Riptide by Michelle Mankin
Rock Stars, Surf, and Second Chances #2
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Genre: Adult, Contemporary Romance
Source: I received an ARC from the author. I voluntarily provided a review. I also purchased my own copy.
Rating: 4.5 Bookworms
Goodreads ~ Amazon
Rock star Ramon Martinez can have any woman he wants, and he frequently does because he can't have her.
My band mate's wife
The one woman I can't have.
The one woman who could have my heart though I can never let her know.
I wanted him back at the beginning, but he didn't want me.
So I made the safe choice.
The wrong one.
We were once friends.
Now we're not even that.
But we're both back in Ocean Beach and that dangerous attraction remains.
**PSA: Outside, the first book in this series, is currently FREE. And Riptide is ONLY $0.99**
I'm a sucker for a second chance and in Riptide, the second chance allowed for Karen and Ramon was equally heartwarming and bittersweet because of all the reasons it came about.
These two - their lives together and apart filled with so many "what if's". If only Karen had waited, or chosen more wisely. If only Ramon had behaved differently or fought for what he wanted from the beginning. But maybe things happened the way they did for a reason. Both Karen and Ramon had things to learn - about themselves, about each other, and about the nature of love. I wish their path hadn't been so rocky or painful and full of loss, but it seems that was the path they were meant to take.
See, Karen married Ramon's best friend and band mate, Dominic. But things went awry when he joined the military after 9/11. Ramon was there to support her during Dominic's long absences - and yes, a case could be made that she cheated - if only emotionally - but I'd argue that Dominic cheated too - again, emotionally - with his brothers in the Marines. However, there'd always been a flame between Karen and Ramon - they just wouldn't admit it or act on it. And apparently, it was a flame that wouldn't die.
There were lots of events and years in the making of this romance. Many misunderstandings and hurt feelings. And like I said, a lot of maturing. I felt Ramon's growth more acutely than Karen's, however. The changes he made were visible even if Karen couldn't see them. Karen...in the end, she got there but her insecurities about Ramon's feelings and her desire to become what he wanted - what Dominic wanted as well - made me sad. She couldn't see her own worth and want to be loved or accept love based on that. When she arrived though, that was a thing of beauty.
There was also a lot of back and forth because neither would admit their feelings or misunderstood when feelings were mentioned. This frustrated me a little because they were friends first and foremost so I felt they should've been able to be honest with one another. But then the history they shared explained the reluctance, especially Karen's - so... They'd been though so much together, shared everything with each other, except for their true feelings.
I enjoyed the camaraderie between Simone and Karen, and Ash and Ramon. I hope that continues in the series. And I also appreciated the tough topics Mankin tackled - being a soldier's wife as well as Alzheimer's. I've not experienced military life myself but what Karen went through both with Dominic's continual re-enlistments and his long absences without his discussing his decisions or life overseas, felt very realistic. I felt her fear and hurt and understood her feelings. Dealing with a parent having Alzheimer's - the good days and the bad days - felt realistic as well.
There was a character introduced that had no resolution but I'm guessing she'll reappear in a future story. In fact, I'm counting on it and am very curious about her story as well as how it'll affect a certain former bad-boy rock star.
Overall, I was enthralled with Karen and Ramon's story. The format, both the dual POV as well as the insertion of the past between present, worked very well. Getting to see where Karen and Ramon were currently and then seeing the progression of the friendship as well as when, how and why the feelings between them developed over the years they've known each other, added the depth and complexity that made this romance rock solid. And Mankin's prose, her description of both the physical and emotional, beautifully conveyed a story where we learn it's never too late to reach for your dream.