Author: Pene Henson
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: CB Messer
Rating: 4.75 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 07/07/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Gay Fiction, New Adult, Romance
Tai Talagi and Ollie Birkstrom have been inseparable since they met as kids surfing the North Shore of Oahu. Now they live with their best friends and Ollie’s kid brother in a pulled-together family, all of them piled into a run-down beach house. They share cooking, bills, and the saltwater running in their veins.
Tai’s spent years shutting down any feelings for Ollie. They’re friends. Their family depends on them. But with Ollie off on his first world tour and his dreams of a pro surfing career finally within reach, their steady world shifts. Is the relationship worth risking their friendship, their family, their dreams, for a chance at something terrifying and beautiful and altogether new?
My ability to write a review worthy of this debut novel could be likened to stepping into an Icing by Claire’s™ after a morning spent browsing at Tiffany & Co. Ms. Henson and I both speak English – in the same way that those two stores sell sparkly bracelets – but that’s about where the similarities end.
Nonetheless, I have many clumsy and adoring thoughts about <em>Into The Blue</em>, with emphasis on the adoration and apologies for the clumsiness. To wit:
Ollie is one of the quietest MCs I’ve read, even in the context of the smallish setting and plot of the book. That’s not to say he’s boring or weak, because he certainly isn’t…but much of his character is revealed in how others see him, as well as in how he treats said others. He’s a serious guy who works hard and talks as little as possible; he struggles with eye contact and physical touch.
On the other hand, Tai is a tiny whirlwind of sunshine personified. Everything seems to come easily to him – socializing, surfing, sex, you name it. At times his supremely mellow nature is the only thing that a) stops Ollie from freaking out and/or b) stops Ollie and Tai from getting into an argument (something they can ill afford to do, given the pressure of keeping their group together). Tai’s sweet and steadfast confidence perfectly complements the more spartan bits of dialogue and adds a soothing level of warmth to the sting of the bad days the characters occasionally encounter.
Speaking of encounters, the romantic/sexual moments in Into The Blue are beyond reproach. The combination of realistic emotion and minute detail in the writing makes for a truly lovely private dynamic between the boys, and I found myself anticipating the next scene almost before finishing the one in progress.
I recommend this book wholeheartedly and encourage everyone to pick it up. It has a low amount of angst overall and the soft, thoughtful prose throughout left me anxious for future works from the author.
P.S. Would you LOOK at that COVER? My gosh.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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