A Guest Review by Larissa
Review Summary: Isle of Where is an enjoyable, sweet and romantic read to be read on a dreary Sunday afternoon with a hot chocolate.
When Liam Marshall’s best friend, Alex, loses his fight with colon cancer, he leaves Liam one final request: buy a ticket to Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, and scatter Alex’s ashes off the pier. Liam is tired, worn out, and in desperate need of a vacation, but instead of sun, sea, sand, and hot cabana boys, he gets a rickety old train, revolting kids, and no Ewan MacGregor.
Liam would have done anything for his friend, but fulfilling Alex’s final wish means letting go of the only family Liam had left. Lost, he freezes on the pier… until Sam Owens comes to his rescue.
Sam’s family has vacationed on the Isle of Wight every year for as long as he can remember, but he’s never met anyone like Liam. Determined to make Liam’s vacation one to remember, Sam looks after him—in and out of the bedroom. He even introduces Liam to his entire family. But as Sam helps Liam let go, he’s forced to admit that he wants Liam to hang on—not to his old life, but to Sam and what they have together.
Isle of…Where? is one of those stories that has me wringing my fingers and pacing a track in my room, wondering what to do about the review. If it was up to me, I’d give the story 4.5 stars. I enjoyed it that much, because to me it was a sweet, romantic but most importantly uncomplicated read. But because I’m also reviewing this book, I have to look at it as objectively as possible and if I do that, then there are some holes in the story. So I’ll try and give you an objective as possible review, but I might just be biased on some points.
Isle of…Where? focusses on Liam shortly after he lost his best friend, Alex, to colon cancer. As a last request, Alex asked Liam to spread his ashes at the pier on the Isle of Wight where he vacationed once upon a time. It’s hardly the holiday Liam hoped for after months of caring for Alex. No sun, hot cabana boys in sight, but screaming kids on the train.
Liam has a hard time trying to fulfill Alex’s last request and on one of those trips to the pier he meets Sam, who saw Liam on the train and decided a closer inspection was necessary.
From there on out the two embark on a sweet romance with Sam pulling Liam out of his funk and into the land of the living, forcing him to see it’s alright to be gay and have a supportive family. Liam turns out to be exactly what Sam needs as Sam needs someone to love him.
There is a good characterization in this story, up to the point where I thought that maybe Sam and Liam were too perfect for each other.
Liam had a difficult time growing up and if it wasn’t for Alex being his friend and bossing him around when he needed it, things could have been a lot different. Liam has built up great big walls to protect himself from the outside world and he doesn’t like to be vulnerable. As a result, he’s not really living, except for his time spent with Alex.
Sam is the exact opposite of Liam. He’s out there living life, even if it hurts him. He’s joyful and exuberant and at time reminded me of an eager puppy. It’s a good thing he has Liam to keep him in check. At the same time, Sam wants to be loved so badly, he’s almost too eager and often jumps three steps ahead of the game.
What I really liked in these characters was the fact that Sam is actually the bigger of the two, but not the dominant. He likes to be topped. Liam was actually quite small, but not overly much. I often forget that Americans are a lot smaller than us Europeans.
Plot –wise I was a bit split. Personally, it didn’t matter to me. As I mentioned, this story doesn’t fall for the obvious tropes besides the more or less instant love. This is a real plus for me along with believable and enjoyable main characters and a good support cast.
The story is roughly split in two. The first half focusses on Liam’s short holiday in Britain and his whirlwind romance with Sam. From the start it’s clear there’s something real blossoming between the two. The second half focusses on their long distance relationship and Liam’s possible move to Britain.
The first half was wonderfully done, focusing on the fresh relationship and the bonding between Sam and Liam, not to mention the scorching sex. The second half felt extremely rushed, like the author had much more to tell, but only a few short pages to do so. The story jumped from actually informing us of the last few months to a few scenes here and there and then it just stops. While as a reader it’s obvious where it’s going and pretty sure there will be a happy ending, it just left off. In a way it was almost like the author wasn’t sure how to narrate their ending and if it would all be alright, especially concerning the incident with Sam’s grandmother. It could have been wrapped up nicer than it actually was.
This sort of ending is something that will either not bother you or upset you greatly. Just as the few inconsistencies throughout the story over the number of brother’s Liam has to bags that suddenly disappear to switched names and goals. It felt as if the author wrote the story as she went and while it turned out good, the few inconsistencies weren’t dealt with.
As I liked the story and the characters, it didn’t bother me as much as it would have otherwise, but I can understand that there will be readers who are greatly bothered by this.
You can see that as a result, I’m torn. Personally: awesome story. Objectively: few holes here and there.
So, to conclude, I think there will be those who will enjoy the story if they treat it as a light read, to be read on a dreary Sunday afternoon with a hot cocoa. But there will also be those, who don’t like it because of the holes and inconsistencies. I say, just enjoy sweet toppy Liam and jumping jack Sam!