Cody Grant is thrilled to have a summer position as a lifeguard trainee at one of Australia’s most popular beaches. It isn’t an easy job, but it is something that he loves and hopes to make a permanent position. As tough as it is spending the day rescuing people from the dangerous currents, Cody is finding the hardest part of his job is not drooling over senior lifeguard Liam Fox.
Liam used to be an elite football player, one of the most famous in Australia. That is until a knee injury ended his meteoric rise and left him unable to play again. Liam is also deeply closeted, and he cringes even thinking about the reaction fans and the media would have if anyone ever found out the truth. Even worse, he knows his parents would never accept him. So Liam keeps his distance from his family, reserves his hookups for random strangers in foreign countries, and keeps his head down. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t notice the sexy new lifeguard trainee, however.
At first, Cody assumes Liam is straight and totally not interested, but after some signs that Liam may be into him after all, Cody makes his own interest clear. To his surprise, Liam realizes that he is able to let down some of his walls with Cody and finds himself breaking all his own rules. He has never even considered a hook up with anyone in Australia; Liam is far too recognizable to stay in the closet if he has sex with anyone local. Liam also finds himself opening up to Cody about his true desires — to be a more submissive bottom, rather than the assertive top everyone expects of him. But Liam remains firm that no one can ever know he is gay and that their relationship must be kept a total secret.
Things seem to be going great at first. The men have a wonderful connection and Liam finds himself having a loving and fulfilling sex life for the first time in years. But keeping their relationship a secret isn’t easy, especially at work. And as much as Cody understands why Liam wants to stay closeted, he can admit that the secrecy is wearing on him, especially when Liam won’t even be seen in public together as friends and coworkers. Now, Cody must decide if the secrecy is something he can live with long term. And Liam must decide if he is finally ready to live life for himself and claim what he wants with Cody, rather than hiding in the shadows.
Flash Rip is a great coming out story set in the exciting world of professional lifeguards, with a bit of an age gap twist. I really enjoyed the depictions of the daily life of the lifeguards on the busy Australian beach. I can’t even imagine the research Andrews must have done to provide such extensive detail and create such interesting encounters for the rescue team. Everything from the dangers of the currents, to the variety of rescues, to the lingo the lifeguards use is so well developed, Andrews really brings this story to life. I found it all totally fascinating. I spend a lot of time at the beach, but my Atlantic coast beach in the US is nothing like the intensity of where these folks work and I really enjoyed the detail and the way the setting enhances the overall story.
I also quite liked Cody and Liam together and found their journey very compelling. Andrews does a great job building Liam’s character so we understand his fears about coming out. He went from being a national sensation with parents who beamed with pride, to losing it all in an instant. He knows his family’s homophobic attitudes and that they are unlikely to ever view him the same again if they know the truth. Even worse, he just shudders under the idea of the scrutiny he will face if he comes out publicly. On top of that, a traumatic past experience has left him with a lot of internalized homophobia and just terrified of what he wants and needs. I think this character development is really essential here as it helps us understand Liam’s POV when his fears have him keeping Cody at a distance. I loved the way Cody is both gentle with Liam, but also encourages him to reach for what he wants and to live life for himself and not other’s expectations.
There is also a great sexiness to the story as Liam explores his more submissive side and the two men are super steamy together. At times, I did feel the relationship is one step forward, two steps back. The men have a hot hookup, and then Liam seems to back away, and this happens repeatedly. I also wish we saw the men interacting more outside of work or the bedroom, to help build the romance side of things a bit more. But overall, I really liked Cody and Liam as a couple and I was so pleased to see Liam grow and reach for what he wants.
So I found Flash Rip to be a nice combination of sexy romance and great character development, all in a really fascinating setting. If you are looking for a great contemporary story with a bit of a twist, I can highly recommend this one.
P.S. Fans of Honeymoon for One will likely enjoy the brief cameo from Clay and Ethan as they visit the beach!