Driftwood by Harper Fox, narrated by Chris Clog

A sleeping or unconscious man lies on the sand, only his head (face in profile) and right shoulder/arm are in view. He appears to be under shallow clear water.Why I read it:  After listening to Priddy’s Tale recently I went and bought a few more of Harper Fox’s audiobooks.I was especially keen to listen to more of Chris Clog.

Content warning: Description of sexual violence and abuse.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  What the tide washes in, the past can sweep away.

All Dr. Tom Penrose wants is his old life back. He’s home in Cornwall after a hellish tour of duty in Afghanistan, but while the village is the same, he isn’t. His grip on his control is fragile, and it slips dangerously when Flynn Summers explodes into his life. The vision in tight neoprene nearly wipes them both out in a surfing mishaps and shatters Tom’s lonely peace.

Flynn is a crash-and-burn in progress, one of only two survivors of a devastating rescue helicopter crash that killed his crew. His carefree charm is merely a cover for the messed-up soul within. The sparks between him and Tom are the first light he’s seen in a long, dark tunnel of self-recrimination, which includes living in sexual thrall to fellow crash survivor and former co-pilot, Robert.

As their attraction burns through spring and into summer, Tom must confront not only his own shadows, but Flynn’s before the past rises up to swallow his lover whole.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’m generally not a fan of cheating in romance. Even if the person being cheated on is a jerk. Which just goes to show that there are exceptions to every rule because I really didn’t have a problem with it here. Perhaps that was because it became apparent that the relationship Flynn and Robert have is not based on consent. Robert is far worse than just a jerk. The author deftly and cleverly shows the unhealthy nature of the relationship while also showing why Flynn stays so long. It’s complicated. There is no judgement in it. It’s sad and scary and it felt realistic, even in the somewhat heightened melodrama of the plot.

Tom Penrose is the village doctor in a small Cornish town. He’s coping with his own demons after returning from the war in Afghanistan and lives a fairly reclusive life with only his Irish wolfhound dog, Belle, for company. He meets Flynn on the beach one morning after Flynn is wiped out by a big wave when surfing. Tom, being the caretaker he is, goes into the water to help. There is a clear connection between the two men (Belle immediately loves Flynn which is, of course, a SIGN) but nothing more really happens. Tom is called away to assist one of his patients who is suicidal after his own war experience and their moment is lost.

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