Watch Where You Step – “Dangerous Ground” by Rachel Grant

“Dangerous Ground” is an apt description of the remote area in the Aleutian Islands where the U.S. Navy plans to build a submarine base which requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).The difficulty of getting to the islands and its unforgiving climate suits the small group of native Americans that makes up its population and they’re not overly fond of outsiders, but they know archeologist Fiona Carver who is responsible for completing the EIS for the Navy.

Pitfalls Everywhere

When Fiona returns to the island after an emergency evacuation several weeks earlier there is a handsome guy on her flight who she suspects may not be legitimate. Acclaimed wildlife photographer Dean Slater had to use an assumed identity to get access to the island so he could look for his twin brother Dylan, a volcanologist, who left the island weeks earlier under a cloud of suspicion. But Dean was being stonewalled by the government and he knew his twin wouldn’t have gone off the grid without letting him know beforehand. So the only way to find him was to start looking where he was last seen. In the Aleutian Islands of Alaska.

As thrillers are a favorite genre of mine, especially a romantic adventure/thriller, “Dangerous Ground” sounded like a sure bet. The multifaceted plot is well constructed and the subject has been thoroughly researched, which is crucial with a plot involving so many technical areas of expertise. Author Rachel Grant offers up strong dual protagonists and an intriguing storyline that puts Fiona and Dean in harrowing situations with some edge-of-the-seat tension. The characters are likable although Fiona, more so than Dean, at least initially. He’s very full of himself, projecting a bragging ladies man personae that comes on strong. Some exposition of details and descriptions are necessary to pull the reader into the story and let them “see” the action through their imaginations. But Grant’s narrative suffers from information overload, slowing the action and affecting the pacing with too many pages devoted to dry, in-depth explanations of government regulations, archeological facts and technical descriptions of equipment and volcanic structures. And then there’s the push/pull of the budding relationship between our hero and heroine but Grant keeps covering the same “feelings” over and over with no real action beyond a few passionate kisses near the end. Really? And then – wait for it – a cliffhanger ending. Did I mention how much I dislike cliffhangers? Three and a half stars.

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