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Book Review: Submerged by Dani Pettrey

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Bailey Craig’s visit to Yancey Alaska, in Dani Pettrey’s debut novel Submerged, is a visit she really doesn’t wants to make. But she can’t miss the funeral of the aunt who took her in and loved her in spite of the mess she made of her high school years.

Cole McKenna is the guy Bailey dreads meeting the most. He’s the love of her youth whom she treated so shamefully when her life started going off the rails 10 years ago.

Cole, for his part, is surprised at how deep and strong his feelings for Bailey still are. But somehow he can’t get through to the beautiful doctoral grad who still sees herself, in this place at least, as Easy Bay Lay.

Bailey’s planned stay of a week or so to get her aunt’s shop closed and affairs in order stretches on as it becomes apparent that Aunt Agnes’s death was no accident and Bailey’s expertise in Russian artifacts and history will be useful in finding the murderer. As early as the prologue we are on the alert for that unnamed and sinister character. Infrequent flashes into his viewpoint throughout the book keep us off balance and looking over our shoulder as we try to anticipate his next move.

The McKenna family characters (Cole, Kayden, Gage, and Piper) with their distinct personalities, give off a wonderful family vibe as they interact with each other. The action swirls around the McKennas, Landon (the Sheriff’s deputy), and Bailey.

I enjoyed the Alaskan setting and the foray into the world of deep sea and treasure diving. The Russian artifact aspect of the story was interesting too, pulling back the curtain on a part of Alaska’s history that I knew little about.

Though the pace of the story falters a bit in the middle, it sure picks up at the end where author Pettrey’s skills are showcased in a couple of nail-biting scenes. She’s has a wonderful way with words altogether. Witness, for example, her description of Bailey on the dark ferry deck, watching as the town of Yancey first comes into sight.

“The lights spread out to reach her, glimmering reflections skimming across the surface of the water, only to be dashed against the ferry’s bow.

She wanted to run, to bolt, the other way, but the ferry stayed its course. It was drawing her in, pulling her on a path she didn’t want to travel….

The crisp sea air splattered her face like a blanket of reality.” (page 30)

A Christian worldview comes through clearly and without apology throughout the book. The story’s message of forgiveness, self-acceptance, and leaving the past behind to embrace a new life in Christ is made, then reiterated numerous times.

For a sweet romance that’s served with generous portions of intrigue and suspense, Dani Pettrey’s Submerged is an excellent choice. And it looks like we can expect more soon. Shattered, book two in the Alaskan Courage series, is due to be released in February 2013.

To find out more about Dani Pettrey and her books, visit her website www.danipettrey.com

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About Violet Nesdoly