Bailey Craig first set foot in Yancey, Alaska at age 15. Abandoned by her mother, the broken teenager was taken in by her aunt, Agnes. In Yancey, Bailey came close to finding a home, and love, but seeking comfort in the wrong things and acting out to make Cole turn his back on her before he could realise for himself that she wasn’t good enough, soon destroyed Bailey’s reputation and any hope of staying in Yancey. That’s how Bailey saw it, anyway. She left after High School graduation and vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a tainted past, and the reputation to go with it. Following the death of her beloved aunt, Bailey is forced to return to the small town she left behind; the town that symbolises her mistakes, regret and shame; the town where she is still labelled by some as Easy Lay Bay; the town where she left the only one who had ever touched her heart. Scared and ashamed of her past, Bailey intends to lay low, get the funeral over with and get out of dodge.
Cole McKenna, the oldest of the McKenna family, took over the role of patriarch upon the deaths of their parents. Keeping his siblings happy and safe is his life’s mission. Cole is prepared to face anything that might threaten his family or his town, but he is ill-prepared to see Bailey Craig, the girl who thoroughly broke his heart so many years ago. Knowing Bailey’s reputation and how difficult returning to Yancey must be for her, the McKennas are determined to be friendly faces as she lays her beloved aunt to rest beneath the entire town’s scrutiny. But Cole has no intention of getting too involved - he would never again give her the power to devastate him.
Bailey expected judgment and resentment upon her return to Yancey, but what she receives from the McKenna family is, surprisingly, friendship; and while some townspeople still see the Bailey of the past, most can tell that Bailey is no longer the wild child she once was. She has found the Lord and tries to live a life honouring to God. As Bailey and Cole spend more time together neither can deny that their young love still lurks in both their hearts – but can Cole forgive Bailey for betraying him? And more importantly, can Bailey finally forgive herself?
The McKenna family is dragged into mystery when their diving equipment is suspected of causing the death of a female diver. Soon, however, it becomes apparent that the young diver was murdered – but why? Suddenly Bailey’s intention to settle Agnes’ affairs and leave Yancey behind her for good has to be placed on hold when her knowledge of Russian-American history becomes invaluable to the case. Could the Russian-American Trading Post Agnes ran and left to Bailey be at the centre of the danger? When evidence suggests that Agnes’ death was no accident, Bailey knows she cannot leave Yancey before seeing justice served.
Working with Bailey to solve the mystery, being a friend she so desperately needs (even though she would never admit it) and keeping the barricade around his heart intact might be the biggest challenge of Cole’s life - especially when Bailey’s life is endangered because of their search for answers.
Submerged by Dani Pettrey is the first book in the Alaskan Courage series. I started reading the series with Shattered, the second book in the series. I enjoyed now reading the first and discovering how Cole and Bailey found love; so much so that I want to reread Shattered so that I can appreciate Bailey and Cole together. I am completely taken with the whole McKenna family. Pettrey does a good job of creating likable, though flawed and complex, characters. The family dynamics are wonderful, and I can’t wait to read Gage and Darcy’s story in Stranded. It was so hard to pick up book 1 first and not continue immediately on to Darcy and Gage’s story. They thoroughly charmed me in Shattered, and I can’t wait to see more of their interaction. And of course, Kayden and Jake’s story is the one I might be looking forward to most. Such intense characters, those two! So many secrets to uncover…
The mystery in Submerged is intense! Pettrey creates believable villains, and I feared for Bailey and the McKenna's safety several times. The portions of Russian-American history were incorporated into the story without ever feeling like a history lesson. I always say detail makes a story great, and Pettrey's detail greatly adds to the realism of the story and the mystery that keeps you turning the pages just as fast as you can.
Pettrey brings Alaska to life in a way few authors could manage. I literally feel like I visited Alaska every time I finish one of her books. And my favourite part? The way Pettrey makes you feel. Tears were falling as I shared every single emotion Bailey fought and felt. At times it was hard to continue reading, feeling the weight of Bailey's guilt and regret. I love how beautifully Pettrey uses Bailey and Cole's relationship to illustrate God’s love and forgiveness, and how Bailey comes to finally value herself as God’s daughter thanks to Cole’s gentle guidance.
I was also part of every dive. Pettrey makes me feel like I’m right there in the dark, ice-cold water, swimming alongside the McKennas – that’s how powerful her scenes are. The best writers don’t tell you, they show you.
Dani Pettrey is a very gifted writer and I could not be more grateful that I stumbled onto her work.
Author: Dani Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House