Hi there! Today I’m sharing my review for a newly-released contemporary M/M reconnection romance by CJane Elliot. IN OVER OUR HEADS is the second book in the Stories From the Shore series and I really enjoyed it.
Scroll down to read an excerpt, catch my review and enter the $10 GC giveaway!
About the book:
A second chance for romance on a scuba diving vacation plunges Anthony and Walter into deep waters—will they use love’s lifeline or go under alone?
Party guy Anthony Vallen believes in happy endings—just not for himself. He hits Key West for a vacation with friends, ready for some fun in the sun. To his horror, the owner of the local scuba dive shop is Walter Elkins—former scientist, meticulous control freak, and the guy who broke Anthony’s teenaged heart. Anthony throws up his shields with jokes and banter, but Walter draws him in by admiring him and listening to him like no one else has. Despite their painful past, Anthony’s defenses soften and his reasons for shunning romance no longer hold much water. But whether Walter will come on board remains to be seen. Walter has never gotten over brilliant, fun-loving Anthony, but he’s compelled to keep Anthony safe—not just from the ocean depths but from himself.
Soon Anthony and Walter are in over their heads, their love as unstoppable as the hurricane they find themselves in the middle of. To prevent their fears from pulling them under, Anthony needs to get serious—about his worth and his heart’s true desires, and Walter needs to trust—in himself, in fate, and in Anthony.
2nd book in the series but can be read as a stand-alone. Second Edition, revised and expanded.
How about a little taste?
Miles led us onto the boat and murmured to me as we were getting settled, “You guys are getting the special treatment. Walter doesn’t usually run the cruise excursions anymore. I’m kind of surprised he’s doing it.”
“Miles.” Walter frowned at him, jerking his head in a come here gesture.
“Oops. Duty calls.” Miles gave me a wink and went to help Walter with the jibs or sails or lines or whatever.
I tried to relax and get into vacation mode. What had I told Jonathan mere hours before? I wasn’t going to give Walter Elkins one more thought! It was hard to keep that vow, though, with Walter right there, his hunky body on display, muscles bunching and lengthening as he knelt and reached and got things ready with his usual fierce concentration. Though I knew fuck all about sailing, I was willing to bet that Walter’s preparations were being done rigorously, completely, and perfectly. Even Miles had grown serious and attentive, responding to his terse directions as though it was a military operation.
Meanwhile I became aware of something happening in my body. It was the oddest thing. I’m usually a bundle of nerves and on the manic end of the energy scale. But as I watched Walter, my muscles began to loosen, like they were letting down their guard. A memory darted in of Walter, at the end of high school chemistry class, restoring everything to order in his methodical way, me chattering nonstop as I watched him, and all being right with the world. It had felt safe being around Walter. He’d taken care of everything, slowly and patiently. I could be my fluttery self—a butterfly flitting all over—because I knew he would be there when I needed to land.
Suddenly Walter lifted his eyes and gazed right at me. To my horror, I found myself smiling fondly at him, still in the glow of that long-ago time. I was probably making stupid goo-goo eyes too. He went red and dropped something on the deck with a clang.
“Walter! Watch what you’re doing,” scolded Miles with a mock scowl. He laughed, no doubt pleased that the perfect Walter had been shown to be human.
“Sorry,” Walter muttered, reapplying himself to his task.
I sat still, shaken by how easily I’d slipped into rosy Walter memories. What on earth was wrong with me? Safe? Walter was the guy who’d left me not once but twice, and so callously that I’d been protecting myself from love ever since. Screw him!
I tore my gaze away and caught Sophia watching me with a small smile. She leaned forward and whispered, “Anytime you want to tell me what that’s all about, feel free.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, doll.”
“Okay. If that’s how you want to play it.” She leaned back and lifted her face to the sun. “Ah. It’s so awesome to be back in the sunshine.”
Marco lounged in his seat, looking fucking stupendous, his arm around Jonathan, who rested his head on Marco’s shoulder. I must have been rattled by Walter’s reappearance, because my walls suddenly cracked. Pain lanced through me, and I stopped kidding myself that I wasn’t pea green with envy. I so was.
I froze for a moment, stunned at myself. Could this be true? Could Anthony the Player be merely the facade, while underneath I wanted what Jonny had? Not that I wanted Marco for myself, but was I pining for a man to hold me like that and let me rest my head on his shoulder? All signs pointed to yes. How embarrassing! And how completely unlikely.
Anthony Vallen’s is nearing 30 and looking for a lasting love–not that he’ll admit it out loud. He’s super jealous of the deeply committed relationship of his cousin Jonny, who’s marriage to Marco is fairy-tale-esque. Anthony had a love once, back in high school he fell hard for his nerdy, precise science partner, Walter Elkins. They were complete opposites, with out-going, expressive and artful Anthony cracking Walter’s timid shell. Their passion was cosmic, and they were set to be roommates in college, but a freak swimming accident put Anthony in the hospital and sent Walter running to a new school and new life. Anthony never got over this abandonment, and has had one-night stands since.
On vacation to the Florida Keys, Anthony unexpectedly encounters Walter–who owns the premier dive shop on the island. The one Marco has hired for their party’s snorkeling and scuba adventures. Anthony wasn’t planning on going snorkeling, he’s shy of the water since his near-drowning all those years ago. But, Walter stepping in and telling Anthony not to get into the water was just the challenge Anthony needed to break out of his fear. And, getting the attention of Walter’s gorgeous, 22 y/o half-brother Miles is unexpectedly gratifying.
Walter hasn’t had a romantic partner since that fateful day Anthony nearly died swimming back home all those years ago. Anthony was it for him, but Walter has a way of connecting with people who later get dead. It’s a miracle Anthony survived, and Walter would rather be celibate and know Anthony lives than take another chance on his heart at the expense of his love. That’s what he thinks, but the days of Anthony’s visits wear on him–and the taunts of both Anthony and Miles crack the iron shell he’s built around himself. He’s making all sorts of rash decisions, like being the divemaster for Anthony’s trips into the ocean, and following ihm into the water to ensure he’s okay. It’s sweet, and a little creepy, and Walter isn’t happy when Anthony calls him on his crap. So, he has to tell his deep dark history of loss and it’s a bit heartbreaking how isolated he’s made himself.
Thankfully, Anthony’s able to pry the walls apart and crawl deep into Walter’s heart, but as a hurricane sets in on the coast, love might not be enough to keep them together. Also, Anthony has a real life back in Boston, while Walter hasn’t been back there in years; his home and business are in Florida. Also, there are some big decisions to make if they are going to move past the “fling” stage.
I liked this one, it has a bit of danger and a daring rescue, and a separation that only make’s some feelings grow unbearably stronger. Anthony is a fast-talking guy, totally masking his pain and loss from Walter walking away. He’s Mr. Life of the Party, and Walter’s drawn to him just as much now as back in high school. He’s afraid to trust that he can have a good thing–like Anthony’s love–in his life without losing it. And, that fear drives his actions until Miles kicks him in the butt, metaphorically. The end is happy, and satisfying as these guys make plans to keep their lives connected despite the physical distance that would separate them. Anthony’s fun narration really keeps the story rolling, and Walter’s earnest passion is joyful to experience. It was a breezy read for me, and got me hankering for a trip to the coast.
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Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Author:
After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, award-winning author CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane writes sexy, passionate LGBTQ romances that explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is bisexual and an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her family supports her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.