A guest review by Leslie
In an ocean of lust, they discovered true desire…
For one week every year, Christopher Montgomery sets aside the responsibility that comes with being the commander of Pittsburgh’s Zone Six police district. He gets as far away from home as possible to indulge in a hedonistic vacation on a gay cruise in the Caribbean, where he loses himself in the casualness of encounters with much younger men. Then he meets Kieran.
Kieran Phillips doesn’t know what he is looking for except to get away by taking a weeklong cruise friendly to his lifestyle, until he comes across the rugged detective. Then he can’t help but throw a wrench into Chris’ plans for a decadent vacation full of casual encounters with younger men by showing him the benefits of age and experience.
Chris Montgomery is a successful police chief who has made the decision to live life in the closet, knowing that being openly gay would likely be a hindrance to his career and professional advancement. He finds sexual satisfaction one week per year on a gay cruise in the Caribbean, a trip that has a reputation for being a floating orgy. Chris takes full advantage of this, having numerous sexual experiences with twenty-something men who are half his age and don’t expect anything beyond a quick lay. On top of meeting his physical needs, Chris’s ego gets stroked because the men all tend to bottom and are wildly impressed with Chris’s sexual expertise and bravado, not to mention stamina.
Sea of Sin opens with Chris banging his cabin steward before the ship has even left port, assuring attentive service and a week of hedonistic bliss. As the ship sails, Chris boots the steward out of his cabin (literally) and heads up to the main deck to watch the departure from the dock. There he finds himself in conversation with a handsome man, Kieran, who is about his age, a first time cruiser, and unaware of the modus operandi of the cruise: sex, sex, and more sex—although he has a hint. Turns out that Kieran is in the cabin next to Chris and heard the earlier goings-on through the thin cabin walls.
Even though Chris planned this to be a “cruise-as-usual,” he realizes he is attracted to Kieran. Kieran will not be just another notch in Chris’s belt, however. He is teasing and enigmatic, plays hard to get and refuses to tumble into bed at the first opportunity, even though it is pretty obvious that he is also sexually attracted to Chris.
Clearly Chris is a man who is used to being in charge and getting what he wants—he is a police chief, after all, and spends his days ordering people around—and it was fun to see his confusion when Kieran turned the tables on him. He does rise to the occasion and works hard to court and eventually seduce Kieran. Kieran is no pushover, however. It is never revealed as to what he does in real life, but it is apparent that he is a man with authority and responsibility on a par with Chris. That the two of them are able let the walls around their hearts down just enough to establish a relationship, tentative as it was and limited by the time of the cruise, gave great insight into just how repressed and emotionally guarded they both are.
The ending had a little twist which I didn’t expect, but given who these men are, is probably very realistic in the context of their lives. I suspect that it will annoy some readers but I liked it, even if it didn’t provide the requisite “Ahhhh…” moment that so many stories devolve to to meet reader expectations. The author did leave the door open to the possibility of a sequel, which I would enjoy reading, were one to be written.
I liked this story. Even though it was short, there was a nice, tight plot which was well written. Given the way the novella started, it could have been a floating orgy tale, but it wasn’t. I liked the characters of Chris and Kieran, Chris in particular, who clearly is a man with issues and very well-drawn. This is the first book I’ve read by author India Harper (the writing team of Philippa Grey-Gerou and Emery Sanborne) but I will definitely be seeking out other books by this duo in the future. Recommended.
So that concludes my reviews of the five m/m books from the “28 Days of Heart” promotion from All Romance. All in all, I enjoyed what I read. I discovered three new authors, one of whom I’ve already read another book (Sean Michaels). I experimented with a shapeshifter story and a vampire tale and enjoyed both. And best of all, I gave money to a good cause and did it in a very painless way with a payoff to me: good books to read. I’ll recap the books and links my reviews and definitely encourage others to seek out the stories if my reviews pique your interest.
Feb 4, An Exchange of Hearts by G.A. Hauser, 4 stars, review here
Feb 16, A Fair Trade by B.A. Tortuga, 5 stars, review here
Feb 18, Love is Blindness by Sean Michael, 4.5 stars, review here
Feb 23, GPS by Leigh Ellwood, 3.75 stars, review here
Feb 25, Sea of Sin by India Harper, 4.5 stars, review here