Set in 1927 Mount Rainier National Park, Karen Barnett’s “The Road to Paradise” is a beautiful love story — love for God, love for His creation, and pure romantic love.
Margie Lane, the daughter of a U.S. Senator who campaigned for the park’s creation, has always dreamed of working as a naturalist on the majestic mountain in Washington state. Looking for safety in the wilderness while running from a disturbing relationship, she is ecstatic to start her job learning about the flora and fauna of Mount Rainier, and showing other’s God’s love by revealing his creation to them. As she ponders, “How could someone live in the sight of such majesty and not understand the heart of the Creator?”
Chief Ranger Ford Brayden, however, is less than enthused to be overseeing this “poetry-spouting, plant-obsessed” woman who isn’t exactly qualified to work alongside park rangers. He sees nature and the mountain as a place full of danger and chaos. But as he slowly gets to know her, and sees her desire to fight injustices along the way, he finds himself quickly becoming more and more attracted to her.
As Margie and Ford grow closer, Ford must first seek healing from the accidental death of his father two years ago, which caused Ford to walk away from God, before they can pursue a relationship. They must also come together to fight an evil influence in her past life that now seeks to destroy the mountain they both have grown to love.
Besides being a delightful love story, “The Road to Paradise” is a great historical novel, offering lessons on the history of national parks. It reminds us of the raw beauty and power of the wilderness and how it shows “no mercy, no favoritism.” Barnett’s story reminds us of how nature’s beauty shows us God’s love, and that it wants us to understand creation and its creator. It also offers lessons on finding the strength when most needed, just like the fragile flowers growing on the mountain find the strength to survive. And Margie and Ford’s story reminds us that even in the darkness, God is always present; only God can bring healing; and we are the precious children of God.
You will fall in love with Margie, filled with moxie and always having a quote ready on her tongue, and Ford, the strong mountain man who is always willing to fight for what and who he believes in.
I hope there are more vintage national park novels to come!
Five stars out of five.
“The Road to Paradise” (A Vintage National Parks Novel) by Karen Barnett