Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Broke Deep
SERIES: Porthkennack #3
AUTHOR: Charlie Cochrane
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 249 pages
RELEASE DATE: June 5, 2017
Morgan Capell’s life is falling apart by small degrees—his father’s dead, his boyfriend dumped him, and his mother’s in the grip of dementia. His state of mind isn’t helped by his all-too-real recurring nightmare of the wreck of the Troilus, a two hundred year old ship he’s been dreaming about since his teenage years.
The story of the Troilus is interwoven with the Capell family history. When amateur historian Dominic Watson inveigles himself into seeing the ship’s timbers which make up part of Morgan’s home, they form a tentative but prickly friendship that keeps threatening to spark into something more romantic.
Unexpectedly, Dominic discovers that one of the Troilus’s midshipman was rescued but subsequently might have been murdered, and persuades Morgan to help him establish the truth. But the more they dig, the more vivid Morgan’s nightmares become, until he’s convinced he’s showing the first signs of dementia. It takes as much patience as Dominic possesses—and a fortuitous discovery in a loft—to bring light out of the darkness.
Wanting to know more about the deadly crash that wrecked the Troilus several hundred years ago and (supposedly) killed all hands aboard, Dominic Watson gets a hold of Morgan Capell whose family has connections back to when the nautical disaster happened. Even some of the timber from the doomed ship was used to help frame the old Capell house. Dominic, having heard from Morgan’s ex about the connection, asks to come down to Porthkennack and perhaps have a look around to see if there might be clues about what befell a particular member of the shipwrecked crew. Morgan, having just found out that his boyfriend was actually now his ex, is less than cordial; but he then tells Dominic that if he can convince Morgan that he isn’t just some tourist with a camera trying to barge into his house for no reason, then he’ll think about helping Dominic out. Dominic takes up his challenge and convinces the man to let him take a few pictures of the relics left in Morgan’s family’s possession. As the days go by, though, the men start to see that there is perhaps more to the story than they have been told, and more in each other than meets the eye.
I have really liked the previous two books in this series. I was excited for this one, what with the whole mystery and ghostly suspicions–which I think was a nice link (if a very small one) to the previous book. However, when I got down into this story I was left disappointed and confused.
Despite my best efforts to get into this story and interested in these characters, I just couldn’t. There was nothing about them that stood out, nothing about this story that sparked interest. The chemistry between these two was non-existent. Had they not said on page that they felt attracted to each other, I would have never known. There is nothing here that says “I’m falling in love.” Hell, there is nothing here that says “I’m falling in like.” They are just two guys, who happen to be gay, so I guess they should be together now. For..reasons? There was certainly enough there that I could see maybe the possibility (in another universe, perhaps) that they would fall in love. But here? I honestly couldn’t tell if it mattered to them that they were in the same room. When they were separated I couldn’t really feel any loss, and when they were together I never once felt like they wanted it to stay that way. And I’m not really even talking about the fact that the sex in this book is mostly fade-to-black, because those are actually my preferred kind of stories. But my gods when I read a romance novel I do actually expect there will be some kind of romance in it.
The mystery was hardly any better. Mystery…hah! I can’t say for one moment that I cared about whether we found out if this sailor lived, died, or was abducted by aliens before the ship wrecked. The book never really gives us a reason to care about the mystery either. Dominic wants to know…because he is curious. Morgan wants to know…because he had a nightmare as a kid? (More on that in a bit). Not one life will change if they get an answer. Not a one. Why on earth would I care then what happens? So…I didn’t. Which is good because (spoiler!) we don’t actually find out any answers to anything in this story. I actually had to go back and reread the last 10 pages of this story to make sure I didn’t actually skim over the resolution of this mystery that was apparently the driving force for the whole book. But, no. All we got was a “I guess we will never find out the truth” half attempt at wrapping everything up. Which…what the fuck? Granted, I didn’t care what the answer was, but I would have liked to think that the author did…or else why the hell did this book have to exist in the first place?
And on the note about Morgan’s nightmares. Let’s just say that this is the part of the book that held the most potential to draw me in. Morgan’s mom has either Dementia or Alzheimer’s (I can’t remember which), and when Morgan finds a link between his mom and himself he starts to worry about if he might be losing his mind as well. Great. I like where this is going…except it all hinges on the fact that Morgan had a few nightmares about the ship crashing when he was a kid. Which…kids have nightmares about all kinds of shit. I had and still have a recurring nightmare about being stuck in Jurassic Park and being chased down by a group of Velociraptors. That does not mean I am going crazy. That means I watched that movie too many freaking times growing up. I don’t know a whole lot about Dementia and Alzheimer’s, but I am willing to bet that the first sign of those diseases are not childhood nightmares. Or even nightmares when you are an adult. This part of the story came across as so ludicrous that it ruined any attempt by the book to have me worry and/or care about Morgan.
When I finished this story I can’t say that I was angry or upset about how things concluded. Mostly because by the time I got to the end I was just unsure why this book had to exist in the first place. It was boring and bland and didn’t even seem to make attempts at correcting either of those. If you read this, are you going to want to throw your kindle thru the window? No. But you might find yourself, the day after finishing it, completely forgetting any and everything about it.