In book three of her Alaskan Courage series, Dani Pettrey outdoes herself in mystery, suspense, and adventure. Something isn't right on the Alaskan cruise ship the Bering. When Darcy St. James' friend Abby discovers some mysterious crimes lurking just under the surface of the cruise, Darcy revisits her undercover reporter past to help Abby out, not knowing what to expect until Abby briefs her in person. However, Abby doesn't show, and word has it a young woman went overboard, but no one is saying anything about the woman - if she is all right, where she is, or even who rescued her. Gage McKenna and his Last Frontier Adventures company - primarily comprised of his siblings - have been contracted to provide adventure excursions for the wealthy vacationers, and Gage quickly finds himself dragged into Darcy's investigation, as much as he dislikes the duplicity involved in her undercover role. Together with the rest of the McKenna clan, they have to figure out what happened to Abby and what big story she was onto before that trouble finds them . . .
While this book could be read as a stand alone, it is best to read the first two novels - Submerged and Shattered - beforehand. While there is a main couple that each novel focuses on, the books do a good job at further developing the whole McKenna family so that by book three, personalities, family dynamics, and relationships are fairly well established, and thus tensions between characters do not need much explanation. Each novel also sets up the following one by weaving in the thoughts of the main subjects of the next - so while Gage and Darcy are the main characters in Stranded, the point of view occasionally shifts to Jake and Kayden, who will star in the fourth novel of the series.
As a Christian, I really appreciated Darcy's convictions in the story - while there is a thrill to undercover work, she really struggles with the lies and deception involved. Her heart aches for those that she loves who have yet to meet Christ, and she struggles with the fact she is falling in love with an unbeliever, no matter how good the chances are that he will some day return to Christ, given the number of people praying for him and his strong Christian family. She knows that before it happens she cannot get into a relationship with him, no matter how much she wants to. It is a hard message to hear, but it could save so much heartache.
Another hard subject Pettrey discusses - which proves to be the turning point for Gage - is the loss of a child, and why God would allow such a thing to happen. Surprisingly, I had never heard Pettrey's view before reading it in the story, but it makes sense and I believe is biblically solid - that God has created us for eternity, and though a baby may only spend a few moments breathing on earth, that child still has eternity with God, just as those of us who know Jesus will each join Him for eternity. So while we may not have that time here on earth, we will be united after our short lives are over, but only if Jesus is King in our hearts.
While I enjoyed the first two books of the series, this
one so far is my favorite - the publisher's description really is just
the tip of the iceberg in terms of the mystery, suspense, and adventure,
just as Abby's disappearance is the tip of a much larger criminal
enterprise than we are initially led to believe. Hooray for the good guys for figuring it out and not relying on bad guy confessions! A great story with a great message - 5 out of 5 stars!
Thank you Bethany House and NetGalley for a free e-copy for the purpose of review; I was not required to make it positive, and all opinions are my own.
0.5: "Shadowed" (Sins of the Past romantic suspense novella collection)