It was supposed to be a quiet summer for successful actor, Arnie Walker. A few weeks with his young son in Arnie’s hometown of Nyemouth along the coast of the North Sea. Instead, challenge after challenge awaits them. First, Arnie and his son witness a bizarre murder attempt. Then, he discovers an unfamiliar tension and distance with Gabriel, a lifelong friend and restauranteur who has always been based in Nyemouth. Next, Arnie’s ex-wife makes headlines for her drug-fueled party habits—something Arnie wants to protect his son from for as long as possible. Finally, there’s the problem of being incredibly attracted to Dominic Melton, a former marine who moonlights as a popular author and volunteers for the local lifeboat volunteer rescue operation. A romantic entanglement is a complication Arnie doesn’t think he wants.
Dominic has lived in Nyemouth for five years and never once crossed paths with the local celebrity, Arnie Walker. But now that he has, he feels an instant attraction and is desperate to explore it. The only problem is Dominic’s casual, friends-with-benefits arrangement with Gabriel. Breaking off the relationship causes more problems than Dominic imagined, but Arnie and his son are worth it. Just when Dominic thinks he has a shot at something real with Arnie, the suspect from the attempted murder Arnie witnesses hits closer and closer to home. Suddenly, Dominic is trying to save more than just a romance, but the life of the man he loves.
North Point is the first book in the Jagged Shores series. This thriller places a significant emphasis on the instant and very physical attraction between Arnie and Dominic. At the same time, the small-town setting adds to the cozy appeal of a story that features no less than three attempted murders (with varying levels of success). Even with all the nefarious activity, the on-page gore is very minimal. For anyone looking for a who-done-it thriller that features a spicy romance without going overboard on the murder descriptions, I think you’ll find this book hits that spot.
I enjoyed the pacing of the story. It starts off immediately with a murder attempt witnessed by Arnie and his son, so that definitely sets a bit of a gloomy shadow over the whole story until the book’s resolution. There are two more brushes with the murderer in the book that keep the tension at a simmer. I also liked how, despite the gossip grapevine being very alive and well in the universe of the book, sometimes the news of these (attempted) murders came as a surprise to the characters.
The romance was also decidedly hot. Both Arnie and Dominic seemed to be in perfect sync with the “instalove” vibes. Rather than falling immediately into each other’s arms, however, Arnie’s is concerned about pursuing a relationship for himself because of the potential impact it could have on his son. This creates a nice bit of “can’t have what I want” feelings in Arnie. On page, Dominic comes across as entirely supportive of every and any decision Arnie wants to make, as well. Even with these two being set up into a neat and tidy sweeping romance, I thought it was a little disappointing that it seemed like Dominic simply deferred to everything Arnie wanted, both in their physical and emotional relationship. This is supposed to be a series, however, so perhaps this dynamic will be explored more in future installments.
The only real weak spot, I thought, was the father/son portrayal between Arnie and his son, AJ. I didn’t feel like AJ’s dialogue hit true for a nine-year-old kid for one thing. Arnie also tends to call AJ “son,” which felt stilted to me (though maybe this is far more common in the UK where the story is set?). AJ also seemed to serve as a convenient way to move the plot along (suggesting Arnie needed a boyfriend, having a surprise! phone at just the right moment). If nothing else, it was clear that Arnie was invested in providing a good environment for his son, but it didn’t feel like Arnie was portrayed as actually interacting with his son beyond buying him food and taking him out for movies/to see relatives.
Overall, this is a great book if you’re looking for a thriller that delivers on the body count without going into gory specifics and if you like reading about hot men finding true love during a summer fling.