For Kendall Martin, a small, remote village in Southwest Alaska seems like a good place to start over. On the run from an abusive relationship, she leaves everything familiar behind and begins a new life as owner of a small souvenir and sportsman trading post in picturesque Staamat.
Denn Nulo knows everyone in town: he’s the Chief of Police in Staamat. He’s lived there all his life, except for his college years, spent in Anchorage. Originally planning on practicing criminal law and living in Anchorage permanently, Denn is forced to change his plans when he receives word that his widowed mother has passed away, leaving his young sister, Luna, alone. Denn comes back to Staamat to care for Luna.
When Kendall meets Denn, she begins to believe there are truly good men in the world. Denn is everything she wants: strong, loving, dedicated to family, protective. . .and patient. There is instant attraction between them, but Kendall is leery of men, and Denn craves a serious relationship that includes marriage and children. Their courtship is a conflicting mix of hesitancy and passion, with Luna, desperately needing a mother figure in her life, cheering them on.
As Kendall learns how to trust again and her romance with Denn grows more intense, a local woman who’s had her eye on Denn for years releases a torrent of damaging jealousy. . .and the nightmare from Kendall’s past discovers where she’s hidden herself.
Okay, that’s a bit of a different take on the standard “hiding out” scenario, but it all depends on what you’re running from and where your hiding place might be. In my new release, Unsafe Haven, the hiding place would be Southwest Alaska, one of the most remote regions in our forty-ninth state. And my heroine, Kendall Martin, thinks it’s far away enough to—finally—escape the sociopath she was engaged to.
But here’s the thing about sociopaths: they’re ridiculously compulsive, and in a lethal game of “Hide and Seek,” they have this overwhelming need to win. But Alaska is such a big state, with so many hiding places. Right?
Yes, it’s big. And it’s tough to get in depending on where you’re headed. In Southwest Alaska where roads stop abruptly in the middle of nowhere and mountain ranges and bodies of water thwart civilization at every turn, it’s possible to find small pockets of people who have survived despite the harsh beauty of the land and have eked out a living. Tiny villages dot the Kuskokwim River and scatter over the tundra, bracketed by the same mountain ranges that defeat their narrow gravel roads. Bush planes fly in often enough to drop food, medical supplies, even something as whimsical as a prom dress or a wedding cake. One of those bush planes drops Kendall into Staamat, predominantly Native Alaskan and in proud possession of a two-man police force. She’s safe, at last. She can stop worrying.
Maybe. Maybe not. You see, now she’s kind of trapped, though she doesn’t yet know it.
Alaska as a setting played a huge role in writing Unsafe Haven. I used to live in Alaska—Fairbanks, in fact—and I always wanted to set a story there. Talk about a land rich with inspiration, Alaska is it. Over the years I’ve answered my share of questions posed by folks who have never been up there and have no idea what it’s like. Thanks to popular cable reality shows such as Flying Wild Alaska, Alaska State Troopers and Ice Road Truckers, more people are getting a better understanding of the more remote Alaskan regions.
But there are things about Alaska I just couldn’t explain, like the soundless hiss the Aurora Borealis makes on a forty-below winter night when the colors dance across the black sky. The way a hungry raven will strut right up to you and demand a share of your meal, should you happen to be noshing on your lunch outside during a warm summer day. Town moose in the yard and snowy owls on the wing, gliding overhead. Midnight sun and endless snow. These images and so many more were in my heart as I wrote.
Kendall, on the run and searching for safety, finds what she needs when she meets up with Denn Nulo, my handsome, strong and caring Native Alaskan cop. But sometimes the most danger you face is cloaked in the last person you’d imagine could ever harm you, as my two would-be soul mates are about to find out.
Setting my story in Alaska was a no-brainer for me and provided me a wonderful walk down memory lane as I wrote Kendall and Denn into the mysteries and wonder of the Last Frontier. If only all my settings could come together this easily!
What are some of your favorite settings for a novel? Do you prefer to keep it real or to add in your own imagination to a chosen locale, creating entire cities and even countries?
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To enter to win a copy of Unsafe Haven, just answer Char’s questions in the comments below.
This giveaway is closed. The winner is Rose.