Title: An Immovable Solitude
Author: S.A. McAuley
Publisher: Pride Publishing
Cover Art: Reese Dante, Photo Credit: Hougaard Malan Photography
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Length: Novel (262 pages, 57k words)
Rating: 4.75 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: The arduous journey of two men back to each other painted in vivid pictures and vibrantly lifelike colors.
The Blurb: Erik Hash, owner of a shark diving company in South Africa, loses everything in one night–his business, his partner, and his desire to live. The victim of a violent hate crime, he leaves South Africa and takes a job aboard a private yacht to escape.
When his partner reappears after three years, he wonders if there is something left for them to rebuild. But the ocean isn’t ready to let go of him quite yet.
The Review: Erik Hash and his partner, Kiernan “Kerry” Callaghan, live a fairly idyllic life in Van Dyks Bay, South Africa. Together, they run the shark-diving business Erik inherited from his uncle. Even though Kerry still has problems being “out” as one half of a gay couple, even if he has been somewhat withdrawn recently, Erik is convinced that they’ll be together for life. Kerry does administration on shore, Erik goes out to sea whit boatloads of tourists who want to get up close and personal with the great whites while diving in the shelter of a shark cage. They’ve been a couple for three years now, ever since they met and fell head over heels in love with each other when Kerry came to South Africa on a holiday trip. Kerry’s sister Kelle doesn’t get along with Erik all too well, but she stayed in Van Dyks Bay for her brother’s sake and became the captain of Erik’s second boat.
All is well in Erik’s world until the night after Kerry’s twenty-second birthday, when a fire destroys Erik’s business and his boats and kills one of his employees. And on the next morning, Kerry is gone, disappeared without a trace. What’s worse, it turns out that Kerry had secretly orchestrated leaving Erik for weeks. On top of all this, the authorities suspect Erik of insurance fraud and freeze his accounts.
Losing his whole life at once throws Erik into blackest despair. It’s Kelle of all people who eventually pulls him out of his funk. She has found a new job as captain of a private luxury yacht and takes Erik on as her second-in-command.
For three years, Erik travels the Pacific Ocean onboard the “Trini’s Passion” under Kelle’s commandership. It’s a life that suits him well, but he can’t really enjoy it. He’s dead inside, hit to the core by Kerry’s betrayal and the loss of everything that he once held dear. However, over time the pain becomes dull, and Erik learns to live with it.
One day the “Trini’s Passion” drops anchor in the port of Suva, the capital of Fiji. Sent to town for provisions, Erik crosses paths with none other than Kerry. And wouldn’t you know it, the boat needs more crew, and Kerry is hired.
Being forced to live and work in a confined space with Kerry reopens Erik’s old wounds. He feels trapped, even more so when he learns that Kelle apparently knew Kerry’s plans all along and never said or did anything to prevent what happened. But now that they’ve met again, Kerry acts as if he wants Erik back, and Erik realizes he’s still drawn to Kerry despite everything.
Erik fights Kerry’s lure with all his might, convinced he can never forgive him. But the old bond is strong, possibly stronger than Erik’s resolve. Will he ever be able to trust him again, the lover who left like a thief in the night when Erik needed him most?
I read this book on the recommendation of some friends who praised it to high heavens. During the first few pages, it read somewhat slow if pleasantly enough, and I couldn’t help wondering what all the fuss was about. But then, bam, disaster hit, and I was hooked. Erik’s and Kerry’s winding, rocky road back to themselves and back to each other held me captive, not lastly because of Erik’s 1st person POV narrative voice. Internal and outward conflict, raw emotion, love, hate, despair and joy, all came vividly clear on the pages, always underlaid by Erik’s passion for his South African home, the sea and the creatures he feels so connected with, the great white sharks.
I was equally impressed with the colorful, lifelike descriptions of locations and events in this book. The words took me right there into the shark cage, to the Suva market, to Van Dyks Bay and its hinterland and all the various places where the story is set.
But the romance was really the most important thing about this story. Even though I didn’t particularly like Kerry, and even if he acted foolish and immature, I could relate to him and forgive him in the end. I rooted for him and Erik to overcome their fears and doubts and find their hard-won happiness together.
Some minor problems came up too, unanswered questions for which I’d have liked clarification, for example why Kelle decided to stay with her brother instead of simply going on with her own life in the first place. At times, this read as if chunks of information were missing (perhaps edited out, or so it seemed). Notable niggles, but not enough to considerably mar the reading experience.
If you mind angst in your reading, this book certainly isn’t for you. For all others, I’d recommend it as an intense, captivating pleasure trip.