Contemporary Fiction

Yellowstone Yondering by Kristen Joy Wilks. Book Review and Guestpost

This book is set in the Yellowstone National Park and was a delight to read

When a free-spirited wildlife photographer loses her Scottish terrier in a herd of bison, she sets out to rescue her furbaby before he is devoured. But will she succeed when Yellowstone National Park is chock full of boiling, bubbling, and rampaging hazards (both mammalian and geographical) — not to mention a rule-obsessed park ranger whose many rescues thwart her efforts to find her poor pup?

They say opposites attract, and when it comes to Kayla Dineen and Ranger Alexander Brandt, no two people have ever been more opposed…or attractive. Old Faithful isn’t the only thing making noise at Yellowstone this season.

My Thoughts

What do you get when you put a staunch rule following park ranger and a break the rules to save my pet photographer together? A recipe for chaos but with a little bit of romance thrown in.
This book was definitely a delightful journey across the Yellowstone National Park.
From the moment I met Alexander, I knew I would love him in all his “grumpy” glory. His strict standards all stemmed from a place of genuine concern because he had experienced those dangers before and knew the heartache that came with it.
And although he infuriated Kayla with his park rules, he still tried to help her out especially when her dog got missing.
Kayla has some tough decisions to make when facing her past with her two college roommates. It’s hardaking the right decision but she does it remembering that she has been redeemed by Christ and the past is gone.
From grizzly to bison escapades, stolen first kisses and near burning experiences, this book was a delight to read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. All opinions expressed are mine.

About The Author

Kristen Joy Wilks lives in the beautiful Cascade Mountains with her camp director husband, three fierce sons, and a large and slobbery Newfoundland dog. She has blow-dried a chicken, fought epic Nerf battles instead of washing dishes, transported a gallon bag of cooked bacon inside her purse, and discovered a smuggled gardener snake in her sons’ bubble bath. Her stories, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Nature Friend, Clubhouse, Thriving Family, Keys for Kids, The Christian Journal, Splickety, Spark, and Havok. She writes romantic comedies for Pelican Book Group, including Copenhagen Cozenage, The Volk Advent, Athens Ambuscade, Spider Gap, and Yellowstone Yondering. Kristen loves to write about the humor and Grace that can be found amidst the detritus of life. Much like the shiny quarter one member of their household swallowed and then found in the pot four days later. If God is good enough to grant us these gems, she figures that someone should be putting them to the page. Kristen can be found tucked under a tattered quilt in an overstuffed chair at 4:00am writing a wide variety of implausible tales, or at If you would rather enjoy photos of charging bison, Newfoundland dogs, and attacking squid then by all means visit her “What I’m Writing About” board on Pinterest

More From Kristen

What led you to write Yellowstone Yondering?

My dream vacation was to go camping in Yellowstone National Park with our three sons. We finally went when they were twelve, ten, and eight. We started the adventure driving twelve straight hours (who wants to spend $ to sleep somewhere?) in an old Astrovan that had no AC and windows that had stopped working in the down position. It was interesting during hailstorms (yep, we had one of those) but we made it to the park and through two days of touristy activities before it broke down! On this trip, I realized that Yellowstone was a perfect setting for a RomCom. Especially if one of the characters was an adventurous, “rules-optional” kind of person.

There are tons of terrifying warning signs in Yellowstone. Since English is a second language to many of the park visitors, these signs have a lettered warning accompanied by large drawings of the danger. Some the most alarming warnings depict the same little boy (my husband dubbed him Jimmy) in various perils. Jimmy being flung skyward by a raging bison. Jimmy falling through the thin crust of a thermal zone into the boiling water beneath. Jimmy waving a bag of marshmallows in terror as a full-grown grizzly bear chases him down with a hungry gleam in its eye.

We were careful to obey the rules, clearly, there are good reasons to do so. But I kept imagining what might happen if a character did not. There are so many fabulous perils in the park to hazard a hapless heroine! But she would need a really good reason to disobey common sense as no one wants to read about someone who is “too dumb to live.” Well, we read the book, Death in Yellowstone out loud while we were on vacation. A classic, which tells the story of everyone who has died in the park since they began keeping records. Someone actually dove into a hot spring to save his dog. Both the man and dog died. I always have a fun animal in my stories, usually a dog. Pet owners will go to great lengths for their furbabies. I knew that a lost dog in the park could provide plenty of motivation for my heroine to enact any number of ill-advised stunts. Which is perfect for a RomCom! Add a stern (but handsome) park ranger charged with keeping the tourists safe and I had a premise that was rife with natural conflict.

How did the writing process feel like for this story?

Well, the plotting pretty much involved me asking: “What should a tourist NOT do in Yellowstone?” and then pushing her to do just that on her quest to rescue her lost pup. I had to rework this story quite a lot with my critique partner and do lots of cutting as the story got too large for my publisher’s specifications. I think that all this work made it such a better story in the end. It can be frustrating to revise again and again, but is so worth it once your tale begins to sing!

What would you love your readers to get from the book?

The Christian Theme of Yellowstone Yondering is God’s Restoration. I wrote about the way God finds us where we are at and then goes from there, giving us grace, making us a new creation. God works both in the hero’s life as he is strong and cautious and careful to follow the rules and the heroine’s life as she has decided to leave a destructive path, finds the strength to choose God, and discovers new life in Christ.

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