A sweeping tale of love, legacy, and wilderness set between the present day and 1866 in the dramatic landscape of modern-day and territorial Montana.
While on a trip to Montana with her mom, British teen Hope meets local boy Cal Crow, a ranch hand. Caught in a freak accident, Hope and Cal take shelter in a cabin, where Hope makes a strange discovery in an abandoned diary. More than a hundred years earlier, another British girl — Emily — met a similar fate. Her rescuer, a horse trader named Nate. In this wild place, both girls learn what it means to survive and to fall in love, neither knowing that their fates are intimately entwined.
Historical fiction has always been one of my favorite genres and it’s one that I feel does not get enough love. I picked up Crow Moutain because it had been so long since I’d read anything historical fiction and this one seemed really unique. I was definitely right about that.
- Story: The story was the best thing Crow Mountain had going for it. I lumped this into the historical fiction genre but it’s not only historical fiction. The story alternates between present day Montana and 1866/67 Montana. Since I felt there was more focus on the past than the present, I considered it historical fiction. You could really classify it as both historical and contemporary. The story follows Hope/Cal in the present and Emily/Nate in the past. Hope is spending some time in Montana with her mother while she does research on the land. Cal is the son of the ranch owner they are staying with. Emily is a young British girl traveling to San Francisco to meet her future husband. Nate is a former soldier she briefly sees at one of the stops along the way. When Emily’s coach crashes, Nate is there to rescue her. However, he doesn’t return her to town so she can be on her way. Instead he takes her home with him and teaches her the ways of the land. Hope and Cal’s story is almost identical to Emily and Nate’s. As Hope reads Emily’s journal she starts to see the similarities between the two stories and wonders if she discovered the journal for a reason. Cal’s family has been feuding with the Hart family for centuries and it may be up to Emily and Cal to put an end to the feud before it kills any more people.
- Characters: To be completely honest, I liked Emily and Nate but Cal and Hope were a bit lacking, in my opinion. I’ll get to that part later though. Emily and Nate were in an odd situation. Emily didn’t know her future husband but she assumed she would be fine with him. She was drawn to Nate from the moment she first saw him but that doesn’t mean she wanted to run away with him. He essentially kidnapped her. He didn’t force her to stay with him but he knew there was no way she could leave him. She would have died in the wilderness on her own. He used that to his advantage, that’s for sure. He figured if he bided his time, she’d eventually come to love him. I wouldn’t normally be okay with a situation like that but Nate was a good guy and he never took advantage of her. He took care of her and he taught her how to take care of herself. Emily was pretty helpless at first but Nate didn’t allow that for long. It was easy to see that Emily really liked learning how to do things for herself. She didn’t want to have to rely on Nate and eventually, she didn’t have to.
- Romance: This is definitely one of those slow burn romances. Emily and Nate are attracted to each other but they don’t act on it. Rules were very different back in the 1800s and Emily was a proper lady. She wasn’t sure she’d ever make it back to her fiance but she knew that if she did, she had to be pure. She wanted to do what was right for her family and she wasn’t willing to risk that even though her feelings for Nate kept growing. She also didn’t know anything about love or relations between men and women. She was pretty clueless when it came to that so of course she wasn’t making any moves on Nate. It was kind of adorable how awkward she was about it all. As for Hope and Cal, they had a similar attraction but they knew they could act on it if they wanted. There was an age difference between the two and Cal had lots of secrets from his past but that didn’t really slow them down all that much. Their relationship moved a little too quickly for my tastes but I blame part of that on their situation. It forced them to really get to know each other and in a really short period of time.
- Characters: Like I said, Hope and Cal didn’t hold as much appeal to me as Emily and Nate. Hope was very sheltered and she could come across as kind of snobby. Cal was blatantly rude to her at times. While I felt like I could understand both of their issues, I would have been better with it if I felt like I knew them more. Most of the book was set in the past and I felt like Hope and Cal’s stories sometimes got pushed aside. I just didn’t feel the same connection to them as I did to Emily and Nate.
- Ending: The whole feud with the Hart family was not really explained very well and felt almost like an afterthought. Everything tied together really nicely at the end but I felt like it just came out of nowhere. I also felt like it was very rushed and some of the things were just not very believable. It’s already a pretty long book so I understand why things needed to wrap up quickly but I would have liked a bit more backstory as far as how things got started between the Harts and the Crows.
Overall, Crow Mountain had things that could have been improved upon but was still an enjoyable read. I loved that Lucy Inglis based a lot of it off of true events. I’ll have to see what else she has written and look for more historical fiction from her in the future.