Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Only his best friend’s wedding would make Justice Crawford leave the security of his home to fly across the country to Seattle to assume the best man duties that he has been given. A strange place, a schedule of events full of new people? Just the beginning of a worst case scenario for Justice. Because Justice is not only a deeply closeted gay Southern man but his social anxiety disorder and OCD make any new or strange situation problematic at best, a nightmare at its worst. And this is definitely the worst that could happen. That sometime during the festivities, Justice will be outed to the only friend he has ever known.
Sailor and charter boat captain Nic Valentine is returning home to Seattle from his father’s funeral when an attractive man literally falls into his lap when their plane hits some unexpected turbulence. Eyes meet, attraction forms, a phone number is exchanged and then….nothing. Cute guy disappears once Nic leaves the airplane in Seattle. Nic is certain he will never see that man again but Fate and a wedding brings them together once more.
Justice has let his disorders and closeted status isolate him from society and a chance at love. Nic’s past includes a closeted boyfriend that hurt him deeply and now he isn’t sure he wants to take another chance with a man who hides who he really is. But sometimes love finds a way to bring the most unlikely of people together for their HEA. Will Nic and Justice find the courage to take a chance on each other?
J.K. Hogan’s romantic tale, I Survived Seattle (Coming Ab0ut #1) has two opposite personality characters that meet cute on a plane. A spate of turbulence, ok, a ton of turbulence throws Justice Crawford into the lap of one Nic Valentine during the flight. A few words, a couple of flirtatious glances are exchanged and hopes are raised for a lite romcom.
But initial impressions are often deceiving. One man is on the way to his best friend’s wedding, the other returning from his father’s funeral. One has serious mental health issues and the other is grieving over his father’s loss. Not exactly comedic fare and I am not sure the introduction works to frame out the depth of the problems and the complexities in store for both men once they land in Seattle. But once that plane lands….this story really takes off. Don’t you love it when that happens?
Justice Crawford is a man sinking under the weight of his problems. When he was younger, the decision to come out to his parents, cost him home and family. Only the support of a grandfather in a retirement home, enabled Justice to attend college and complete his degree. The trauma of that situation forced Justice back into the closet and no one, not even Rory his best friend and only family, knew he was gay. In addition to being closeted, Justice suffers from a social anxiety disorder and OCD. Medication has helped but fear and his anxiety have kept Justice in a cage or closet of his own making along with his decision to hide his homosexuality. Hogan makes this character delightfully easy to empathize with,even with his closeted status. He is socially inept and closed off, and still we like him. We see where his past and his anxiety have contributed to the fears he is letting dictate his life and we are able to understand him.
Nic Valentine is the much more genial and open of the two personalities. He lives aboard his charter boat, accepts who he is and longs for a partner to complete his life. Nic’s past includes a closeted boyfriend so we can understand Nic’s frustration with and uncertainty about pursuing a relationship with Justice. Both men come complete with a pair of best friend/girl friends who support them and help their relationship along. I liked them as well as I did the main characters. Rory, the best friend, is a little more elusive a character. It was hard to get a feel for him and that was important given the fact that Justice’s fear over losing him is central to his rationale for staying in the closet. More of Rory or more of Rory and Justice’s past history would have solidified this element of the story. And I am not certain how I feel about a certain character who seemed more of a plot device to boost Justice out of the closet than a real human being. Maybe he will grow on me if he returns in the sequel.
J.K. Hogan may reside in North Carolina but she has life on the water and Seattle down pat. I loved the descriptions of Nic’s boat and the harbor in Seattle. His carefully organized space and quarters sound realistic and attractive. Did I want to be there on his boat? Why yes I did. I could feel the peacefulness and quiet that Justice felt when he stood on deck because Hogan’s descriptions were able to transport me there to stand next to him.
Another element of this story I appreciate was the degree of authenticity in regard to Justice’s anxiety disorder and OCD. There is no magic wand to make it all better. Instead thee is an adjustment of medication, and long term visits with a therapist to help Justice lead a more normal life. We get a better understanding of what can trigger anxiety attacks and exactly how that can incapacitate a person. Like I stated, not exactly comedic fare. But it works when developing a character that comes across as real instead of a stereotype. And Justice feels as real as they come.
I Survived Seattle is the debut novel for J.K. Hogan and I found it to be a sweet, rewarding and totally endearing first jump for this author into the m/m romance genre. From the title I anticipate this is but the first in a series. Perhaps the next in line just might be the recently married but unhappy Rory? I can’t wait to find out. But while we are waiting, grab up I Survived Seattle. You are going to love Justice and Nic and their journey to their own HEA!
Cover art by Wilde City Press. The cover has a number of nice elements but I am not sure they work together to form a cohesive whole. It’s a little murky but the font is nice as is the Seattle backdrop and inclusion of a boat.
ebook, 161 pages
Published March 19th 2014 by Wilde City Press
seriesComing About #1