I’ve not spent as much time as I would have liked in Riptide’s shared universes to date, although I have a few books from various series on my To Read pile. This was my first visit to Bluewater Bay, and I felt quite at home there, even without having met any of the characters before. This Washington State town is semi-rural, and seems to have had little in the way of industry or non-local businesses until it was picked as the setting for a new TV drama series. Now, the cast and crew, the locals, the incomers, and the tourists all have to find ways to get along with each other and, in some cases, form relationships with people they might never otherwise have met.
Mark is one of those involved in the filming, and is well used to coping with seemingly impossible demands for new costume items. He’s on the autistic spectrum, but mostly copes with day-to-day interactions so long as his coworkers respect his communication needs – such as following up face-to-face requests with text formats or communicating with him online from the outset. He also gets involved in town events, such as the choir, and first encounters Jack when he’s looking for new places to put up posters.
Jack is also a relative newcomer to the town, but has moved there to get away from his family, rather than for any reason connected to the TV series. He runs the town’s general store with the help of his younger sister Margaret – who is on the autistic spectrum too, but with far more complex issues than Mark. The two men hit it off, especially when it becomes obvious that Mark and Margaret understand each other better than most neurotypical folks manage to do with either of them. Mark introduces Jack to his other musician friends, encouraging Jack to start playing blues music again, after he had to pawn his beloved saxophone on his way to Bluewater Bay.
All seems to be going well; however, Jack is wary of forming new relationships because of the circumstances under which he and Margaret moved away from their childhood home and wealthy, controlling family. Mark, meanwhile, is struggling at work, due to one particular crew member not respecting his boundaries. Both men need to learn how to get over their fears and learn to make bigger compromises if they are to stay together and to help Margaret find a degree of independence that will both keep her safe and allow her to function as she wants.
I loved this book and the way it handled the needs and issues, not just of the three central characters, but of those around them. Not all those who obstruct Mark and Margaret’s needs are doing so deliberately – some have problems of their own that they find difficult or embarrassing to explain. I additionally loved the way Mark, Jack and Margaret find ways – separately and in pairs – to help the other members of their new family, and I found the solutions they come up with for their living arrangements very inventive as well as convincingly thoughout on the part of the author. Definitely a series, as well as an author, that I need to revisit regularly.
Bonding over the blues is just the start — if they can learn to trust each other.
Jack Daley left his music career behind — along with his domineering father — and is struggling to make a new life for himself and his autistic sister in Bluewater Bay. When a summer storm sweeps a handsome stranger into his general store, Jack is more than ready for a fling. No strings attached, because Jack can’t share the secrets he and his sister are hiding from. Unfortunately, his feelings refuse to stay casual.
Mark Keao is married to his job as a costume designer on Wolf’s Landing. He’s autistic, so he’s used to people not knowing how to interact with him, but that doesn’t mean he wants to be a hermit. Especially when he meets Jack Daley, who dances with brooms, shares his love of the blues, and gets him like no one else. But relationships have proven complicated in the past.
Just when Mark is ready to try anyway, Jack pulls back. But Mark isn’t giving up, and neither is Jack’s sister. And then there’s the music both men love, bringing them together time and again. It will take trust, though, to bring them together for good.
Read an excerpt.