Island Peril by Jill Sorenson

Island PerilWhy I read it:  I was provided with a review copy by the publisher via NetGalley.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  It started as a girls’ outing to California’s beautiful Channel Islands State Park. When Ella Hammond embarks on a kayaking trip with sexy adventure guide Paul Dawson, sparks fly—but so does gunfire from a boat of drug smugglers.

Now Ella and Paul are on the run, soaked and stranded in a rocky hideout. Ella feels like she’ll never be warm again. Until Paul shares his body heat—igniting a fire between them that’s nearly too hot to handle!

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  Ella is on a camping/hiking long weekend with her sister Abby and Abby’s teenage daughter, Brooke.  When Brooke’s father cancelled at the last minute, Ella and Abby stepped in to save the trip.  They are planning a day kayaking trip over to nearby San Miguel Island off the Californian coast.  Their guide is the sexy Paul Dawson (brother of the heroine, Paige, from Scenes of Peril). Because: reasons, Paul and Ella end up kayaking alone.  They are both single and have both been significantly affected by the San Diego earth quake (featured in Aftershock) and it is clear that there is chemistry and attraction between them.  There is a “no fraternising” rule though so Paul is cautious about pursuing things.

Ella and Paul stumble into the middle of a marijuana smuggling operation and things get a bit dicey for them.  They have to hide from the bad guys for a while and then they get shot at.  The threat is very real but also not a constant thing in the story.  Just when I was wondering what it was all about, the story provided me with enough background for it all to make sense and to wrap that aspect of the story up nicely.

The story is only about 40 pages long so there isn’t time for a happy ever after ending (not that I’d believe anyway).  Fortunately, it ends on a hopeful, happy-for-now-with-promise kind of ending which I felt was much more fitting.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciated Paul and Ella’s sexual safety and responsibility.  They didn’t have a silly conversation where they both assure each other they’re clean and I didn’t have to stretch my credulity (in their circumstances at the time) regarding birth control.  They still had sex – just a different kind of sex – a safer kind which was just as satisfying and intimate.  I also greatly appreciated that Paul has a normal penis.  It is not giant – it is average – in a good way.  It was a refreshing change.  Thank you thank you thank you.

There wasn’t time for the characters to be deeply drawn, but I felt I got to know them well enough in the time allowed.  And, as the story itself says, spending such a big chunk of time together is at least equal to a handful of dates and it does give each insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the other.  While this story is only the very beginning of their tale, I have no difficulty imagining them happy for the long term – they’re compatible, live close to each other and have similar interests as well as strong chemistry.  Perhaps we will see them in Backwoods, the upcoming full length novel which features Ella’s sister Abby?

It took very little time to read (it is quite short) but it had tension, engaging characters and a happy ending so I count it a win.

Grade: B

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