Shining in the Sun


Title: Shining in The Sun
Author: Alex Beecroft
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (171 PDF pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5           

Summary Review:  Shining in the Sun is Alex Beecroft’s first venture into contemporary M/M romance. The characters are memorable but flawed, one of her trademarks, and there is a credible plot that had a few minor hiccups but they did not affect the quality of the story.           

 THE BLURB

Damn it, a man shouldn’t always have to be afraid…
           

Alec Goodchilde has everything a man could want—except the freedom to be himself. Once a year, he motors down to an exclusive yacht club on the Cornish coast and takes the summer off from the trap that is his life.           

When his car breaks down, leaving him stranded on the beach, he’s transfixed by the sight of a surfer dancing on the waves. The man is summer made flesh. Freedom wrapped up in one lithe package, dripping wet from the sea.           

Once a year, Darren Stokes takes a break from his life of grinding overwork and appalling relatives, financing his holiday by picking up the first rich man to show an interest. This year, though, he’s cautious—last summer’s meal ticket turned out to be more pain than pleasure.           

Even though Alec is so deep in the closet he doesn’t even admit he’s gay, Darren finds himself falling hard—until their idyllic night together is shattered by the blinding light of reality…           

THE REVIEW    

Alec St. John-Goodchilde is stressed out by his life, his family and other obligations such as a recently acquired fiancee´ that he doesn’t want. There’s no way out of his dilemma, and the only temporary escape he has from his oppressive lifestyle is one month every year when he drives down the coast to do a bit of sailing by himself. This year things don’t start off very well because his vintage Morgan broke down right at the beginning of his holiday. After the tow truck had taken the car away Alec had time on his hands and decided to walk around near the sea to get something to eat while waiting for his car to be fixed. It was then that he saw HIM, riding the waves dangerously but seemingly unafraid, a vision who commanded his attention and shook his world to its foundations.  This is how Alec saw the surfer in his mind’s eye, one example of the prose in the book which is rich and lyrical:

He had tipped his head back, laughing with joy. Something about that silhouette caught at Alec’s chest with a painful thrill. The curve of the man’s arms against the shining sky was numinous. His body defined perfection, from his bare feet, braced slender legs, the arch of his spine, the turn of his throat, to the streaming scarf of his long hair in shadow” 
 
The spray of the sea had taken on a golden hue in the afternoon sunshine, and still the surfer was nothing more than a silhouette, tall and lean, faintly shining as the wetsuit reflected the sun. He came closer. Colour slid across the edges of his silhouette.

He was walking out of the haze like an ascended being materializing out of light. A last moment before the eye could fully register the details and then his surfer took another step, walking out of legend and into the everyday light.
 

Darren, the surfer who fired Alec’s imagination, spent his off hours looking for tricks to help pay his bills since his minimum wage job barely covered food. When he came ashore that day he noticed Alec who represented the type of rich guy he needed, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to pursue him since his last mark, Max, had almost killed him. Alec was so overcome when Darren came out of the sea he wasn’t prepared to let him walk away, but the only words he could find to say to him were somewhat over the top –        

“Don’t go past. Please. Sit down and drink with me. If you go past… If you go past, I think I’ll die.”

 
Although Alec had never been attracted to men, it was my impression that he was in the closet because he was unsure of his sexual orientation rather than outright denial. Perhaps he was also concerned about the impact that coming out would have on his mother, the parent from hell. Darren was the catalyst who made him acknowledge that he was gay and he very quickly fell into his arms – it was as if he was waiting for him to crystallize something he had known deep down for awhile. 

The first time they went to bed together they were looking for different things – Darren for  someone to help pay the bills, and Alec for the man of his dreams. That first night it seemed to Alec as if his dreams were indeed coming true, but the dreams quickly turned to dust because his god of summer betrayed him the next day in the worst way and taught him a hard lesson about not trusting strangers.

This book had a few sub plots that helped to make it complex and exciting, not the least of which were the two protagonists’ backgrounds and personalities that were a world apart. Alec grew up with every luxury but was shy, bumbling, diffident, clumsy, needy, and seemed like almost a whipped coward around his mother, but he was also very sweet. Darren was his complete opposite – street smart, brash and swaggering but he was also vulnerable and kind, and best of all, when he was around Alec he made him a different man who was brave enough to stand up to his mother and fiancee´. This story depicted two extremes in lifestyles. Darren’s life was one of such abject poverty and misery that it was difficult to visualize the conditions under which he lived with his grandmother. Although it was clean, I could almost smell the mould and mildew that permeated their home and the barren cupboards were evidence of their extreme circumstances. 

One reason I love Alex Beecroft’s books is that not only are her protagonists three dimensional but the supporting characters are as well, and Shining in the Sun continues that tradition. First there is Alec’s mother, a whiny, controlling woman; his fiance Caroline, a lovely intelligent woman and not the typical female character in M/M romances. Darren’s grandmother was a great old lady who only wanted the best for him; his friend Krissy always had his back even when he didn’t want her to protect him from himself; and there was his drug addicted brother who helped shape much of what Darren did because he felt a sense of responsibility to save him. The only character that I thought was a bit over the top was his scoundrel of a father, although Max the ex boyfriend was too good to be true in the end – IMO he got off too lightly for almost killing Darren, although I understood Darren’s motivations.  I had a couple of other niggles about the story but those were minor and didn’t spoil my enjoyment of Shining in the Sun. Those of you who like lots and lots of sex in your M/M romance might be a tad disappointed but I thought there was enough titillation and action under the sheets for an author who writes historical romances.

Shining in the Sun is a breath of fresh air and you will love the British and French ambience. Alex Beecroft is a wonderful writer and her prose is some of the best I have read. She has a knack for creating complex flawed protagonists with whom readers fall in love and I never want her books to end because I don’t want to leave the characters behind. This book is a terrific entrance into contemporary M/M for a writer whose skill and historical characters I have grown to love. Definitely recommended.

Author

I live in Canada and I love big dogs, music, movies, reading and sports – especially baseball

27 comments

  • Just a quick update to say that I’ve just finished the book and I loved it! There was enough physical contact between the guys to satisfy me, but that’s not the main appeal. The way their relationship develops was very satisfying. Two guys from such different worlds who find that they want & need each other and try to make it work somehow in spite of all the obstacles. It’s really sweet!

    Reply
  • Hi JW

    I’m trying to remember how many explicit sex scenes there were in this book and while I don’t remember if there were one or two I do know there weren’t many. There were other scenes with the protagonists kissing and touching but I got the sense reading the book that Alex is uncomfortable with explicit sex scenes. It’s a terrific book but if you like a lot of sex in your m/m books this might not be for you. In my view Shining falls into the category of “sweet” M/M rather than “erotic” M/M and there’s a market for both.

    Reply
  • You touched on this in your review but I just wanted to clarify something. I love her historicals so I went to buy this yesterday and stopped when I saw the warning: “one explicit m/m sex scene and a great deal of swearing”. I usually complain about too much sex in m/m fiction, but this may be too little! Is there really only one?

    Reply
    • There’s one explicit sex scene, which is longer than any sex scene I’ve done before. Then there’s one non-explicit sex scene, one implied, and quite a bit of UST. Altogether I’d say there was more than there is in Captain’s Surrender, but slightly less than there is in False Colors. Somewhere around my normal average, anyway 🙂

      Reply
    • Val

      Isn’t her prose lyrical? Alex is one of my favourite historical writers and as a matter of fact her first book Captain’s Surrender is the book that introduced me to historical M/M. Now it looks like I’ll have another auto buy author in M/M contemporary romance.

      Reply
  • Thank you so much for such a lovely review, Wave! It’s been quite nervewracking, writing something which was outside my genre comfort zone, so this comes as a massive relief 😀 Thank you!

    Reply
    • TOLD you it was fabulous and everyone will love it!

      *grin* Seriously, you’d’ve thought I was you, the amount of squeeing I did as I read this review!

      Reply
    • Hi Alex
      No worries. As you can tell, I loved the book and I liked many of the characters. We all have to move outside of our comfort zone especially writers, because that’s the only way they will grow. I think you did a great job on Shining in the Sun.

      Reply
      • Thanks Wave! That really gives me confidence to carry on with the Fantasy that I’m doing now. That had been worrying me too, but if I can do this, I can probably do that too. Thanks!

        Reply
  • Alex is an auto-buy author for me, too, and this book really was an auto-buy. I had it preordered on my Kindle and yesterday, like magic, it appeared! I am waiting ’til the weekend to read this because I really want to be able to sit down and slowly savor it….thanks for the great review, Wave.

    L

    Reply
    • Leslie
      If you like Alex’s writing you will definitely want to savour this one. Shining has all the elements that make her writing memorable.

      Reply
  • Sounds like a good read Wave. Alex’ books are normally good so I trust you on this one.
    The British location is a bonus since it is much closer to home

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      I think you will really like Shining in the Sun and it’s 171 PDF pages so you will be happy with the length. 🙂

      There is a bit about France in the book too because they spent sometime there so there is definitely a European flavour to the book.

      Reply
  • Hello TJ
    Alex is such a wonderful writer and I have read all of her historicals – the first historical romance I read was Captain’s Surrender and I was completely entranced by the book and the Age of Sail.

    I really liked Shining in the Sun and I hope she will continue to write M/M contemporaries because I think she will do wonderfully well with different nuanced characters in a contemporary setting. I hope you enjoy Shining.

    Reply
    • Anne
      I KNOW you will love this book because you can relate to much of the British background in addition to Alex’s wonderful characterizations. She has been an auto buy for me since Captain’s Surrender. Enjoy!

      Reply
  • Hi Wave,
    Great review. I’ve read Alex’s historicals, and like you, loved them. Alex writes some of the best prose, so even if this isn’t perfect, I know it will a good read. I can’t wait to try it.

    Reply

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