A weird thing happened when I turned to this book. I was getting flashes of the most recent previous work I’d read, unexpected as I didn’t expect any real similarity. I kind of had a ‘darn’ moment there, but the fact that both books start off with a heterosexual woman and a lesbian eyeballing each other is similar-ish, but everything else was/is different. For one, in the previous book they were eyeballing each other with lust; while here, this book here, they were eyeballing each other as rivals – enemy-like, though a few degrees back from enemies. For another, I rather liked how things unfolded here more than in the previous book. In terms of how the people involved gradually came to some realizations, dealt with some internal and external issues, and eventually came together. Instead of the insta-lust of the other book I’ve not named.
This is the third book in Brayden’s California based Seven Shores series that follows four friends as they find love and happiness. Book one, ‘Eyes Like Those’, followed Isabel Chase, writer, and Taylor Andrews, producer (with Isabel being the ‘Seven Shores’ friend, though she’s newly arrived in California at the start of the book). Book two, ‘Hearts Like Hers’, finds Autumn Primm, Venice Beach coffee shop owner (‘The Cat’s Pajamas’), hooking up with a vacationing firefighter (Kate Carpenter). Kate’s the Seven Shores person in that she lives in that apartment complex, though it’s Autumn who is the Seven Shores friend (the difference being that Autumn was friends of the Seven Shores people but didn’t live there). And then we come to this book here, where the woman who intrigued me from the beginning, the one who I was curious about from the beginning, gets her story told.
Gia Malone is a young woman who has spent her life surfing. Professionally. She might have liked to go to college, maybe, but she wasn’t in the situation to do both – financially. So, immediately after high school, she entered the qualifying tour. Eventually she rose up to the top tier pro tour and a year before this book opens, she was number 7 in the world (I do not recall if ‘in the world’ is mentioned, but, since the events that occur in this story take place around the world, I assume ‘in the world’ is accurate), and by the time this book here starts, she’s number 2.
Occupying the number one slot at top of the pro surfing leader board is Elle Britton. Gia’s rival and something like but not exactly enemy. Part of Gia’s dislike of Elle is the part wherein Elle is number one; mostly, though, it seems that Gia’s dislike stems from how she views Elle’s personality. In that, Elle seems too perky to be real. A fake plastic Barbie type.
Several complicating matters turn up – a year before this story opens, a photo was released that made it look like Gia was lustfully gazing upon Elle in her swimsuit (it’s never firmly dealt with, but the impression given is that both parties know that Gia wasn’t actually doing that, it just looked that way). It’s an issue because it gets brought up every once in a while. Then there’s the part where the happily partnered up Seven Shores people begin talking about ‘sparks’ and how Gia and Elle seem to have some – a theory begun before either party seemed to actually desire the other (we are still in rivals zone; also, one of the main people talking about Gia’s love life is her fellow single Seven Shores friend Hadley, so I’m not sure why I worded things the way I did). Then a specific sponsor wants to pair the number 1 (Elle) and number 2 (Gia) in an advertisement campaign – so both would have to work together, interact a lot more than they normally do when on tour. The, how to word this, the romance angle of the book doesn’t really start, though, until another event occurs – on the same day two articles appear, one strongly indicating that Elle and Gia are bitter rivals; other strongly indicating that Elle and Gia are lovers. Elle has an odd reaction to the stories, Gia doesn’t even know those stories exist. Oh, and somewhere along the line Elle picked up a boyfriend who she likes and who likes her, and who both like spending time with each other – a boyfriend kind of adds a complication layer to a female-female romance, eh?
Wow that’s a huge paragraph, I should break that down somehow. Nah.
One of the problems with a many friends type book is trying to remember who everyone is and how they fit in. I found it easier to remember everyone without thinking too hard with Brayden’s prior series, though I mostly kept up with the character list with this series. There are just many side characters, some of whom already appeared in the story (both mains and side characters). *shrugs, moving on*
I liked the two main characters well-enough, and their eventual connection seemed well developed, but I unexpectedly kind of disliked some of the stuff I was seeing with Gia. Mostly in her thoughts and actions regarding Elle. Seeing perkiness as fake and plastic-y. But that, obviously or not, went away as the story progressed.
There are issues that pop up as the story unfolds, both foreseeable, and not. Family related, relationships related, and sports related. Everything seemed naturally occurring and not artificially created to add layers of problem issues to overcome.
Let’s see, what else is there to say – I liked the characters, main and side. The story was interesting and good. Flowed naturally.
Well, just one friend left without a partner (even if you pulled in Elle’s friend Holly it’d still be just one friend, since Holly has Dash, and is straight (though Elle started this book straight so…). Hadley the one connected somehow or another to fashion and a specific store. I’ve tended to like her in the series, so far, with my favorite scene with her being the one where she’s dressed up like a cow. Tail and all.
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