For Captain Matt Spears, the Lady Lisa is the only place he calls home. The ship and its loyal crew are his chosen family. But when Matt’s sister, Nora, is critically injured in an Alraki attack, Matt and the crew rush to her side. They’ve had their issues, but Nora means more to Matt than he wants to admit. Their reunion is bittersweet as it brings Matt face to face with his estranged father and the realization that past sins have come home to roost. With his lover, Ryce, at his side, Matt must confront the truth — Nora injuries may inadvertently be his fault.
Now it’s up to Matt and his crew, along with an elite team of soldiers, to find the enemy and steal vital technology from the Alraki. If they’re successful, the information they obtain could give the Federation a leg up on the increasingly dangerous Alraki. If they fail, Matt will lose the man he loves, his ship, and his devoted crew. Matt must make the biggest gamble of his life and hope, for once, that he gets lucky.
Afloat is the third and final book in the Staying Afloat series and you must read these books in order. Aside from the character development that happens, there are events that occur in the earlier volumes that have specific ramifications in Afloat. This is a series that I have thoroughly enjoyed and, while Afloat had some weaknesses, it was still a fun read.
One of the strongest parts of this series has been the evolution between Matt and Ryce, and in Afloat, we seen them finally on an even keel with one another. A lot, though not all, of their communication issues have resolved and Matt finally seems to realize that Ryce isn’t going anywhere and that the love they share is solid. Ryce has always seemed more fragile than Matt, but Matt is the one who needs the reassurance and constancy that Ryce’s love provides. And in Afloat, we see a lot of that neediness has receded, which allows Ryce and Matt to really connect. It’s sweet and warm without being overwrought and I’m definitely a huge fan of this couple.
The weakest part of Afloat is the pacing. While the overall plot is interesting and does a good job of bring the whole series together, I felt the first third of the book tended to meander and lacked a measure of focus. Some of this seemed like filler, or least that it could have been condensed. Things read as tighter in the second third, but started to wander again towards the end. Compared to the previous books, Afloat wasn’t quite as well knit.
On the whole, I enjoyed Afloat and, while it has some pronounced pacing issues, there is a solid core to be had when it comes to the storyline and character development. While I hate to see the series end, the author does a good job of wrapping up some loose ends and bringing things full circle. So if you like Adrift and Ashore, then Afloat is definitely a worthy follow up.