found her relatable to some extent. She was not in need of a backbone and it wasn't a hardship to read a story told completely by her. I liked her. Michael is no Kellan, but he was a good hero and a good man. He might not have a voice in the storytelling, but he is also going through a journey in this story. I liked the book. It was very easy to read and the pace was good. I will go with the 4.5-star rating, which I will round to 5 since I don't think that the book deserves the 3.72 it currently has on Goodreads.
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Wilderness, LOADS of religion talk, and neither character was strong enough for me to endure myself to like them. Not my cup of tea.
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REVIEW: DNF AT 28% 

As upsetting as it is to admit this, I just couldn't with this book. This won't be a long review because I honestly didn't make it past 28%. The biggest, single most annoying reason I didn't get any farther was because I was DONE with the repetitive nature of the entire book. 

Repeating something for a dramatic effect is ok. I can live with it, but when it's every.single.page. talking about her injuries and what happened and why she can't move and how she hurt herself and what makes her hurt....blah blah blah. STOP. I know she crashed her plane. We allll know she crashed her plane. Every single paragraph had a reference to pain, to her injury, to the pain that was caused by her injury, to the exasperating feeling of the pain caused by her injury, and of course, the pain that was caused by doing a chore that she thought she could do but failed to realize that her injury prevented her from doing said chore.... because pain. Are you seeing what I am saying? I don't want to hear about it THAT. MUCH. It makes for a long and boring read. 

Get to the meat of the story. Tell me how she is going to fall for this hermit of a man that is supposed to be all dark and mysterious - which, of course, he wasn't. Cue the "I know why you're here and this is no mystery" tune. I think I was just completely frustrated by the lack of any depth or grab to this story. It wasn't original in any aspect either because I could have told you the minute we learned of his profession why he was out here hiding in the woods. It was ridiculous, honestly. 

On top of all of this, it was very religious. I am not saying that there isn't a place for religion in books, but it should have been marketed as Christian Romance because I never would have picked this up if I was going to be reciting passages from the bible. It was way over the top NOT ok in this book at all. Like, not even a little bit. It was absolutely out of place and ridiculous. I obviously didn't feel any connection between the characters because I was out of it from basically the beginning, but the way it was going, it was most definitely not going to work for me. Again, the religious aspect of it really ruined what was possibly left of the story for me. She lost me at sheep.

This whole experience was completely frustrating because one of my top favorite EVER rockstar books gave me Kellan Kyle....all by Miss Stephens. I'm just going to walk away and pretend this never happened. 

~BEE
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I admit to requesting Under the Northern Lights based on having read other books from Stephens. Had I known exactly what I was getting, I might not have chosen to read it. That being said, I have to say I'm happy to have met this "other side" of Stephens.

The story centers around Mallory and Michael. Mallory's plane crashes (she was flying solo) in remote Alaska. Fearing her chances of survival are slim in the harsh conditions, she's surprised when she's essentially rescued by a mountain man. Michael. He can offer her food and shelter but transportation home has to wait as winter begins to really sink her claws into the area. As Mallory and Michael spend days, weeks, then months together, tending wounds, chopping wood, gathering food and water, they get to know each other quite well. And a romance of sorts begins to blossom.

The story took a while to get going. Mallory's exposition early on, while necessary in "setting the scene", was a bit slow and drawn out. However, the story did eventually take off despite following day-to-day activities. Getting to know Mallory and Michael as they got acquainted as they dealt with the harsh realities of living remotely and off the grid, was interesting. Mallory and Michael spent days holed up inside playing cards as winter raged outside. They also spent days fighting off wolves and grizzlies. I thought Stephens did well in conveying the rhythm of a life lived this way.

The romance was very slow-burning but there were extenuating circumstances behind that pace. And besides, I think the story was more about family and forgiveness than romance so the slow-burn felt genuine. However, I was irritated on occasion by Michael's hesitancy and wishy-washy-ness with Mallory.

Under the Northern Lights had a religious element woven into it. Mallory was open about her faith while Michael was candid about his lack of it. I think the events in the book made it clear that a higher power was at work, whether that higher power be God, the Universe, or Fate. Mallory shouldn't have survived the plane crash but she did. And it seemed as though these two were destined to play a role in each other's lives. However, Stephens was never heavy-handed with the religious element and I never felt she had an agenda.

So Under the Northern Lights wasn't exactly what I was expecting from Stephens. But despite the slow pace at times and my aggravation with Michael, I'm glad I gave this book a chance.
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2 Stars / 2 Steam Fans 

Wilderness, LOADS of religion talk, and neither character was strong enough for me to endure myself to like them. Not my cup of tea. 

This specific video review will be included in the May/June wrap-up. 

For other video book reviews cheeck out my YouTube Channel: Steph's Romance Book Talk.
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Under the Northern Lights creates a uniquely interesting romance, firstly, by having our two main characters be basically the only two people in the story - given that Mallory is rescued by Michael when the plane she is flying alone crashes, the two are stranded together. Stephens artfully writes emotion and love and hurt in this story and executes it beautifully. 

Thank you to Montlake for an advanced copy. All opinions are my own.
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I enjoyed Michael & Mallory's story. I have a hard time with the first person narratives, though. At times this read like a high school essay of "How I Spent My Summer Vacation". I picture this as a lifetime movie, especially with the ex coming into play. Overall it wasn't bad.
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The synopsis pulled me in and I expected something exciting, emotional, and unputdownable. 
What I got was an unrealistic and rather boring story with no connection between the characters.
Mallory’s “faith” would’ve been okay had it been more than touching her necklace and the odd wish/prayer to get in Michael’s pants. It seemed fake and contrived. 
I was also surprised to see a lot of glaring errors in both plot and grammar.
Overall, not a book I would recommend. I’ve read some amazing survival/tragedy/wilderness romance stories and this sadly wasn’t one of them.
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I went into this book blind. I was hoping for another favorite by this author.
The 3 stars is soley for the fact that this author braved all the hatred against faith and added a very small amount of prayer and faith in this romance. The heroine prayed very very shortly a few times and touched her cross. She spoke about her faith in a conversation with the hero.
That's it and people were very hateful and absolutely lied saying it should have been a Christian romance. Come on please just because you hate faith and don't believe shouldn't mean you have to be a liar too.
The romance was one sided though so I can't rate it high at all. The hero gave zero to the story until the last chapter. He lived in the past and the heroine was absolutely 2nd best. He was beta all the way through. He could have been asexual with how he talked.
I felt zero chemistry.
Sorry but 3 stars only for the fact that the author braved having a heroine wear a cross necklace and say about 4 prayers. How dare she? Remember tolerance isn't for Christians.. Only those that don't believe and that's just wrong. #sarcasm
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Mallory Reynolds is a wildlife photographer. Every year, she loads up her little plane and heads out to the wilds of Alaska. Living on her own with the cold beauty of nature surrounding her, she is cut off from friends and family until she makes it back home. Except this time, the unthinkable happens and she crashes her plane in the middle of the wilderness.

Michael Bradley left New York years ago as a self-imposed punishment after something in his past sends him running for the peace and quiet of life on his own terms. When Mallory literally comes crashing down near his cabin, and no hope of reaching civilization until the spring, his serenity is interrupted.

S.C. Stephens creates a gradual love affair with some very scary survival moments to keep you interested. Wild animals, food stores, frostbite...all of these are very real threats to Mallory and Michael, but threats that they face head-on together. The thrill of knowing that they are one small step away from disaster at any moment brings them closer together against their wills. Neither of them is looking for romance but the constant companionship of being stuck together for months without running water or electricity slowly turns into more. As they learn to rely on each other, the heat between them builds.

When I say this is a slow burn, it's a SLLLLOOOOOW burn. For most of the book, the feelings are very one-sided. There is a faith-based feel to this romance as well with Mallory trying to get to the bottom of what happened to Michael and convince him that life and faith are worth having. In spite of the slow development of the relationship, Under The Northern Lights is a page turner as they work together to survive in the Alaskan wilderness. While the ending was a little predictable, who doesn't love a HEA when both parties decide they can't live without the other. This is one book that will charm you while leaving you on the edge of your seat.
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This book has some religious lead in for example the main character wears a cross and prays a lot. Sometimes it is the faith that keeps you going in life. 
Mallory was brought up n a close family even though her job puts her out of contact for months at a time. She did not expect to crash her plane or to meet a man and be rescued. A burly man who moved away from civilization. 

I thought the story was good, however there were sections that moved a little slow for me.


** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review**
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