Review by Rach Byrne and KJ
Spindrift is a terrific novel. You know you’ve read a great book when you decide that the rest of the series will also be great based on the first four chapters.
This book is one of the best novel’s I’ve read this year without a doubt!
What was the book about?
Sometimes love finds you when you least expect it. Morgan Donovan had everything she ever wanted: a dream job as a large animal veterinarian, awesome friends, and a loving and supportive fiancée. But it all comes crashing down when her fiancée dumps her after realising that Morgan’s job will always come first. And, while Morgan still has the job and friends, her heart is broken into a million tiny pieces. Emilia Russo is a burned-out shelter vet. When the unexpected death of her father triggers a mental breakdown that hastens the end of her relationship, she retreats to his house in Seal Cove, Maine. She plans on spending the summer renovating it while she figures out how to pull the pieces of her life back together. But when she runs into Morgan at the dock where her father’s sailboat is moored, her plans for a quiet summer of healing and reflection sink like a stone—the attraction is immediate and obvious, and Emilia finds herself slipping seamlessly into Morgan’s world. Each woman knows this fling will end when Emilia returns to Boston at the end of the summer, but they’re unprepared for the intensity and depth of their attraction. And, as the gales of fall begin to drive leaves like spindrift upon Seal Cove, Morgan and Emilia must each come to terms with how much they’re willing to give up to stay together.
Small town romance, butch/femme, grief/loss/depression, Friendship, Oh! The sex
Anna Burke uses words precisely. Exactly. She has a turn of phrase that is visual, and captured my attention, even before either main character had developed into a fully articulated Polaroid of themselves. Her description of Emilia’s pain, for example, is written so well that you see her depression sitting on an exquisitely sharp knife edge.
There’s a ‘realness’ to this novel. There are real people with real stuff. The layers of depression, and heartache, and grief are inside the characters, yet they don’t define the characters. It’s refreshing to discover that. Sometimes it is easy to create a character with grief, rather than a grieving character. There’s a distinct difference and the latter is much more three-dimensional. (But yet, see book weaknesses)
Another big tick is the dialogue. There’s nothing more distracting and inclined to pull me from the story than characters who sound so incredibly scripted and banter-y, it’s like they’ve been dropped into the novel by a team of writers on a Los Angeles sitcom. It is tiring. The characters in Spindrift chat, and talk, and tease, and pause, and stutter…with authenticity.
It’s always tricky for an author to write about a character’s profession. It can be written with such little detail that it’s hard to tell exactly what the job is, or with such detail that it reads like a Wikipedia page, making the story bogged down and difficult to engage with. The veterinary work, the dog ownership, the pets—if you have no idea going in about any of those things, it doesn’t matter, because the details about them are inserted seamlessly, like ingredients into a really spectacular dish. It’s important to know about the intricacies of lamb births, because it develops the story. Those details are not there to demonstrate how much of an authority the author is on the topic; they are there to draw us in. You feel like you’re in Seal Cove with these details, hanging with vets Emilia and Morgan and the supporting characters (who are fabulous, by the way).
Anna Burke’s writing style is one I absolutely love. Long sentence. Single word for emphasis. Another one, perhaps. Then a phrase. Some internal monologue. A shorter sentence. Then another longer one. Fabulous metaphor that made me curl my toes in happiness. It’s so good. I indulged in the prose.
This book had me spun! Completely spun. KJ was the reviewer picked to read this book, and when she told me how good it was, I figure I should grab my own copy from Amazon and check it out. Thank goodness I did. It has been a long time since I have bought a book and been so desperate to review it. The very lovely KJ has allowed me to bust in on her review to tell you how much I loved this book too.
Firstly, what an excellent story and just goes to show Anna Burke can write contemporary romance. No fairy tales here; just a beautiful love story that needed to be told. The pace of the book is perfect for Emilia and Morgan’s romance while also setting the scene for what will be a series quartet around Morgan and her friends.
I was discussing favourite characters in this book last night, and my answer was “It’s complicated with this book!” Here’s why. I love Emilia because I identify and massively connect with her, and I think her journey of self-discovery after losing her dad was beautiful. Also kudos to Anna Burke for writing her situation exceptionally well; we need more real people like Emilia in our stories. I don’t think I have crushed harder on another character as much as I did with Morgan. Holy Hotness Batman. A sensitive butch bottom that is not only a fantastic friend but just an all-round amazing human? Sign me up!
It doesn’t happen often, but in this book, the secondary characters were just as crucial to the main protagonists because I knew more was to come from them. The friendship dynamics are all different but just as strong. Morgan and Stevie have a best buds dynamic where Morgan and Angie have more of a protector friendship where Morgan looks out for Angie. They have their strengths and lean on each other for their weaknesses. Very endearing. I especially loved Angie and Lillian and can’t wait to read their love stories.
Just a couple of things that don’t take away from the five-star rating, but do, however, exist. The chemistry between Morgan and Emilia is intense, resulting in a lot of lust-driven sex, and it nearly felt like this was the basis of their relationship. Nearly. The depth that Burke created for each character’s external life stories could have drifted into their ultimate pairing. More depth. This relates to Morgan and Emilia’s communication, which could have been a little more open. Adult even. A couple of times I wanted to reach into the book and shake them, and shout, “Will you please talk to each other a bit more?” I mean, the big adult life stuff that both were dealing with sometimes needed adult responses.
No weaknesses from me… I’m all in for the lust-driven sex! Sign me up.
Morgan and Emilia’s chemistry is laden with yummy tension. It’s tight, like those electric orbs that spark of lightning strikes. The sex is hot. That’s all. Mm-hmm. Because this is part of a series, we get hints of the chemistry that could be there between other characters in the share house as well.
Oh! The sex!!! Morgan and Emilia light up the sheets, or the boat, or the harbour… you know the whole of Maine. Both Morgan and Emilia have come from situations where while sex with their exes was good, it was never earth-shattering. They were both put in roles during sex that fit their femme/butch demeanour. Finding each other is like gold dust because their wants and needs match so well it’s a match made in heaven.
There are also a few intimate moments between Morgan and Emilia that really show their emotional chemistry. Conversations after sated-by-sex or when they are feeling vulnerable.
🔥 🔥 🔥 🔥
Normally Burke writes characters in speculative fiction who carry a darkness about them, as they battle with forces both real and imagined. But in contemporary fiction, people still carry darkness with them all the time. In her first romance novel, Burke acknowledges this, then expertly and beautifully demonstrates what happens when love makes the dark a shadow rather than the whole.
This book is phenomenal and just the WLW romance I was looking for. I’m starting to think Anna Burke is like a writing unicorn… there is nothing she can’t write. The fact this is a series, and we can just settle in for the next few books is making me incredibly excited. I highly recommend grabbing yourself a copy and shutting out the world for a while because this book deserves your time.