Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
I avidly looked forward to grabbing this book as I’ve been a fan of the series from day one. Since this author penned the first in the series and I knew this would be the last of Bluewater Bay, I had high hopes of an outstanding story, sort of an e-book “wrap party,” so to speak.
Unfortunately, though it was good, neither of the two MCs worked on the Wolf’s Landing TV production, and to be honest, I never could figure out why the book was named New Hand. It was just one of those things that drove me a bit crazy with distraction. And now, as I’m writing this review, it dawns on me that the phrase may have something to do with the card game, Magic, that the MCs played with several of the key players from previous stories. Or maybe it’s a play on the fact that Garrett was dealt a “new hand” after the death of his beloved husband, Sean. In any event, it’s not a title that is descriptive of the story, IMHO.
Garrett Blaine moved to Bluewater Bay to get a new lease on life after his husband of three years died of cancer. Torn apart by grief, everything in Seattle reminded him of his sweet, affectionate husband, including his job, since they were coworkers. Taking on the new role of a bartender might be the best thing for him so he can hear other people’s problems and not focus on his own.
And in walks Jesse Connelly, the young shop assistant we met in Outside the Lines. Jesse’s friend-with-benefits date has just stood him up and he’s pretty upset because he recently shared his HIV positive status with the young man, and now the guy won’t even kiss him. Though he doesn’t share that with Garrett, the two do talk, and talk, and talk. Sexy Garrett is fifteen years older than Jesse and that pleases Jesse just fine. Immediately attracted, and yet knowing this conversation is not a hookup, Jesse fails to share his status. That turns out to be a mistake when the two bump into each other again and hit it off again. In fact, the sexual chemistry is flaming—this is L.A. Witt, remember!
To make a long story short, there is a big misunderstanding, as expected, but it’s mostly because Garrett goes right back to his loss of Sean when he hears Jesse’s story. In fact, much of the story deals with Garrett’s grief and loss. It’s very well done, sensitive, and respectful of the man who died less than a year ago. The author takes us into Garrett’s psyche as he works through his grief and acknowledges his love for Sean before slowly beginning to share photos and experiences with Jesse. Jesse is a wonderful partner for Garrett—totally accepting that Sean is a part of his life now and will be for quite some time. He offers the friendship, love, and support that Garrett needs.
Though the story is long, and there is indeed a great deal of focus on Sean’s loss, there’s also a lot of fun times—and sexy times—with Jesse, and there’s a few scenes with Levi and Carter, Hunter and Kevin, principal characters of the series, in which they all gather together to play Magic, a card game about which I am no longer clueless since the author spent quite a few pages explaining the game.
Jesse was a wonderful character with a bright, fun personality. And because of his status, there is a lot of information about HIV in this story, especially updated info on HIV treatment and partner risk as well as about partners taking Truvada.
In summary, there was a lot of page time devoted to grief recovery, and sometimes it got very depressingly bogged down. There was also lots of info on Sean, so much so, he was a virtual third MC. And though I loved Jesse, he sometimes felt too good to be true in how well he adapted to being with a grief-stricken Garrett. And—this is L.A. Witt!–there was honestly a lot of sex—in fact, almost too much. The sex scenes didn’t hold my interest after a while and I breezed through them.
Overall, I’m a bit disappointed in this last story of the series, and looking back, I realize that it’s primarily because I expected so much. It was good but It just wasn’t outstanding. Do I recommend it? Definitely, because many readers love this theme of grief-comfort, and of course, age gap romance. And the series? Not to be missed—written by various authors—some books were outstanding, some average, but all bound by the Bluewater Bay setting and the Wolf’s Landing TV production. I am definitely going to miss traveling to western Washington to get my fix of all these memorable characters.
Cover art by L.C. Chase who has done so many of the covers has once again captured the characters and done a great job here.
Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon
ebook, 399 pages
Published by Riptide Publishing (first published December 18th 2017)
SeriesBluewater Bay #23
This title is part of the Bluewater Bay universe.