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5.0 out of 5 starsTrust betrayed
Reviewed in the United States on August 5, 2020
I have a particular soft spot for stories where one character pretends to be someone else, falls in love and then has to deal with the consequences when their partner discovers they have been lied too. I enjoy seeing how an author regains both my trust as a reader and the trust of the character who was lied to. This story is an excellent example of this set up. It is completely believable that Johnathan would need to go off and grow into the stronger person he needs to be but then, he makes the huge mistake of not being honest with Marco when he should be. I felt for Marco, even though initially he was not the most likeable character, as intended in this type of plot. The resolution of the story was satisfying and emotionally perfect.
There's a bit of a false start to this book. We meet slouchy, sad Jonathan Vallen as he's making a quick exit from his hated position at his father's company. He has failed at business acumen, even after being trained by Marco Pellegrini, a master at reviving companies in the red. The two men part ways and Jonathan heads off to his Cape Cod cottage where a year passes and he emerges fit, handsome, and ready for a new lease on life.
The story really starts when Jonathan and his flamboyant cousin Anthony board an LGBT cruise and meet Marco and his sister Sophia. Jonathan is mortified before he realizes Marco doesn't recognize him as his (soon-to-be former) boss' son. With a fake name in tow, Jonathan and Marco hit it off and quickly fall for each other.
I was dreading the moment the cat got out of the bag because I hate stories that rely on miscommunication to further the plot. But Elliott doesn't waste time with writing those long, drawn-out misunderstandings. Both characters are hurt, but their love for each other was always real, and the getting-back-together is really well done. It all ended up much better than I expected, and it left us with a nicely-plotted love story.
There's nothing spectacularly memorable about the book. The characters fall in love very quickly and we're definitely lost in Gay Dreamland for the majority of the book. But it's undeniably entertaining as a quick and fluffy afternoon read. Sometimes a sweet story between two people who are meant to be is just what the doctor ordered!
4.0 out of 5 starsSimple, sweet (although sometimes saccharine) romance
Reviewed in the United States on August 4, 2020
All the Way to the Shore is the first in a pair of “cruise ship” romances dubbed “Stories from the Shore” that center, as you would expect, around romances that develop on or through cruise and island vacations. This one - Stories from the Shore Book 1 - is a mistaken identity, forced proximity, opposites attract romance between Jonathan Vallen, son of Frederick Vallen the owner of Vallen Industries, and Marco Pelligrini, the corporate superstar brought in as CEO to rescue the flailing company after suffering under Jonathan’s (reluctant) leadership.
Marco is a self-made business success story who prides himself on his pristine reputation and his unwillingness to be distracted by love or relationships. Jonathan is the opposite; he has no business acumen or interest and only agreed to step in at Vallen Industries when his beloved Mother and brother passed away in succession. He is a softer soul, a talented musician who was always rebuked and belittled by his father and made to feel “less” because of his sexuality and interest in non-business pursuits like flowers and music. These two opposites collide on an LGBTQ cruise where Marco (unbelievably) does not recognize Jonathan due to Jonathan’s “makeover” over the course of the prior year. Jonathan of course recognizes Marco but 1) thinks he is an arrogant jerk, and 2) is so ashamed and embarrassed over his ouster from the company, that he expects to avoid Marco, or at least try to. That attempt lasted all of about 3 seconds, because Marco immediately approaches Jonathan, but apparently doesn’t recognize him, so at his cousin Anthony's prompting, he adopts a fake name, Jonah Rutledge, not expecting his relationship with Marco to develop. Well you know what they say about best laid plans …
The romance between Jonathan and Marco is lovely. They fall into each other quickly and the author does a good job of unearthing all of the ways these two seemingly opposite people are actually quite similar - like kindred spirits. Anthony is a great, and often hysterical, wingman to Jonathan, helping him get out of his own way in order to get to know Marco (notwithstanding the perhaps ill-advised suggestion of the fake name). The story is mildly steamy in places, although most of those scenes fade to black so the details happen off page. It’s also sweet, albeit saccharine sweet, which many readers may find cloying. It’s almost too much, but if you can tolerate cotton candy romance, this is for you. The characters are very likeable and it’s easy to root for Jonathan and Marco as a couple as they move toward their inevitable HEA. Anthony is an excellent side-character who becomes the subject of the next book in this series.
This is a book I’d recommend when you are in the mood for something quick, light, low-angst and just feel-good fluff. In particular, it would be a great change of pace when coming off of a heavier, high-angst, emotionally draining read. But notwithstanding what you read before it, it’s enjoyable and it won’t stick with you when you’re done - which can be a good or bad thing depending on your view and mood.
4.0 out of 5 starsSweet story with lessons to learn
Reviewed in the United States on August 7, 2020
I enjoyed this super-sweet story. I loved how Jonathan took his down-time and resurrected and improved himself. Then, he meets Marco again on a cruise and takes advantage of the fact Marco doesn't recognize him to truly reinvent himself. Why didn't he just tell Marco the truth and let him be impressed with the changes in the real Jonathan? Embarrassment? Insecurity? Revenge? Who knows? Of course, the two fall in love, but when they return to dry land, the truth comes out. I was waiting for that moment when the duped realizes the lie, because it always comes out. Will the new love survive or is it a lost cause built on a lie? The author did a wonderful job with these two characters, building their personalities and helping the reader to see who they really are, with all their gifts and flaws, strengths and insecurities. I loved the way Jonathan decided to fight for what he wanted and rebuild Marco's trust. Has he grown enough to overcome the past (and his awful father)? Read this great story to find out.
I received an ARC and am voluntarily leaving this honest review.