Review | Unseen Messages by Pepper Winters

unseen messagesUnseen Messages by Pepper Winters
Published March 30, 2016, 591 pp.
Copy provided by publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

“Instincts are what keep us safe from fate. Ignoring them can change your life forever.”

Fame and fortune arrived overnight and after months on the road with her singing tour, all Estelle craves is peace. Tired and ready for paradise, she travels to Fiji to recuperate.

Stubborn and surly, Galloway is avoided by most–which is exactly the way he likes it. However, he’s done spending his life in regret and hopes to find redemption in the tropical wilderness.

Together, they board the flight that changes their fate forever. Crash landing on a deserted island, they not only have to figure out how to survive with no skills and daily dangers–learning how to fish, find water, and build shelter–but also inherit two children who look to them to keep them alive.

However, staying alive might be the least of Galloway and Estelle’s problems. As days creep to months and rescue doesn’t find them, their desire for each other ignites.

They started as strangers.
They grew to be friends.
They fought the desire to be lovers.

Lust can be the most beautiful thing. Love the most rewarding. But not on an island where life hangs by a thread and giving into temptation can kill you.

Can they survive being forgotten or will love be their ultimate undoing?

First thoughts after finishing this: man this was depressing. I mean, Galloway and Estelle got out alive, but after what everyone went through… I don’t think I can celebrate. Also, I don’t think I can celebrate because I couldn’t exactly get behind Galloway and Estelle’s romance, which makes me feel selfish. Don’t get me wrong, they deserve it after all they’d been through on that island, but the romance didn’t feel real.

This is also a pretty long read, just a bit shy of 600 pages and I regularly read books around the same page count – it’s just that the first 45% of this dragged. Like I struggled to get through that for almost a week. Once you do get past that though, you can finish it within the day.

Unseen Messages is a story about survival, and not just a romance. When Galloway and Estelle, both essentially strangers to each other, crash on a deserted island with no rescue in sight, they’ll have to overcome the odds stacked against them. Along with 2 kids that have also managed to survive the crash, the ragtag family of 4 will survive, and who knows, maybe even build a life on the island.

This is basically a character-driven story – the narration is done in two POVs, Estelle’s and Galloway’s, and most of what happens on the island is interspersed with their inner conflicts. Estelle is wary about opening up to new people, and Galloway holds himself apart from others because he feels he is unworthy of everything good, evidently because he has a Big Secret. The problem is they’re intrigued by the other, and their push-and-pull attraction plays out alongside their daily struggles to survive on an island with two children.

I found this to be quite slow – especially in the beginning, like all the development was saved for when they got off the island. Some people have found this book to have a bit too much filler, which I will agree with somewhat, because I felt that there were some stuff that could’ve been left out. I get that they needed to survive, but I don’t need a full list of things they had to do everyday in detail.

If I’m going to be honest, the plot is basically Estelle and Galloway dancing around each other while being creative with their resources on the island. It’s kind of amazing that they can still think about acting on their feelings for each other when they barely have anything to eat and they both have injuries they sustained from the crash. Galloway especially, since he has a mangled foot and ankle.

I think one of the reasons I found it difficult to get past the initial 45% is because I got tired of Estelle and Galloway’s “s/he loves me, loves me not” inner dialogue. This is on top of the almost insta-love scenario they had when they first meet.

“There was something about her. Something intrinsic – something that singled her out and made me notice.”

No, please spare me. I get that this stranger is intriguing but I don’t need to be reminded so every other page. This vein of thought Galloway had when they first see each other in an LA airport continues on the island, and it’s the same with Estelle as well. It got old real quick, and it’s like sometimes survival took a backseat when it came to dealing with their conflicting feelings.

I honestly did not care much for Estelle and Galloway, though I do appreciate the window they provided into Pippa’s and Conner’s lives while on the island. When tragedy struck in the latter part of the novel, I was really surprised at my reaction because I was really kind of affected. Which I appreciated, because at least I actually liked half of the cast to be affected by what happens to them.

Estelle and Galloway’s romance here isn’t really my type – like I just kind of got swept up in it, and not in a good way. Kind of like getting sucked into a storm and then after it’s all over you’re spit back out and have no idea what just happened. (Oops.) It was like that. They were so adamant about keeping away from each other in the beginning that when they did finally get together, I felt like we could’ve skipped all that. It was too little too late. I know this back and forth is part and parcel of romance novels, but here it just felt tedious. Galloway’s Big Secret didn’t matter in the big scheme of things, and just added more kindle to the noble idiocy fire Galloway had going for him to keep away.

There is a happy ending though, if that is a deal breaker for you guys.

Overall, this is just okay. Slow, but okay. This is my first read by Pepper Winters, and I’ve another book of hers I have on my Kindle. I’d still read that one, because I think Pepper Winters’ writing is good. It’s descriptive, and kind of atmospheric – just that the characters, romance and plot in Unseen Messages didn’t mesh with me.



3. There are better survival romance novels (better romance novels, period), and I wouldn’t read it again. Good writing though.

Story/Plot: ✮✮✮☆☆
Good, but could’ve moved a lot faster and done with less filler.

Characters: ✮✮☆☆☆
Okay. I couldn’t care much about Estelle or Galloway, but basically #savethechildren!!

Romance: ✮✮☆☆☆
Not for me. I didn’t get the connection, and there was too little, too late. There’s an HEA though!


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