Review

Submerged: Alaskan Courage, Book One

by Dani Pettrey

Back in high school, Bailey Craig was a “bad girl.” More specifically, her nickname was “Easy Lay Bay.” She looked for love in all the wrong places and considered partying a priority over studying. And when her reputation cost the only boy she ever loved, she left Yancey, Alaska, the day after graduation, vowing never to return. Ten years later, she is perfectly content living in Oregon, teaching Russian Studies at a college university. Now a born-again Christian, nobody knows about her shameful past, and that’s the way she likes it.

When she receives news that her beloved Aunt Agnes has died in a plane crash and has left her the Russian Trading Post back in Yancey, Bailey has no choice but to return to the town she fled all those years ago. Now she not only has to face the past, including Cole McKenna, the man she’s never stopped loving, she also learns that her aunt’s death had been no accident at all. Someone sabotaged the plane. The question is why.

When deep-sea rescue diver Cole runs into Bailey for the first time since she broke his heart 10 years ago, he can’t deny the attraction that’s still there. And despite the painful memories seeing her evokes, he also recognizes that she’s not the girl she used to be.

"The fact that it is Dani Pettrey’s debut novel is impressive, on par with seasoned authors like Colleen Coble, Lynette Eason and Dee Henderson. The excitement begins in the first chapter with a rescue dive in the icy Alaskan waters and continues throughout, riding along on a creative plot."

When a woman’s body is discovered on a locally-rented boat, evidence links to the plane crash that claimed Agnes’s life. Clues soon lead to a Russian history connection. Because of Bailey’s knowledge in this area, she is asked to help in the investigation. And Cole certainly wouldn’t mind keeping her around a little bit longer.

Bailey, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to get back to her life back in Oregon --- her “safe” life. Instead, she’s battling emotions she can’t bear to resurrect ---  emotions that send her heart reeling every time Cole comes around. In addition, she has to deal with other people who “knew her when,” who still see her as that messed-up teenager. And even though as a believer she should know she’s a new creation in Christ, she can’t seem to fully accept that she is no longer defined by her past.

The deeper into the murder mystery they get, the deeper Bailey and Cole fall for each other again. Now the question is whether they’ll get to enjoy a future together, or if it will be snatched away by a cold-blooded killer.

SUBMERGED is the first novel in the Alaskan Courage series. The fact that it is Dani Pettrey’s debut novel is impressive, on par with seasoned authors like Colleen Coble, Lynette Eason and Dee Henderson. The excitement begins in the first chapter with a rescue dive in the icy Alaskan waters and continues throughout, riding along on a creative plot. There are a few spots where the action slows down, but those scenes make up for it with plenty of page-turning romantic suspense and emotional drama. Bailey’s effort to overcome her past --- or the way she still allows it to hold her back --- is handled well, with real emotion and spiritual struggle.

Although all of the characters are well-crafted, with unique and distinct qualities, it is a sizable cast, which could be a bit overwhelming. It took me a while to get them all straight, but once I did, each quickly earned a place in my heart. Many are members of the McKenna family, and the nice thing about a cast this large is that the pool is overflowing with characters for subsequent novels in the series. By story’s end, there are a couple of individuals and relationships I would love to see explored.

Dani Pettrey has proven she is an author to watch. The good news is there’s not much longer to wait. SHATTERED, the second book in the series, is scheduled for release in February.

Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on January 16, 2013

Submerged: Alaskan Courage, Book One
by Dani Pettrey