Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Wakeboarding legend Ben Warren is retired, 40 and feeling every bit his age. It was 15 years ago that Ben won the Lake Lovelace Doube Up tournament to considerable aclaim and much pain after a wakeboarding accident put him into the hospital. Now Ben runs a pro shop and teaches other the tricks he used to win contests with.
Architect Davis Fox wants to learn how to wakeboard. Specifically, he wants to be able to enter the Lake Lovelace Double Up tournament to get close to a half brother he was forbidden to see when he came out to his conservative family. Davis’ half brother just happens to be Ridley Romeo, the hottest thing to hit the water in wake boarding contests country wide. This is just the ticket to get him closer to Ridley once more but first he needs to find a teacher.
When Davis Fox arrives at Ben’s pro shop asking Ben to teach him how to double up, Ben tries to warn Davis off about the risks inherent in this sport for a newbie but Davis won’t be denied. Ben accepts the job but finds teaching Davis renewing his passion for the sport and for David himself. Davis too is falling fast but old issues from Ben’s past reappear, ones he hasn’t told Davis about. Ben is going to have to learn some hard lessons all over again before he can accept that he has a future not only with Davis, but back in the sport he loves so much.
I just love Double Up so much that I can’t believe this is the first book that I have read by Vanessa North. I had to go through her backlist to be sure (and to start marking stories to read) but, indeed, this is the first time this author has come to my attention. I love it when that happens and now I have a whole new stack of stories to go through. Life is good! But back to Double Up.
What made me love this story so? I think its because Double Up is such a complete package. For starters, the plot is great. Wakeboarding is a new sport for me and within the boundaries of the plot, North manages to be both informative and entertaining about wakeboarding, its maneuvers, terminology, and its equipment. Her descriptions were so clear, especially once Ben jumped into the water, that I could almost feel the muscles strain when the rope between man and boat pulls taut. Using the extreme sport of wakeboarding as a framework for her story is especially appealing. Retired athletes, their glory days behind them, are a staple as main characters in romances. But with wakeboarding as the backdrop, it becomes fresh and contemporary. Ben is a legend but there are very good reasons other than age, as to why his extreme sports days are behind him. By his side as friend, boss, and occasional hookup, is Eddie, who came so close to stealing this novel away from Ben and Davis. Flamboyant, smart, and an athlete in his own right, Eddie was an amazing surprise from start to finish. When secondary characters are this good, then you can figure on the main characters being fully realized, complex people as well.
Davis’ attraction to Ben is immediate, but Davis also knows what he wants in a relationship and it’s not a quick hookup. Ben has a past that makes him question his ability to have not only a romance but a real relationship with anyone. How those two disparate individuals come together against a backdrop of sunshine, water, and wakeboarding is a true joy here. Throw in a younger brother, a bisexual tournament queen, and a transgendered wakerboarder as well and the gifts from this author never stop coming.
I thought the dialog here crackled with humor, warmth, and a good bit of sarcasm. The characters? Top notch. From gorgeous aged athlete Ben Warren to , successful architect Davis Fox to Eddie Russell, Ben’s oldest friend (and scene stealer), each character flew off the page lively, vivid, and totally believable in their human frailties and idiosyncrasies. There are actually some spew moments here during a phone call between Eddie and Ben. It was unexpected, the humor deep, knowing, and yet totally real in demonstrating the depth of the friendship between these two men. Love, love, loved it!
This book was so much fun and still managed to be exciting, romantic with moments of angst and reflection as well. I highly recommend this story. Grab it up today and start your visit with this entertaining, wonderful cast of characters. Plus you get to add a sport for your watching pleasure too, at least I have.
Cover art by L.C. Chase. It’s perfect. If you didn’t have a clue what wakeboarding is, this cover would give you an idea (as it did me)
To watch wakeboarding in action, check out this youtube trailer.
ebook, 118 pages
Published August 25th 2014 by Riptide Publishing