11 September 2013

Review: Stranded by Dani Pettrey

If you like classic Dee Henderson (the True Devotion and O’Malley series), then you’ll love Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series—Submerged, Shattered and Stranded. I’ve read all three, and really enjoyed them all. Stranded is the third in a series, but you don’t have to read the other two first (although that might help you sort out all the characters—the McKenna family is large and growing).

When Darcy St James gets a call from her college roommate asking for help, she’s immediately packed and up to Alaska, taking an undercover job as a journalist on the cruise ship Bering. Abby has arranged to meet her on board, but is nowhere to be found. Darcy thinks the crew members are hiding something, because no one wants to mention Abby—it seems that single women disappear from the ship all the time with no explanation.

Darcy’s both relieved and apprehensive when she finds her new job involves working with Gage McKenna, who she met last winter on a journalism assignment in his home town (in Shattered). She’s attracted to Gage, but he’s not a Christian—but he is trustworthy, and she doesn’t know who to trust on the Bering.

Stranded is well-put together, and is a real page-turner, as a romantic suspense novel should be. There are plenty of characters with secrets (always a good sign), and there are some good hints of what might be coming in future books in the series. The characters are all realistic, intelligent and have some personal depth, and the romance between Darcy and Gage is well-played. Pettrey has that enviable skill of making the feelings bounce off the page without specifically telling the reader what is happening. I think that romantic subtext is one of the things that all romance writers should aspire to.

One thing I think is weird: Darcy St James is also the name of the heroine in one of Dee Henderson’s books, and Dani Pettrey thanks ‘Dee’ at the end of the book (this might be a random Dee, not Dee Henderson, but Dee Henderson has blurbed Stranded, so it probably is her). It’s weird enough to use the name of a character from another well-known book in the same genre; it’s very weird if that person is your mentor. I found this jarring, and that’s why I haven’t rated Stranded five stars.

Especially as Stranded is miles better than Dee Henderson’s recent release, Full Disclosure. I’ve got a review copy of Henderson’s next book, Unspoken, and I’m nervous about reading it in case it’s like Full Disclosure.

Recommended for those who like romantic suspense from authors such as Susan May Warren, Lynette Eason, Irene Hannon or Diann Mills. Thanks to Bethany House and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review. You can find out more about Dani Pettrey at her website.

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