Rating: 3.25 stars
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Length: Novel


Rafe and George have always gotten along like oil and fire. George is the steady, dependable captain of the Now, Voyager, Rafe’s brother’s yacht. He’s also one of Rafe’s brother’s friends, and quite a few years older than Rafe. Rafe, on the other hand, is an outgoing model, comfortable in his own skin, who flirts with anyone with a pulse. Any time they’ve been together on the same ship, it has always been contentious, to say the least, but Rowan was always there to calm the storms. This time, though, Rowan isn’t here.

Rafe is using his brother’s boat for his latest photo shoot — one involving lovely models and swimwear — and George finds himself at his wit’s end. He not above acknowledging to himself that he finds Rafe attractive. On this trip, though, Rafe is making an effort to be … nice. There’s no snarking, no complaining, no taking up George’s time. Rafe is professional, asking instead of demanding, smiling instead of smirking, and it’s not long before everyone else catches on.

George might not be the only one catching feelings.

The Cockpit is the third entry in Ava Olsen’s Voyagers series, a set of books taking place on Rafe’s brother Rowan’s yacht, and can be read as a standalone. While Rowan and Andrew make a cameo, it’s very brief, and Rowan is there as Rafe’s big brother, not to interfere in the plot.

Rafe is a beautiful man who has always known his looks are what gets him what he wants. He grew up fairly well off, and money’s never been an issue for him. The next big thing, however, has always been a distraction. Recently, Rafe has been diagnosed with ADHD, which explains his hyperfocus, his distraction, and even his restlessness. He’s currently on medication that allows him to find a calm focus and feel more comfortable in his own skin. This has, in part, allowed him to look at George less as something in his way and instead as someone in his own right.

George loves the ocean, loves sailing. He also likes quiet nights in and small gatherings, rather than large crowds. His last ex called him boring and, as much as it stung, George can’t deny he had a point. The two of them were a poor match, but it’s left George uncertain if he’s up for finding someone new, if he can exert himself to be what he thinks he needs to be to attract someone like Rafe.

The two men have opinions of one another formed over a lengthy time, all centered around Rowan. They are Rowan’s yacht captain and Rowan’s little brother, and only now are they taking the time to get to know one another as George and Rafe. It’s a bit of a slow burn, with more quiet character moments and introspective musing than action — and the action that does show up (an ex, a break in, a storm) feels like distractions that don’t really need to be there. I honestly think Rafe and George and their slow discovery of one another could have carried the book just fine.

Because of all these short, weightless events, the book felt bumpy and unfocused, as every time Rafe and George were having a quiet moment, something loud happened to break them apart. This book really isn’t my favorite of the three in the series. It’s still well written, just unevenly, and the characters never really have a moment to breathe.