Publisher: Spinsters Ink
Rachel Michaels is at the top of her profession, but she’s grown tired of trading barbs with her co-host/exhusband on their popular morning radio talk show. Eager to stretch her wings, she takes a second job as the color commentator for Denver’s new professional women’s soccer team. Along with her new job comes an exciting assignment, travel to Venezuela to profile the team’s sizzling star recruit, Miranda Gutierrez. But Rachel begins to long for a little of her old routine when her boss forces her to extend her stay to accompany team big-wig, Nora Butler, and the headstrong player on a bonding adventure. Their journey gets off to a bad start, and things go downhill from there. All three women are tested mentally and physically as they fight for their lives. They must learn to depend on each other, shape their own destinies, and, ultimately, risk everything for what matters most.
What would you do to survive? How much would you risk for love?
Winner, Golden Crown Literary Award.
[Originally posted on Amazon 2/7/12]
Stranded is a lesbian romantic adventure novel that goes off the beaten path, both metaphorically and literally. It’s a very enjoyable read, but there are a few things that keep it in the decent to good category for me, rather than highly recommended.
The major logic issue with the story appears when the three women become stranded in the wilderness of Venezuela because their vehicle goes off the road in a violent crash. They decide that the climb back up to the road is too steep and dangerous, so throwing all common sense to the wind, they head away from their only link to civilization and route of rescue. Aside from the fact that anyone with two brain cells to rub together would know that’s stupid, the rationalization for it is extremely flimsy. Once a certain steepness of pitch is obtained, climbing up is much easier than down.
If the reader is willing to suspend their disbelief at how incredibly stupid the women are at the start of their trek, the rest of their time in the wilderness is entertaining reading. Cooper doesn’t go darkly realistic and gritty (compare the search for water in Stranded to Katniss’ search in The Hunger Games), but she doesn’t completely gloss over the realities of being injured and lost, with few supplies and no sure chance of rescue either. Her light touch with humor helps keep the book in the realm of adventure, rather than gripping survival story.
The romantic element is a strong one throughout the book and develops in a way that seems real and believable. What starts out as a mostly physical attraction grows in a natural way as the women depend on each other.
While I can’t confidently say all the characters have a lot of depth, they are interesting in their own ways and complement each other nicely. The young soccer player could have easily been portrayed as an annoying, self-absorbed adolescent the entire time, but she reveals her own inner strength during their journey and turns into more of a loved little sister type.
The first part, where Nora and Rachel are getting to know each other, and the lost adventure section, are the best parts of the book. Near the end things get a little over the top and a bit melodramatic for my tastes. I’m not against a little melodrama now and then, but in this case it doesn’t fit seamlessly with the rest of the novel.
All in all though, Stranded is still a solid, entertaining read and if you go into it with realistic expectations it is worth the time spent on it. I’d especially recommend it to those who enjoy wilderness or adventure type stories, rather than the typical urban romance.
I’ll mention one last tangential thing, since I know it’s important to some readers. Neither of the main characters label themselves as lesbians. Nora has been deeply in the closet and Rachel, the POV character, is bi-sexual (though she hasn’t applied that label to herself in the past either). Her relationship with her ex-husband is portrayed in a mostly positive light.
KINDLE NOTE: I have the mobi ebook version purchased directly from the publisher, so I don’t know if this issue also appears in the Kindle edition, but I’d assume it does. For the most part the formatting is fine and the book is almost free of typo type errors. Except that, spaces are frequently missing after punctuation, especially between sentences. This doesn’t really hinder reading, but it’s one of those things that frustrates because it should have been caught before putting the book up for sale.