Maine Braxton has always put the rest of the world ahead of himself. It’s why he sacrifices so much time for the family company and why he’s engaged to a woman he doesn’t love. The one bright spot amongst all the meetings and long hours has been his personal assistant, Colby LaSalle. Maine trusts the man more than anyone else, which says a lot given that someone appears to be trying to undermine Maine’s authority with the company.
Colby has loved Maine since the very beginning of their professional relationship, but he knows his boss is straight. So Colby dooms himself to the pain of an unrequited love. He cares about Maine too much to risk losing the friendship they have for something that can never be.
Taking an early flight home to deal with a cryptic message about the company, Maine and Colby have no idea that their private plane will crash, leaving them stranded and fighting for survival. Amongst the fear, pain, and exhaustion of trying to stay alive, Colby and Maine declare their love for one another. But even if they make it home, will they have any chance at a happy ever after?
Stranded With Desire was a sometimes enjoyable, but often uneven story of two men who declare their love for one another amidst the turmoil of a life-defining situation. I tend to love these types of scenarios so I jumped at the chance to review this book. In addition, it’s one of the Dreamspinner Press’ Dreamspun Desires titles and I’ve been looking forward to trying one of these. The book certainly had the feel and flavor of the older Harlequin novels, which I enjoyed immensely. It had a soap operatic quality that was fun without being hokey. It wouldn’t work in any other context and the authors juggle this particular aspect well. Stranded With Desire moves quickly and the pacing is fairly strong. There are a couple slower sections, but these are generally important to the plot and don’t affect the overall flow.
Despite my surface enjoyment, Stranded With Desire had its problems and they tended to drag the novel down somewhat. First was a lack of character definition. While Maine and Colby both read as genuine creations, they lack depth. We are only given brief sketches of their lives prior to the plane crash and it makes the evolution of their romance seem choppy. While we wanted to see them overcome the many hurdles in front of them, their relationship never had much credibility. Despite the nature of the book, I feel more complete characters would have only strengthened Stranded With Desire. In line with this, the antagonist is little more than a caricature and the whole subplot involving his attempted take over of the company is unnecessary. Had the plot focused solely on the plane crash, the book would have felt more well rounded and focused. Given that this character gets away without punishment makes him seem even more useless.
Lastly there are two minor details that distracted me through the entire book. I accept this may be indicative of my pedantic nature, but these things really jerked me out of the narrative. First, following the plane crash, Maine and Colby make absolutely no attempt to check on the pilot. They mention him a couple times and ultimately leave it at the fact he’s a tough guy and probably fine. Really? You’re going to make no effort to see if the only other person on board your plane is alive? It seems insanely callous and at odds with the information we’re given about these characters. The other issue is the crash investigation, which is done by a layman. There’s no suggestion of a federal investigation, which there would be in any crash, but especially one that took place under suspicious circumstances. I realize that Stranded With Desire is a work of fiction and we must make allowances, but for whatever reasons these points really bothered me.
Stranded With Desire had its enjoyable moments and reading it brought back fond memories of being a teenager and reading the overly dramatic romances I found on the library shelves. Because of this and despite a lack of character development and the presence of an extraneous subplot, I still enjoyed the book. It has definite issues but as a fun, easy summer read, Stranded With Desire fulfills its purpose.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.