Published by Atria on March 31st, 2015
Genres: adult, contemporary, romance
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Joshua Miles has spent his early twenties spinning his wheels. Working dead-end jobs and living at home has left him exhausted and uninspired, with little energy to pursue his passion for graphic art. Until he meets Gemma Henare, a vivacious out-of-towner from New Zealand. What begins as a one-night stand soon becomes a turning point for Josh. He can't get Gemma out of his head, even after she has left for home, and finds himself throwing caution to the wind for the first time in his life.
It's not long before Josh is headed to New Zealand with only a backpack, some cash, and Gemma's name to go on. But when he finally tracks her down, he finds his adventure is only just beginning. Equally infatuated, Gemma leads him on a whirlwind tour across the beautiful country, opening Josh up to life, lust, love, and all the messy heartache in between. Because, when love drags you somewhere, it might never let go even when you know you have to say goodbye.
Full disclosure: I am Karina’s friend and editor of her self-published books. But because I didn’t edit this book (and because I am a fan), I wanted to review her latest release. I asked her for an ARC, and she sent me one, signed and everything. Sometimes it’s great to have friends in high places.
As for the book, I had no idea what to expect because romance is not my favorite genre, but I absolutely ADORED Love, In English–that book changed my life–so I was hoping for something similar with Where Sea Meets Sky. The book’s main character is Josh, Vera’s super supportive brother. And when I heard this book was going to be set in New Zealand, I knew I had to have it. I’ve always wanted to go there, I’ve read travel blogs where backpackers have gone there, renting campervans to traverse the countryside. I told Dan I wanted to go then, and I certainly want to go now. And I know Karina has been there also. It shows in the writing.
The book is gorgeously written. Seriously. The lush descriptions of the scenery and locations the characters travel to are truly brought to life through the atmosphere. The imagery is intense. I felt like I was really seeing New Zealand through Josh’s eyes. I never wanted the book to end. I wanted the country to be bigger, for it to go on and on, so I could just keep absorbing the setting–the glow worm caves, blackwater rafting, Milford Sound, the little blue penguins–I want to see it all for myself. It was such a brilliant setting to write two people falling in love while dealing with their own insecurities–rocky, wild, lush, and unspoiled by man.
Josh’s voice is unique: awed by Gemma, New Zealand, seeing everything through an artist’s eyes. It is clear that his perspective is different than most characters I have read. Though at times he is vulgar, that is who Josh is, and he always feels authentic and unique. He is well-developed and he is who he is. I truly felt like I was reading the voice of a male character, not a romance writer attempting to write a male character. And believe me, there is a difference. It’s why I tend to stay away from most romance novels. I don’t feel most of the male voices are authentic. Incidentally, if you know of any romance novels that do this and do it well, please feel free to leave me a comment. I am always open to suggestions.
The only thing I wish is that I had connected to Josh and Gemma more. I still enjoyed the story without that connection–to be honest it didn’t affect my enjoyment much–but it would have added another layer of emotion for me if I could have connected with them more. I’m not sure why I wasn’t connecting with them, but it is what it is. They were truly well-developed and relatable enough, so I think it may come down to the fact that I’m just to old. Nope, not joking.
My favorite quote is this:
“It’s scary, opening yourself up to be hurt, I know. But even if you don’t, you’ll hurt anyway. You’re hurting right now, aren’t you?” I meet his gaze. He only needs to look at me to see. “So you are,” he says gravely. “Then you know. You can’t escape everything in the end, so you might as well open yourself up to the good stuff along the way.”
Do I recommend Where Sea Meets Sky? You betcha. It’s dramatic, angsty, and I can’t say I always understand Gemma’s motivations, but I loved her the most because she just felt so human to me. And Josh? Well, he needs little introduction, and he’s definitely one of a kind. But the star of this book by far is the setting, and the writing that builds the atmosphere of said setting. It is truly a unique and wild place to fall in love.