by Adriana Anders
Series: Survival Instincts #2
Also in this series: Whiteout
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 24, 2021
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Hotshot pilot Leo Eddowes is afraid of nothing and no one. So when she's asked to evacuate a man from the wilds of Alaska, she doesn't hesitate. But with enemies in close pursuit and the weather turning sour, what should have been a simple mission quickly shifts to disaster.
And there's only one way out.
When Elias Thorne disappeared, he was America's most wanted. Now he's spent more than a decade in one of the most remote places on earth, guarding a dangerous secret. Leo's arrival, quickly followed by a team of expert hunters, leaves him no choice but to join forces with her—and run. Neither is prepared for their reluctant partnership to flare into something as wild and untamed as the frozen world around them...but as desperately cold days melt into scorchingly hot nights, Leo and Elias must learn to dig deep, trust in each other, and forge a bond as strong as the forces of nature.
Stranded together in a frozen wilderness,
There's nowhere left to run...
Content notes: View Spoiler »Violence (including gun violence), plane crash (on-page, MC is injured), death of parents (by suicide and murder), grief, torture, animal in danger (but is safe) « Hide Spoiler
Whiteout was one of my favorite reads of 2020, so of course I was excited to see what crazy wilderness shenanigans would happen this time. While different in several ways, this book still scratches that same itch for me.
It’s some kind of luck for Leo to get a tip about the scientist her team has been searching for the same day she’s out sick with a stomach bug – and even worse luck that a hostile corporate extraction team is right behind her. And then she’s shot down shortly before she reaches his location. Luckily, she’s rescued by Elias, a man who’s spent the past decade living in the Alaskan wilderness and knows the area like the back of his hand. Leo’s not sure why the bad guys are after him or why he rescued her, but they form an unlikely team fleeing through the wilderness to reach the nearest town. Injured and pursued, Leo has nothing to show for it, because Elias isn’t the man she’s looking for. Or is he?
“Never, can’t, won’t. I don’t believe in those words.[…] Even metal melts if you get it hot enough.”
Leo’s the type of person to be constantly on the move, ready to tackle whatever comes her way. And as a Black female elite pilot, it’s a trait that’s served her well. While she’s not military any longer, she feels a strong kinship with her fellow team and is similarly driven to find the virus that the Chronos Corporation desperately wants for nefarious purposes. Elias is a wrench in those plans, much in the same way she is for him. Elias has spent years living mostly by himself, with only his dog Bo for company. There’s a good reason for him to be hiding in the woods, and he’s wary of how Leo is tangled up in it. Like Leo, he’s extremely good at what he does, and that’s keeping himself alive in the wilderness. Both characters are just incredibly competent, and I loved seeing that.
“There wasn’t time for this now—thinking about how this person who’d been sent to him—who’d literally fallen from the sky—made him strong in a way he’d never felt. Together, he thought, letting his mind take an uncharacteristically fanciful spin, they were more than the sum of their parts.”
While I liked the individual characters, I think the romance didn’t work as well. In the first book, while the main characters weren’t close, they at least knew each other. In this one, the characters meet for the first time when the heroine’s concussed after a plane crash (oh, and suffering from some sort of stomach virus). They’re on the run almost immediately from that point onwards, so the whole “getting to know you” bit is secondary to the “running for our lives” plot. The individual character development was fine – after all, we get to see inside each character’s head – but it takes a while for them to even start trusting each other, let alone falling in love. What I really liked about the romance, though, is how it’s built on respect. Leo’s impressed by how prepared Elias is for nearly every eventuality, and how good he is at navigating and surviving in the wilderness. Elias is impressed by Leo’s flying (what little of it he sees before she crashes) and her spirit; she’s not one to give up, even against insurmountable odds.
The POV alternates mostly between Leo and Elias’s third-person, but also occasionally switches to one of the bad guys hunting them down. Usually I don’t care for the villain POV and quickly rush through those bits, but I actually liked the character in this case. As for other secondary characters, well, they’re escaping through the Alaskan wilderness, so there’s not really a ton of other people in the book! But without being too spoilery, I will say that I want to be Amka when I grow up! The suspense portion of the plot was excellent, if a bit on the unbelievable side – they get injured a lot and yet somehow keep on going. It was gripping, though, and I gulped down large chunks of the book at a time because I simply had to know what was going to happen next.
Overall, this was another extremely enjoyable romantic suspense, even if the romantic relationship took longer to get in place. There’s several options for who the next book might be about and I can’t wait to see what’s next in this series!