MEC Reviews: The Island Between Us – Wendy Hudson

The Island Between Us is a solid adventure novel that has a dash or romance and a lot of hardship. Ms. Hudson writes a nail-biter story that pits a group of people against a harsh and unyielding nature as a “survival” course turns all too real. It’s a gripping story and, although it completely confirms my initial thought that I would never chose something like this as a vacation, I was captivated by the characters and unfolding events. Nature – at a distance. That’s more my cup of tea.

Georgia Hamilton has translated her own wanderlust and experience in exploring the world into a small business where she brings disparate groups of people to a remote island in the Hebrides to learn how to survive for two weeks in the wild and, hopefully, learn a bit about themselves while their are at it. This time around, one of the participants turns out to be Kelsey Campbell, a woman Georgia had a brief yet fateful encounter with twenty years ago – and the potential of rekindling the connection between them is woven through the story.

At its heart, this is an adventure in nature story – where the characters are pitted against the elements and scarcity of resources when things take a turn for the worse and the lessons in survival become a necessity after losing their emergency beacon and supplies. There’s a gritty realism to their plight, and Hudson’s writing ratchets up the suspense as the characters struggle to work together with storms, hunger, injuries and in-fighting dogging them at every turn.

The romance between Georgia and Kelsey is a bit of a slow burn (obviously not using dry kindling). There’s a connection, but they are both unsure if the other was as impacted by their chance meeting so many years ago and, with so much else going on, romance is not really on the top four things that you need to survive (fire, water, shelter, food). But, hey, who’s kidding who, that never stopped anyone in lesfic. What starts as a bit of a “does she/doesn’t she like me” dance at the beginning is fed with a steady diet of adversity and the two mains are so well matched that it works.

In addition to Georgia and Kelsey, there’s an interesting mix of secondary characters who all have their share of baggage and backstory. Ms Hudson develops them into complex characters that may at first seem to fit stereotypes, but are fleshed out and bring the story to life. The friendships and adversarial relationships develop and change as the story progresses. There’s a nice balance in the characters that provides a realistic portrayal of how such stressful and dire circumstances can bring out the best and the worst.

Ms. Hudson writing is top-notch and she brings both the characters and island to life on the page. Things move along at a pretty fast pace – going from bad to worse in some circumstances – but I didn’t feel that things dragged or the story was bloated. The two weeks they spent on the island passed quickly – at least for me, the characters likely felt differently.

Overall, this was a great read. The characters, situation and setting made An Island Between Us a welcome break from the rom-coms and fauxmances I’ve been reading and I admit to being at the edge of my seat (well-cushioned seat in a gazebo … nature at a distance, remember) while I was reading.

Thank you to Ylva Publishing for an Advance Reading Copy for review.

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