Having only read this author once before, reaching the end of Cabin Fever was a superb re-affirmation of how satisfying Conley’s stories are.
A true opposites attract romance with a healthy dose of nature and outdoor pursuits, it’s ridiculously easy to be transported by Conley’s words to the picturesque rural Idaho town of Merrick. A town in which city dweller Kate Minton finds herself very much a fish out of water; tasked with spending a year in a remote and ramshackle cabin in order to obtain her half a million dollar inheritance.
If that weren’t terrible enough Kate’s inability to live even marginally off the grid, instantly rubs local contractor Riley Anderson up the wrong way. But, beggars can’t be choosers, after all work is work and at least Riley can soothe her irritation by silently admiring the beautiful Kate from a distance.
As Kate’s year progresses, so too does her relationship with Riley. But just as things look to be getting serious cracks start to appear and if Kate and Riley are meant to be, one of them will need to find the strength to share their past, whilst the other will finally discover a past she never knew existed.
Cabin Fever is slightly longer than the average Sapphic fiction , and unusually the story spans an extended period of time which only serves to continually kindle a readers interest in Kate and Riley’s connection. The chosen style of Conley’s storytelling gives the characters room to breathe much like a bottle of red wine, in turn giving a richness of depth to their story the like of which i often struggle to find in shorter literary works.
In spite of the length i found the pacing of the story to be perfect, there’s so many adventures wrapped up in Kate’s new found experiences as Riley shows her the ropes, that it’s impossible for the story to stagnate. Only a newbie to the great outdoors could mistake a bobcat kitten for the domesticated variety.
Not to mention that Conley has created a delightful cast of supporting characters that wholeheartedly enhance the story being told. Aunt Lilly is outright adorable, Nathan is the sweet and charming young man everyone wishes they knew, and I need to find a real life Nancy’s Diner and Bakery to while away the hours with slices of homemade cake and a great book (Cabin Fever anyone?)
I found it refreshing that the main adversary (aside from the elements) is kept off the page, and yet the tension and pain which that character causes Riley is palpable in every nook and cranny of Riley’s thoughts, feelings and actions.
There are so many profoundly enjoyable aspects of Cabin Fever, but I want to finish on what I think is my favourite takeaway; chosen family. As readers learn about Katie and Riley’s backgrounds, Conley builds in an authentic message about the power of chosen family and the deeply positive impact it can have. She also demonstrates the need for communication, honesty, and understanding across different communities – because sometimes you might just find a part of that supportive chosen family in the last place you’d think to look.
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