Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
Ashraf doesn’t realize how bad his aversion to large bodies of water actually is till the sound of the sea reminds him. As Ashraf realizes that he might never even be able to step onto a beach let alone the sea, he starts to wonder if his relationship can survive his hydrophobia when his partner Jamie, a marine biologist, might as well be a fish, considering the amount of time they spend in water. If he can’t share Jamie’s love of the sea and what they have dedicated their life to, can their relationship really survive?
I like Mathew J. Metzger books because his books are chock full of diverse characters and it’s amazing how much you learn about the world if you can just enter the mind of a character, the more different these characters are from one another the better because you get to cover that many more avenues of life.
This book is an established couple romance and introduced me to a lot of things in the life of these characters that I am new to, like I had no idea this concept even existed before I read this book. It felt like light had illuminated a path that I hadn’t even known existed and it was great for broadening my own horizons and that’s what diverse characters bring, they bring new perspectives to life. They give you the opportunity to experience life as someone other than yourself.
Ashraf and Jamie are two such amazing characters in a relationship. I love established couple romances and that made this fantastic on a whole new level for me. The main plot point of this book which is Ashraf’s hydrophobia was something that is tackled much later in the story, so we had a nice segment of the book devoted to finding out who Ashraf and Jamie are and what life is for them. They have different ethnicities and different religious beliefs and both ascribe to different sexual orientations, it is even comically debated between the couple if they should be considered a straight or a gay couple. But, the book focuses on the fact that despite a whole gamut of differences these two work beautifully together. Together they are more than the sum of their parts. Getting to experience a couple so completely in love with each other was such a joyful experience, it was like getting to experience the feeling of falling in love. I really loved getting to know these two as a couple and as individuals.
Ashraf is the narrator of our story so we see everything from his perspective, so I definitely got to know Ashraf better than Jamie and he was an amazing character, he is a flawed character but deeply insightful. He shares the flaw that all humans do – the flaw where we don’t want anyone to judge us by our looks but judge everyone at first sight just the same. It is a weird flaw, just because you are discriminated against doesn’t mean you can’t discriminate against someone else and that is where the cycle starts and ends. It was an epiphany I had during reading this book, which was pretty jarring and seems to have straightened my view of the world.
Though this story has so much going on and it gives justice to everything it explores at heart, it remains the story of a couple falling in love and facing the challenges in their relationship. It was a story about overcoming your fears and I feel like it was beautifully done, a step at a time till you can manage to look your fear in the eye and breathe, taking strength from the ones who love you to surmount the courage to even begin facing down your fears.
I really loved this story. I really like the characters Matthew J. Metzger creates because they always end up teaching me something about the world at large. If you are looking for a sweet romance look no further than “Life Underwater”, these two are most definitely the cutest couple alive.
Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I am in awe of her covers. This seems like such a simple cover but every time I look at it, I am taken aback by how truly beautiful it is.
Published October 22nd 2018 by NineStar Press