Wild Shores (First Responders #5) by Radclyffe
For anyone unaware, Radclyffe is arguably the most famous and prolific F/F author in romance - the accolades are long and the fan base vast and upon reading Wild Shores it’s not hard to see why.
This is the story of Gem and Austin, who have a dramatic meet cute at an airport during an intense thunderstorm. When the rental cars are few and far between, the two discover that they’re headed to the same remote part of the Virginia shoreline and decide to share a car. We know why they’re both going, but only one of the women is fully honest with the other. There’s intrigue and secrecy here, as Gem is an environmental preservationist and Austin works for an oil conglomerate as a disaster consultant. What Austin knows and Gem doesn’t is that there is a small leak on a rig just off the coast which is possibly threatening the bird refuge Gem is there to work at/study.
Austin wants to play things close to the chest with this new lady who is giving her all sorts of sexytime vibes, so she discloses her other job - graphic novel illustrator. After a long drive through something that sounded like a monsoon, the two have an epic night together before they part ways. Gem assumes Austin is on the remote island for an isolationist retreat of some fashion, she hopes they can hook up again, but is not sure. Austin knows exactly how much Gem is going to hate her once she finds out the real reason Austin is in town, but Gem has already gotten under her skin in a “I’m addicted to sex with you” type of way, so it’s a gamble she takes.
The secret is kept for a little longer than I think possible or that I was comfortable with and I didn’t 100% buy the fallout. Gem did react, but it just didn’t quite sit as authentic to me.
I didn’t really ever connect with either of these women. I wasn’t really rooting for their love story, but I wasn’t rooting against it either. Austin, especially, was hard for me to understand or feel like I was inside her head. Our jobs are very different and so I think our personalities don’t really jive. I understood Gem a little bit better, but still closed the book thinking, “well, I’m glad they’re happy. I will promptly forget about them about seven seconds after I finish the review.” And that, in my opinion, isn’t anything negative! Radclyffe is an excellent writer, these two just didn’t stick to my soul.
I did enjoy the process-y bits of professional life - I’ve never been a preservationist or worked on an oil rig, so I was fascinated by those bits. People who like to read insider baseball type accounts of jobs will enjoy this one.
Overall, this book was fine. I’ve enjoyed others of Radclyffe’s works more and I’m sure I’ll enjoy them in the future. There’s not a heap of reliable F/F authors out there, so when you find a consistent one, it’s a bit of relief. I’ve slogged through more horrible F/F (and M/M to be quite honest) in the last few months than I care to remember. (I’ve slogged through atrocious M/F as well, don’t worry. I’m an equal opportunity romance reader when it comes to gender and sexuality pairings, but I’ve been on a personal mission to read really good same-sex stuff and oooooofta do you have to mine through some duds to get to good ones.)
I’d recommend this one for people who like instant attraction, detailed sex scenes, professional women who are badasses at their jobs, and anyone who enjoys reading about environmental issues because there’s a good bit of that in here.