Marji Laine

I Love a Good Mystery!

Review: Stranded

Third  installment in the Alaskan Courage series, Stranded by Dani Pettrey

I anxiously anticipated Stranded this third book in the Alaskan Courage series. The first book, Submerged, made me an all-time fan of Dani Pettrey. Her second book, Shattered, was even better, in my opinion, than her first. I expected the same from the third installment.

In my opinion, Stranded isn’t as good as Shattered or Submerged. Those of you who follow my reviews know that I have a problem saying things like that. I never want to review books that I don’t like, so let me set your mind at ease!

Chicken-Fried Chicken isn’t as good as a perfect Filet Mignon. Oreos aren’t as good as fresh-baked Tollhouse cookies. But I LOVE Chicken-Fried Chicken and Oreos!

5 gold starsAnd I LOVED Stranded. I can whole-heartedly give it my 5-star rating. It’s a great book! The fact that it isn’t the best book I’ve ever read, which is the rank I gave to both Submerged and Shattered when I read each of them, doesn’t detract from all this book has to offer.

The best thing about this book is the romance. If you read Shattered, you know that the Gage and Darcy already showed sparks. Oh yeah, they are back and the atmosphere is intense, conflicted, misunderstood, frustrated, and back to intense.

Darcy has a head-strong way about her. She’s complex though. Deep inside she’s gentle and far too kind to be the hard-nosed investigative reporter that she used to aspire to be. So even though she comes across as a little blond bulldog, she’s more of a golden retriever who just wants to help wherever she can.

One of my all-time favorite books, Submerged by Dani Pettrey

If you’re familiar with my heroine series, I think she actually mixes a couple of those character archetypes. In her essence, she’s a WAIF – that’s the damsel in distress character, I know, and Darcy doesn’t come across as being helpless. But she’s also one of the the gentlest characters, always conscious about the people around her and wanting to help them. Probably, her concern for others is one of the reasons why she’s ready to give up investigative reporting.

But during this book and because of the situation in which she finds herself, Darcy becomes a CRUSADER, determined to follow through on the project until she completes her task. Again, because of her concern over a particular person. The CRUSADER does whatever is necessary to accomplish the goal. Darcy even faces her worst fears – heart-pounding! She would never have put herself in that position had the concern not been so important. The project so incredibly personal.

That leads me to Gage as a hero. He’s an adrenaline junkie, but not the SWASHBUCKLER personality that often has that tendency. His compassion and concern for people make him a WARRIOR. Though he can be brutal about his opponents, he’ll never be happy if an innocent person is harmed.

One of my all-time favorite books, Shattered by Dani Pettrey

The good news is, the WARRIOR is a great romantic match-up for both the WAIF and the CRUSADER. He’ll esteem the CRUSADER as she proves herself worthy of his good opinion. But the WAIF needs him. And a WARRIOR needs to be needed! No wonder the romance in this book is so good!

But the best thing about this book is probably the reason that I didn’t like it as well as I liked the others. Check out my all-time favorites:

  1. Colleen Coble’s Tidewater Inn
  2. Dani Pettrey’s Shattered
  3. Lynette Eason’s When the Smoke Clears (Review coming soon)
  4. Dani Pettrey’s Submerged
  5. Ronie Kendig’s Firethorn

Every single one of these books drew me because of the intensity of the suspense and the twisted mystery. The romance is the whipped cream topping for a great story, to my way of thinking.

The suspense is there in Stranded: a missing friend, a hideous crime, terror on the high seas. The only thing missing in this book is that last “OH MY GOSH!” Both Shattered and Submerged had the final showdown in a yikes type of situation. Stranded didn’t end with that intensity, though I did read the final pages at arms link with my eyes squinted, afraid of what would happen next.

Dani Pettrey and I at the ACFW 2013 Gala

Dani Pettrey and I at the ACFW 2013 Gala

All in all, I rank a book by how it stays with me. The books I’ve mentioned today were read over the past few years, but I can still remember the plot, what I loved about them, the final showdown. A year from now, I’ll still remember Stranded‘s plot and definitely the romance. The mark of a great book!

Oh and I had to get just a little star-struck at the 2013 ACFW Conference. Dani is a great sport and had to pose for this pic through three mis-fires! So excited to get to meet her!

Author: Marji Laine

Marji is a recently "graduated" homeschooling mom whose twin girls have blessed her by sticking around the nest for a little longer. She spends her days directing the children’s music program at her church and working with the authors of Write Integrity Press to put out the best possible version of their books. Raised in suburban Dallas, she got her first taste of writing through the stories of brilliant authors of their day, Mignon Eberhart and Phyllis A. Whitney, and through stage experience. After directing and acting in productions for decades, Marji started writing her own scripts. From that early beginning, she delved into creating scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

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