by Vanessa North
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release: 25th August 2014
Knowing he’s loved can make any man fly.
Fifteen years ago, Ben Warren was a wakeboarding champion: king of big air, ballsy tricks, and boned grabs. Until a career-ending injury left him broken in ways he still has no hope of fixing. Now he takes his thrills where he can get them, and tries not to let life hurt too much.
Then Davis Fox arrives in Ben’s sporting goods store with a plan to get in touch with his estranged brother by competing in the annual wakeboarding double-up contest. The catch? He’s never ridden before. It’s crazy, but Ben’s a sucker for the guy’s sob story—and for his dimples, too—so he agrees to coach Davis.
Davis is everything Ben isn’t: successful, confident, and in love with life. And he wants Ben to love life—and him—too. But before Ben can embrace a future with Davis, he needs to remember how to hope.
Double Up is is a sweet, fast paced novella that is told in first person, present tense from Ben’s POV. The present tense narrative was my biggest problem with this story. When done well, present tense can really bring you into the action and eventually you forget about it and just immerse yourself in the story. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case here. The writing felt clipped and it was constantly taking me out of the story, which sucked because it is a good story.
Ben is a retired wake-boarding champion whose career was cut short fifteen years ago when he injured his back during a competition. Now he runs a wakeboard shop and sometimes gives lessons. Ben is 40 years old, has pretty low self esteem, has some issues in his life he has to deal with and doesn’t do relationships.
When Davis walks into the shop, Ben is immediately attracted to the younger man but feels that Davis is out of his league. Davis is a successful architect who’s looking for wake boarding lessons in order to connect with his younger brother. Ben agrees to the lessons which lead to flirting, dating and really hot sex. This is one place that the present tense worked. It really immersed you in the *ahem* action.
I really liked Ben. I liked his vulnerability and his willingness to open up to Davis and trust him. Davis, on the other hand, came off as a jerk. The reason for the fight screamed of emotional manipulation to me. Ben won’t do what Davis wants so he walks away. It wasn’t a simple thing for Ben, there were certain risks and circumstances that affected Ben’s decision but Davis wasn’t even willing to discuss them.
The ending might have been a little too quickly and perfectly wrapped up, especially since Davis seemed to come around out of nowhere. Still, the story was sweet and the sex hot, so I did enjoy it. If you can get past the present tense narrative, it’s a good way to spend a couple hours.
Reviewed by Otila
To find out more about Vanessa North and her books, visit her website.