Review: Unsafe Haven

Reviewed by Shelly

Arriving in the isolated village of Staamat, Alaska, Kendall Martin is ready to start over. On the run from her ex-fiancé, she’s there to reinvent herself as the new owner of a souvenir and sportsman trading post. While there she meets Denn Nulo, Staamat’s Chief of Police and resident good guy.

Kendall and Denn click immediately. That doesn’t mean they jump into bed or anything like that – just that they recognize their mutual attraction. Even though she thinks that Denn seems to be a nice guy, it’s because of her prior abusive relationship that Kendall is very untrusting of her feelings for him. Kendall comes from a home with great parents and wonderful childhood memories, which made her easy to identify with as someone who has had a run of bad things happening in a small, yet defining, time in her life. I loved how although her time with Conroy was bad, it didn’t turn her into a bitter or mean person. Yes, she was more cautious of those around her but her personality remained as a caring person. I really liked Kendall. I thought her character was smart, sweet, vulnerable, and oh so gratifyingly unwilling to play the woe-is-me card. I like that a lot.

Denn is a great character. He’s that everyday hero you would read about in your local paper. He’s a go-getter, intelligent, and yes, very good-looking; very much the boy next door. After going away to college in Anchorage with the plan to become a lawyer, he has to come back home because of his mother’s sudden death and to take care of his thirteen year-old sister, Luna. Luna is absolutely precious: she’s diabetic and her ‘rebellion’ is eating junk food at the local eatery owned by old man Fake (what an awesome name). It’s because of Luna’s sweetness and inherent love of her brother (and him for her) that Kendall sees Denn as a caring and patient person.

There are a lot of characters that make up the small town. Jo, Denn’s best friend who has five boys and is pregnant with her sixth and seventh – yep you got it – twins. She keeps telling this story of her mother’s pregnancy and giving birth that make me laugh out loud. Wendy, the owner of the inn where Kendall first stays has some secrets that probably should have stayed locked up. There’s a plethora of others that I enjoyed getting to know. Oh yeah, let me tell you about Kendall’s ex-fiancé. Conroy Herington was the culmination of what happens when not only power corrupts but when one parent over compensates for the other parent and the kid grows up to be Ted Bundy. Conroy was evil incarnate and I wanted –no, needed– all bad things to happen to him. I really enjoyed this book a lot. The writing is fresh and clever and very well done.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: A+

*ARC provided by author for review 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Unsafe Haven
by Char Chaffin
Release Date: September 5, 2012
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Guest Post & Giveaway: Unsafe Haven

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.

She Can Hide, But She can’t Run . . . by Char Chaffin

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?

Thanks for stopping by!

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.