Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: New Hand
SERIES: Bluewater Bay #23
AUTHOR: L.A. Witt
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 399 pages
RELEASE DATE: December 18, 2017
Months after his husband’s death, Garrett Blaine desperately needs a fresh start. He sells his house in Seattle, leaves his accounting job, and starts bartending in Bluewater Bay. There he meets a man who wakes up his nearly forgotten libido.
Jesse Connelly’s friend with benefits bolted after Jesse disclosed his HIV status. Stood up and stinging, Jesse tries to drown his sorrows . . . and finds an unexpected connection with a lonely bartender.
Jesse and Garrett quickly bond over a shared love of comics and card games, and they can’t get enough of each other between the sheets. Not even a bumpy start and a fifteen-year age gap can derail them as they go from strangers to lovers, then friends, then much more.
But as Garrett’s feelings for Jesse deepen, so does his grief for the man he lost—especially as he sees hints of his late husband in his new boyfriend. Now Garrett has to figure out if Jesse is his second chance at true love, or if Jesse’s just filling in for the man he’s never fully grieved. And he needs to figure it out soon, because Jesse’s starting to wonder the same thing.
Neither Jesse Connelly or Garrett Blaine are doing all that great. Not terrible, but neither one is feeling much love from the universe either. Garrett is still reeling from losing his husband not even a year ago, and Jesse is dealing with what seems like a pointless struggle to get guys to stick around past the “I have HIV” talk. When Jesse is stood-up at the bar Garrett works in, they get to talking, and surprise themselves with how quickly they seem to mesh. But Jesse–having being burned yet again–is reluctant to start anything knowing that he feels duty bound to have “the talk” before anything serious happens. And Garrett….well, he is reluctant to start anything with anyone, let alone a man who has the tendency to remind him of his dead husband. Trusting each other with their pasts is never going to be easy, but there is a chance that if they take the leap that the fall won’t be so bad if they do it hand in hand.
All good things must come to an end, and so with this final book in Riptide’s Bluewater Bay series, we must bid adieu to a series fulls of highs, lows, and everything in between. And I think it is kinda fitting that the author who kicked the series off is the one to round it out. I have greatly enjoyed inhabiting the town of Bluewater Bay, and will miss the crazy antics that have surrounded the various cast, crew, and townspeople for these 23 stories. But at least we leave it on a high note.
This book runs the gamut of emotions. From scorching hot sex, to touching moments of reality, to absolutely heartbreaking scenes, it has it all. And it somehow manages to make you feel everything in a way that doesn’t feel discordant or jarring. The use of Garrett’s grief and growing attraction to Jesse worked with the story so well. You were able to see and feel the back and forth inside him in the way the story moved from each scene. And each shift in tone flowed from the one to the other, so that you kinda understood where each change came from. I like that a lot. The moments where the two characters really connect made the love for each other all the more powerful, but it also made the moments where Garrett was lost in grief all the more heartbreaking. I was in actual tears some of the times he talked about husband. And while I’ll admit that yesterday was just an emotional fuck-fest for me personally, I don’t think it was all real-life stuff that had me so invested in what Garrett and Jesse were feeling.
I also really enjoyed that for all the times they miscommunicated and got pissed at each other, it was never all on one side. I really hate when it is clear that both sides are responsible for a breakdown in a relationship, but the book goes out of its way to make one party the bad guy and one party The Most Perfect Person Ever Who Can Do No Wrong. Jesse and Garrett’s friends each calling them out on their horrible decision making was refreshing. And they talked to each other instead of spending 100 pages ignoring the giant oliphant in the room. Thank you fucking god.
I will say though that this is not higher rated for me because there were some parts of this book that personally just didn’t work. And it is totally a me-thing, so if the following doesn’t bug you, then you should be better off . I just had a really hard time in the scenes where they went into all the geeky card games. I could understand every word they were saying, but it went so far over my head and so far past my interest, that I found myself incredibly uninterested during those scenes. I think there is a certain segment of the readership that will get a kick out of them, I just don’t know how much other people will. I don’t know, there just seemed to be a level of interest and/or pre-knowledge of these games to really get these scenes, and having neither, I felt a bit adrift during them. There are maybe some parts of geek culture that I will never be interested in personally, and while that make me feel like someone is about to jump me and demand my geek-card back, I don’t think that will ever change.
On the whole, though, I think this was a very solid story. Garrett and Jesse were great MCs, and all their faults were interesting and understandable. And while I will miss this town and all the characters in them, I was glad to see them at least once more. I have had such a blast reading this series, and while I have Riptide’s other universe (set in Porthkennack) to comfort me, I think that I will always have a soft part in my heart for the peoples of Bluewater Bay.
I am sad that I never did get a paranormal addition to the universe though, where real werewolves drop into the town. That would have been fun.