Will Westmoreland and Mike Jansen meet twice a year on Mike’s fishing charter boat in quiet, conservative, Apalachicola, Florida. Mike looks forward to William’s visits because William is a great client and always so eager to catch fish. They have a friendly rapport after years of this interaction. Plus, Mike thinks William’s very much attractive. Not that he’s going to act on those desires. Mike hasn’t had a partner in the years since his one male partner, a Navy buddy, died.
William is out and frustrated. He’s got money, thanks to his family’s yacht motor business, but he’s stuck in a desk job and in his parent’s posh estate, living a life mapped out for him. William is a man of action and hates being trapped in the suit. He lives for his trips on Mike’s boat and the freedom he feels out on the waves. The most recent trip is cut short, however, by a hurricane.
When William’s rental car won’t start and he’s stranded in Apalachicola on account of the storm, Mike invites him to his well-sheltered family home. The one he shares with his precocious pre-teen daughter, Carrie, and his tired-beyond-her-years mother, Dolores. Mike had unintentionally impregnated his high school best friend who didn’t much relish the idea of motherhood. Dolores and Mike have raised Carrie, and she’s a bright child with a love of the ocean. William takes to her during his three-day stay at Mike’s home and he wishes he and Mike could make their chemistry last for all the days going forward. William’s stupid-happy that Mike admits, quietly, that he’s gay and they share a couple of passionate nights together while waiting out the storm. Lots of books would end at this point, but it’s only the end of the first act, here.
I really enjoyed how these guys behaved so very realistically. William and Mike have responsibilities that do not align with this clandestine courtship. William’s job and family are in Providence, Rhode Island, where he can be out and proud with any man he fancies. Mike, however, is sure that being out in Apalachicola will bring financial ruin to his word-of-mouth fishing charter business. And then, how would he care for Carrie and his mom? Not to mention the 1500-mile separation of their domiciles.
They part and it’s bittersweet. The second act brings a reunion that is as tender and open as any could wish for, but will it bring long-term happiness? William is willing to make big changes in his life to include Mike, but Mike has reservations that stem from his fear of being ostracized if he’s out. This all felt very real, and was a fear based in reality, so William had to respect it, even if he wished it didn’t exist. I liked how William mended fences with his family, and set boundaries that he’d never enforced before. I so wanted these guys to have a happy ending, and it seems bleak for a bit, but Mike and William reach an accord that allows for the connection they cannot deny. It was gratifying for Mike to see that his fears weren’t fully realized, and that he had the support of some key people in his small town.
For me, reading an Andrew Grey book is a sunny day in the park with a soft picnic blanket and a cooler full of hard lemonade. I get all the thrills and all the comfort with a delicious romance and some yummy sexytimes. I liked the supporting characters here, and loved how they buoyed our erstwhile heroes on their way to the HEA.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.