Stranded by Pepper Pace
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
I started reading this early this morning when I couldn't sleep, and I finished the whole book in that short time. This is really one of those unputdownable reads. I was compelled by and drawn into the dramatic situation that Oceans and Marshall faced.
I always enjoy a good survival on the elements book, and Pace excelled with this novel about two people who end up being stranded on a Caribbean deserted island and have to make a life there for the time being until they are rescued. This book is incredibly realistic about survival on a deserted island, including the risks and privations that people would face. Emotionally, Pace goes there. She involves you with Oceans and Marshall, makes you fall in love with them, and walk in their shoes in a way that doesn't leave you unaffected when the book is over. I can honestly say that Marshall is the kind of man I would want to be stranded on an island with. He steps up to the plate in so many ways. While he isn't a chest-thumping, stereotypical alpha, he shows all the traits that a mature man should have in a desperate situation and when he has a family to protect and care for. Oceans was also an incredible character. Her ability to adapt and survive and to use her knowledge of the islands to help them both survive really made me admire her. She is the kind of more realistic heroine I would like to see in romance novels. Not perfect, but perfectly lovable.
One aspect of this story was utterly heartbreaking. I felt the pain and anguish that both Oceans and Marshall faced, and I didn't think I would recover (it really hurt me on a deep level). It was one of those situations where I didn't agree with the choice made, but I still love and respected the person who made it, and like the other party involved, I had to decide if I was going to move past it for the greater good. I was so glad that things ended up working out in the end. While I still would have loved this book, I love it more the way things ended than if they had gone in a different way, just because that is such a tough, wounding situation to read about. I don't think either party in this book could have walked away whole from that. I can imagine it's even worse if you lived it.
I loved the fact that love blossoms realistically and intensely, and the sexual content wasn't the focus, although it was a big part of the novel. There were so many emotional depths to plumb that I would have felt cheated if this book was mainly sex scenes. I think a very good point was made about how sex is a way to express intimacy between two people, but certainly not the only way. And the fact that Pace shows the real consequences of sexual intimacy on a couple, good and not so good.
This is one of those books that lingers on the mind, making an indelible imprint on the emotions. I was very glad I got the opportunity to read Stranded, and Pace has upped the bar for stranded/marooned/survival romance for me. While not a perfect read, it's very close for me.
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.
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