RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Stranded with Her Ex by Jill Sorenson

B+

Title: Stranded with Her Ex
Author: Jill Sorenson
Publication Info: Harlequin 2011
ISBN: 978-0373277247
Genre: Romantic Suspense

Stranded with her Ex - Jill Sorenson - her hair is perfectly sleek. I presume product was used. This review was written by SonomaLass. This story was nominated in the Best Contemporary Series Suspense/Adventure Romance category.

The summary:     

An exotic wildlife preserve is a dream come true for conservation biologist Daniela Flores. Until she finds out her ex-husband is leading the research team. World-famous shark expert Sean Carmichael has only grown more ruggedly appealing in the time they were apart…the passion between them more intense than ever.

But how could Daniela forgive Sean for betraying her when she needed him most? Sean had come to the remote Farallon Islands to study killer sharks. Now a real killer is on the loose, threatening the woman he's never stopped loving. And this time, he knows he can't walk away.

Marooned together during a deadly storm, Sean vows to go to hell and back to save Daniela…and for the chance to begin again.

And here is SonomaLass's review:

First, let me stress that I am NOT a big reader of romantic suspense. I have read some, and I read some detective fiction, but I’m a suspense/body count wimp.  I picked this book to read because it was nominated for the RITA and because I have liked what I see of the author’s attitude and personality on Twitter. I’m also a sucker for a good reunion story, and from the title I figured that’s where this book would go.

I thought the setting of this book was terrific. It takes place in the Farralon Islands wildlife refuge, a collection of stony islands just outside of San Francisco Bay. The characters are marine scientists, doing various kinds of research. The isolation makes it a good setting for a suspense plot, and the camaraderie of shared and complementary interests plays well in the relationships. Plus Sorenson has a deft hand with description; I enjoyed reading the vivid descriptions of the place, the people and their work, and that added a lot to my overall enjoyment of the novel.

I also enjoyed the characters. At first, Daniela walked a fine line for me as a heroine. Early in the book, she thinks a lot (A LOT) about something awful that has happened to her in the past. She has a phobia about enclosed or inescapable spaces, she’s prone to panic attacks, and there are references to “the accident.”  But while she spends a lot of time thinking about how hard it is to face things, she DOES face them. Once the full devastation she’s attempting to overcome was revealed, I found myself amazed at her strength and whole-heartedly rooting for her to heal more fully.  (It also pleased me that Daniela is a Latina; that’s hardly unusual here in California, but I was glad to see a scientist heroine of Mexican heritage. It doesn’t greatly impact the story, but that was part of what I liked. It was no big deal.)

The hero is a hottie, we know that from his ex-wife’s thoughts about him in the very first chapter. But I expected I would have a harder time warming up to Sean than I did. After all, he’s Daniela’s ex, and when he first appears in the book, he has “his hands all over a gorgeous blonde.” But Daniela’s internal monologues make it clear that she blames herself more than him for the collapse of their marriage, and it isn’t long before Sorenson shifts to Sean’s point of view and it becomes clear that he cares very much for Daniela, even though he’s frustrated that she wouldn’t/couldn’t let him help her through the worst time of her life.  That was what was most real and moving for me about this book. The main characters are both good people with strong feelings for each other, yet they’ve been torn apart by circumstances that would defeat most relationships. They have to be brave and strong to try to work through the problems that destroyed their marriage.

I struggled a little in the first few of chapters, because of how Daniela’s “trauma” was only gradually revealed. Since both she and Sean knew what had happened, it was a little frustrating to feel out of the loop.  Occasionally it seemed like the author was going out of her way to withhold information from the reader that both characters already knew. Phrases such as “the trauma of the past,” “challenges she’d faced in her life,” “all I’ve been through,” and “her devastating personal history” felt a bit stilted. Fortunately that was only a problem in the first part of the book; the details of her experience are revealed near the end of the third chapter, 19 percent into the book, according to my Kindle.

I appreciated how the suspense plot worked to put Sean and Daniela in a situation where they could acknowledge their feelings. It wasn’t easy for them to reconnect, or to get past the pain of their divorce, but fighting for their lives helped them be honest and open up to each other.  The action sequences were written well and the characters’ choices were strong and believable – nothing excessively heroic or TSTL – and once the story got rolling, I couldn’t put the book down.


This book is available from Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Sony | Kobo | All Romance eBooks.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Lindleepw says:

    Sounds good! I’m actually NOT a fan of reunion stories, but this sounds good enough I may have to pick it up regardless. Thanks for the review!

  2. 2
    Lois says:

    This book sounds really interesting, but the title is horrible.

  3. 3
    kkw says:

    I’d give it a C+, because I liked it more than not, but I also am not a fan of suspense, so may not be the best judge.  It is one of the better romantic suspense books I’ve read, for whatever that is worth.
    The info dumping on the Farralons was irritating, and the whole suspense thing, as usual, did not work for me.  It didn’t scare me, so I’m grateful for that, but it bored me, which isn’t exactly desirable.  I wasn’t bothered by not knowing the details of Daniela’s trauma up front – I thought it was explained pretty early on, without it being too much of a mystery, but enough into the plot that I wanted to know some backstory.  I was not into the secondary characters, unfortunately.
    The romance, on the other hand, I found very convincing and engaging.  I cared about Daniela and Sean’s relationship.  I wanted it to work out, I could see why it hadn’t, and how hard it would be.  Their problems didn’t seem artificial, and the fix wasn’t some deus ex machina or (pet peeve) the hero or heroine suddenly deciding that the insurmountable problem that has kept them apart is not a problem at all.  They had to work for a HEA, and they did, and I was glad.  Yay!

  4. 4
    SonomaLass says:

    Yes, the romance definitely sold me on this book. It was believable, and as you say, they had to work to get to a second chance and a resolution. For me, the suspense plot was just the catalyst to push them into realizing that they both wanted to try.

    I can see why the set-up might feel like an info-dump to some readers. It didn’t to me, but that’s because I was fascinated by it all.

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