Book: CalPac Crew
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Publication date: August 4, 2017
Length: 1500 pages
Reviewed by Morningstar
The men of the CalPac rowing team might not be looking for love, but love never needed an invitation. In Rocking the Boat, Coach Nick Bedford is trying his best to ignore his attraction to rower Morgan Estrada, but Morgan isn’t afraid to push for what he wants… until an anonymous complaint could destroy everything. In Tipping the Balance, Drew St. Charles is juggling one too many jobs, and he finds help in contractor Brad Sundstrom, but Brad has to make a choice: come out and support Drew or stay hidden in the closet.
In Burning It Down, after an injury, fire battalion chief Owen Douglas joins the adaptive rowing program and meets veterinarian Adam Lennox. But when Owen’s abusive ex returns, Adam has to decide if he’s willing to leave Owen to protect him or risk their lives to stand with him. And in Settling the Score, Stuart Cochrane and Philip Sundstrom’s relationship seems perfect, until pressure threatens to make everything cave in. Can Philip help Stuart while dealing with his own problems?
Rocking the Boat
I was really excited to start this book series from a new-to-me author especially with a unique concept of the rowing.
I know diddly about rowing so through the beginning of the story with all the rowing references I was bit lost. I did eventually catch on, and that helped, but there was a lot of rowing talk in the whole book that felt unneeded for the story. There was also a lot of Nick Bedford admiring Morgan Estrada and vice versa when they’d been crushing on each other from afar. For some reason, this felt excessive to me after the first few times they did it. I loved each guy on their own. Nick was the coach who really did have that leader persona about him. I loved his friendship with Drew that itself gave me a lot of insight to who he was. Morgan strived for the best as part of the crew, and they came through to what type of personality he had. He wasn’t the typical college kid going out getting drunk and partying, he was motivated to succeed. This is one aspect that showed these two were a perfect fit since they both had drive.
I loved, loved the slow build in their relationship. It gave us time to get to know them apart and what their lives were like to truly connect with them before they got together. They have some serious chemistry, but I did end up skimming a few of the sex scenes that felt it as sex for sex sake instead of adding to the story.
I loved Drew in this story, and when Nick asks him to do the fake date with Morgan, I knew it wasn’t going to go well. I wish Morgan’s reaction when he finally talks to Nick was less glossed over or at least a bit more of him holding onto his hurt for Nick pulling that kind of crap.
The public sex scene didn’t make a lot of sense for Nick’s character, particularly when it had taken place since up to that point he’d been freezing up even with simple displays of affection afraid they’d get caught.
Overall it was a good story, not one I’d re-read, but the author definitely gave me characters that I loved.
Tipping the Balance
What I liked most about this story was the first half when the friendship between Brad and Drew was being developed. Brad had my heart with his realistic struggle with his sexual orientation. Most especially because of the upbringing he had and the constant drive to please his dad. That said, I lost a little respect for the story when Nick told Brad not to come to the hospital. It didn’t seem like something Nick would do in my opinion, especially with how close they knew he was to Drew even with the fight they had. The whole situation felt forced to me and ended up causing me too much annoyance to truly enjoy them getting back together.
Just like with the first book in the series I did some skimming of the sex scenes and some of the internal monologues since they seem a bit excessive. Both books had strong starts, but the last half of the book lost me. I did love Brad and Drew just not how the story was handled since he gave me the wrong kind of emotions.
Overall it was a good story but could’ve been better if the dad thing was handle a bit more thoroughly and the separation was handled without the “misunderstanding” aspect.
Burning It Down
I hate to think I’m repeating myself, but again this book of the series had a solid start, even with all the rowing talk, but fell off. Owen and Adam were like two broken pieces trying to make a whole. Their backstories were sad and heartbreaking, and they have some serious issues to overcome. The love that develops between these two was fantastic to see and to feel right along with them. There were even some cute moments that made me smile.
The ex-boyfriend part of the story actually ruined a bit of the romance between these two guys for me. It was over the top and too unrealistic for me to get passed. I never understood why Owen never pressed charges if he could identify his attacker and then Adam’s I’m-going-to-save-Owen plan. It was all a bit much for me to swallow. Mostly because there were parts that felt so out of character that I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.
It was odd since the beginning was such a strong book. I have to admit I struggled to get through this one.
Settling the Score
Now this one was definitely a much stronger story overall. The overall feel and flow of the story were much better than the previous three for me.
I’ve loved Stuart right from the beginning of the series and to see him get his HEA was great, and of course, it couldn’t go easy. These two were like watching a tug of war. They pushed and pulled their way to their happy ending. Stuart with his dislike for men with money or maybe just money and Philip with his loneliness. They had their work cut out for them and what I liked was the external struggles that moved along or rather with their struggles of being together.
Overall the series had some great characters all the way through that were easy to love and want more from. Christopher has a great writing style even with the things that I didn’t like in the individual stories I can say that he voice is strong.
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