Story Rating: 3.75 stars
Audio Rating: 3.75 stars
Narrator: Richard Eckman
Length: 7 hours, 7 minutes
Matt and the crew of the Lady Lisa are docked in a remote port when the ship’s engine gives out. With no money for repairs and with docking fees mounting, the crew needs to figure out a way to make some money. With Ryce by his side, Matt is looking for jobs more on this side of legal than his usual work, but finding something that will earn them enough to pay for repairs and fees, while they have a broken ship, isn’t proving to be easy.
While they are waiting, Matt’s engineer, Val, encounters a man from his past who has connections to Val’s murdered wife. Unfortunately, not only is the guy dangerous, he also works for the local crime lord who has a far reach. When Val’s attempt to take justice into his own hands backfires, Matt and his team are willing to risk everything to help him.
Meanwhile, things are developing nicely between Matt and Ryce. However, when Ryce is offered an amazing opportunity that could take him away from Matt, Matt is sure that Ryce will leave him. He loves Ryce, but he doesn’t want to stand in his way from a good opportunity.
Now, Matt, Ryce, and his team must figure out how to repair their broken ship and to get Val to safety, all while evading the bad guys who would happily see them all dead. And when it is all over, Matt hopes that he will still have Ryce by his side.
Ashore is the second book in Isabelle Adler’s Staying Afloat series and picks up about 7 months after the end of Adrift. I think these stories are best read in order, as there is backstory and relationship development from the first book that connects here. However, much of this plot stands alone if you wanted to jump in with Ashore.
This story continues the journey of the crew of the Lady Lisa. They are a bit ragtag and the Lisa may not be in tip top shape, but they care about each other and have built a family. Here we see how nicely the crew bonds together in the face of adversity, each willing to risk their safety to help the others. There is a nice found family element to the books, particularly for Matt, who is most estranged from his own family. Matt and Ryce have very different personalities, with Matt more willing to walk over the line and more of a risk taker, while Ryce is more logical and rule following. It makes for a fun dynamic, both in their relationship, as well as their approach to solving the various problems the group encounters.
The story did take a bit to heat up for me, as the early parts didn’t have much action. There feels like a lot of set up to get things moving. But once things pick up with Val, as well as the various threats the crew faces, it makes for some nice excitement. The scenes where Ryce is forced to fly in a “no rules” race to help save Val’s life are really intense, as are some rescue and escape scenes. So the action comes in a different form than the more “archeological adventure” style of the first book, but there are still some exciting elements.
I did wish for more depth to the relationship between Ryce and Matt. I really didn’t feel the intensity of emotion or passion for one another that I would expect from two men in love. Their bond didn’t feel much different to me than the platonic connections among any of the crew, so the romantic angle felt somewhat underdeveloped.
I listened to this book in audio with narration by Richard Eckman. Overall, I found this one enjoyable in audio and it was generally a pleasant listening experience. Matt and Ryce are voiced differently enough that I could tell who was speaking. While Eckman doesn’t do much in the way of other voices, I didn’t have much trouble telling who was who. However, we are told Val speaks in a Russian accent, but aside from a few moments after his accent is mentioned in the text, the accent doesn’t really appear at all. The bad guy also is supposed to have a posh, cultured voice. At times he sounds like he has a British accent, but other times the accent is gone. And another bad guy seems to have some sort of working class British accent, but honestly, it didn’t feel consistently portrayed. So I think while Eckman does a fine job with voice work in general, the accents don’t really come together. There are also a lot of times where characters speak with sort of a biting intensity, as if they are being really aggressive or mad, when the text didn’t seem to call for it. However, despite these issues, I found the audio a nice way to enjoy the story and I think either written or audio is a good choice for the book
Things set up nicely at the end of the story for some more adventures, and I am looking forward to seeing what is next for the crew of the Lady Lisa.