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With the October 2004 review, we began rating the books on the basis of one to four trowels; 
one trowel= don’t bother, to four trowels= run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!

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Dangerous Ground by Rachel Grant

Reviewed on: April 1, 2023


Montlake Publishing:  Seattle WA
2021 (pb)

Loving the discipline required of a field archaeologist but disinclined to live the life of an academic, Fiona Carver found professional satisfaction as a CRM archaeologist for the U.S. Navy.  Her most recent assignment had taken her to Chiksook Island, one of the Aleutian chain, to conduct the archaeological survey portion of a full-blown Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in anticipation of the construction of a U.S. Navy submarine base.  In addition to surveying the remnants of a World War II military base on Chiksook, Fiona had identified the telltale signs of a prehistoric house pit, possibly preserved in pristine condition by a mudslide.  The local indigenous Aleutian population, who prefer the traditional name Unangas, were very much interested in the results of her research. 

Unfortunately, dangerous weather conditions forced the evacuation of the EIS team, which included not only Fiona and her archaeological assistant, but also the employees and specialists hired by the engineering firm—Pollux--responsible for submitting the full Impact Statement.  Almost a full month had elapsed due to Navy and Pollux Engineering SNAFUs before the team could finally return to Chiksook, and Fiona was very concerned that her necessarily hasty departure had left the house pit susceptible to damage from the storms that swept the island.

The crew returning to Chiksook included Dean Slater, a renowned wildlife photographer, traveling as Bill Lowell, ornithology consultant on the Pollux Engineering dime.  Dean was traveling incognito as he hoped to unravel the mystery of the disappearance of his brother Dylan, a volcanologist charged with writing up that portion of the EIS dealing with the Navy project’s possible impact on Mount Katin, the island’s dormant volcano.  Dean does not believe Pollux’s story that his brother evacuated with the rest of the EIS crew and then decided to “go off the grid” for an extended period.

After a prolonged period of mutual suspicion of each other’s intentions and hidden agendas, Dean and Fiona finally join forces to ferret out the truth behind Dylan’s disappearance.  That truth seems to point to clandestine operations on the island that go well beyond the necessity to establish a submarine base on a god-forsaken windswept island in the far north of the Pacific Ocean.  Their investigations lead them into grave personal danger as they must face not only the fury of island’s sub-arctic weather but also the fury of men who will stop at nothing to ensure Dean and Fiona’s disappearance, just as they had masterminded Dylan’s. 

Dean and Fiona also find time to fall madly and passionately in love while searching for Dylan.  For this is a romance novel—not perhaps your mother’s or grandmother’s Harlequin paperback—but a romance novel, nonetheless.  There are numerous interludes in which Fiona seems well-focused on getting out of a sticky situation alive while Dean seems much more focused on having sex with Fiona!    

Two trowels for Dangerous Ground.