“You dropped off the planet for five years, and now you come back like hey, no big deal, and we’re supposed to picked up where we left off? It’s not that easy.”
In a word: Read the thing. I really liked this one a lot and I really wish there was more of it. This is the second installment in the Bluewater Bay series, and it has nothing at all to do with the plot of the first book (though Levi Pritchard does make a brief appearance here). Buck and Ari are the main focus of this book and story is all about their second chance at romance with each other. The two of them were best friends as children but grew apart in high school when Buck fell in love with Ari and didn’t know how to handle it. Then, on what ended up being one of the worst days in Buck’s life, Ari left town and Buck, only to suddenly move into the house next door after five years of no contact. The whole book is told through Buck’s first person point of view, so we get a lot of insight into how much he was hurt by what happened to him as a teenager. I really wish we could’ve gotten Ari’s point of view and his feelings from the source because, with only one side of the story, Ari comes off a lot like an asshole in most of his interactions with Buck in the present. All that aside, I really felt for Buck and Ari and was really happy that they could get their second chance, even if they were both being jerks for a lot of the reconciliation process. I really do wish the book was longer. It’s less than 100 pages long, and I feel that it ended kinda abruptly. I’d really like to have seen maybe an epilogue of the two of them together as a happy couple (though maybe they’ll show up again later in the series?). I also wouldn’t say no to more scenes of Buck interacting with his brother Charlie, because those two are pretty fun to read about.
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Trigger Warning: This book contains mentions of past alcohol and drug abuse, parental death, and child abandonment.
The Series: The Bluewater Bay series is a set of standalone novels and novellas, written by different authors, featuring different couples living in the small Washington logging town of Bluewater Bay. The background of Bluewater Bay is that it was pretty much a dying town until the hit TV show Wolf’s Landing started filming there, bringing the place back to life. There’s Something About Ari is the second installment in the series, focusing on the second chance romance of Buck Ellis and Ari Valentine. This is not a continuation of the first book in the series (Starstruck), but there is a short appearance from Levi Pritchard, who works with Ari on Wolf’s Landing (they’re both actors).
The Couple: Buck Ellis was considered a ‘golden boy’ of sorts while in high school, eventually receiving a full scholarship to university. The sudden death of his mother during his senior year put a stop to all that and he gave up university to raise his younger brother. Buck is 23 now, and is still in Bluewater Bay, working shifts at a local coffee shop to get by. After a somewhat wild few years he’s settled down and is mostly resigned to his place in life. Ari Valentine was Buck’s best friend since second grade and his life seemed to be going nowhere in a hurry. Several learning and behavioural problems made school hard for him and he ended up leaving during his senior year. He then went on to leave town completely, taking with him Buck’s money and heart. Buck is the narrator here, so we’re experiencing the story through his eyes. He’s not exactly happy with his current situation, but he knows things could be a lot worse. He’s a shy, quiet guy with few friends, it seems, and trying as hard as he can to keep his younger brother alive and out of trouble, which takes priority over everything else. He’s been in love with Ari since they were teenagers, but he’s mostly accepted by this point that things will never happen between them because Ari is (supposedly) straight and he’s been gone for the past five years anyway. So he’s thrown for a complete loop when Ari suddenly turns up out of nowhere and moves into the house next door to Buck. Ari is a famous actor now, with a spot on Wolf’s Landing, and seems to have completely turned his life around in the five years since Buck last saw him, although he still seems to be the same stubborn and excitable person he’s always been. Ari seems happy to see Buck again, but Buck is more conflicted and isn’t so quick to forgive five years of complete silence from someone who broke his heart (however unknowingly). I really wish we got some chapters in Ari’s point of view, because I’d really like to know what was going on in his head during the story. Buck can come off as an asshole in his treatment of Ari, but we’re in his head and we know what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling. We know that he isn’t being an asshole to be malicious; he’s been caught off guard and he’s hurting, he’s been hurting for a while and now he’s trying to protect himself from further pain. We do eventually learn that Ari has also had a hard time of things, but not until later, so his behaviour earlier in the story makes him come off as callous and uncaring when that’s not the case. At least, that’s the impression I got. I’m so glad that these two were able to get their second chance at love, even if it looks like they’re going to have to work pretty hard to get their HEA. The books ends with them getting together for sure, so we don’t really get to see them together as a happy couple, but Buck seems pretty optimistic about their chances.
The Side Characters: Levi Pritchard (from Starstruck) gets a cameo in this book, but he’s not actually enough of a presence to be considered a side character. No one from the first book is, really. We don’t see very much at all from anyone on Wolf’s Landing’s end (probably because Buck is the narrator and he doesn’t have anything to do with the show). There’s Chelsea who is Ari’s personal assistant, as far as I can tell. She used to work at the coffee shop with Buck until her father got her a job with the show. Toni is Buck’s boss at the coffee shop who doubles as his friend and confidant. There’s also a bodyguard, or something, I can’t remember what exactly he does, named Gene who seems to be something of a red herring. He had a sexy run-in with Buck at one point during Buck’s wild years and I really thought there was gonna be more done with him, but nothing really panned out there (maybe if this was a longer book?). But he is gay and is attached to Wolf’s Landing, so maybe we’ll see him again later? The most prominent side character is Buck’s 15-year-old brother Charlie, who Buck has been raising on his own since the death of their mother when Buck was in high school. Charlie is a typical teenage boy, all gangly limbs and enormous appetite and doofy personality. He’s also a huge fan of Wolf’s Landing and Ari, much to Buck’s chagrin at first. Buck’s relationship with Charlie is a pretty prominent part of the story since Buck’s life kinda revolves around Charlie at this point and he’s stuck in this odd brother/parent role. I really did enjoy reading about the two of them, they’re very believable as brothers.
The Sex: Only one sex scene here. Ari being gone for five years hasn’t stopped Buck from being in love with him all that time, even if he’s had to push those feelings down so he could move on. Of course all those feelings come bubbling back up now that Ari’s back and hotter than ever, whether Buck likes it or not (he’s not sure if he actually likes it). Turns out that Ari has some feelings for Buck as well because, after catching Buck sneaking around Ari’s porch in the dark (as you do), the two of them just go ‘to hell with it’ and just start going at it. On the front porch. Natch. These guys. It’s just blow jobs and jerking off, but they do almost get caught. They do manage to have a good time before they remember the real world and all the unresolved feelings they still have. There’s some minimally described sexytimes going on at the end when the two of them finally get their shit together, but it’s mostly a fade to black deal.
The Writing: I liked the writing in this, and I gladly would’ve read a lot more of it. Buck’s first person point of view wasn’t a chore to read and I was happy for the insights into his feelings. I really wish we had also gotten Ari’s point of view cause I’d really like to know what was going on in his head. I also wish there had been an epilogue or something because, while I liked reading about Buck and Ari’s angst, I really would’ve liked to see them together and happy. One thing I definitely enjoyed reading about was Buck and Charlie’s relationship, their brotherly relationship is very sweet and believable. Also the prologue, featuring Buck and Ari at seven years old, was beyond adorable.
[There’s Something About Ari was published November 10, 2014, by Riptide Publishing, it is available both in print and as an ebook]