Author: Vanessa North
Purchase at Riptide (Preorder until August 25)
Cover Artist: LC Chase
Length: 37k words
Formats: epub, mobi, pdf
Knowing he’s loved can make any man fly.
Fifteen years ago, Ben Warren was a wakeboarding champion: king of big air, ballsy tricks, and boned grabs. Until a career-ending injury left him broken in ways he still has no hope of fixing. Now he takes his thrills where he can get them, and tries not to let life hurt too much.
Then Davis Fox arrives in Ben’s sporting goods store with a plan to get in touch with his estranged brother by competing in the annual wakeboarding double-up contest. The catch? He’s never ridden before. It’s crazy, but Ben’s a sucker for the guy’s sob story—and for his dimples, too—so he agrees to coach Davis.
Davis is everything Ben isn’t: successful, confident, and in love with life. And he wants Ben to love life—and him—too. But before Ben can embrace a future with Davis, he needs to remember how to hope.
This story really blew me away. First person, present tense isn’t my first choice, but is perfect to tell the story of retired wake-boarder Ben Warren’s story of finding himself and love with architect Davis Fox.
Davis has a younger half brother whom he’s not allowed to see, a wakeboarding phenom who’s also the son of a local conservative politician, Rodney Romeo, and he’s desperate to find a way to connect with Ridley. Learning a dangerous sport well enough to compete alongside an expert in a short time seems perfectly reasonable to a man who doesn’t have a lot of other options. Ben can help him learn what he needs to know, and they are immediately attracted.
Why this is and isn’t a good idea on so many levels unrolls slowly: we get to suffer along with Ben when he missteps with Dave, or when his own past and current issues interfere. We also get to see glimpses of happiness, but the secrets Ben doesn’t want to share makes him a poor candidate for everything Dave thinks is a good idea. The layers of revelations are really well done, tantalizing and foreshadowing to the reader and hitting poor Dave square between the eyes with past and possibly future damage.
Ben’s friend Eddy is the politician father’s opponent in almost every way, from political stances to resource use. Eddy’s flamboyant and over the top (he answered a phone when? It was funny but also nonsensical.) and the perfect combination of support, push, and knowledge. He’s on board with almost anything that annoys Romeo Senior, and has plenty of devious ideas for raising blood pressure while furthering Dave and Ben’s plans.
The author feeds us tidbits on what’s going on inside Ben’s head while his relationship with Dave jumps from wake to wake and occasionally crashes. Dave’s a really good guy with some blind spots he has to get around. The two of them sizzle together. The fallacy of only anal sex is real sex appears, although here it’s tempered with trust issues and some growth and ends up working pretty well.
The sport is vivid and the one mass explanation of the competition is worked in organically. One major plot point got the fade to black, which both worked and annoyed me, and I'm not really sure how that could be resolved without making this a different book. I guess I'll live with it on the rereads. :D
Wakeboarding is a good metaphor for Ben and Dave’s relationship, thrills and crashes and all. Terrific story. 4.75 marbles
Copy received through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.