Monday, December 7, 2020

Fox Crossing by Melinda Metz


So far in December I've read a few books that have nothing to do with this holiday season. I found this book when I was looking at new paperbacks at B&N and it certainly gave me the winter feels. The blurb on the cover says "A novel of a small town, love, luck, and one extra-special fox...". Sealed the deal for me. I absolutely love reading about small towns. This small town is in Maine; Fox Crossing has a population of 713. It's also the last stop before people start back on the Appalachian Trail, so it definitely sees a lot of hikers from all over the country. 

Annie Hatherley works and manages her family's outfitting shop-Hatherley's Outfitters. She's an experienced trail guide and works as an extractor-someone who goes out to find people in trouble on the trail and returns them to safety. She's a prickly one, is Annie. She routinely gets angry at customers who come into her store, naively thinking they are ready to hike the 100 Mile Wilderness. She knows exactly what they need to survive and thrive on the trail, and woe to those who don't listen to Annie's advice. Into her store comes Nick Ferrone, a man from Bensalem who has decided to hike the 100 mile trail--and isn't exactly as prepared as he seems. Sparks fly between Annie and Nick-attraction mixed with annoyance. Nick reluctantly accepts a tracker from Annie that will show his location to her and if he gets in trouble, she will be able to find him on the trail. 

Nick, of course, gets in trouble, and Annie saves his life. Their attraction is growing, but Annie knows he's only in town for a few weeks, and he'll leave. She's a capable, strong Hatherley woman who doesn't need a man to be happy. 

The fun part of this novel is about the fox. This fox, known around town as The Fox, is part of the town lore and people continue to believe in the power of the fox. When this distinctive fox shows up, good things happen to those who see it. Not seen for quite some time, the fox is popping up here and there, and yes indeed, things begin to happen. 

At first, the novel seems a bit slow; however I did love getting to know the townspeople: Banana, Honey, Belle, and Shoo Fly are just some of the colorful characters. It didn't take much for me to fall deep into this story. Something about the small town vibe, the connection to nature, and the feeling of a place where people go to let the outdoors work magic on their souls. The tension between Annie and Nick is a major part of the plot, and if you're anything like me; well, Annie got a bit annoying with her stubbornness. However, she does evolve after some hard truths hit her, which had me heaving a sign of relief! Yes, I felt the novel had a slow start, but then it picked up and I couldn't put it down.

I so enjoyed this book: the people, the setting, the emphasis on living with nature and learning from it. The healing that nature can do if we just be still. The glimpse into hiking the Appalachian Trail (which, in another life, I'd be interested in doing-at least bits of it) and all the preparation and planning that goes into such an undertaking. It all comes together into a novel that was a surprise find for me, and all because the cover caught my eye. I guess that fox can do magic for me, too. 

Rating: 4/6 for an novel about a small town, the connections people have to each other, the nature that surrounds them, and taking a chance on love. Perfect for those who like small town novels and animals. 

Available in paperback and ebook.

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