Chris is facing a tragedy that nobody should have to face. His husband and son were killed in a car accident, and he’s left all alone in a huge Manhattan penthouse, mourning himself sick. Finally, he can’t take it anymore and decides to move to Bayshadow, Maine and live in the cabin his grandfather left him. Chris needs a change and to try to escape the crippling grief he’s felt for the past 18 months.
Jake lives across the lake from Chris’s cabin. He’s a free spirit, but he hasn’t always been a happy man. He had to work through some demons of his own…alcoholism. Sober for eight years, he’s made a home in Bayshadow and has been accepted by the residents as one of their own.
The men meet when Jake turns up at Chris’s door bearing sticky buns he baked himself at the diner where he works as the cook. There’s a connection right away, but Chris is terrified. He knows he should move on from his paralyzing grief and try to be happy again, but just isn’t sure if he can.
Surfacing is an interesting book. I liked it, but I’m having a difficult time trying to put why I liked it into words. Sure, I love when a character overcomes adversity and falls in love. However, as a started to read Surfacing, I began to worry. Chris was so overwhelmed by his grief, and he didn’t seem to actually want to get past it, even though he told his friends he did. He knew he should, but it was so difficult for him. I had a knot in my stomach, and I was concerned I’d wind up hating this book because too much angst depresses me. How can I enjoy something that makes me feel like I’m drowning?
I’m glad I stuck with it, though. There was a lot going on and it helped to pull me through, almost as much as it helped Chris. I’ll begin with Jake. We first meet him at the White Wolf Café, where he’s the cook. He fits in well with his coworkers and the residents of the town who come in for coffee and gossip. He’s described as “easy on the eyes” and with “kindness of spirit.” Everyone is aware of his bisexuality, but they don’t care because he’s much loved in the community.
The residents of Bayshadow aren’t sure what to do about Chris. They’re a bit concerned because he’s from New York, and most of them are convinced he’ll leave once he sees his first big Maine winter snow. They’re also a bit nervous he’ll change the house because it contributes to the charm that is Bayshadow.
The rest of the story follows Chris and Jake as they start with a friendship and move into love. I don’t want to give away spoilers. If I did, I’d be typing all day, and this would be the longest review I’ve ever done. I’ll just mention a few important points, and leave the rest to pique your curiosity.
Chris and Jake have a great chemistry. Jake’s happy outlook balances Chris’s heartbreak. They talk, swim in the lake, talk some more, and when they finally fall for each other (Jake falls earlier than Chris), it’s magical. Speaking of magic, I have to mention the white wolf. I’m not going to classify Surfacing as a supernatural story, but the wolf plays an important part in Chris’s recovery. It’s as if she leads him to the path he must take. If you’re not a fan of legends or spirit guides, don’t let this turn you off. The wolf is only mentioned a few times, and the legend doesn’t get in the way of the rest of the story.
The background characters are amazing. To me, the residents of Bayshadow, and even the town itself, are so important. They’re quirky, but they’re all well meaning and supportive of each other. My favorite thing about them is their seasonal parties. They celebrate the equinox on the beach, no matter the temperature. A bonfire, some great food, and great companionship really make for a happy reading experience.
One last thing I’ll mention. You all know me by now. I love my sex scenes. Here in Surfacing none of them take place “on camera.” The buildups are written sweetly and passionately, but what happens in the bedroom is left to the imagination. Truthfully, I didn’t consider this to be a bad thing. I had my own images of what Jake and Chris look like, and imagining them together was incredibly sexy. I was able to fill in the loving blanks, and there was such beauty in that.
I’m going to recommend Surfacing. It has something for everybody. Loss, mourning, redemption, and above all, a love that is…everything. I’ve looked Daniel Stephens up on Amazon, and I can’t find anything else he’s written, but rest assured, when there is something new, I’m going to jump on it.