Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars
Narrator: Joseph Northton
Length: 2 hours, 23 minutes
Simon is on vacation with his family in Costa Rica for the summer. He had someone back at school, but their relationship stayed mostly in the bedroom and they are open to seeing other guys at the moment. Simon is okay with that as there are plenty of hot men to look at on the beach. He would be fine with a hookup, but Simon needs to work on his game.
Juan has a little more experience than Simon and lives a completely different life protecting sea turtles and living in the rain forest. The guys are attracted to each other, but their nights on the beach stir up feelings and emotions for both of them. Simon has finally found someone he wants to spend more time with, but living in a different country from Juan isn’t convenient at all and summer is almost over.
Pure Vida gave me almost exactly what I was expecting. It’s not a full length novel and so I was anticipating somewhat limited character development and because Simon is only nineteen, I was also only expecting a certain amount of emotional engagement based on his age.
Alva sets a vivid scene and atmosphere with the backdrop of Costa Rica and the sand, water, and surroundings are fully on display. The story is told solely from Simon’s point of view and he is exposed to a new world with new experiences in a country thousands of miles from his home. Juan lives a completely different life than Simon and has dedicated his time to turtle conservation and saving the eggs from poachers and the guys bond over their time by the water.
These are young guys experiencing intimate moments together without really knowing each other well and there are fumblings and a distance of emotion. There are hints that Juan is used to being dismissed by tourists when they are finished and he acts accordingly. I would have liked something more from Juan, as what he was feeling for Simon was not explored at any point and we had to rely solely on what Simon saw and heard and Juan was not saying much on the subject. It’s summer vacation with a nineteen-year old, so I also wasn’t expecting a forever and always happy ever after, but the guys are left in a good place.
Joseph Northton was an excellent choice for a narrator on this one. The characters were all clear, distinct, and age appropriate. He offered talented dialect for Juan with some Spanish sprinkled in as well as the cadence of Juan’s English. I did have a more difficult time initially getting into the story as the third person narrative threw me off. With Simon continually referring to himself by his own first name on audio, it halted the flow of the story for me in the beginning, but then settled in as we moved along. Try this one for a sweeter story of young love set in a lush landscape.
P.S. This book is available free on Goodreads as it was part of one of the M/M Romance Group’s events. Members of the group can download a free text version here.