Staggered Cove Station (Coast Guard Rescue #1) by Elle BrownleeRating: 4 stars
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Length: Novel

Dane Farnsworth came to the remote coast guard station in Staggered Cove, Alaska for one reason: to find out how his brother Axe died. Because he and Axe had different fathers and were ten years apart in age, no one knows that were related, which means Dane can investigate his brother’s supposed drowning on the sly. What he didn’t count on were the eagle eyes of his bunkmate and team leader, Karl.

Karl was part of the team when Axe was lost during a rescue. He has carried the guilt of that loss with him ever since and when he gets wind of Dane’s sleuthing, he becomes very suspicious. It doesn’t help that Karl is also fighting an attraction to the golden surfer boy from California.

As Dan uncovers one detail after another about Axe’s private life, it becomes clear that he truly had lost touch with his older brother and never really knew the man. Then the accidents begin happening at the station and they are all centered on Dane and Karl. Someone is very unhappy that Dane is getting close to the truth about his brother’s disappearance and both Karl and Dane are in danger. Finally letting down their walls and trusting each other may be the only way the two men can find the saboteur and discover exactly what happened to Axe.

Elle Brownlee offers up a fast-paced mystery set in the remote Alaskan coastline in her latest novel, Staggered Cove Station. Combining the tenacity and courage of the coast guard with the entertaining and quirky locals made for a very entertaining novel full of surprises. The mystery elements of this book were solid and kept my attention. The romance was a slow burn—going at just the right pace, in my opinion, with the standoffish Karl gruffly and gradually admitting that he liked Dane more than he should. For Dane, it was rather poignant to watch him find a person who he could both trust with his brother’s secrets and who would not judge—even when circumstances warranted it.

I really appreciated how the author allowed her characters to develop fully before falling for each other. Both had obvious relationship baggage, but that was not the focus of this story; rather it was the mission Dan had to find his brother and the resulting consequences of digging into a past he should have left alone. To be honest, that is what made this story work—the romance was almost secondary to the mystery surrounding Axe. As a result, the love that developed between Dane and Karl was very real and grew organically from a relationship that was based on working together to find a fallen comrade and brother, rather than unbridled lust for each other.

Staggered Cove Station by Elle Brownlee takes the reader into the Alaskan wild and rapidly embroils us in a dangerous search that puts both the main characters in danger over and over again. It’s this action adventure trope that kept me fascinated and invested, with the resulting romance being the icing on a very exciting story.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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