Lost In Kakadu
Harlequin Escape Publishing
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
It is Abigail’s worst nightmare when the small plane she and her husband are on crashes somewhere in the Kakadu National Park. The pampered socialite had shoehorned herself into this trip to be with her husband Simon after being confronted with evidence of his infidelity. Now Simon is dead – nearly everyone from the plane is dead except for Abigail and Mackenzie.
Mackenzie and his partner Rodney were taking a holiday but now Rodney is gone. It is up to Mackenzie to take the lead and ensure that he and Abigail survive. One look at the privileged princess is all he needs to know that he’s going to have to take charge. A chef by trade, Mackenzie is able to make the most of their meager supplies, hoping that they’ll only be stuck in the jungle for a few days at most before rescue comes. But a surprising discovery in the cargo hold has him questioning their pilots motives and their course and he begins to wonder if rescue is even coming at all.
The time ticks by and Abigail and Mackenzie find themselves more and more drawn to each other. Their very different backgrounds give them plenty of reason to clash but their strength and determination to survive also gives them plenty of opportunity to be drawn closer together. In their beautiful but wild surroundings, both are tempted by an opportunity to heal from their hurts and lost loves and move forward in a new way.
Lost In Kakadu turned out to be very different from what I expected when I first requested it from NetGalley. I love stories that have people stranded in the wilderness by some form of accident (was a huge Lost fan in its early days) and so I was drawn to this one immediately. I’ve never been to Kakadu – I’m not really your wilderness type of girl. And if I’d been in Abigail’s situation, I’d probably have been at least as annoying as she was in the weeks after the crash. She complains about everything and she’s incredibly precious, wearing make up and heels in the rain forest for heaven’s sake. I got frustrated with her at times but then I thought about myself. All they have to eat at first is cans of baked beans and I hate hate baked beans. I’d probably complain too. Also, eating all of those baked beans can’t have made for a pleasant time in the jungle, surely….
Both Abigail and Mackenzie are on the plane with their respective partners – Abigail’s husband Simon, who is a giant tool and probably not all that missed other than by the legions of women he was apparently cheating on her with, and Mackenzie’s partner Rodney, by all accounts a good guy with a terribly unfortunate name. Abigail demonstrates some hilarious belief in stereotypes about “the gays” of which Mackenzie actually isn’t, because this is a romance novel and there are basically only two people left. He’s bisexual. Which Abigail has a hard time understanding even though it’s a very simple concept.
Thankfully the narrative jumps in time – they’re still stranded but it’s a couple of months later and Abigail has abandoned her heels and make up and is now much more relaxed and has adapted as best she can to her situation. She and Mackenzie are getting on much better and that continues as they actually begin to notice each other as attractive people that they are interested in. It’s been a long time, they spend 24 hours a day every day together, the inevitable was bound to happen. A large portion of this book (maybe half?) goes by without a whisper of chemistry and then all of a sudden, there it is. This sort of works because both were grieving and also because Abigail doesn’t really know what bisexual means for a while but it does seem like the first half of the book drags because nothing happens except them eating baked beans and burying dead people. Then all of a sudden they’ve made themselves a little hut, they bathe in a lovely oasis and they catch wild food and cook it up with Mackenzie’s chef skills. It’s like Survivor meets Blind Date. But they know that they’re obviously not going to get rescued where they are and they have to leave their little haven and attempt to find their own way out, back to some form of civilisation. Given Kakadu is the size of a small European country, this is not going to be an easy feat, especially with what Abigail discovers along the way.
I think for me, the strongest aspect of this story was the way in which they adapted to their situation. The journal of a botanist on the plane proved to be invaluable in helping them identify the many plants and animals found in Kakadu that they could consume and Mackenzie’s career obviously came in handy. He could take very few ingredients and turn them into something and they were brave (or hungry) enough to eat all manner of bush food. I think Abigail’s personal growth is another successful point, she really does come to realise a lot of truths about herself and her former life and how shallow some things were that she had deemed crucial in the past. She also reflected a lot on her relationship with her daughter, which she realised she has passively allowed to slip away from her. Mackenzie was an okay character, it was interesting to see a bisexual character in a relatively straightforward romance that wasn’t erotica or BDSM etc but ultimately it didn’t really make a huge difference to the core story. Theirs is one relationship where after I finished the book, I did wonder how they’d go in the “real world” back among people and in the long term.
Book #195 of 2013
Lost In Kakadu is the 78th novel read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2013
Lost In Kakadu also counts towards my Lost In A Name?6 Challenge. It’s the 5th book completed for the challenge and ticks off the catgeory of read a book with lost or found in the title.