Title : Island House
Author : Bru Baker
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 200 pages (e-book)
Published : November 11, 2013
Rating : ★★★1/2
Unable to move on after the death of his lover, British expat Niall Ahern clings to Nolan’s dream of living in the Caribbean by moving to Tortola. Once there, he finds that not even the beauty of the island can fill the hole in his heart. Broke and spent in nearly every way imaginable, Niall wants out of the lonely, miserable, guilt-ridden life he’s carved out for himself.
When Ethan Bettencourt, a wealthy tech guru, shows up in British Virgin Islands looking to purchase a second home, he gives Niall hope that he can move on. Both men fall hard and fast, but Niall finds piloting his yacht in the midst of a hurricane is nothing compared to weathering life’s simple misunderstandings. As their troubles come between them, Niall is left to wonder if he and Ethan are over before they’ve begun.
Before the death of his partner of eight years, Nolan (an ex British Royal Marine who had died four years previously whilst trying to prevent a violent mugging), Brit Niall Ahern had been an estate agent back in Kingston upon Hull. During Nolan’s service, he had dreamed of the two of them spending their lives running a fishing charter on Tortola in the Caribbean’s British Virgin Islands once his tour of duty was over. After his lover’s death, a grief-stricken Niall endeavoured to fulfil what he believed was Nolan’s dream in an effort to keep it alive. So Niall purchased the Orion and moved into the house Nolan and bought on the island. Unfortunately, the business never really took off and after two years of struggling, Niall returned to real estate, founding his agency although selling houses was never anything he particularly enjoyed. But it paid the bills, right?
Even four years after Nolan’s death, Niall has no interest in another relationship. He and his partner had known each other since young boys and Niall couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. Then Ethan Bettencourt entered his life. With business slow and a sizeable boat loan, Niall was hoping to land the large commission that came with a large sale, and when tech tycoon Ethan contacted him looking to buy a holiday home, Niall hoped this was an answer to his prayers. The six foot three handsome Seattle-based American millionaire made an impression on Niall the first time they meet. Admittedly it wasn’t necessarily a good one when Ethan’s reputation of having a hair-trigger temper and exacting standards appeared to be true. It didn’t take too much time in Ethan’s company, however, before Niall also saw a fun, teasing side and couldn’t help but warm to the charismatic man. Even so, Niall was managing to remember his hard and fast rule of never mixing business and pleasure. Right up until a storm that had brewing is upgraded to a hurricane and Niall and Ethan are left stranded on the Orion. Alone. Together. In a sheltered cove on one of the nearby islands while they wait it out. The shared experience brings an intimate connection to their tentative friendship, especially after Ethan’s care of him when Niall suffers a head injury from being thrown around by the storm, and suddenly Niall can see the possibility of a relationship with Ethan. The pair return back to Niall’s home on Tortola safely during a lull in the weather. After preparing the house against the hurricane, Ethan volunteers to assist Niall’s next door neighbour on her community help rounds. Niall succumbs to the tiring events of his day and his aching head, falling asleep before Ethan returns with Mrs. Jim. When he wakes, there’s still no sign of Ethan and Mrs. Jim tells Niall that Ethan had already left.
Two months later, Niall has heard nothing from Ethan, either personally or professionally, despite repeated attempts by Niall to contact him. When Niall is informed by his loan company his boat loan’s balance has been paid in full and no, it isn’t a mistake, he heads to Newark where he originally got the loan and is also the home of Nolan’s sister and her husband. After being assured it’s not a clerical error, Niall decides to confront Ethan, as he is the only person Niall knows who could afford to pay out a $400,000 loan.
This is where the ‘Big Misunderstanding’ comes in. I found this whole set up fairly unbelievable and somewhat farcical that two intelligent men couldn’t see how their wires had become crossed. It just felt far too convenient and not an organic part of the story. I also found that, while this story started off very strongly (and I happily admit I did enjoy it the whole way through), it did start to become a little over explained and repeated information already given just prior. Having said that, I thoroughly liked like the characters and it continued to keep me interested enough to hold my attention. There was an interesting twist later in the book that I thought was quite well done. I liked the resolution between Niall and Ethan and would have liked to see an epilogue to soften what ended up being a rather abrupt ending.
Island House, overall, was a sweet, gentle romance with complex and endearing characters. The writing was good, if a little uneven at times and, ok, it may not be the kind of book that stays with you months later, but you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that. Not every book needs to (or even should) be full of hard-hitting emotional impact. It was a pleasant, enjoyable read from an author who I’d be happy to read more from.
Rated 3.5 stars by BookSmitten