Reef is the prodigal son (or rather brother) of the McKenna family, having left home at 18 to pursue a career as a professional athlete against his family's wishes. One night he unexpectedly appears on his sisters' doorstep covered in blood. It isn't too long before the police come knocking on the McKenna's door to arrest him for the murder of Karli Davis, a fellow athlete.
In addition to Reef, the McKenna family consists of Cole, Gage, Kayden, and Piper. Also along for the ride are Jake who works at the adventure store the McKennas (minus Reef) run, police detective Landon who is also Cole's best friend, and eventually Darcy, a sports reporter. Despite the mountain of evidence against Reef, Piper is completely convinced her brother is innocent. The rest of Reef's family and friends have their doubts, but with Piper determined to prove her brother's innocence the rest of the group follows Piper's lead if only to protect her from getting hurt.
Christian, romance, suspense - these are the three adjectives that seem to get attached to Shattered (which is the second entry in Dani Pettrey's Alaskan Courage series) the most often. For me the suspense aspect is what worked the best. The victim, Karli Davis, is much more than she appears. The investigation into her life and death leads to the world of professional winter sports, an outlaw motorcycle gang, and a suspicious pharmaceutical company. It sounds like everything and the kitchen sink but it worked. Each new revelation about Karli's past was intriguing. Following the McKennas and company as they tried to work out who wanted Karli dead and why was a wild ride. It is because of this aspect of the book that I would recommend Shattered to anyone looking for a suspense filled story with a little action and mystery mixed in.
The romance aspect of Shattered did not work as well. Piper and Landon are the couple at the center of this story. As Cole's best friend, Landon watched Piper grow up. As Cole was falling in love with Bailey in Submerged (book one in the Alaskan Courage series) Landon found himself developing feelings for the woman he once considered something of a little sister. For various reasons he decided not to act on those feelings. In the meantime, Piper is dating Denny. Landon does not approve of Denny. He considers Denny to be something of a player, though the only evidence ever given to support this characterization is that Denny is wealthy and used to getting his own way. When Denny takes Piper on a romantic picnic (and although Denny has never tried anything with Piper), Landon shows up and literally drags her away from her date. I suppose this was meant to show how much Landon cared about Piper, but it came off as more caveman than caring. Seriously, I reread the scene to check if he had dragged her by her hair or her arm. Throughout their so-called romance Landon is condescending and controlling. He may be acting out of a good place (to protect Piper) but that doesn't excuse his behavior or the way he speaks to her.
The Christian aspect was also somewhat disappointing. There are lots of examples of people turning to God for help (and that's great), but there was also a lot of judgmental posturing. There were two instances of this that bothered me in particular. The first involved Kayden and Jake.
Jake isn't from Yancey, Alaska but he has lived there for the past few years. Still, in a small town like Yancey a person could live there for years and still be considered an outsider. Now Jake's backstory hasn't been revealed yet (that's coming in book four I hear) but so far he appears to be a good guy. He works at the McKenna store. When the McKenna's need help, Jake is there to lend a hand. While the rest of McKenna family considered Jake to be a friend, Kayden is openly hostile for no apparent reason other than that Jake isn't from Yancey. At one point when they're discussing the investigation Kayden insinuates that Jake is a criminal because only a criminal would say whatever Jake said. Jake says that he is not criminal and Kayden says something like "and we're just supposed to your word on that," at which point I wanted to reach through the book, shake Kayden and tell her, "Yes, you ignorant little twit, you take his word for it. You do not have to automatically trust every stranger that crosses your path, but you also do not go around accusing people of committing crimes, especially in the absence of evidence that a crime has even been committed. You give people the benefit of the doubt until they give you a reason to doubt them." Okay, enough of that rant. I just found the character of Kayden extremely annoying, bitter, and almost hateful (as in that she was full of hate). There was no explanation for her behavior and at no point does anyone call her on her behavior.
The other example of judgmental nonsense considered Meredith Blake, the district attorney prosecuting Reef and, coincidentally, Gage's ex-girlfriend. Of course, the McKennas are mad at Meredith for prosecuting Reef which is ridiculous because (a) there was ample evidence pointing to Reef as the killer and (b) the district attorney cannot not pursue a case just because the family of the accused swears he's really good guy who would never hurt a fly. The bigger issue is Gage's and Meredith's past together. Without going into detail, the couple suffered a devastating loss several years earlier. Their relationship did not survive the loss. Now everyone has different ways of grieving and dealing with a loss. Gage is still deeply upset, which is totally understandable. Meredith grieved and then moved forward. She chooses not to think too much about past and what she lost, which is also totally understandable, except that it isn't so understandable to the McKennas. Gage and certain others attack Meredith for not grieving in the way that Gage grieves. I found this troubling, obnoxious, and not very Christian or kind. Gage and Meredith dealt with their pain differently but in the best way they could and neither should be judged for it, at least not by people looking in from the outside.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned complaints, I still enjoyed the Shattered. The suspenseful story surrounding Karli Davis made it all worth it.