No Safe Haven by Kimberly and Kayla R. Woodhouse
Review By Nike Chillemi
This debut novel by a mother and teen-age daughter team portends of good things to come. This is a terrific action-adventure novel with no mere romance, but a wonderful love story. The novel is based on real life, as co-author Kayla, the teenage daughter, has a rare nerve disorder preventing her from regulating her body temperature or feeling pain. They have created a mother-daughter team (Jenna Tikaani-Gray and teenage Andie) whereby the fictional teenage daughter has the same disorder.
The story opens one year after Jenna’s husband and Andie’s dad died in a car crash. Mother and daughter are flying in their private plane back to their home in Alaska and have agreed to give a lift to a man named Cole. When Cole begins struggling in the cockpit area with their pilot Hank they become more than concerned, they’re terrified. And that’s just the beginning of their problems. It’s going to get a lot worse.
It turns out Hank has sabotaged their plane and they’re about to crash into Sultana, perhaps the most remote and dangerous peaks in Alaska. The crash leaves Jenna with a horrid gash in her leg and tremendous loss of blood. Bad men are chasing them and the ladies don’t know why. It seems Cole might know more than he’s letting on But Jenna isn’t sure she can trust him. Her only thought is the protection and care of her daughter. She knows she must keep Andie safe from the bad men who are chasing them, and she fears she might have to protect her daughter from Cole as well. All logic says they should get off the mountain as fast as possible, but Cole insists they hike further up its brutal slopes. His thinking is if they go higher and hide in ice caves cut out of the packed snow, the bad men will not see them going down the mountain and will think they’ve perished in the crash.
Jenna struggles to understand why their pilot, a family friend, betrayed them. Cole finally reveals what he knows about her deceased husband. Jenna is devastated to find out her husband was involved in nefarious and corrupt activities bordering on treason. She begins to allow herself to trust Cole and grows to love him. Cole’s heart has been in a deep-freeze since the death of his wife and daughter, but it’s beginning to thaw as he allows himself to experience intimate emotions he hasn’t felt in years. I was deeply touched by the way Andie’s simple and beautiful faith was presented. I think that will be a breath of fresh air to long time Christians and will explain the faith to any non-Christians reading the novel.
I enjoyed the different points of view and thought that was handled well. The way they did it enabled me to get to know many of the characters in a deeper way. If I have one bone to pick it’s that the brave and stoic Jenna, who confronts every challenge on the mountain head on, turns into a whiny, weepy female as soon as she gets to safety. I would’ve liked her character to retain her strength. That aside the novel is a page turner. Action-adventure lovers will enjoy this novel, I’m sure.