Book Title: In Too Deep: Due South Book 1
Author: Tracey Alvarez
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: Jan 20, 2014
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
She vowed never to return…
To save her brother from financial ruin, Piper Harland must do the one thing she swore she’d never do—return to the tiny island hometown where Ryan “”West”” Westlake crushed her heart. Piper is tough, resilient and a little wild—much like the remote and beautiful Stewart Island where she grew up. As a cop who’s part of the elite New Zealand Police National Dive Squad, bringing the dead back to their families still doesn’t stop the guilt she feels over her father’s drowning death. Now nine years later she’s obligated to return to a hostile community as the outsider, and forced to work with the man who was once her best friend and first lover.
She’s a risk he can’t take…
West is an Island man, through and through. As owner of the local pub, he lives and breathes the local community, and sure as hell can’t imagine living anywhere else. But most of all he refuses to ever fall for a woman like his flighty mother. He lost Piper once to give her the chance to fulfil her dreams of becoming a cop. But now she’s back for an unexpected six week visit to help her brother—his best mate. Maybe West wants her a little bit, maybe he can’t resist the temptation to tease and touch her, but can he fall in love with such a flight risk?
Saying goodbye for the second time might just destroy them both…
This book was so much fun! An all-around great read with fantastic characters, a solid plot, and a delicious romance, I am so glad it’s first in a series because Due South is definitely a fictitious establishment I’m going to be returning to more than once.
Lovers-with-a-past is one of my favorite troupes, and it’s done very well here. Piper and West have explosive chemistry, but when they parted nine years ago all kinds of misunderstandings–some of them due to willful misdirection, while others are not–conspired to keep them apart. They both believe that there’s an expiration date on this portion of their relationship as well, and it makes for some heartbreaking scenes.
Fortunately, to distract you from the angst, there’s also fun and steamy (pun totally intended) scenes like this one:
Just keep it above neck level, say what you need to say, and get out.
She cleared her throat. “That was a crappy way to talk to your mother. You made her cry.”
West pulled his head out of the spray and scrubbed water off his face. “The woman cries at a drop of a hat. It goes with her artistic temperament.”
Then he turned.
Holy guacamole. Piper nearly wrenched the doorknob off the door. Her brain must’ve missed the memo to keep her eyes above West’s neck because, hello—nicely shaped pecs, washboard flat abs, corded thigh muscles…and then her gaze skipped straight back up to his, er, expanding interest.
“True, buhht…” Her tongue unfurled to her knees when West rubbed a bar of soap over his chest, never taking his direct, blue gaze from her.
“So you barged in here to tell me I was rude to my mother?” Water sprayed over his shoulder, running down his body. His soapy hand slid from pecs to the trail of dark hair low on his belly. A happy, happy trail indeed.
“Well, I…” She licked dry lips, looked at anything other than where his hand headed, and found her mud-flecked, crimson-cheeked reflection instead.
So much for West’s awkwardness at being butt naked—she was the one exposed and vulnerable. Her excuses for being there suddenly seemed lame. Under the circumstances maybe his reaction to Claire was understandable, and though she told his mother she’d talk to him, nothing was so important the conversation couldn’t wait until after West had finished being all wet and hot and naked.
The creak of the shower door made her jump.
“Piper?” His voice, low and loaded with seduction, blazed through her.
West left the shower, water cascading off him and onto the tiled floor. She averted her gaze and turned her back, yanking on the doorknob again. It slipped through her damp fingers.
“Is this really about my mother or did you barge in here for something else?”
Oh, yes. There’s a lot more where that came from, believe me.
In Too Deep is a romance, so the HEA is a given, but it’s definitely not an easy path for Piper and West. Their journey is believable, and at times, heart-wrenching. I needed to have everything work out for those two, and this kept me turning the pages even though I had other things I was supposed to be doing.
That’s what weekends are for, yes? To forget about other obligations and read a good book?
Though I loved the hero and heroine, the secondary characters here are just as fun (and hopefully will be featured in future books–bonus!) Here are two short excerpts that not only give a quick glimpse into a few other characters in the series, but also showcase Tracey Alvarez’s fun and witty writing style.
The first introduces us to Kezia, an elementary school teacher and heroine of book two (yay!). Piper is meeting her for the first time and feeling more than a little inadequate next to her. She’s also carrying around just a teensy bit of anger towards West, which Kezia has picked up on.
She should’ve hated Kezia on sight for being everything she would never be—petite, feminine and sweet.
Then Kezia spoke, her voice slightly accented and with a natural soft rasp that would drive men wild. “If you need an accomplice to kick someone’s boy-bits, I’m your girl.”
Not so sweet. So maybe she could forgive her for being small, and curvy, and with a voice of a phone sex worker. “Got anyone in mind?”
“Whoever made you look like you wanted to spit nails when you walked in, cara.”
“That would be Shaye’s boss. So I’ll have to take a rain check.”
“Ah, well. It’d be a shame to damage someone so pretty.” Kezia pursed her lips thoughtfully. “We could hold him down while you muss up his hair.”
“That’d teach him,” said Shaye.
Loved that exchange. The next introduces us to Ford, the island’s mechanic and a friend who grew up with West and Piper. West has recruited him to be his safety buddy while he practices for the free-dive portion of the Lake Tuapo Nationals.
West pulled off his mask and checked his dive watch. Seven fifteen. He could spare a few more minutes in the pool before he needed to grab breakfast and head into Due South.
“Ford?” His friend looked up from his Kindle and turned the device off.
“You’re a useless safety buddy, you know. I could’ve suffered a shallow water black out and you never would’ve noticed.”
Ford tossed his trademark black dreadlocks over his shoulder and stood up from one of the spectator seats. “You pay peanuts, you get a bored monkey. And I would’ve noticed and gone all Baywatch on you.”
“That’s an unpleasant image. I’m just going to swim another couple of laps—you can head off now and go back to Star Trek or whatever trash you’re reading.”
“It’s Isaac Asimov, you pleb.” Ford tucked the Kindle under his arm and sauntered to the pool door, his flip flops slapping on the wet concrete. “Don’t drown—unless your dad knows you owe me another meal on the house.”
See what I mean? Reading this book, it feels totally populated with fictional characters that would blend right in with my less-than-fictional friends. I love books like that, where the characters seem to jump off the page, they’re so real.
The New Zealand setting is absolutely beautiful, and reading about diving–from free-diving to cage diving (sharks!) to being a dive cop–was fascinating. None of it is something I’d be able to do, mind you–I’d be the one sitting on the beach or deck of the boat with my SPF 45 and a book–but it is really interesting to read about.
It all adds up to a book that I literally didn’t want to put down. I really cannot wait for book two, and three, and… 😉
4 1/2 stars, A rating.
I live in the Coolest Little Capital in the World (a.k.a Wellington, New Zealand) where I’ve yet to be buried under my to-be-read book pile by our infamous wind—my Kindle’s a lifesaver! Married to a wonderfully supportive IT guy (who doesn’t mind cooking dinner while his wife mutters to herself and hammers away at the keyboard), we have two teens who would love to be surgically linked to their electronic devices.
As a teenager I devoured novel after novel in my maths class, which explains why I still don’t understand using the alphabet in equations. I discovered a stack of tattered paperbacks hidden in my mother’s wardrobe featuring scantily clad women wrapped around bare-chested hunks. Who needs a pimply-faced teenage boyfriend when you can have book boyfriends, right? So as a child I got my first taste of Happily Ever After in fairy-tales, but after reading romance—I was hooked.
Fuelled by copious amounts of coffee, I’m now the author of contemporary romantic fiction set predominantly in New Zealand. Small-towns, close communities, and families are a big part of the heart-warming stories I love to write. Oh, and hot, down-to-earth heroes—real Kiwi men, in other words.
When I’m not writing, thinking about writing, or procrastinating about writing, I can be found reading sexy books of all romance genres and nibbling on smuggled chocolate bars. What? You were expecting me to say free-dive training, hiking the world-famous Rakiura track on Stewart Island, and restoring classic cars? Nope, sorry. I’ll leave such excitement to my characters as they explore their worlds and find the love of their lives.
Red alert. Red alert. Her next inhale stopped halfway down her lungs and her nipples budded into two hard points of Ohmigod-yes-please. She raised the tip of her chef’s knife and pointed it at his nose. “Keep your hands to yourself, Westlake.”
His gaze flared hot. “What if I don’t want to?” He took two slow steps sideways, two steps closer to her. “What if I’m tired of playing your game of ‘there’s nothing going on here.’”
The knife in her hand swiveled to follow his cat-like movements. “I don’t play games. And FYI there is nothing going on here. Nothing I’m interested in pursuing, anyway.”
Another step and he rounded the corner, crowding her backward until her butt hit the counter. He rescued the knife from her shaking fingers, laid it on the chopping board, and left his hand resting there, effectively trapping her.
“Liar, liar, pants on fire,” he murmured.
She shoved a hand against West’s chest to stop him coming closer, but all that achieved was runaway tingles up her arm from the hard, hot muscles beneath his shirt. He leaned into her fingers and the rapid bump of his heartbeat throbbed against her palm. Close enough to see her own reflection in West’s eyes, she froze when his pupils shrunk to tiny dots.
His nose twitched. “Something’s burning.”
Yeah, something was burning, all right. One more touch, one more second of him looking like he planned to do her on the kitchen counter and she would either catch fire or do something absurd like kiss him again.