Book – The Shipwreck (Lavender Shores #4)
Author – Rosalind Abel
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 311
Cover – Gorgeous!
POV – 1st person, dual POV
Would I read it again – YES!
Genre – LGBT, Contemporary, Romance
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK FOR MY READING PLEASURE **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine
I was so thrilled to finally get Lamont's story in my hands that there aren't even the words for it. What the story did to me, however, is another matter entirely. I was totally not prepared for the snot-fest sobbing that came with the second half of this novel. Not in the least!
I love how the story started, with Lamont at a book convention, 'coming out' as a male author of straight romances, with a female pen-name. I loved the authenticity of his fear, of the reactions, even the talk about trending on Twitter and how the viewers were divided between supporting him and vowing never to read his books again. It's so like the cruel reality of the publishing world that it's probably happened exactly like this in real life, somewhere.
I love how, even after Tyler is introduced as this cocky, flirtatious person in Chapter 1, during Lamont's POV, we still got to see a side of him that is his natural element, a part of him that has fallen out of love with the attention, even just a little. It's all through Lamont's eyes, which it the genius of the writing, because you can see it even without having to know it from his POV.
Speaking of which, the writing is the same top class, five star, unmistakable style and level of talent that I've become used to when reading Rosalind Abel books. If they can't make me cry at least once, they're not Rosalind Abel. If I can't connect with a main character by the end of Chapter 1, it's just not authentically Rosalind Abel. That's how I've come to view this series and, though I would never want Lavender Shores to stop telling its stories – we still have Paulie, Seth and the book store guy, and so many others to read about – I would absolutely read anything else, in any genre, that Abel wanted to write. I'd be there, money in hand, willing to fork out any amount for a book that I just knew was going to be gold standard.
Okay, so I'll be upfront – there were some moments that had my ugly crying from here to Sunday, and some that were just so awkwardly brilliant and funny and cringe-worthy that I could barely contain myself. To not give too much away, here's the run down of what happened:
The baby food tasting game was almost too much for me and I can guarantee that I snorted at least once.
It made me cry that Tyler was the first one to ask for a wish – that they could pretend with each other, even when they were alone – that they weren't two people who didn't do relationships, out of fear.
The palisade conversation is heart-breaking. Hearing about Tyler's past, lost love, and the whole story, then hearing how Lamont thinks himself broken, just because he doesn't sleep around and only has meaningful relationships, was gut-wrenching.
Now, these are the quotes that I can't explain and that gutted me for so long that it was hard to read through the tears:
“I broke. Utterly broke.” ← and so did I. After holding it together pretty well, with only small instances of tears, for nearly 74%, this was what broke me. All I can say is God Bless Debbra and thank you for that chapter. That is all.
“That is my shame. And you are my loss.” ← I'm not even going to explain what this one did to me.
“I didn't know reality could feel like this.”
“I wrote them a happily ever after.”
“I let out a long breath, maybe the one I'd been holding for the past forty-five years.”
“The only foolish thing about Lamont was him allowing himself to fall for me.”
“We were on the cliff in our own little snow globe.
We were saying goodbye.”
While it doesn't need a 'warning label' per se I do want to mention that the book contains exhibitionism, porn enactments and themes of depression, isolation, step-family anxiety, polyamory, a slight May-December romance, and therapy. But I only mention it because there are so many ways that these issues are dealt with, brought up and respectfully handled that it needs to be talked about. Not enough authors are comfortable having vulnerable older men as their lead characters, but Abel shows time and again that it can not only be done, but with style, class and sensitivity.
I really love that Tyler doesn't hate his work or think it something to be ashamed of. I really love that his family knows the truth, that he's proud of his ability to love his job, do it well and work hard to reach his dreams. I love that when the truth comes to light, Lamont doesn't say the one word Tyler is afraid of hearing. I just hate that Lamont rushes straight into self-doubt, although visiting Donovan is an excellent idea.
There was so much story in the first half that, because I was so engrossed in my reading, I fully expected around the 55% to be close to the end, until I checked and saw how much more there was to come. When those two idiots accosted Tyler on his way home from Christmas, it nearly killed me, but it promised so much – that it absolutely 100% delivered – for the second half of the book.
The title always perfectly encapsulates the most romantic thing about the story, or where the most important moments take place, and it kills me every time I figure out the significance while I'm reading. When Lamont and Tyler are at the shipwreck for the first time, every word out of Lamont's mouth not only destroyed my heart, but proved why this book had the title it did. In that way and in so many others.
As usual, the ending is utter perfection, the Epilogue broke me in new ways and helped heal me before 'the end', and with the addition of so many of the previous characters from previous books, there was nothing about this book that I would change. Ever.
I know I said in my review of the previous book that I wanted Connor and Paulie to hook up, but I'm thrilled to read the sneak peek of The Hideaway and know that my original hopes were right. I really thought they never would be, considering the situation, but I am beyond happy to find out I was right to begin with and then wrong to doubt myself. Something only Rosalind Abel can do, to this extent.
“I didn't know Lamont, and he most definitely didn't know me, but for just that moment, he was...everything. And from the protective strength of his embrace, I knew I was his everything too.”
“The earth didn't tremble, the sun neither, and I was still a man who didn't do relationships. But as we kissed, some fragment of Lamont's soul took root in my heart.”
“I'd seen lots of eyes. Looked into countless eyes. I'd seen admiration, attraction, lust. Lots and lots of lust. I've even seen love at times.
I'd never seen myself before.”
“This was happening. I was falling in love. Maybe had fallen, who knew? And Andrew was right. Who cared if it was fast? Who cared if there were a million things we didn't know about each other yet. That was the fun of it. There'd be time. Maybe it was insane to think, but perhaps Tyler was the reason I'd been waiting all those years. Part of the reason I felt something was missing. I'd been my own romance novel the entire time, I just hadn't known it.”