Monday, October 15, 2012
Perfect Bait by Michael Fowlkes
From the blurb:
The richly-textured settings of Seattle's commercial waterfront, San Diego's topless beaches and the breathtaking waters off Cabo San Lucas create the backdrop for a riveting story of love, romance and betrayal, as a young couple find themselves in a fight for their lives having been set up by the FBI as perfect bait.
This is a difficult book to rate. I waffled between 3 and 4 stars for a while before settling on the final rating. The book's blurb hints at a thriller, with the FBI using Corey and Jennifer as bait. While that is true, that actually doesn't happen until the last 60 pages or so, out of nearly 400.
Until about 60% in, this book is mainly about Corey Phillips, told from his perspective, though he occasionally seems to be omniscient, knowing what people are doing and saying even though he's not there with them.
Corey grows up in a fishing environment outside of Seattle, and when he finds and falls in love with Karyn, he marries her and settles down on his houseboat. Karyn betrays him with Corey's best friend, and the heartbroken man drives away from everything he's ever known, coming to a final stop near San Diego. There, he meets Jennifer, and after much time and reflection, allows himself to open his heart again. They fall madly in love, buy a large though dilapidated boat and start a fishing charter business. When one of the other boat owners asks Jennifer to fill in for their cook on a three day trip, all hell breaks loose and the book finally dips into what was hinted at in the blurb.
The writing is hard to describe. It's emotional but not overly so, and it mostly captures the inner voice of a youngish man accurately. As such, it's easy to become fully immersed in the book as the protagonist's voice drew me in from the start. Each scene is captured with much detail and examined from all sides, even though it never feels boring. For example, fixing up the nearly ruined boat is described in much detail, and while I didn't understand all of the technical terminology, it was interesting to see the inner workings of a fishing boat/yacht. The repairs were also used to allow Corey to build new relationships outside of the Jennifer bubble, and introduced important characters that were needed down the road.
The author also nicely captured Corey's personality, and the growth the character goes through - from insecure first time captain to listening to his gut feelings, against the advice of men who've been in the profession longer. He actually finds his sea legs, so to speak, as the book moves towards the climax.
The love scenes are plentiful, but always emotionally described. The attachment between Corey and Jennifer is very strong, and their love scenes only further that. Their romance is so pure and full of heart, so strong in its grip on both of them, that I was a bit envious at times.
The violence towards the end is also described in detail, and while it was at times gory, I appreciated that the author kept his style of not glossing over things.
The flow of the book could be compared to the ocean - there are some rough seas in the beginning, then the waters calm down, until they churn again violently in the wake of a hurricane and then, as the book ends, we are in for what the reader hopes will be a long time of smooth sailing.
The book could perhaps be condensed in the long descriptions of bringing the old boat back to life, but it would lose some of its charm in that case. I would however recommend a change and/or expansion to the blurb, so readers can make a better assessment of what to expect prior to purchase.
If you love romances in a maritime setting with a strong lead character and a bit of action, this book is for you.
I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. A positive review was not promised in return.
Goodreads Book Page
Goodreads Author Page
Thank you for reading. Please leave a comment with your thoughts.
Until next time,