Darius and Gray along with a dozen or so other terrified but brave young men fighting to stay alive...to escape what for them was a ship of horrors...well they made it off of that yacht to an island and they're safe or at least safer and now here in 'Stranded' the second book in a 5 book series that will see us following Darius and Gray on their journey to what I refuse to believe will be anything other than a solid and well deserved HEA.
'Auctioned' saw us following the story through Gray's eyes but this time around we get to see things through Darius's mind as he struggles with his growing attachment to Gray. Things aren't a case of black and white for Darius. He's struggling with his need to be close to Gray...to never be too far away from him for any amount of time as Gray seeks him out because for Gray...Darius is shelter from the storm, near him is the only place where Gray truly feels safe and for Gray this creates it's own complication as he struggles with his fear of not being able to care for himself...to protect himself.
While the danger in 'Auctioned' was from the outside world...drug runners, human slavers...here in 'Stranded' Gray and the other men rescued by Darius are forced to begin the struggle against the damage done to their psyches following their ordeal and as they all begin to go their separate way only time is going to tell how badly the damage done to each of them has been.
Once again we're left standing at the edge of a very steep cliff as we watch the group begin to drift apart...as they start to go their separate ways returning to their lives.
While 'Stranded' picked up right where 'Auctioned' left off, it held it's own very different tone. The characters in 'Abandoned' have gone from victims to survivors...to people beginning to reclaim their lives and preparing to move on...but, what remains to be seen is how much easier said than done will this be for all of them...
There are no simple and quick solutions in the real world for a story like this and I'm sure it's not going to be any different here. As Darius wages an internal struggle between his own feelings and what he believes the other boys and especially Gray are dealing with, he also struggles with Gray on a more personal level to find a balance between what Gray wants and what he feels Gray can handle. It's a fine line and one that neither man is truly objective about.
While 'Stranded' very much continues the struggle against real world events for Darius, Gray and the rest of these boys it also contains the beginnings of a very psychological and emotional struggle that each of these survivors will need to face on their own terms in order to once again regain control of their lives. But it's Darius and Gray who are the true focus of this series and it's their journey this series is built on
I could wrap this up by saying "I loved this and this and this about the book but really what it came down to was 'I loved the book' just like the first one and truthfully I don't see that changing any time soon."
An ARC of 'Stranded' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.