Friday, January 1, 2016

Bidding On Brooks (Kathy Regnery)

Bidding On Brooks
(The Blueberry Lane Series: The Winslow Brothers, Book 1)
Katy Regnery
Katharine Gilliam Regnery
Fiction, Romance
*** (Okay)

DESCRIPTION: Ex-Olympian sailor Brooks Winslow doesn't know how his kid sister Jessica talked him into it, but somehow he became part of her fund-raising bachelor auction, part of a package including a week-long cruise down the coast in his restored 1929 Cutter, the Zephyr (complete with photo shoots and an exclusive with the tabloid Celeb! website.) Ever since his father died at forty, when he was seventeen, Brooks swore off the idea of love and relationships and any dating that might lead to either: why bother, when he's just as likely to drop dead and leave a devastated widow and children behind? Worse, he knows the kind of women who are likely to show up at this auction, gold-digging opportunists who only want the social boost that comes with bedding a celebrity. He has only one chance to escape, in a lifelong friend from the marina: Skye Sorenson.
Since she was ten years old, Skye has loved two things: sailing, and Brooks Winslow, perhaps the best sailor she's ever set eyes on. But girls like her - middle-class mechanics, more comfortable in greasy overalls than silk gowns - don't get men like him. Besides, she has a boyfriend, Pat... even if their plans to circumnavigate the globe turned into a solo trip, with her left standing on the dock. (He was probably right - she's not a good enough sailor for such a trip, even though she's been on the water since she could walk.) The one thing she learned from her walk-away mother is to never cheat on a relationship, because a heart betrayed never heals. She can still be friends with Brooks, though. So when he came to her, desperate for help - willing to pay her to bid on him, and offering the ultimate bait of co-skippering the Cutter - how could Skye refuse?
What began with a simple request soon becomes much more complicated, as Skye realizes her feelings for Brooks aren't just puppy love... and Brooks suddenly realizes that Skye's much more than just a marina mechanic. One week aboard the Zephyr may heal both their wounded hearts... or leave them shattered on the waves.

REVIEW: Early on, this looked like a nice little romance, with all the usual elements of the genre clicking along nicely. Brooks seems to have it all, but has let his fear of an early death - and the devastation he'd leave behind, the one he witnessed firsthand after his father's passing - rob him of any true and lasting joy and companionship. Skye was so betrayed by her mother's departure that she accepts whatever halfhearted love she's given, even if it comes with verbal backhands to her skills and intelligence. The two find common ground, so to speak, on the sea, their love of sailing providing a bridge over the gulf between them. They start as believable friends, neither having seriously considered the other as a romantic partner until the events of the story open their eyes. A little predictable, perhaps, but not too bad. Somewhere past the halfway mark, though, things changed, subtly yet perceptibly. What had been understandable angst becomes eye-rolling melodrama, as both Skye and Brooks wallow in misery even as they fall helplessly in love, clinging to hollow half-triumphs that seem more painful than outright rejection. Skye in particular seems almost hopelessly naive, despite the example set by her mother. The final crisis, when it comes, is so blatantly telegraphed I spent much of the story simply waiting for that shoe to drop. The over-the-top ending cost the story the extra half-star it almost earned for its earlier fun... fun that's entirely forgotten long before the Zephyr reaches the end of its voyage. It's competent enough, with some steamy seduction sequences and two reasonably-matched characters, but ultimately nothing special.

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