Rating: 3 stars
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel

Note: Stranded is book two in the 8392 series and cannot be read as a standalone. Auctioned should be read first and this review may then reveal certain plot points from that first book.

Darius Quinn came out of a retirement of sorts when he was approached to find Gray Nolan, who had been abducted. Infiltrating a sex trafficking ring on a yacht at sea wasn’t the easiest thing Darius had ever done, but he found Gray. He was only supposed to get Gray off the boat, but Gray wouldn’t leave without the others and now Darius is on a deserted island with thirteen traumatized young men.

With danger threatening their every move, Darius needs to keep the men safe and get them home. He also has to come to terms with not only his attraction to Gray, but his deep need to be near the man. Darius knows Gray has a long road to recovery and if Darius has his choice, he will be with Gray every step of the way.

This book didn’t turn out so well for me. I read Auctioned and liked it enough to continue on with the series. I have also read other books by Cara Dee and am familiar with her style, but this book was off for me from the start. Even having read Auctioned and with this book picking up where it left off, I still felt like I was coming into a movie that had already started and it never did seem to catch up for me.

The men are stranded on an island, as the title suggests. I am not one to have difficulty following books but what Darius (and the man helping him) was doing, was not so clear to me. There were other dangers on the yacht and Darius was purposely keeping the rescued men hidden to avoid these other dangers and this was just about the entire book.

While there is violence here that is predominantly off page, the dangers lurking for these younger men were mostly to do with the fact that they were inexperienced and not because the supposed bad guys came off as so bad. The men have no time to process anything as they have to face survival of a different kind, but I could not get this plot to come together for me. Then, there are drones appearing on this remote deserted island and there was little explanation to how this was all coming together. I was mostly reading this book and moving from one scene to the next to get to the relationship development between Darius and Gray.

Darius is a loner and can’t even come to terms with his need to be with Gray, not that he has any time to think about anything, and Gray has a world of trauma to overcome from his abduction. Their physical moves toward each other are bold, while their emotional moves toward each other are tentative and that part worked for where these guys are in their lives. However, as in the first book, Darius excessively calls Gray “knucklehead,” and I cannot get past that this nickname doesn’t fit into this plot line or the relationship; it does not come off as even remotely endearing and it was used way too often for me.

This is an ongoing series and there is still more action to come and still a lot more relationship for these guys to work out. The larger plot has definitely been the focus for these first two books and with more action to come, it remains to be seen when Darius and Gray will be able to breathe and work through their own trauma while finding how they fit into each other’s lives. At this point, I am more interested in the personal relationship than the overall plot, but it doesn’t seem like that will get top billing in the next book either. I’m on the fence with this series at the moment, but if you are looking for a longer series with more action than romance that edges slightly darker, you could look into this series.