A Guest Review by Aunt Lynn
One Sentence Review: A wonderful, at-times hilarious story about facing one’s past.
Ten years and many boyfriends later, Cassidy Winters finally returns to the ancestral home of his grandmother, Sadie Hart, despite the best efforts of his father to prevent it. Cassidy’s plans of a quiet, seaside ceremony to wish a final farewell to Sadie quickly unravel as interruptions run roughshod beginning with Neil who walks out of the ocean and straight into Cassidy’s bed. The dominos topple one by one when the little dog he rescues from the hounds of hell brings him to Ben, the hunky vet who rescues Cassidy right back. News of his arrival spreads faster than Cassidy’s legs, bringing his boyhood friend and first love Nate Sommers to his doorstep — leaving Cassidy spiraling into a multi-layered love snafu. As if the island wasn’t getting crowded enough for Cassidy’s good taste and bad decisions, best friends Ollie and Spencer arrive in time to witness the uninvited return of Cassidy’s most recent ex, Teddy, who’s refusing to stay dumped.
Fists fly and all hell breaks loose amid mojitos and martinis as Cassidy finds himself planning a huge party to celebrate Sadie’s life. Accusations are aimed as arguments and libidos boil over, but even through the chaos Cassidy knows exactly what he wants. While he’s certainly willing, he isn’t sure if he’s ready or able for love and life…At Pipers Point.
At Piper’s Point is the new novel by Ethan Day, and by far his longest. As regulars of this site know, it is no secret that Day is one of my favorite authors — the humor that comes through and his very colorful characters call to me in a way few authors’ stories do — and this may be his best work yet.
The story opens with Cassidy arriving at his grandmother Sadie’s ocean-front home at Piper’s Point on Hart’s Island, North Carolina. It is finally his after a long and rough legal battle, one which was started after Sadie suffered a stroke and his cold and controlling father put her into a nursing home against everyone’s wishes. Even though she has been gone for four years now, the custody of the property was only recently resolved and he has returned to have a quiet memorial for his grandmother and deal with the house. Sadie was the only family member who really loved and cared about Cassidy, and the summers he spent at Piper’s Point with her, her friend and housekeeper Natalie and Natalie’s son Nate were the best of his memories. Helping make those memories were all of the times he and Nate spent together, especially as teenagers when they explored the physical side of their long friendship. Now he’s back, at least temporarily, and is immediately up to his neck in insanity — men, alcohol, island folk, a rescued little dog — beginning with Neil, who comes out of the ocean like a gift from the sea gods. Soon Nate is around, his friends Ollie and Spencer come to spend the summer, and ex Teddy arrives without warning looking to reunite. Everyone wants his attention and he must make some decisions about his heart and future before it’s all too late once again.
First, let me say that I loved this book. It has something for everyone — a colorful cast, love and romance, laugh-out-loud humor, hot smexxin, a personal journey, and a little dog (for the pet lovers out there). There is such a yummy range and depth of emotion: grief, guilt, anxiety, anger, abandonment, rejection, inadequacy, failure, angst, relief, jealousy, loneliness, gratitude, lust, love, happiness. Don’t get me wrong — there is always a layer of emotion that goes into Day’s books under the fun stuff, but this one really packed it in. I laughed, I cried, I got a little steamy under the collar. It made me want to run out and rent a beach house for the summer on the Atlantic coast.
The story is ultimately about the theme of the past and memories. Cassidy is constantly thinking about his past, learning about his past, connecting with his past, and facing his past. He is surrounded at Piper’s Point by his past growing up with Sadie during the summers, and almost all of the men who are at the house are part of his past. And it’s not just Cassidy; many of the characters are dealing with the past in some way.
Though Cassidy seems perfect on the outside, he is flawed and emotionally scarred. Raised essentially part-time by cold, uncaring, absentee parents, he had the potential of growing up to be just like his father. Luckily, he escaped that by the time he spent at Piper’s Point and with Sadie (and Natalie and Nate), but not before developing some abandonment issues that cause him to end relationships before they can end on him (something his exes call him on constantly and with some hilarity).
Update: It was pointed out in the comments that I didn’t address Cassidy and the relationship(s) he has. Without including spoilers, he does have intimate relations with more than one of the men central to the story, but there are no ménages and no cheating on his way to Twu Wuv Forevah. This is a romance, so there is definitely an HEA, but the road to get there is a little rocky. This may bother some readers looking for a romance where the two protags meet, get together, and smexx it up, and there are no outside influences on their way to their HEA.
The various men in Cassidy’s life who make up much of the cast were very fun to watch, as were their interactions. I never knew what was going to come next between the alcohol consumption, the flying fists, and who was sleeping with whom. I also got a real feel for the local flavor of the townsfolk and establishments. And Sadie herself is almost ever-present throughout, making her a strong secondary character among a strong, fully-fleshed cast.
There are a few things that I noticed about this book compared to others by this author. The last three stories I’ve read by Day were narrated in first-person (he writes a very successful first-person narrator), and I was immediately struck that this was being told third-person. This is more of an observation more than anything, and not a criticism, just different. It took me a few moments to reorient myself.
Also, it initially starts out more somberly than his other books, which is not a bad thing at all, just unexpected. I am accustomed to the trademark snarky humor that is liberally laced in his other stories starting from page one, and here it is missing until we are many pages in. Upon reflection, this is good because it does allow us to get a benchmark of where Cassidy is in his emotional state when we meet him and how far he will come by the end of the book. But once it beings to roll, the crazy, at times screwball-ish happenings had me snickering away.
Run, don’t walk, to pick up this latest story by the wonderful Ethan Day. You won’t be sorry.
At Piper’s Point is available tomorrow, July 27, from LooseID.