Published September 1st 2013 by Bethany House Publishers
When her friend vanishes from a cruise ship, reporter Darcy St. James isn’t satisfied with their explanation that she simply left her job of her own accord. Something isn’t lining up, and Darcy believes the only way to find the truth is to put herself in Abby’s position. Within days, Darcy learns her friend wasn’t the only person to disappear mysteriously. Last summer, a woman vanished under almost identical circumstances.
I have to say I really enjoyed Stranded! As a newcomer to this series missing the first two books, I was a bit concerned that I would be lost. Although there are a few instances where I wish I had read the prior books to gain some more insight into the characters' connections, I was still hooked from the very beginning and appreciative when the author described the other characters, what they did and how they were related.
From the start, I was hooked into the story where a woman named Abby believes she is about to be murdered for learning some sinister information about the corporate cruise ship she is on. She tries to make a run for it but is caught at gunpoint. Abby's disappearance spawns an investigation from her friend and our heroine Darcy St. James who puts her journalistic cap on to find out what happened to her friend and to see if she has anything to do with the unnamed person who went overboard. At the same time, Gage McKenna, our hero, takes a job aboard the same cruise line as he is trying to get over the death of his son. His faith in God is testy but he remembers Darcy's strength of faith and finds himself trying not to get close to the fiery woman despite the attraction.
I love how Stranded presented its characters. Both Darcy and Gage were likable characters I rooted for to get together. Although I felt sad for Gage (including during a failed rescue at the beginning of the book), I was a bit put off by his constant rejection of God but still hoped he found enough strength in himself to keep going and find answers for himself. I appreciated how Darcy, who suffered a loss herself, kept going in a somewhat opposite way that Gage did where her faith grew stronger. I loved seeing how they worked through their own interest in each other and this being a clean romance, I appreciated how the romance was developed on romantic terms. At times, Darcy would jump the gun or reveal too much about her investigation without being as careful as she could have been (which was a minor gripe of mine) but I loved her tenacity and strength as a character and I couldn't help but follow her on her journey to finding answers about Abby's whereabouts.
Ms. Pettrey did a good job on this book and I'm looking forward to hunting down the first two books in the series to catch up on the overall story and world of the Alaskan Courage series. I'll be checking out what other books Ms. Pettrey has available as I'm definitely hooked on clean romances (especially romantic suspense books) and their characters. We definitely need more of them in romance land!