The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Lifestyles

February 16, 2014

Patty Crane: Thrilling romance driven by characters

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Midnight Sun Extreme Freeride Competition is being held in Yancy, Alaska. Snowboarders and skiers are everywhere, and for the McKenna siblings, it means their brother Reef is back. It is a rare chance to see the young brother who left home at 18 to ski the circuit.

The uneasy reunion is shattered when one of the competitors, Karli Davis, is murdered. Reef McKenna, her sometimes boyfriend, is covered in her blood. In fact, the first witnesses on the scene see him holding her dead body, the knife used to kill her in his hand.

So begins "Shattered," Dani Pettrey's second book in the "Alaskan Courage" series. The Christian romantic suspense series tells the stories of the McKenna siblings: Cole, Gage, Kayden, Piper and Reef.

Even though Reef is the one booked on murder charges, this is not his story. It is the story of Piper, who will stop at nothing to prove her brother innocent, and Deputy Landon Grainger, who wants the truth.

Landon considers the McKennas family and would like to assure them that he will prove Reef is innocent. However, he knows that sometimes those closest to you lie. He vows to continue the investigation even if it proves Reef guilty.

As Landon questions the other competitors and those closest to the victim, it becomes clear that Karli Davis had secrets and more enemies than friends. Against Landon's wishes, Piper is conducting her own investigation. But someone wants her to stop asking questions, and she is run off the road by a mysterious dark SUV.

Who wants Piper stopped: someone with secrets to protect or the real killer? Even though she is not seriously hurt, Landon, whose feelings for Piper are far from brotherly, knows that to protect Piper and the McKenna family he needs to solve the case sooner rather than later.

To find the truth, he needs to know more about the victim. Taking a leave of absence from the sheriff's department, Landon heads to Canada to see if he can uncover some of Karli's secrets. At the airport, he finds Piper packed and determined to go. They decide to join forces and head north into the rugged wild of British Columbia.

They soon discover that finding out anything about Karli Davis including her real name is not an easy task. They travel deeper into the frigid north then to California and Oregon searching for clues. Along the way, they find they are not making the journey alone. A man has been shadowing their every move.

As they work closely together Piper begins to question what she feels for Landon. Does Landon dare hope that she is beginning to see him as a man and not a big brother? Can he keep her safe and move them toward the future he wants with her? Or will the mystery man who is following them keep them from the truth and their future?

This book is action-packed with well-developed, likable characters. Romance and faith are central themes, but the characters and the action are what drive the story. Even though Landon and Piper get the most page time, the rest of the McKenna family is very much a part of the story.

I haven't read the first in the series, "Submerged," which the library has in the e-book format. I enjoyed this title, but at times, I felt there was some back-story missing.

So if you want the whole McKenna experience, start with "Submerged." After "Shattered" you can round out the experience with "Stranded," which is available on audio at the library.

Patty Crane is reference librarian for the Joplin Public Library.

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