Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Robbie Wales is young and starting a new job in a new town, on his own. Coming from a split family, he was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents and came out as a teen without a lot of fuss, but his father, whom he only saw infrequently, has never known. As an adult, he’s found he’s got a lot in common with his father, and they’re finally getting to know each other. He fears coming out to his father may jeopardize that.
Then he meets Raj Williams, the attractive man in the trailer next to his father’s in a seasonal RV park. Raj is handsome, sophisticated, yet loves to fish and watch silly Disney movies.
Raj finds Robbie equally interesting. But Robbie’s still in the closet, at least in Port Stephen, and Raj’s ex used that as an excuse to treat him as nothing more than a friend with benefits. He’s not interested in a repeat experience.
Robbie finally finds the courage to come out to his father, but was it all just for a summer fling?
The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn is in many ways like spending the day out on or by the water. It’s a hot summer day read, sexy, sweet, and a little steamy. Its got fish. Men that like to fish. And have lots of sex. Plus there’s a sweet coming out story and falling in love. In other words, there’s a lot to like here.
Blackburn does a lovely job in the characterization of Raj and Robbie and their respective families. Robbie, a machinist, is trying to reconnect with his Dad who lives in a trailer with his stepmother by the water. He’s out to his mom and everyone else but not his Dad, and he’s still trying to figure out their relationship. Robbie is young but still has a maturity about him that’s wonderful here. He’s not ashamed to be gay, he’s just not sure of his place yet in his father’s life. Then he meets the handsome, gay man who has the trailer lot next door to his dad’s for the summer, Raj Williams. Down from Toronto, Raj has a work job that allows him to move around so he can enjoy his summer at Port Stephens. Raj never figured on meeting Robbie. A gay fling that turns into friendship and then more.
I found I started to engage in this romance more when they decided to become more serious about each other. Up until then, while I enjoyed the characters, I wasn’t terribly invested in the romance. After several events, especially (my favorites) the ones with Robbie’s dad, the story grew wings for me. In fact, the scenes that resonated the most with me? All the coming out ones, and the ones that followed. It includes those between Raj and Robbie’s dad, so funny and poignant.
I thought the ending was sweet if a little abrupt. Maybe an epilogue wouldn’t have hurt here. but definitely more was needed. Still I would recommend The Lure of Port Stephen by Sydney Blackburn as a sweet contemporary romance.
Cover art by Natasha Snow is beautiful and perfect for the story.
Published May 22nd 2017 by NineStar Press