Book: Stranded with the SEAL by Amy Gamet (2016)

Reviewer: Bethany

Age/Genre: Romantic Suspense

Reading Accoutrements: A blanket and hot cocoa to warm you up.

Content Notes: Torture, Murder, Violence, Abuse

It. Is. Too. Hot. I have been dealing with this year’s ridiculous heat wave by watching Christmas Rom Coms – watching people shiver in too-cold air is a good way to find myself appreciating the 100-degree-plus weather. When I saw this book on my Book Bub list, I thought it was the perfect way to cool down and get some much-needed time away from my television.

Stranded with the SEAL starts about a week from Christmas in the mountains of Colorado. Trevor Hawkins is on his way up Warsaw Mountain in a blizzard, out for revenge against the man who tortured and killed his teammate, when he crashes into a woman whose car stalled on the slick road. The woman is knocked unconscious when she hits the ground, so Trevor carries her away from the site of the accident in time to protect her from the explosion caused by a gas leak…and a lot of C4 in the trunk of his car.

Olivia Grayson, AKA Brooke Barrons, is running from her would-be husband after her appearance on SNL. Unfortunately, the accident with Trevor has caused amnesia: she knows her name, but not much else. It takes a while for Olivia to trust the stranger with the outlandish story about carrying her over a mile through a blizzard to find them shelter.

It only takes a couple of days for Olivia to remember the accident and that the cabin they’ve taken shelter in was the home of Ellie, Olivia’s best friend, and Ellie’s father, Frank. Ellie and Frank died because of a gas leak in the cabin where Olivia and Trevor are stranded and Olivia was on her way to the cabin to find something, she just can’t remember what she should be looking for.

Trevor, a former SEAL and now a member of a H.E.R.O. Force security team, uses his survival training to keep them alive during the blizzard – finding shelter and building a fire to keep them warm. He can’t forget his goal: to kill the man who owns the compound at the top of this mountain, a man who runs a sex slave ring and who killed Trevor’s teammate and close friend. This is the first time in years that Trevor knows where Steele will be, and he doesn’t plan to let the opportunity for revenge pass him by. If only Olivia wasn’t so afraid to be alone, convincing Trevor to stay with her so she wouldn’t be left alone with no way off the mountain and no memories to help her survive.

Olivia and Trevor have an interesting relationship. They argue a lot as they build trust with each other, which is hard to do because Olivia can’t remember much more than her own name and Trevor is keeping a lot of secrets because he’s planning to  commit a murder. They find each other very attractive, but Trevor knows that Olivia is engaged to another man. The two fight their attraction for a while before they finally give in, which they do before Olivia remembers that she was running from her fiancé. The two become close, but they both have loose ends to tie up before they can be together.

I enjoyed the plot of this book. The reader enters in the middle of Trevor’s story, and I get the impression that Trevor’s backstory plays out in a book from an adjacent series. The action and suspense portions of the book are engaging and even the side characters have deep personalities – which means they are the likely heroes of future books in this series.

It is challenging to write a character who doesn’t know their own backstory, because they have a tendency to lose personality with their memories. Gamet manages to overcome this challenge with surprising ease, introducing Olivia’s personality traits in unique ways. For example, Olivia has a deep fear of being alone, keeping those she loves and trusts (like Ellie and Frank) close to her. The reader learns of her fear from a chapter about Olivia’s fiance, when he remembers how he used her close personal connections to manipulate her into turning to him for human connection and support. I think the only thing that bothered me (and I can’t think of a way to do it better) is that a couple of people in Olivia’s life just show up at the end of this story with very little context. Maybe we could’ve seen one of those character’s perspectives, but I think it would’ve added unnecessary length.

Stranded with the SEAL is narrated in third-person limited. Each chapter focuses on the thoughts and actions of one specific character to give you multiple perspectives of the situation – Olivia, Trevor, Olivia’s fiance, Trevor’s boss, Steele’s goon, etc. I was really impressed with the consistency of each perspective and the different insights each character provided to the situation at hand. I’ll be interested to check out the stories of some of these side characters.

If you’re feeling too hot this summer, why not cool down with a trip to an icy mountain top? Fall in love, enjoy some steamy moments, and even get your action fix!

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