It’s back to Yancey, Alaska, with the second book in Dani Pettrey’s Alaskan Courage series. In SUBMERGED, we were introduced to the abundantly-sized McKenna family, and experienced not only an exciting mystery, but also the rekindled romance between Cole McKenna and Bailey. Now, in SHATTERED, we get to see how youngest sister Piper finds love, as foreshadowed in book one. That romance is overshadowed just slightly by the suspenseful plot in Pettrey’s sophomore novel, which I found to be even more gripping than SUBMERGED.
Reef McKenna, prodigal brother and professional snowboarder, is back in Yancey for a competition. He shows up at his sisters’ home in the middle of the night, covered in blood. By his own admission, the blood belongs to his friend and fellow-snowboarder, Karli Davis, who has been murdered in the ski-lodge restroom. Reef claims he didn’t kill her, but two witnesses say otherwise.
"SHATTERED opens with a bang and keeps a steady pace until the end. Well, at least until two-thirds of the way in, when the fast pace surges to its exciting finale."
Due to the overwhelming evidence, Reef is arrested. His family is devastated, especially Piper. There isn’t a doubt in her mind that Reef is telling the truth. Now she only has to convince Deputy Landon Grainger, longtime family friend whom she’s known since she was practically a toddler. While Landon seems to want to believe in Reef’s innocence, Piper senses doubt in his eyes. That’s all it takes to set her on a mission to learn the truth, even if it means doing it on her own.
For Landon, arresting Reef was bad enough, but seeing Piper so distraught makes it even worse. Recently, he came to the shocking realization that his feelings for the girl he still calls “Pipsqueak” have grown into something even he can’t identify. He’s been fighting it ever since, convinced that Piper will always think of him like a brother. But every time he looks at her, his attraction grows. He hides his feelings behind gruffness and sarcasm, but secretly wishes he could take her in his arms and protect her from the world.
Because the police chief is convinced that Reef is guilty, Landon decides to take a leave of absence so he can do some personal investigating in an effort to find the truth --- no matter what it may be. He and Piper end up following a lead that takes them to Canada, then California and Oregon. It is on this trip that everything starts coming together --- with the case, as well as with Piper and Landon’s relationship.
SHATTERED opens with a bang and keeps a steady pace until the end. Well, at least until two-thirds of the way in, when the fast pace surges to its exciting finale. Unlike a traditional mystery, it’s not a whodunit. The main characters don’t make up the suspect pool. It’s more like uncovering layer after layer of information to get to the truth. Dani Pettrey does a fabulous job of creating twists, turns, and forks-in-the-road for Piper and Landon to follow as they attempt to prove Reef’s innocence.
If there is one thing to pick on, it’s that for the first several chapters, Piper comes across as slightly annoying. Although her faith in Reef and her determination to help him is understandable and admirable, it’s a little over-the-top at times. Then again, in real life, there are plenty of people who are overemotional and melodramatic, and this is clearly Piper’s personality (which becomes evident in book one). During her time in Canada with Landon, however, she has taken a “chill pill,” so to speak, and tones it down. By the time they return to Yancey, Piper seems to have grown up a bit.
There isn’t a lot of character depth with Piper, but the “growth spurt” she experiences shows itself in a few different ways towards the end of the book, especially in her relationship with Landon. The romance is well-written, and Landon’s emotional struggle is handled nicely. The groundwork has also been laid for a couple of other romances to develop as the series continues.
I, for one, have fallen in love with the McKenna family and look forward to the next title in the Alaskan Courage series. The dynamic relationships, along with the fast-paced and compelling plot, make this an excellent choice for fans of romantic suspense.
Reviewed by Lynda Lee Schab on March 14, 2013