Fun, G-rated, YA sports romance
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: January 14, 2019
Pages: 410 pages
Publisher: Jordan Ford Books
Source: Prime Library
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Harley Quinn moved to Ryder Bay, a quirky, small beach town in Northern California, two years ago, when her single mother inherited a rundown beach house from Harley’s recently deceased grandfather. Harley is a loner with only one friend, an African-American boy the same age as she, who is a loner as well. She is a junior at Ryder Bay High, and her passion is surfing. College is not in the cards for her, since her mother is poor, and she hates her part-time job as a cashier at the local grocery store. But she’s not sure what better job she could find in this town after she graduates from high school that would allow her the same freedom to go surfing every day that she enjoys now.
Aiden De Beer is a competitive swimmer who is a junior at the local elite private school, Walton Academy. For the past five years he and his family have lived in the ritzy part of town on the northern end of Ryder Bay. A few weeks ago he suffered the crushing blow of his beautiful, popular girlfriend dumping him. She is BFF to his cousin Skylar, who is Aiden’s age and is the daughter of his father’s brother. It is because of this uncle that Aiden’s family moved to Ryder Bay, and the two families live next door to each other.
Aiden meets Hadley for the first time while he is hanging out at the beach on the south side of Ryder Bay. He doesn’t normally go there because all the wealthy residents of Ryder Bay tend to stick to the north end of the beach on their side of town. Today, however, he is hiding out from his friends and family, licking his wounds because, on top of his girlfriend woes, he placed fourth at an important swim meet that day, and he sees himself as a failure. Then his miserable day suddenly looks up when a beautiful, blonde surfer girl strikes up a conversation and intrigues him greatly when she challenges him to learn to surf. Aiden impulsively decides to go for it when she offers to give him lessons. He tells himself that if he becomes good at surfing it might help him pull himself out of his slump as a competitive swimmer. And, better yet, surfing might impart enough of a cool factor to his flagging social prestige that his ex might reconsider rejecting him and take him back.
During his surfing lessons, Aiden feels happier than he has in a long time, and he soon realizes that a great deal of that joy is not just how wonderful it is surfing in the ocean and enjoying being in the water again. It is due to being around Hadley, who has a ton of backbone and is filled with passion for her chosen sport, both of which admirable traits he could use a lot more of in his own life.
Hadley and Aiden are likeable protagonists, and their progression from strangers, to friends, to romance is very well done. It is fascinating to vicariously experience Hadley’s love of the ocean and surfing and the way she shares that passion with Aiden. Both of them also have strong growth arcs across the story, and a great deal of their mutual growth comes out of their relationship with each other—which is one of my favorite tropes in a romance novel.
This story is told in classic romance-genre fashion with dual point of view of both the heroine and hero. This is my preferred way to experience a love story because it allows the reader to gain a close connection to the romantic hero.
This is a mostly G-rated young adult contemporary romance in that there is no foul language and the romantic protagonists do no more than kiss. Hadley and Aiden don’t drink themselves, but there are several scenes of underage, party-hardy drinking and multiple examples of blackout level drunkenness and risky, self-demeaning sexual activities on the part of Aidan’s cousin Skylar. However, this unfortunate girl is definitely not presented as an example for anyone to emulate.
All in all, this is an enjoyable YA romantic drama, and I look forward to reading the next two books in this series which offer romances between four significant subcharacters in this novel.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 4
Surfing Plot: 5
Coming of Age Plot: 4