Riptide Love
by Melissa Lopez, contemporary (2008)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 1-60504-203-X


Wow, the abs on the guy on the cover look like granite rocks. Is such a condition natural? I can't help thinking that some kind of nasty alien is going to burst out of him anytime soon.

Set in Australia, Riptide Love is part of a series revolving around the love lives of the Thorn brothers. This one is Ethan Thorn's story. Ethan's a swimmer who does things like jumping from a helicopter into the water during a stormy night to save people who are trapped in a burning ship. Since he's Australian, I'd assume he's also wearing one of those skimpy banana hammock swim trunks while he's at it. Goodness, I think I need to lie down for a while - I think I'm going to swoon.

Then he opens his mouth to call women "sheilas" and I feel so much like my old self again. I have to picture that word being spoken in Hugh Jackman's voice in order to get back into the swooning. You may want to do that too if you don't like that word.

In one such dramatic rescue mission, he ends up saving his old girlfriend Denae Button (yes, that's really her name). Her nickname here is De, which doesn't improve things if you ask me. Ethan still hasn't moved on from De. Their affair crashed and burned spectacularly some three years back when he realized back then that she was engaged to his brother and said some pretty nasty things to her as a result. Ethan learns only now that their constant shagging in the beach and everywhere else back then had resulted in a son.

Ethan is understandably unhappy with De for not letting him know of his son. I don't blame De in this instance though. She tried to contact Ethan when she was pregnant with Nate but the family blamed her for being the harlot that came between two brothers and didn't allow her contact with Ethan. At that time, Ethan was also too busy playing the wounded emo and left Sydney in a huff so it wasn't as if she could contact him directly by phone. As a result, poor De whose parents were strict religious zealot types had to raise that kid alone without any emotional support from anyone. If I were De, I'd have kneed Ethan in his balls because De is entitled to that simple pleasure after all that Ethan and his broken condom have put her through. Not too hard to damage the goods, of course. A man like Ethan has his uses, after all.

As you can tell, I'm not too enamored of Ethan. He's the epitome of the "please, try not to think and talk, my dear" type of hero, best used when silent and dumb, because he has this irritating tendency to focus on only himself when circumstances demand that he should at least try to get over himself. He has a son now, but he spends his time beating himself up for sleeping with his beloved brother's now ex-fiancée. The thing is, they both didn't know who the other person was. While I suppose you can put De in the pillory for having an affair while she was engaged to someone else three years ago, I personally think that the affair itself isn't something so terrible that the participants should be punished for life.

And Ethan makes it impossible for himself to feel good about anything. Here is a paragraph that sums up his entire "conflict":

No. It'd been more than his prick thinking. She'd been hot for him too. He'd felt it. But he'd abandoned her. Hell, he'd not only abandoned her... She'd never been his. She'd belonged to his brother. A bloody fine mate. A second chance wasn't something he deserved. Guilt and a rising tide of insecurity caused him to step away to give her space.

In other words, no matter what, he's going to find an excuse to punish himself. He has some sense of awareness in that he can't blame De for the mess they are in as it takes two to tango and create a son, but at the same time he's so bent on beating himself up.

But with Ethan being who he is, all it takes for him to feel good about himself again is hot sex. Oh, and some bonding with Nate late in the story to turn him from morose emo into father of the year. No, I don't find the whole transformation believable.

Still, the sex scenes are pretty hot. It's just too bad that the hero has to think and speak, thus ruining what could have been a magical moment between the story and me.

Rating: 74


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