A competitive surfer who is self-destructing fast and is barely clinging to the one thing he still has- surfing and the sea and a woman afraid to go near the sea and her memories who is hired to clean up his image. It shouldn’t work, but it does- too well- if they can both stop running from their pasts long enough to see it through.
Kellen gets his name in the paper and not in a good way marking the beginning of the end for him if he doesn’t clean up his reputation. Unfortunately, he is also dangerously close to not caring about anything since his friend died. He can’t get past it and carries around a boatload of guilt for his part in Jay’s death. The only thing he both loves and paradoxically at the same time hates is when he can be out on the waves. He can’t let them take that from him so if he has to jump through a few PR hoops like a trained monkey for thirty days than that is what he’ll do.
Gina knows working on Kellen’s image is a really bad idea because of her own past tragedies that have kept her far away from the sea and from surfing, but her boss doesn’t agree. She has preconceived notions in her mind of how things will be. Hardliving, womanizing surf god who doesn’t care about anyone, but himself. Meeting Kellen tells her that she’s got him all wrong and that makes him even more dangerous still. He’s just a guy in serious pain who has lost his moorings when his friend and mentor dies tragically. He agrees to all that she asks of him, but he is also observant and questioning when he sees hints at those things she tries desperately to hide.
Kellen doesn’t know what to make of Gina because she is like no woman he has met before. She is a calm, cool professional who is good at what she does. She’s got his back when a jerk and his dad try to manipulate Kellen. Gina is also empathetic and kind- his friend. Well, she’s friendly until he asks one question too many or accidentally hits a sore point with her and then she turns into a hissing, spitting Queen B who shoves him away hard. They circle each other closer and closer peeling back layer and layer until they get to the bleeding hearts, fears and guilt within. It all comes down to healing and trust.
I knew this was going to be an emotionally intense story going in. Kellen and Gina are both just hot messes barely keeping it together. She just pulls it off better than he does because she has had longer to put tape on all her broken pieces and she’s not in the public eye or has people targeting her because she’s a celebrity like Kellen. I was in the mood for this one as a change of pace from some of the other stuff I’ve been reading lately. It certainly didn’t hurt that the hero was an easy-on-the-eyes pro surfer who wasn’t as hopelessly lost and jaded as he seemed or that the back drop was mostly the sunny beaches and blue waves of SoCal. I was all in from the instant Kellen started telling his story from page one and was doubly intrigued after his first meeting with Gina and trying to figure out what her deal was. Let’s just say that between the two of them, they made me hurt for them and cheer when it seemed they each were starting to heal even a little.
At first, Kellen comes off as a real tool, but then his character is further revealed and I just ended up aching for his pain. Gina got a similar reaction from me with her hot and cold stuff and the way she flew into an absolute freak at times, but then she would turn around and own her messy stuff and move on to helping Kellen. There was a bad moment in the last half and it was the big crisis that had to happen so that everything would break open and the bad stuff would pour out. That twisty danger element in the end took me by surprise too. All the way through, I loved the pace of this relationship. The attraction and tension are there, but I’m glad they didn’t jump in bed right away. Well worth it for things to tease out the way they did even the false starts and bad moments. Only niggle I had was that it ended abruptly for me. There was a little denouement that wrapped things up in a believable manner. However, I guess after all the angst, I just wanted to bask in a longer time of the smooth sailing and lovey stuff.
All in all, it was a most satisfying read that I would recommend to Contemporary Romance lovers who are in the mood for a bit of drama and a hot dose of passion by the sea.
My thanks to Netgalley for providing the book for review purposes.