Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
I feel like this book had most of the tropes that are totally overdone, ineffective, and ultimately turn me off. It was evident from the very beginning, and never got any better.
Anthony Vallen is the fabulous, campy cousin who was introduced in book one. He’s been all about casual hookups, and though he believes in fairy tale endings for others, he has been avoiding getting emotionally involved since his first love – in highschool at age 17!!! – broke his heart. OK, that’s annoying trope number one. He’s now on the cusp of 30, and is going on a vacation in Key West with Marco and Jonathan and Sophia from the first book. Marco and Jonathan are disgustingly sweet together – which was not how they are portrayed in the other book – and Anthony is feeling jealous of a relationship for the first time in his life.
The first night in Key West they go to a bar, and lo and behold, there is Walter Elkins, the boy who ran away from Anthony just after high school graduation and ruined him for any other man. And not only does he own the bar, he is also the owner of the scuba diving business where they’ve booked their trips. So there is no way they can really avoid each other.
The background is that Anthony almost drowned while swimming with Walter the summer after graduation, and that’s when Walter left him, with the words “I’m not good for you…I don’t want to hurt you anymore.” And that would be annoying trope number two, especially when the excuse was so flimsy. Yeah, yeah, turns out there was a traumatic event in Walter’s past (of course), but I was not convinced. And when he goes on to continue to use that same excuse (with other misplaced responsibility issues) to avoid Anthony in Key West, it just irritated me more. Walter is supposedly a very successful businessman, who reinvented himself after he abandoned an equally successful career as a chemist, who used to be pathologically shy but is now friendly with and supported by all of the locals, and I just couldn’t reconcile that with a man who was so deeply insecure about Anthony. To give her credit, the author tried to sell it, but I just wasn’t buying. Anthony was only marginally better at communicating.
To top it all off, both men then go into TSTL (too stupid to live) mode when a hurricane strikes. I may be a little more picky than average about that, since I live in Florida we know hurricanes, but going outside when winds are at peak is ridiculous. If someone needed to be injured to move the plot along, that was not the way to do it – and to make it worse, several of the locals were happy to brave the winds along with them. Just, no. Annoying trope number three.
So this book was almost a total fail for me. Anthony was childish and annoying, Walter was pathetic, and I didn’t like either one of them. I didn’t really care if they got together or not. I was happy to revisit Marco, Jonathan, and Sophia, and I did enjoy the new character introduced – Miles, pansexual, genderfluid, and likely to be the main character of the next book in the series. So I will look forward to reading it when it comes out, and that is the only reason I gave this book 2 stars.
Cover art by L. C. Chase is again lovely, the underwater scene is appropriate, but the models – both in expression and looks – didn’t fit the characters as much as I would have liked.
ebook, 192 pages
Expected publication: October 16th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
SeriesStories from the Shore #2