Friday, July 6, 2012

A Writer's Review of “Submerged" by Dani Pettrey

First of all, I should probably tell you that Contemporary Romantic Suspense is not a genre I usually read. In fact, I think this was the second one I’ve ever read. And because of this, I might not seem as super-duper charged about it as I generally would be about a four-star review for a book. I did like this book and it did deserve four stars, there were just lots of little reasons I docked that one star.

I loved a lot about this book. The setting (Alaska, near Kodiak) was intriguing, the cast of characters was varied, and the mystery was very interesting. I really liked the title and how well it went with the fact that the characters are deep sea diving a number of times throughout the book, as well as how it described how the main characters were falling for each other so quickly after so many years apart.

The book was very fast-paced. Sometimes, perhaps, a little too fast-paced for this reader/writer who really would have liked to get deeper into the inner-workings of Bailey Craig and Cole McKenna and what they were feeling and the thoughts behind the actions they were doing as they’re living out their lives on the page. For as fast paced as the scenes were, I thought the book began rather slowly. I had a difficult time getting into the two main characters until about a hundred pages in. After getting over that hundred page hump, however, I couldn’t stop reading, despite the continual vagueness when it came to time-frames and place-settings that pulled me out of the story at the beginning of many of the chapters or scenes.

Submerged is a very well written book. There were things I would have done differently in the set-up to make it move smoother and more quickly. I think part of the reason I had trouble in the beginning also had to do with characters only giving the reader little snippets of truth about the past. I’d much rather the characters either just plain come clean with the reader from the very beginning and later realize how they might have been lying to themselves, or purposefully keep everything to themselves and from the reader until something pressures them to break down and they have to face the truth of the past and how much it has been hurting, and even perhaps blinding them. I was actually more interested in the beginnings of the love story developing between Cole’s little sister, Piper and his best friend, Landon, than I was Cole and Bailey’s relationship. I can tell the next book will be about Landon and Piper because their points of views were used sporadically throughout the book. And I can tell who the third book will be about as well. Which isn’t bad at all. I actually like that. I already want to read both of them and look forward to them coming out in the next few years.

The conclusion of Submerged was very good; very interesting and not in the least contrived. I wish, for all the “regretful past” sort of vein throughout the book, that I would have been invited to a deeper look at Cole and Bailey’s lost relationship and also what it meant to see each other again so much after twelve years of being separated.

Bethany House Publishers provided me with a paperback copy of this book to review in exchange for my honest opinion, and I give Dani Pettrey’s debut novel Submerged 4 stars.

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