Review – Riding the Wave (Pacific Blue #1) by Lorelie Brown

Riding the Wave cover image

Publisher: Signet
Publish Date: 1 Jul
How I got this book: ARC from the author

The gray-green swells of San Sebastian haven’t changed in ten years, but Tanner Wright has. The last thing he expects to find back on his home turf is the love of his life….

With a make-or-break world championship on the line, professional surfer Tanner Wright has come back to the coastal California hometown he left a decade ago, carrying only his board and the painful knowledge of his father’s infidelity. Now that Hank Wright is dead, Tanner intends to keep the secret buried to spare his mother and sister the burden.

The last time Avalon Knox saw her best friend’s brother, she was fourteen and he was a twenty-year-old surfer god. She’s never understood or respected the way Tanner distanced himself from the family that has embraced her. But now she has the professional chance of a lifetime: to photograph Tanner for the competition—if he’ll agree.

Out on the waves, they find in each other passion that’s impossible to resist. And Tanner’s not the only one trying to move forward from his past. As the competition heats up, secrets get spilled, and lust takes over. How close can Avalon get to this brooding surfer…without getting burned?
This blurb came from the author’s website.

I have read and enjoyed several of Brown’s individual works before as well as her work as one half of Katie Porter. However, this was my introduction to Brown as a solo contemporary author and while I didn’t love this one as much as I loved her historicals, I found it enjoyable nonetheless. And I really wanted to move back home to Southern California when the beach was a frequent destination during summer vacation.

I felt so bad for Tanner. Betrayed by his father with his entire life foundation shattered, he was trying very hard to do the right thing for his mom and sister. Instead of his father stepping up and admitting what he had done, he died, leaving Tanner holding his secret. Now Tanner has returned and can’t seem to escape reminders, unspoken questions, and the threat of secrets becoming public. He was so angry, wounded, guilty, heartsick, and lonely. I really wanted to give him a good cuddle and let him get it all out but he also had to learn how sometimes there isn’t a “right” answer. I loved the glimpses I saw when he had a free moment and was doing what he really loved out of love not out of a sense of obligation. There I saw the person he had been and who Avalon had fallen for years ago.

Avalon was another complicated wounded person. Given a sense of family only through the Wrights’ open hearts, she viewed the world through her camera lens. She wanted to become a professional photographer but her images, while perfect technically, never quite captured the feelings and therefore seemed flat. As I got to know her I realized how her childhood and knowledge that family could be temporary kept Avalon at an emotional distance from everything. It was her fear of exposing her feelings to possible rejection transmitted through the camera which resulted sterile photographs. With Tanner’s return and her chance at success, Avalon was forced to deal with her turbulent feelings.

Watching Avalon and Tanner negotiate their long history and deal with the current attraction and forced proximity provided some laughs and some very intense moments. I loved how Avalon displayed her comfort and familiarity around the surfing crowd without taking any of them too seriously. I also saw how she treasured the Wrights and what they provided while not completely overlooking their faults. Tanner was torn between wanting to trust Avalon with everything and not wanting to share more than physical interaction because she always saw too much, especially through her camera. Their back and forth banter was so much fun as were their quiet moments out on the water.

As things grew more intense between them and the external tension from keeping secrets increased, I began to wonder what was going to cause the bubble to finally explode. When it did, the fallout was epic and had some reverberating effects. While I was very satisfied with the overall resolution Brown provided, I did find myself wishing for a bit more character development in the antagonist. On screen, he seemed rather flat, determined to destroy the Wrights in every possible way but when Tanner talked about his history, it appeared as if he did have some additional qualities, they just were not shown. I do have my hopes that as the series progresses, his character is expanded and perhaps redeemed a bit.

Brown has created an interesting world with her Pacific Blue Series. Riding the Wave was a fun entry with a diverse cast of characters. I enjoyed the banter and competition between the surfers as well as seeing a family work to regain their sense balance after discovering things were not as they thought. The way both Tanner and Avalon made sacrifices for each other because they cared really said a lot about who they were at their essence and gave me hope for their HEA. I am rather curious about where Brown is going to take this series as she continues.

I give Riding the Wave a B-

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