“Yeah, and this is exactly why I never go out anymore. Everyone assumes that because I’m single, I must be panting to get laid.”
In a word: Read the thing. I really enjoyed this one, and not only because of the friendship and romance between leads Nate Albano and Seth Larson, though I did like that part a lot. This book actually had a lot of appearances from some of the guys from other books. Nate is friends with Levi Pritchard, so we saw a lot of him and other people from his circle (Carter, Ginsberg, Derrick, Anna, and so on). Reading about these guys again was a lot of fun, and it was good to see the couples still happy together. That was one major part of what I found so enjoyable about this book. The other enjoyable part was, of course, Seth and Nate and their awkward courting. Nate is grey-asexual and has only had two previous relationships, and Seth has never had a committed relationship before, so they’re both a little unsure of what they’re doing and it takes a bit of trial and error before they can come together properly as a couple that can meet each others’ needs. As the two of them are getting to know each other (and mostly accidentally falling in love – so much romantic tension) they are also trying to solve a decades-old mystery surrounding the murder of Seth’s great-great-grandfather, though that doesn’t entirely resolve itself so I do hope we get a more concrete resolution to that in a future book. Also I can’t just not mention Nate’s adorable dog Tarkus, who I love forever and pretty much stole most of the scenes he was in.
THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS
The Series: This is the latest installment of the Bluewater Bay series as of this writing; the 17th book in the series. The series is written by a variety of authors and features a variety of couples with stories that all take place in the small formerly dying logging town of Bluewater Bay, Washington. Each book is its own contained story so they can be read in any order. Though, having said that, I feel like I really need to start reading them in order because the stories do sometimes share characters. It’s always fun to read later books and run into characters we’ve met in other books. Like extended epilogues, or something. So technically everyone’s story is constantly ongoing because the universe keeps moving forward. Like Carter and Levi (from the first book, Starstruck) show up here a lot and apparently are now married. I just recently read The Burnt Toast B&B (which is the fifth book in the series) and was pleasantly surprised to find that Ginsberg and Derrick are still going strong. Even Buck Ellis (from the second book There’s Something About Ari) made a brief appearance. What I’m getting at about reading the books in order is that Lucas Wilder and Gabe Savage are together in this book and I haven’t read their book yet. I really do love how all these characters cross over into other stories because it’s kinda like greeting old friends when it happens. It’s great fun. Also I really need to read the book where Levi and Carter get married.
The Couple: Nate Albano is a 37-year-old newcomer to Bluewater Bay, having moved to town eight or nine months ago to work as a SFX tech on the set of Wolf’s Landing, the hit TV show that’s revived the town. Nate is grey-asexual and, still smarting over his previous partner of six years walking out on him (three years ago, now), he’s not really looking for anything new. That changes, sort of, when Seth Larson introduces himself to Nate one night at the bar. Seth is 30 years old and, when he’s not working as his grandmother’s personal handyman or mixing drinks, is often on the lookout for some no-strings-attached fun (of the sexual variety). Their first meeting is a mess of misunderstandings, with Seth thinking that’s he’s going to get laid, and Nate thinking that he’s found someone interesting to talk history with (Seth’s family is an old prestigious one in town, Nate is a history and genealogy nut). It’s a bit of an embarrassing situation for them both, but they manage to come out of it deciding to be friends. It’s a complicated relationship to start with, because Seth thinks Nate is hot as burning and would immediately jump into bed with him given the chance, while Nate is determined to just be friends even though there’s something about Seth that sometimes makes him want more. This is actually quite a new situation for Seth as he’s never been in a romantic relationship before. Nate has only ever had two previous relationships, so he’s just as out of his depth. The two of them do become friends first, but they can’t help slowly falling in love with each other the more time they spend together. There are some bumps in the road – Nate requires certain things in a relationship that Seth isn’t entirely sure he is capable of delivering – but overall the two of them really enjoy each others company. Even without the sexual aspect, which doesn’t matter much at all in Nate’s case, there’s something that draws the two of them together that makes it nearly impossible for them to just be platonic friends.
The Dog: Nate’s dog Tarkus is one of my favourite parts of the book. He’s a four-year-old, half-blind, GSD/Keeshond mix Nate adopted from a shelter a bit before moving to Bluewater Bay. Tarkus was given up by his previous owners because he was seriously injured and the family could no longer care for him. He and Nate are great housemates, and he gets attached to Seth pretty quickly as well. Tarkus is adorable. I love every scene he’s in because he’s just so cute and hilarious. He’s got such a personality, so loving and playful, and it comes across so well in the writing, it’s great.
The Side Characters: A lot of the enjoyment I got from this book was from some of the side characters that showed up. The Bluewater Bay novels don’t all share a plot, but they do sometimes share characters. One of the main characters, Nate, works on Wolf’s Landing, so we’re connected to a lot of the characters that also work on the show. Levi Pritchard (from the first book) is actually an old friend of Nate’s and he’s the one that suggested him for the SFX job. And of course, where there’s Levi, there’s also Carter Samuels, who Levi is apparently married to now. Ginsberg Sloan, Carter’s stunt double, is also back (and still mildly insane), along with his boyfriend Derrick Richards, who he runs a B&B with. Those four are the main reoccurring side characters, and it was great seeing them again. There were also appearances from Anna Maxwell and Finn Larson, but they were mostly background characters. Lucas Wilder and his boyfriend (and Seth’s ex-fuckbuddy) Gabe Savage also showed up a lot, but I haven’t read their book yet so I don’t know what their story is. I did like Gabe from what little I saw of him though. There’s also Nate’s best friend and co-worker Morgan, who was a lot of fun, though I don’t know if she’s a new character or she was in a previous book I haven’t read yet. Same with reporter Shannon Carr, who works with Seth and Nate to expose the Larson family secret. Side characters that were original to this book were Seth’s family members. Seth lives with his grandmother, Pearl, for free in exchange for being her personal handyman to help with the upkeep of the old family home she lives in. Pearl is a good one, and her and Seth are very close. She’s also pretty fond of Nate and Tarkus. Seth’s father shows up a few times, and he’s mostly a pushover who doesn’t do much. Their relationship isn’t very good, but they do manage to patch things up a bit near the end of the story. Seth’s mother, Debra, and his uncle, Kirk (his father’s brother), are a completely different story and also total arseholes. Uncle Kirk is completely obsessed with keeping up the Larson family’s good reputation in town and he’s downright nasty about it. It doesn’t help that he’s basically keeping Pearl, his mother, trapped in her house because the Larson family men tend to lean towards the misogynistic side and Pearl’s husband left the control of Pearl’s house and money to their two sons (and left out their daughters, apparently, who don’t show up in the story). Debra seems to be fixated on Kirk, and when she’s not following his lead, she’s busy berating Seth for not being good or successful enough. These two are hateful every time they show up, and there’s no real change from them by the end.
The Secret: A lot of Seth and Nate’s time together is spent with them trying to solve a mystery from Seth’s family’s past. Seth finds an old knife one day while working on his grandmother’s house, and he brings it to Nate because Nate is interested in Seth’s family and Seth needed an excuse to go see Nate that had nothing to do with how much he wanted to have sex with him. Nate is intrigued by the knife and he starts investigating it. They then proceed to uncover a murder coverup and a possible rape, complete with an illegitimate child, involving Seth’s great-great-grandfather, Fennimore Larson, who owned the house that his grandmother currently lives in (along with most of Bluewater Bay of the time). The whole murder plot itself is pretty interesting, and it does take up a lot of the story as Seth and Nate work on it together and they both get really invested in it. They end up using it as a way to help Pearl get out from under her sons’ thumbs to be able to sell her house. They both dig up some very interesting and very dark secrets that shake Seth to the core. And these are secrets that could potentially sully the Larson name, turning Fennimore Larson from a celebrated historical figure into a monster. Luckily, for the amount of time spent on it, the mystery subplot was pretty engaging and I was very curious about it, but I didn’t feel like it had much of a resolution. Seth and Nate get very little concrete evidence to back up their (most likely correct) theory about what really happened, and the whole thing about uncovering a new branch of the Larson family and Debra and Kirk’s total reactions are kinda left hanging. I’m hoping that it all comes back to a close in a future Bluewater Bay installment, because I’d really like to know how this all plays out.
The Sex: So the romance in this book is a bit of a slow burn. Having said that, there is little to no sexual tension here. Nate is grey-ace, so he only experiences sexual attraction to someone he’s developed a strong emotional bond with. It’s obvious he’s attracted to Seth throughout the story, but his fantasies concerning that are mostly of taking care of Seth, and non-sexual physical intimacy. Seth is very much attracted to Nate from the beginning, wanting to get him into bed immediately after first spotting him in the bar. Over time, though, Seth’s sexual desire for Nate becomes less urgent, and his romantic desires grow. The two of them do eventually have sex, about three-quarters of the way through the book, and there is more sex later. This is Nate’s third ever sexual relationship (that’s actually a relationship) and Seth’s first time ever having sex with someone he’s in love with (all his previous encounters have been NSA arrangements). Honestly though, there was enough going on in the story and with the romantic aspect of the relationship that the sex could’ve been left out altogether and I wouldn’t’ve minded at all.
The Writing: This book was very well written, with my only major complaint being the third-act breakup nonsense, but whatever. We all knew it was coming. Also the conclusion about the Larson family ‘secret’ wasn’t all that solid, but I’m hoping that it’ll come up again in a future book. There were also a few typos, but not much to overly complain about. The things I really loved in this book were the appearances of characters from previous books (I still really need to know when exactly Carter and Levi got married), how Nate and Seth’s relationship developed, and Tarkus. This book could only have benefitted from more Tarkus.
[For A Good Time, Call… was published April 10, 2017, by Riptide Publishing, it is available both in print and as an ebook]