COVER REVEAL & EXCERPT: Uncharted by Tracey Garvis Graves

Last year, I discovered a book that stunned me. Exhilarated me. Challenged my way of thinking. Kept me up all night because I could not put it down. A book so original in its delivery that even after re-reading it several times since then, it still gets me every single time. That book was On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves. Anna and T.J. are two names that I will never forget and my heart will always skip a beat when I think of their epic love story.

This year, Anna and T.J. return in a companion novella to the New York Times bestseller On the Island. It is not their story but they are very much part of it and it completes their adventurous tale. I give you the cover and a never-seen-before excerpt from Uncharted

Expected release date: 2 July 2013

uncharted

The Story

When twenty-three-year-old dot-com millionaire Owen Sparks walked away from his charmed life, he had one goal in mind: get as far away as possible from the people who resented his success, or had their hand out for a piece of it. A remote uncharted island halfway around the world seemed like a perfectly logical place to get away from it all.

Calia Reed wasn’t part of Owen’s plans. The beautiful British girl — on holiday in the Maldives with her brother, James — made Owen wonder if getting away from it all might be a lot more enjoyable with a carefree girl who didn’t know anything about the life he left behind.

But Owen had no idea how much his carefully detailed plans would go awry. Nor did he realize that a decision he made would have such a catastrophic effect on two passengers who boarded a plane in Chicago.

And when Owen shows up at Anna and T.J.’s door with an incredible story to tell, everyone involved will learn just how much their lives are intertwined.

The Excerpt

Chapter 1

OWEN

The house is isolated, surrounded by trees and a well-kept lawn. There’s a children’s play set in one corner of the yard, and an abandoned tricycle on the front sidewalk. Spring has only just arrived in the Midwest, but someone has already drawn a hopscotch pattern with pastel-colored chalk. A sign stuck in the landscaping by the front door announces that the home is protected by ADT, and when I ring the doorbell a dog starts barking, followed by the sound of thundering paws.

The woman that answers the door has a baby in her arms and two toddlers clinging to her skirt. The dog, a large golden retriever, snarls and waits for her to let it out. I hope she doesn’t. Her blue eyes narrow as she peers at me behind the safety of a storm door that I’m certain is locked. The glass muffles her voice, but I can still understand her when she says, “Can I help you?” Her guarded tone makes sense, the way it would if you lived out in the country and the world knew your story and had a ballpark idea of your net worth. “Is your husband around?” I ask.

“He’s upstairs. On the phone,” she says.

“I’d like to talk to you both. Mind if I wait?” She doesn’t like this. I can tell by the way she pushes the kids behind her and squares her shoulders, lifting her chin slightly.

Ah, she’s a fighter. This doesn’t surprise me at all.

“You’ll have to come back some other time,” she says, and starts to close the door. But before she can swing it shut all the way a dusty pickup truck pulls into the driveway and the relief washes over her face.

The man driving slams on the brakes and gets out of the truck almost before it stops moving.  He strides up to me with a suspicious expression on his face. Suspicious and pissed off. I’m older than he is, but he looks enough like me that people could mistake us for brothers; we have the same light brown hair and build.

He glances at the woman in the doorway. “Stay inside.” Turning back toward me he says, “Who are you and what do you want?”

“Just wanted to talk to you and your wife.”

“Do we know you?”

“No.” I put my hands in my pockets and remind myself of the reason for my visit. “My name is Owen Sparks.” The man looks at me, brow furrowed as he filters through his memory for the significance of my name. But the woman, the woman knows immediately, and we both turn toward her when she gasps.

“T.J,” the woman says. She opens the door wide so we can really hear her and the dog shoots out like a bullet from a gun, sniffing me aggressively but thankfully deciding that I’m no threat. “The missing person. The man whose trail went cold in the Maldives. Do you remember? His name was Owen Sparks.”

Recognition dawns on his face and they look at me like I’m a ghost. “Are you the guy who built the shack?” he asks.

“Yes.”

“But you’re not Bones.”

I shake my head. “No.” There’s no need for me to ask them what they mean. To ask them who Bones is.

Because I know.

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On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day. T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family – and a stack of overdue assignments – instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island.

Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter. Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

review

This book was on my radar for a while because of its overwhelmingly positive reviews but I just couldn’t quite start reading it – the premise was simply bugging me too much. I have no issue with age differences but this one seemed to be quite substantial (13 years) and one of the characters is under-aged when the story starts. HOWEVER, I got over my initial prejudice and started reading it – thank God I did! This is one of the nicest love stories I have ever had the pleasure to read. The writing style is quite unique, I call it “fluff-free” because it focuses on narrating the story without long-winded scenery descriptions or internal monologues. It covers a long-ish time span and it does so quite effectively without making you feel cheated out of anything. You get to follow the events through both points of view and you are offered an insight into both the main characters, T.J. and Anna. And you fall in love with them.

The theme of age difference is slowly forgotten because what happens in the book and the characters’ reactions to all those events make it an obsolete issue after a while. All you see are these two people who find themselves in horrific circumstances and who are stripped of everything but their humanity, courage and ability to love. Their fight for survival is incredible but it all falls second to the bond and genuine affection that is created between them. And then the world finds out about their relationship and they are faced with everyone’s prejudice. So, one minute I was frowning upon their age difference and the next I was cheering for them like a mad one-woman cheering squad. This is what this book does to you. It changes your perceptions, it opens your mind to situations you would have normally dismissed without giving them a second thought, and it gives you a beautiful story of love and courage that stays with you long after you finish reading (or re-reading) it.

I cannot recommend this book enough! It went immediately on my list of all-time favourites and I plan to re-read it often. It’s become my own personal happy pill.

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Buy book: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Book Depository | B&N
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