Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Two years after the events in London, Detective Remy Remington has returned to Phoenix, along with his friend, former cop Miguel “Miggy” Rojas. Miggy needed to get clean after years undercover saw him hooked on drugs. Remy was needed to support his old friend and did so by leaving the Phoenix PD, and with Miggy as a partner, started their own detective agency. When their biggest client sends them a diamond dealer in need of security for a huge diamond sale, the men quickly agree. But there are several twists to this delivery starting with the fact that it is to be made on board a gay Caribbean cruise the diamond merchant is sailing on. Remy and Miggy will be going undercover as a couple on a cruise that advertises clothing optional and Miggy is straight, isn’t he?
Lord Jamie Mainwaring and his partner Special Agent Ryan Whiteside are investigating high seas piracy for Interpol. Their case leads them to a gay Caribbean cruise, a ship that just happens to be the same ocean liner where Miggy and Remy are supervising the diamond transfer. Going undercover as a gay couple isn’t a problem for Jamie and Ryan as they are already romantically involved. The surprise will be the couple already on board, one half of whom Jamie still loves deeply even after two years apart.
Four men, two couples, a complicated past history, and soon the lines of investigation and romance are blurring into trouble. Dangers are everywhere, both emotional and professional. And someone will pay the ultimate cost before the cruise is over.
Intense, surprising, and over the top fantastic. Those are just a few of the words I would use to describe Oceans Apart, the second story in the Separate Ways series by Laura Harner. As mentioned, this story takes place two years after the combined investigation into slavery case in London where Jamie and Remy met. Both men have picked up their lives. Remy more so than Jamie who still mourns the loss of Remy and their love for each other. Laura Harner alternates the point of view as the reader is given glimpses into each man’s life since London and their journey to a new reality for them both.
It is clear that Remy has moved on more successfully from the events and emotions in London. Together with a Miggy in recovery, Remy has emerged as a different man than the one we met in London. Harner has deepened and matured her characterization of Remy in Oceans Apart. The two years have realistically reformed Remy into a person who has accepted new responsibilities as well as the prospect of family and a new romance. I loved this new Remy. His new maturity and openness is not only appealing but allows his character to widen his outlook on life and his future. Miggy Rojas has figured greatly into that transformation. What a great new character and what a set of complications he brings to the series. Miggy lives with Remy, he is his partner in the business they started and together they found one of the young men they rescued in the aftermath of London and adopted him thereby forming a family. That young man, Toby, also brought another satisfactory element to this story as I had wanted to know what happened to him in London. This story supplied that answer in a way that made me deeply happy. Everything about the Phoenix group feels real. It’s messy, complicated, funny, and down to earth. I loved all of them. And so of course, their happiness made me fear for the future.
Less content, feeling dissatisfied in his life in almost every way is Lord Jamie Mainwaring. He has rebounded in his mother’s affections and the regard of London society. He is in a romantic relationship with his partner Ryan Whiteside and feeling successful at his profession. And Jamie is deeply unhappy. Jamie’s character is one that if not given depth and insight would come across as whinny and ungrateful for his position as a wealthy lord with a mother who adores him and a partner in love as well as business. But Harner’s characterization invites understanding and compassion for Jamie in his current reality. Jamie is that person who realizes that he let the love of his life get away without trying to stop him. His current romance is lacking, at least on his side and his return to his duties to his mother and society are as underwhelming as they were to begin with. I think readers will relate to Jamie as almost everyone has been at this point in their life where everything is off and the path to change is uncertain.
Harner then takes all four men and throws them into the deep, professionally, emotionally and of course, romantically. The reader, of course, knows the men are on the same ship before they do which ramps up our anticipation of that moment of discovery. And from that instant on, the author’s plot takes off running, leaping, swimming, a constant motion of frenzied action, unexpected developments and heart racing suspense and anxiety for the men we have come to care for. Harner’s narrative provides both a complicated, ever-twisting plot while making her characters even more realistic, especially given the events that occur on and off the cruise. The story is fast paced, smooth, and action packed. Towards the end as all the secrets start to come out the story becomes unrelenting in the turmoil it creates. It’s white knuckled action all the way to the shocking denouement. What an outstanding ride!
Is this a romance? Hmmm, sort of. It is called Separate Ways for a reason. The romance between Remy and Jamie is going to be a long, drawn out affair, despite the white hot beginning. They parted for a reason, one that remains valid here in this story. Jamie’s world is England. Remy’s is in Phoenix and there is not valid, logical way for them to be together now. Harner understands the complications of each man’s life as well as their priorities and her series reflects that. Life has a way of intruding no matter what we may want to happen. The humor, the sadness, and the unexpected elements that arise to throw these men off course. I love the authenticity of this series from the heartrending moments to those of quiet joy.
Harner has at least four books planned for this series. Three are out now with the fourth to be released 2014. If the first two stories are any indication, its going to be a “wild and bumpy” ride, albeit an outstanding one. It hasn’t disappointed me so far. I love all the characters and the twists that keep appearing. I can’t wait for more. Follow me to the next one Moving Mountains (Separate Way #3).
If you are new to the series, go back to the beginning Continental Divide and start there, a must to understand these men and the events that occur. Catch up with us and settle in for an astounding ride, fraught with emotional fissures and hot sexy men. Consider this one of Scattered Thoughts Best of 2013 series and one I highly recommend.
Books in the Separate Ways series in the order they were written and should be read are:
Continental Divide (Separate Ways #1) written by Laura Harner, Lisa Worrall
Oceans Apart (Separate Ways #2) written by Laura Harner
Moving Mountains (Separate Ways #3) written by Laura Harner
Untitled Fourth Book coming in April 2014
Cover art by Laura Harner.