Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2
“What’s to understand? Our roots are deep, just like your vines, which adapt to every season. No matter the harsh weather, there’s always new growth.”
Do you ever read a romance, and it holds you in its thrall? Yet, as you feel compelled to turn the page, you know the story breeds a certain level of reader anxiety. The happily-ever-after can’t come soon enough because your heart has become so invested in the characters, and their journey isn’t an easy one. However, in the midst of the struggles for the hero and heroine, there are moments of pure love, moments of clarity, and moments of understanding as to what it means to be human. This is the essence of K.K. Allen’s A Bridge Between Us.
I could easily reduce Allen’s story to a trope (star-crossed lovers), a genre (romantic suspense), a steam level (middlin’ to above average.) To do so, though, would cause you to reduce the gravity of Allen’s story. In A Bridge Between Us, Allen has written a sweeping love story that challenges your thinking about marginalized peoples, the horrors of poaching, familial bonds, and the effects of trauma. She introduces us to the glorious nature of Telluride, Colorado, crafting the nature into its own character. Like other authors who have defined themselves to a specific geographic area, Allen has done the same thing here with Telluride. I hope that she will take us back there in future books because its scenery plays a huge part in the story of her hero, Ridge, and her heroine, Camila. The landscape is a key part of their story.
Allen tells the story of two people who are neighbors but living under a feud between their families. They meet on a bridge that connects their two properties. Neither of them fully understands the depth of the feud, and they feel drawn to each other from their teenhood. As the story progresses, Ridge fights against his want for Camila, while Camila longs for him. Eventually, they acknowledge what they’ve already known: that they are fated for each other. Unfortunately, an incident occurs that unravels their connection, and they spend a decade apart. Even in their absence, Ridge and Camila are never far from each other. When Camila returns to her family’s vineyard after a ten-year absence, it remains to be seen if they can find their happy ending.
Allen’s sketch of Ridge is complex. In his character, Allen is able to focus on the Ute tribe, and the loss of their land to opportunistic landowners. As half white/half Ute, Ridge struggles to find a “home.” His portrayal shows a vulnerability, a need to find a home and a people. As Ridge and Camila interact initially, it’s clear that she “sees” the real him and brings out his layers. His circumspection and wisdom about the land challenge Camila’s carefree spirit. In their coupling, Ridge and Camila are complete. Their issues reside outside of themselves. Allen uses that to create the anxiousness in her readers for their happy ending.
Camila is my favorite character in A Bridge Between Us because she has a strength and independence that Ridge must balance. She knows herself except when she’s striving to please her father. She is outlined in success, and you know that tenacity will always deliver her a positive outcome, but she will struggle before getting there. Allen uses her as a foil to her father, his business partner, and even Ridge’s father. These three men represent the past, the patriarchy. Their ways of tending to business and the family feuds “work” for a short time. Allen’s depiction of Camila suggests that, as a woman, she has the freedom to think outside the limits of the patriarchy. She has an intuition about how to live life and run her family business because she isn’t mired in outdated rules. When she tries to please her father, you see her life unravel. When she lives by her own rules, she becomes more, better. This feels like an essential truth of Allen’s story: that we must live by our own rules as long as they create a better society.
And as always, Allen’s story is a veritable feast of style. As she loves to do, she creates an extended metaphor in her story to truly illustrate one’s capacity to love. In this book, the bridge is a representation of Ridge and Camila’s relationship. In the beginning, it’s used as a gatekeeper; eventually, it becomes a path; and finally, it unites them. This is where Allen shines as a writer.
K.K. Allen’s A Bridge Between Us is a gorgeous story about overcoming the trials of life to end up with the one who holds your heart. It will keep you turning the page because you need Ridge and his “Wild One” Camila to find their happy ending.
In love and romance,