making waves coverRating: 3.5 stars
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Length: Novel


Penn planned a luxury cruise vacation for him and his boyfriend, but after their breakup, he doesn’t want to go alone. Penn hopes that one of his friends will be willing to go with him instead, but they are all busy aside from Hunter. Penn and Hunter are part of the same close friend group, but Penn has always felt like Hunter dislikes him. Still, Penn is willing to give it a shot for the chance to avoid going on vacation solo.

Hunter has always found Penn seems a bit too shallow, with his good looks, party boy ways, and endless trust fund that means he doesn’t need a job. After growing up poor, Hunter knows he is resentful of Penn, but he is determined to try to get to know him better on this trip. As it turns out, there is a lot more to Penn than Hunter’s earlier impressions and the two men end up getting along great. Not only does their friendship grow stronger, but an attraction blooms that both men are eager to act on with one another. However, neither man is sure what the other wants from the future, nor do they want to take the risk of shaking things up with their friend group, so they decide to keep things casual and the sex on the ship only. But, as the vacation winds to a close, both Hunter and Penn just may realize they want more from one another after all.

Making Waves is the first book in Harper Robson’s new Getaways series. The best part of the story for me is where it leans into the vacation side of things. Penn is very wealthy and he has planned a luxurious cruise vacation for him and his then-boyfriend. So this is pure high-end vacation porn and we get to follow along as the men stay in an amazing on-ship suite, enjoy the concierge lounge, and take advantage of all the other perks that most of us could only dream about. There is fun, light vacation vibe that plays well with the theme of the series.

I also appreciated that Hunter recognizes early on that his impressions of Penn as being shallow and spoiled are unfounded, and in part based on his own past issues. He is quick to apologize to Penn and makes an effort to ensure Penn knows that he hasn’t done anything wrong to cause the earlier friction between them. It sets things up nicely for the relationship to grow and shows maturity on Hunter’s end that I appreciated.

My biggest issue here, however, is that the story just feels a little too fluffy and surface level, never really delving into the men as individual characters or building and developing their relationship with each other. We do get some basics, particularly with regard to each of their backstories. And Penn and Hunter seem to have interesting histories and elements to their characters. But it never feels like we learn much beyond what they share in some initial conversations. For example, we learn virtually nothing about Penn’s past relationship (where, per the blurb, he “got his heart stomped on”) beyond his ex’s name. There is no sense of what happened, how it affected him, how he is doing in the aftermath, etc. Honestly, the fact that Penn has this recent breakup has no affect on his character or the story other than an excuse for him to have an extra ticket. For his part, Hunter is supposed to be this nerdy introvert who works too hard, but beyond just being told those things, they are never really developed or shown in the story.

I found their relationship confusing and undeveloped too. At the start of the book, Penn’s POV describes Hunter and the others as his “group of closest friends.” But then he says that he doesn’t think Hunter even likes him. So is he one of Penn’s closest friends, or does he not like him? They seem to know virtually nothing about each other, even things as basic as the fact that Hunter lost his mom young and was raised by his grandmother. Again, they are supposed to be part of this same super close friend group.

The men have a few conversations where they share a bit about themselves and begin to grow their friendship. But then they are hanging out… and then suddenly they are making out, seemingly out of nowhere. There is no build up, no sexual tension, and basically no internal thoughts or external conversation to indicate interest in one another. I actually had a “what?” moment when suddenly they start kissing. Then they break it off and never talk about it, until they fall into bed together, once again, seemingly out of nowhere. Later we are told Hunter has been attracted to Penn in the past, but we get no real information about it. Beyond the thoughts the POV characters have while actually having sex, there is barely anything in the story to really even establish an attraction between them, let alone more serious feelings. So even once the guys start building something, I just had a hard time making that mental shift and getting on board. I think folks who feel that connection between them more than I did will find this one works better for them. But, honestly, I enjoyed the parts where they are friends hanging out more than the romantic side, as it just never clicked for me. I think if the plot had been more complex, it could have provided some counterbalance, but this one proceeds exactly as you would expect from reading the blurb (right down to the “only one bed”) and so the relationship is really the main focus.

We do meet some of Hunter and Penn’s other friends, but again, we don’t really get to know the side characters as more than outlines. However, I am guessing at least some will be leading future books in the series, and Robson does allude to some pairings in the Epilogue. For fans of the author, we also get reference to characters from the Hot Dam Homes series (though they don’t appear here), as well as a note at the end about an upcoming series featuring a Seattle NHL team that is referenced here. So this is a shared world for folks who enjoy connections across series.

I found this one to be a light, easy read and the vacation side of things a lot of fun. I just wished for more depth in the story and more character development for these men independently and with one another. But if you are looking for a light read with some nice heat, this could be an appealing choice.

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