With a dangerous hurricane headed toward the island of Coxa de Peru, pilot Rook Terzi is determined to get in and get out with a plane full of evacuees. Rook knows the trip is risky, but as a former military pilot, he has had dangerous flights before. And this is a chance to get 400 people off the island and to safety. It all seems like a fine idea until the storm takes an unexpected turn and Rook is forced to try to land the plane in dangerous terrain and nowhere near the Coxa de Peru runway. Although Rook, his crew, and the handful of folks heading into the storm with them survive the crash, they have landed on an uninhabited part of the island.
The group manages to make it through the crash with some minor injuries and only one that’s more severe. They assume that eventually they will be found and so they go about making some temporary shelter and ransacking the plane for necessary supplies. As the pilot, Rook seeks to take the lead, but he is challenged at every turn by YouTube personality, Bryce Norris. Bryce is known for his wild adventures and has no interest in turning over the role of top dog to Rook. So the two men fight for the leadership role and seek to out do one another whenever they can.
Soon it becomes clear that with the airport destroyed and the main city of Coxa de Peru virtually decimated from the storm that rescue may take far longer than expected. No one even realizes they are alive to be looking for them. Now Rook and Bryce must figure out if they can work together long enough to trek to safety if there is any chance for their group to be rescued before it is too late.
So this was an interesting book for me in that I loved pretty much everything about it except for one of the main characters. So let me start with what worked for me here. Tanya Chris has created a really fascinating and engrossing story of this small group stranded after a plane crash. I loved the survival elements here and watching these guys figure out how to last in this remote part of the island. They have some limited supplies they are able to salvage from the plane, but they still have a struggle for water, shelter, and medical supplies. I found it really interesting to see how they managed to work to keep themselves safe and alive while they waited for rescue. Chris assembled an interesting group of characters and I enjoyed seeing how they all interact. Most of the group are there on a missionary trip to provide medical relief (and some preaching) to the indigenous people living there. So there are a lot of different personalities and perspectives that need blending and I enjoyed the ensemble cast and seeing how they work together and where they faced their challenges.
I also liked that the book takes time to reflect of the issue of colonialism on this island that has been settled by the Portuguese at the expense of those that already lived there. The settlers pretty much took the prime real estate for themselves and left the less inhabitable areas for the indigenous people. So I appreciated the perspective we get here on how this island that is a tropical paradise for the wealthy is also a place where the indigenous inhabitants are left in much worse circumstances. Chris manages to incorporate a lot of interesting social and political issues here without making the story preachy.
Where I struggled here is with our main characters, specifically with Bryce. He and Rook get locked in a battle for alphadom pretty much from the start. Now both these guys are pretty arrogant at the beginning. Rook is confident he can do this flight and isn’t interested in hearing otherwise, even when the chances of success are dwindling. So his arrogance is what leads them into this crisis, but overall I found him a good guy who was caring and really trying to do the right thing. It makes sense to me that he, along with his co-pilot, would take the lead in handling the evacuation from the plane and the attempts at survival post crash, particularly given that they have been trained in this stuff. So even though Rook challenges Bryce for a lot of the leadership role, it made sense to me. But Bryce has no idea what he is doing, yet is determined to be in charge. While he may be an adventure guy on YouTube, he admits that his adventures are carefully arranged and he spends his nights back in his four-star hotel. So has no real experience to fall back on, but insists on not only being in charge, but challenging Rook and the others constantly, as well as charging off on his own without consulting anyone. I just found him a lot to handle. He is snarky and rude and pushy. He refuses to listen when others want to come to group decisions. He mocks Rook and is rude and obnoxious. I just really had a hard time warming up to him.
Now the whole vibe between these guys is enemies to lovers and they ultimately get off on the tension and intensity between them. And I love an enemies to lovers story, don’t get me wrong. But there is so much time where these guys are at odds before they begin to soften to each other that by that time that happened, I was already kind of over Bryce and there wasn’t quite enough to redeem him for me. I will say, when they ultimately get together, the guys are super hot and all that anger turns into an intense connection. And the way the story wraps up is great, particularly when we get to see other side of Bryce as he and Rook get to know one another. I liked how they were willing to be open with their feelings once they got past all the hate and I loved how things all tie up.
So I ended the book feeling really happy and entertained, but I felt like there was too much frustration for the first half of the book for this one to be a solid win for me. That said, there is so much here to like. I really find Tanya Chris an excellent writer and this story brings in so many great elements. I think if you fall for Bryce more easily than I did, you will adore this one. For me, it was a kind of a struggle to warm up to him, but overall, Among Heroes was really entertaining.