Publisher: P. D. Publishing
Nicky McCloud's husband is dead, which is actually a good thing for her. He was abusive and secretly gay, but he was also the mayor of Seattle and her entire identity was based around his position. Now he's gone, her children are grown and Nicky feels lost inside her own life. She decides to set herself a challenge and alter the course of her life. The challenge will be to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada and it's going to change her life more than she expects. On the trail she meets Jay Reisman and they agree to be hiking buddies. Nicky has no way of knowing that Jay has been stalking her. Jay blames Nicky's husband for giving her brother AIDS and she's determined to get evidence that Nicky knew about it so that Jay's family can sue her and her husband's estate for damages. As they hike, enjoy the scenery and encounter various "adventures," Jay comes to realize two things. Nicky was a victim of her husband also and she loves her. By the end of the trail the women come to realize that they can't return to the lives they left behind months later, but what kind of life can they have?
This is the first novel for Graystone and it shows real promise for any future books she may have published. Her intricate knowledge of the culture of hikers shows a lot of research and her descriptions of the landscape are spectacular. By the end of the book the reader may want to run out and hike the trail herself. She also creates characters that are extremely likeable. Even when it's revealed that Jay is not being honest, she's presented in a way that the reader can't hold her behavior against her.
There are some drawbacks to the book however. The story loses focus because there are too many topics squeezed into what is going on – conflict with children and in-laws, AIDS, abusive marriage, values for women and a murderer on the rampage. This would have been an excellent story about the hike alone without some of these issues cluttering the book. The dialogue needed some work and the final climatic scene between Nicky and her father-in-law didn't stay true to his character in the rest of the book. These flaws are easily outweighed however by the atmosphere and beauty of the setting plus the knowledge that is imparted about the hiking culture.
This is a good first effort for Graystone. The story flows easily and the details about the hiking culture make it interesting. Her descriptions of the country add warmth to the love story that develops between Nicky and Jay, so this is an enjoyable book to read.