Title: Wild Shores (First Responders #5)
Author Name & Publisher: Radclffe (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: March 1, 2016 – 240 pgs
Gillian “Gem” Martin is the lead biologist at a wildlife sanctuary on the Northeast coast and head of the Wildlife Emergency Response Team called in when catastrophes, man-made or natural, threaten the endangered species she studies. Austin Germaine is a troubleshooter, the hired gun for a big oil company, whose job is to help contain leaks and prevent media coverage of a pending disaster until the danger can be eliminated. If it can be.
When Gem and Austin meet by chance in the midst of an approaching hurricane, neither expects their immediate connection to lead them into uncharted territory as wild as the looming storm. When word of the spill gets out, Gem and Austin find themselves reluctant allies in a race against time to divert the spill and save the wildlife refuge and its endangered inhabitants—all while battling an attraction as unlikely as it is powerful.
A high-stakes race against time, the forces of nature, and the strongest power of all—the desire of the human heart.
A First Responders Novel
Austin is the go-to person for GOP, a major oil company, when things start to go really wrong. An engineer by trade she is also the ideal person to handle PR when a leak threatens. On her way to a potential disaster near a Wildlife reserve in Maryland, she meets Gem at the airport and offers her a lift when fog prevents them from flying. The fact that Gem is gorgeous might have something to do with the offer! Over the course of the long drive the women get to know each other and an attraction grows. The only problem is that Gem is a scientist at the reserve that could be devastated by the oil leak if a predicted tropical storm gets worse and causes the oil leak to spread. Austin decides not to reveal her job to Gem but does tell her about her sideline as a graphic artist. The women find they have a lot in common and the chemistry between them is off the scale. They end up having amazing sex, which is a given for a Radclyffe novel, but none the less very welcome. I wondered whether they would be able to stay together once the truth came out as it most definitely would. How far would Radclyffe go in prolonging the tension?
The story of how the women deal with their relationship once Austin lets Gem know who she really is, was brilliantly told. I loved the increase in tension and the way Gem had to deal with the hurt but most of all I loved the way their love shone through. The story of the impending hurricane and potential for an oil disaster to the birds and other wildlife was well told and felt real. The other characters around them were fascinating too – especially Gem’s Coastguard sister, Alexis, and the meteorologist Claudia. I would love to read a book dedicated just to them! I could really see spark flying there.
I loved this story and give it a well deserved 5 Stars.
This book was a win for me. I loved the fast pace of the story, and the sense of urgency created by the oil leak, the storm, and the impending arrival of the migrating birds, and how it’s echoed in the urgency of Austin and Gem’s feelings for each other. I’ve read quite a few books that use the trope of that initial lie that allows the characters to move forward together until the lie is exposed and everything comes crashing down around the one who lied. This is definitely the best book I’ve read that includes anything along that line, and it’s because Radclyffe doesn’t let it go too far. Austin tells a lie of omission, misleading Gem in regards to what she’s doing in the area. The reason this isn’t just a red flag for me is for two reasons. One, Austin is required to keep quiet by legal documents that she has signed, and two, she isn’t lying in order to get close to Gem, or to base her relationship on that lie. She knows that if Gem knew what she did for a living, their time together would be over, so she omits part of her life. But what’s happening between them isn’t about that, until it is. Austin knows that if things with the leak get bad, she’s going to have to come clean with Gem. The good part about this is that she doesn’t flinch, and she doesn’t look for a way to keep the relationship going through more lies. She simply tells it like it is and hopes that she can convince Gem that she wasn’t holding back because she wanted to.
I also liked Gem and her responses to all the things with Austin that fall outside her comfort zone. At first, she’s overwhelmed by her physical and emotional response to Austin, but she doesn’t let that deter her from going for it. Then when she finds out who Austin really is, she doesn’t wallow overly long in the position of wronged woman. Because truly, there’s a reason Austin didn’t tell her, and it’s a good and valid reason. I liked that she wanted Austin enough to be honest and reasonable about the whole situation.
The one thing I have a problem with, and it’s a recurring problem when a relationship develops so quickly, is that it seems that they got too close too soon. It’s hard for me to believe that it could all happen so fast and be so deep at the same time. It is, however, extremely romantic to believe that a connection like that can occur so quickly. This was definitely a good read, and another hit in Radclyffe’s repertoire.
Radclyffe has written over forty-five romance and romantic intrigue novels, dozens of short stories, and, writing as L.L. Raand, has authored a paranormal romance series, The Midnight Hunters. She has also edited Best Lesbian Romance 2009 through 2015 as well as multiple other anthologies. She is an eight-time Lambda Literary Award finalist in romance, mystery, and erotica—winning in both romance and erotica. A member of the Saints and Sinners Literary Hall of Fame, she is also an RWA Prism, Lories, Beanpot, Aspen Gold, and Laurel Wreath winner in multiple mainstream romance categories. In 2014, she received the Dr. James Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist award from the Lambda Literary Foundation. In 2004, she founded Bold Strokes Books, an independent LGBTQ publishing company, and in 2013, she founded the Flax Mill Creek Writers Retreat offering writing workshops to authors in all stages of their careers.
She states, “I began reading lesbian fiction at the age of twelve when I found a copy of Ann Bannon’s Beebo Brinker. That book and others like it convinced me that I was not alone, that there were other women who felt like I did. Our literature provides support and validation and very often, a lifeline, for members of our community throughout the world. I am proud and honored to be able to publish the many fine authors at Bold Strokes Books and to contribute in some small way to the words that celebrate the LGBTQ experience.”
Radclyffe lives with her partner, Lee, in New York state.