Title: Unfamiliar Waters
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Length: 200 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
With the pressures of the job bearing down on him, police officer Garrett Wreckley needs a vacation—in fact, he isn’t given a choice in the matter. Since the water has always soothed Garrett’s soul, he heads to the Caribbean, hoping some time alone sailing on the open water will help him pull himself together. But even though he’s taking a break from law enforcement, Garrett can’t get rid of his cop’s instinct so easily. He meets Nigel, a young man as innocent as he is beautiful, who grew up sheltered from the world, exploring the beaches and tropical forests with only the company of his aunt, his brother, and the wildlife and sea creatures he befriended. As sweet, passionate love blooms, their time in paradise feels too good to be true… and Garrett’s gut and training tell him that might be the case. As he investigates, he quickly realizes everything is not as it seems. Will his snooping destroy not only their romance, but everything Nigel believes about his life?
Garrett is lost, mired in grief and using the job to keep himself afloat and when you’re a cop, that means your better judgement can sometimes get fuzzy. After what was a fairly easy raid that saw Garrett nearly gunning down a drug addict that had already surrendered, Garrett’s boss decided he needed a vacation. Prior to his husband’s death, Garrett had enjoyed sailing and decides a month away on a sailboat is just the thing to get himself together. After laying in at a small cove, Garrett discovers that this piece of the small island is not as deserted as he had imagined. He meets a young man named Nigel whose innocence and lack of worldly experience sets off alarm bells in Garrett’s brain. Why has Nigel and his younger brother been kept on this remote island away from even the indigenous people who inhabit it? And why does the idea that Nigel has been so sheltered that he doesn’t even have access to the outside via television or any electronics send up warning flares for Garrett. But most importantly how has this naïve young man managed to get beyond the hurt and pain that surrounds Garrett’s heart and actually have him thinking he could start over and find love once more.
So many questions to be unpacked in Andrew Grey’s new novel, Unfamiliar Waters. Once again the romance flows as this author unfolds a story rife with mystery and intrigue. There was much to enjoy in this sweet romance. If the hurt/comfort trope is your catnip then this one will make you very happy. Nigel unwittingly cuts to the core of what has held Garrett mired in grief for so long. Through easy yet pointed conversations and a slow burning sexual awakening, these two men discover a love that is tenuous but deceptively strong. Nigel may be young but he knows what he wants and that is Garrett. Garrett, on the other hand, is cautious not only because he feels just a tiny bit of guilt over moving past his husband’s death and embracing love again but also because he realizes that the sheltered life Nigel has led means he has never really experienced what it means to be a gay man with choices. When the hammer falls on their idyllic rendezvous and life gets real it will take everything Garrett has to keep Nigel and his younger brother safe.
Andrew Grey has a definite style and, while it may not always be my cup of tea, I must commend this author for creating characters that burrow under your skin and move straight to your heart. Fans of this author are going to fall in love with Nigel and Garrett and enjoy the action adventure side plot that sees them on the run on the high seas. I felt there were a few plot holes that made this story not quite shine for me. First, Nigel came to the island when he was eleven and the lack of memories about the world at large didn’t quite ring true for me. I got that his younger brother, who was just a toddler when they got to the island should and did have huge gaps when it came to understanding the world at large but Nigel’s naivete was just a bit too much considering he had lived in New York till he was nearly a teenager. Also I felt that we covered Garrett’s grief and guilt one too many times in this story—the author choosing to hearken back to it again and again even as we knew that Garrett was falling in love. After a while I wanted Garrett to just move on and commit and not continue to second guess himself.
Despite these reservations, I can honestly say that what Andrew Grey does in creating such a lovely second chance romance is worth checking out. Again, I think his fans will really like this one and if you are looking for a bit of escapism wrapped up in two gorgeous men then you won’t be disappointed in Unfamiliar Waters.
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