The Alaskan Rescue
by Dominique Burton
(Harl. American #1440, $5.25, G) ISBN 978-373-75444-1
***
I loved this story right up until the end. The rushed ending and change from an in-depth well written character study to a frothy everything ends happily in the last 35 pages ruined the book for me. Dominique Burton is a new author for me and I will definitely seek her out again. But I hope next time she can finish a book the way she started it.

Sashi Hansen is a New York ballet dancer who realized she could not reach her dream of being a prima ballerina. So she decided to do the next best thing...teach dance. But to do so, she needs money and to get money she needs to work. She takes a job for the summer in the wilds of Alaska, first working at a resort and then at a fish packing factory. She is just about ready to go back home and get her loan when two things happen. She meets a guy and she and her best friend get mauled by a bear.

Doctor Cole Stevens grew up in Alaska and went into medicine due to a traumatic event. They were skiers who one day encountered an avalanche that killed his brother. Survivor's guilt is a powerful thing and it motivated Cole to study medicine and join in on search and rescue in the Alaskan wilderness. He is the man that Sashi met the just before her adventure. They are attracted, share some hot kisses and plan to meet again to see if this was a one night thing or could be more.

He is on the team that finds Sashi in a cave. She and her best friend Kendra, who was upset, didn't follow the rules and end up in the forest without bear mace and with no one knowing they were there. The bear swatted Sashi out of the way, leaving her with a broken leg and other injuries. Since Kendra panicked and ran, she ended up dead. When Cole finds Sashi, she is alive but suffering from her injuries and near hypothermia.

This is the story of two people who have to work through their individual issues before they can acknowledge their love for each other. The issues are both physical and emotional and involve how they feel about themselves and their families. They actually work together to deal with those issues and grow closer as friends as well. Their pain is realistic and their recovery is heartfelt, emotional and seems true to what one would imagine if in their shoes. I was engaged and thinking that this was one of the best I had read this year.

But with about 40 pages to go, everything accelerated. Issues that the two had been struggling with just got resolved and there was a rush to an ending. It felt hurried, improbable and unsatisfying, despite the fact that these two were a pair who should have been together. Even knowing that category books often have to resolve things quickly, this ending was not consistent with the depth found in the rest of the story.

The Alaskan Rescue is still a good book. It is just not the great book it had potential to be.

--Shirley Lyons


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