I can't imagine a much more appropriate fun, summer-y contemporary romance than a book set on in a beach town with a backdrop of surfing with plenty of romance and a little bit of drama to boot. Riding The Wave is the first book in a new series by a new-to-me author, and even though it took me a little while to get my bearings with this one, once I did, it took me right to one of my happy places while I was reading - to the beach.
Riding The Wave takes place in a place called San Sebastian, a place blessed with waves perfect for surfing. This is the home of the Wright family - pro surfer Tanner Wright's family - but Tanner hasn't shown his face around there for almost a decade. Tanner has his reasons for not coming home - he knows an awful secret about his father that he took with him to his grave, a secret that tore his relationship with his father apart. Tanner could never stand to go back home and look into the faces of his family knowing that his father was deceiving them in such a way. With the surfing world championships taking place in San Sebastian, Tanner has no choice but to come home and unfortunately, that secret has followed him.
Avalon Knox has been living with the Wright family for years. Technically not blood-related, she is Tanner's sister's best friend. The last time he came to town, she was a young teen. Avalon has been following entire Tanner's career due to her years-long crush. Avalon is a talented surfer on her own, but her heart lies with photography. She has been hired by the company that sponsors Tanner to photograph him for an exclusive spread, which could ultimately boost her career. It will also put her in close proximity to the guy she's crushed on her entire life. Could Tanner ever see her the same way she has always seen him?
Riding The Wave is marketed as adult contemporary romance, and it is certainly that, but there is far more going on in this book than just a romance. There is the fun of the surfing, which is not something I have read about often, and I enjoyed it. There is the beach, which I always, always, always love. And there is some family drama coupled with the drama of the big secret that has followed Tanner back into town.
I like Tanner as a character. Even though he is angsty at times, I think I understand why. He has carried the weight of someone else's big secret around for a long time, and that must be horribly stressful - especially with the way that it made him decide to stay away from his family. I get why Tanner made the decision that he did - to keep his father's secret - and why it made him feel that he had to stay away...but I wish that he had not felt that way. His family seems so great, and I just love great family relationships. The way they embraced his return after so many years away - it just seems like perhaps they could have worked something out. BUT alas! What we have here is a Tanner that has returned for his surfing championships with the weight of the world on his shoulders...and the secret has followed him! DRAMA!
Thankfully the lovely Avalon is there to help him through these trying times. It doesn't hurt that Avalon has always held these massively intense crush-like feelings for Tanner (and she really loves his family) so she steps right up to help him through his issues - this is a big deal because she goes into it with literally no clue what his problem is, why he has such a chip on his shoulder, why he had such a big issue with his father. Between Avalon being stuck to Tanner as a "press" person for her photography job and Avalon hanging out with Tanner when they're "off the record", a relationship was bound to form. It forms quickly and there is chemistry, and it is passionate and steamy.
I recommend Riding The Wave for fans of adult contemporary romance, fans of summer reads, and fans of a beach setting. (less)
I feel like I waited forever for Ben Morris to have a chance to tell his story - he has been one of my favorite characters throughout this series not...moreI feel like I waited forever for Ben Morris to have a chance to tell his story - he has been one of my favorite characters throughout this series not only because he is extremely likable but he also has a sense of humor. Reese MacKay is the perfect match for him because she is feisty and smart and flawed. Their story - how they meet, then fall in love, and of course the issues that they face (not between each other but in their own separate lives, together) - is a perfect way to end this series.