Buy Link: Boats in the Night
Author: Josephine Myles
Publisher: Self-published
Length: Novel

Rating: 4.5

I really loved Josephine Myles’ recent novel Barging In, so when I heard she had a new story out that also takes place in the narrowboat community (although not in the same “world”), I was eager to  pick it up.  This story also features opposites attract, a trope I really love, so I was doubly excited.

Giles Rathbourne is coming off a long-term relationship that ended badly and left him on a leave of absence from his teaching job after his depression and alcohol use got the best of him. Giles is a pretty rigid, uptight guy living in his large childhood home backing up to a British canal.   One morning his controlled life is shaken up when an old narrowboat breaks down behind his house and the owner can’t move it until the boat can be repaired.

Smutty grew up in a transient life, living part of the year in a commune and part-time traveling the world with his hippie mother. He has continued a wandering lifestyle and recently bought the boat to continue traveling.  He earns his money fire dancing for a crowd, a job that earned him his nickname for being covered in ash and smoke when he performs.  After seeing the chaos of Giles’ garden, Smutty offers to bring it back into shape in exchange for Giles allowing him to leave the boat behind the house until it can be repaired.

Despite having such different personalities and backgrounds, Giles and Smutty click right away, with a budding friendship as well as a sexual relationship.  Smutty is a free spirit who enjoys life and is easily content.  Giles is drawn to his open heart and beautiful graceful body, including his crazy red and gold dreadlocks.  I loved Smutty right away but had a harder time warming up to Giles at first.  He came across so rigid and uptight and a bit too snobbish. But as the story developed, I feel like we come to understand Giles and what has shaped him.

Giles only real relationship was with Fabian, his ex.  We learn that not only was Fabian cheating on him, but he was belittling, controlling, snobbish, and manipulative. Giles never really knew anything else, and it is only after things end with Fabian and he starts to become his own person, that Giles really opens up to become a likeable guy.

Giles’ thoughts turned to Fabian as he opened the antique wardrobe and eyed his row of clothing. They’d chosen the furniture in this room together, Fabian displaying his usual exquisite taste and mastery of haggling, and Giles had been glad at the time to be with someone so ruthless in getting his own way. As long as their ambitions had melded it had been great, with Fabian enriching Giles’ world with exotic holidays and extravagant outings, trips to the opera and cocktails in his club. But it hadn’t lasted, and when Giles began to talk about leaving his stressful yet well-paid teaching job to concentrate on his painting, Fabian had exerted all his influence to persuade him not to. Giles needed routine, apparently. Or so Fabian had said.

The row of bland yet tasteful suits was like an accusation, taunting Giles for being so easily manipulated. Such a pushover. Well, he wasn’t going to be a pushover anymore.

With Smutty’s help, the layers of Giles’ old life peel away and he learns to relax, find what he wants out of life, and take chances on the things that will really make him happy.  And in this case, what Giles wants most is to be with Smutty.

But Smutty is worried about taking a chance on Giles. The commune where he grew up was bought out and destroyed and he is afraid to settle and connect someplace for fear it will be taken away.  Smutty is also still wounded from his closest childhood friend (and lover) picking up one day and leaving him and he is now wary about being hurt again.  Although he cares deeply about Giles, he is not sure he can take the chance on staying with him.

I really liked this book and loved Giles and Smutty together.  I enjoyed seeing Giles blossom from the uptight person he was at the start of the story into someone who felt free and happy with life.  And I liked seeing Smutty realize that he could take a chance on love and happiness and trust someone to be there for him.

I will say there is a big twist toward the end of the book that I am not sure I loved. At first I was sort of thrown by the coincidence and not sure it worked for me.  It was a bit too much suspension of disbelief for me I think.  But despite my initial reservations, I was happy with the way things worked out at the end and I think that Myles did a great job of pulling it all together in a satisfying way.  I really enjoyed the story and would definitely recommend it.

And the best part of all? Free copies! Anyone who signs up for Jo’s author newsletter between November 16 – December 25, 2011 will be given a voucher to download a free copy of the book from Smashwords.  You can find the newsletter signup link in the sidebar on all pages of Myles’ website: http://josephinemyles.com/.  The book is also available for purchase directly from Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/104048.

[Note: This story was originally published as a serial on Myles’ blog.  This ebook version has been fully edited prior to release. The original version is still available for free on her site.]

Cover Review: A
I love this cover.  So pretty.  I love the boats and the scenes of the water and just love the feet under the covers, especially since it is so clear exactly which belongs to each man.  Really gorgeous.

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