IN TOO DEEP.
The first in a new series entitled Due South, IN TOO DEEP is a wonderful love story, not just between the two protagonists, but also a love song for this very special island. I wouldn't be surprised that tourism might double after the publication of Alvarez's book!
Once again an author gave me insomnia, but it was well worth it. The story of a strong, intelligent, and seemingly fearless heroine who made her way to the "big city" to follow her dreams and the boy who stayed behind is a trope that has been told many times, perhaps more often with the roles reversed. However, there is nothing tired about Alvarez's interpretation and, in fact, she has so many fabulous plot twists in this romance that at times I felt like I was reading a thriller. But no, it's simply that she knows how to engage and interest the reader from cover to cover.
We meet the heroine Piper Harland as she is rescue diving, but instead of saving someone's life, her mission is to find and return the body of the drowning victim to the family. I envisioned this scene in my mind and could only begin to imagine the daily stress a job like this would entail. We see that Piper has reached the end of her rope as a police diver with one of the country's elite squads as she has an almost melt-down underwater. She's given time-off for personal reasons and returns to the island she once called home, but hasn't returned to in years.
On her way to the island, Alvarez adds the the detail of Piper's seasickness on the ferry. These small and intimate details add up to quite a rich understanding of the characters that Alvarez portrays and provide us, the readers, with an almost three-dimensional picture to populate the stories in our mind as we read the book.
When Piper encounters her former best friend and former lover, Ryan "West" Westlake, who now runs the family bar/restaurant - as his father oversees the kitchen, she acts cold. Neither of them realize that they each harbor a continuing passion for one another as it seems Ryan deserted her at a critical time, just before her father died. However as a reader, the tension and heat between them is evident from their first meeting - and throughout the story.
I don't want to reveal too much more of the plot except to say that the secondary characters, whom Alvarez populates the story with, are incredibly interesting and enjoyable. Just as the must-read series of Donna Kauffman (The Bachelors of Blueberry Cove), Jill Shalvis (Lucky Harbor), Terri Osburn (Anchor Island), Marie Force (The McCarthys of Gansett Island), Sherryl Woods (Chesapeake Shores) have entranced me with their seaside settings and caring communities - so has Tracey Alvarez - and I'm adding her series to my must-read shelf too.
In conclusion, I'm awarding five stars for Tracey Alvarez's HOT, humorous, and highly enjoyable romance, IN TOO DEEP.
From the Publisher
Due South Book 1
In Too Deep by Tracey Alvarez (Due South Book 1)
Publication Date: January 20, 2014
Love small-town romance with an unforgeable cast of characters? The Due South series will transport you to an unspoilt, wild island off the coast of New Zealand. Meet Piper and West...
She vowed never to return.
To save her brother from financial ruin, Piper Harland must do the one thing she swore she'd never do—return to the tiny island hometown where Ryan "West" Westlake crushed her heart. Piper is tough, resilient and a little wild—much like the remote and beautiful Stewart Island where she grew up. As a cop who's part of the elite New Zealand Police National Dive Squad, bringing the dead back to their families still doesn't stop the guilt she feels over her father's drowning death. Now nine years later she's obligated to return to a hostile community as the outsider, and forced to work with the man who was once her best friend and first lover.
She's a risk he can't take.
West is an Island man, through and through. As owner of the local pub, he lives and breathes the local community, and sure as hell can't imagine living anywhere else. But most of all he refuses to ever fall for a woman like his flighty mother. He lost Piper once to give her the chance to fulfil her dreams of becoming a cop. But now she's back for an unexpected six week visit to help her brother—his best mate. Maybe West wants her a little bit, maybe he can't resist the temptation to tease and touch her, but can he fall in love with such a flight risk?
Saying goodbye for the second time might just destroy them both.