The Lady Lisa is dead in the water, metaphorically speaking. The engine is on its last gasp and that has stranded Captain Matt Spears and his crew dockside. With the dock fees mounting, Spears must find a paying job, but that’s easier said than done when so much of their work is dependent upon the ship. It doesn’t help that Val, their trusty mechanic, seems singularly focused on getting killed once he discovers his wife’s murderer is nearby. Matt finds himself struggling to keep his ship afloat and keep Val out of prison or a coffin.
Ryce, now ex military, threw in his lot with the crew of the Lady Lisa months ago and he hasn’t regretted the decision. He loves Matt and while their relationship isn’t traditional, it’s more than Ryce ever imagined having. He and Matt don’t always communicate well, though, and with the stress of the Lady Lisa’s situation and Val’s destructive bent, there’s a growing distance between Ryce and Matt, one he isn’t quite sure how to manage. With a violent enemy in pursuit and dark family secrets waiting in the shadows, Matt and Ryce must risk everything in order to pull off a wildly dangerous plan. If they succeed, they might just get the Lady Lisa back in the air. If they fail, well, that won’t be an option they can hope to survive.
Ashore is the second in the Staying Afloat series, following Adrift. This is definitely a series that needs to be read in order. The story continues to follow Matt Spears and his growing romance with Ryce. They are a sweet couple, even though I wanted to smack Matt more than once for being an obtuse. To say they have communications issues is an understatement, but there is a connection between them that really resonates and makes their story one worth investing in. The action here is fairly taut and well written, even though the racing aspect is a bit too reminiscent of the pod racing scene from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Still, the pacing is good and Ashore is an easy book to become sucked into.
The only downfall of Ashore is its tendency to find easy solutions for really difficult problems. It felt like several of the huge plot lines (which I won’t mention due to spoilers) were built up and serious time was spent detailing the complexity and difficulty of them, only to have them cleared up in a page or two. Or they resolved off page, like Ryce’s second race, and that felt a bit deflating as a reader. I wanted the same level of devotion to the resolution that I got to the buildup.
Ashore is a strong entry into the Staying Afloat series. It struggles a bit with its resolutions, but on the whole the story is well developed and the characters are definitely a highlight. This series is building itself into an interesting arc and I’m definitely curious to see where it goes next.