Mar 18, 2013

Submerged by Dani Pettrey

Submerged (book one Alaskan Courage) by Dani Pettrey
Christian Fiction/Romantic Suspense
Bethany House, April 2012
Book from my personal collection
Burton Book Review Rating:3.5 stars


A sabotaged plane. Two dead deep-water divers.Yancey, Alaska was a quiet town . . . until the truth of what was hidden in the depths off the coast began to appear. Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation--and Yancey's a small town. She's returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey's own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn't appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey's reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he's not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?

Submerged
and its successors follows the path of the McKenna family, a tight-knit group of young adults who own a small diving store in Yancey. The story is very Christian in nature, as Submerged focuses on a return of Bailey ("as a new creation in Christ") to Yancey following the death of her beloved aunt. Bailey is forced to confront the past that she ran away from, and Cole McKenna is the one man she was never able to get out of her mind. Turns out the feeling is mutual, and so the two battle their own insecurities as they work together to solve what turns out to be a huge murder mystery.

As I began Submerged, it was getting to the point that I was going to need a spreadsheet to keep up with who was who. There are the McKenna family members who all play a role as well as their various friends, and since it's a mystery there are lots of other names dropping to keep your mind going in circles. Bodies start turning up in the small community, and the McKennas and Bailey help the sheriff  with the investigation since it focuses on a bit of treasure buried in the sea. There is an evil mastermind at work, climaxing with a  historical twist that I didn't expect, and it ended up being an interesting story of faith, romance and mystery.

I definitely think this series should be favored by the young adult crowd; the romance is squeaky clean as well as its message of faith that is prevalent throughout. It kept me guessing, and I enjoyed the story which is a rarity as I normally do not care for contemporary characters because of contemporary themes as well as characters' selfish outlooks. Since this novel focuses on a great group of folks who like to help others, it was a nice breath of fresh air. I'd say it was 80% mystery, 15% faith, 5% romance. One complaint was that I  had no real feel for how old the main characters were. I assumed early twenties. There is an older brother that is briefly mentioned, and turns out he will be featured in book two.

Submerged boils down to whether the folks of Yancey can solve the murders and get to the bottom of the mystery of lost diaries, orbs and forgotten heirs to the Russian throne coinciding with the theme of romance of Bailey and Cole finding love after so much heartache. Now I am ready for book two in the Alaskan Courage series, Shattered, which will focus on the younger McKenna sister Piper (who really tried to steal the show in Submerged!) and I can't wait to see the romance between Landon and Piper blossom!

This just in from Bethany House:
Congrats Dani Pettrey on being an ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist for fiction! Way to write a rockin' debut novel!