It seems fitting that in my fourth week of self-isolation / lockdown, I’d read a story about two women stranded on a desert island. I didn’t do it on purpose, I was looking for a book to take my mind off my growing anxiety last night, and since I had enjoyed Don’t Cry for Me so much not long ago and my friend Gaby, over at LezReviewBooks, had told me this one was really good too (here’s her review to prove it), it sounded like a good choice. I didn’t read the blurb beforehand, so everything came as a surprise.
When she treated herself to a cruise on the Mediterranean sea after her divorce, Nicole Morella never expected pirates to take over the ship, much less to meet the love of her life and escape with her on a lifeboat. From the moment she got her first glimpse of Fiona Boone at the bar, attraction flared. Nicole has known for a long time that she’s bisexual but she’s never gone any further with a woman than a few kisses with a girlfriend in college. Fiona, a British expat on the French Riviera, was supposed to be spending the cruise with a casual lover but he stood her up. Unlike Nicole, Fiona identifies as gay but finds men more open to no-strings affairs, the only kind of relationship she’s into. She’s no more ready for Nicole than Nicole is for her, but life has a way to not let you decide the timing of such things.
I loved both MCs, loved them more and more as the book progressed and their complexity came to light. In the first pages, Fiona appears as extremely confident, the rescuer when the ship is highjacked, the one who knows how to react in desperate situations. On the lifeboat, then on the island, she shows a much more vulnerable side of herself, a side that comes to the forefront after she and Nicole come back to their “normal” life. She’s a survivor in many ways, not just from what happened on the cruise, and her strategy to survive has been to close herself off. Nicole is less damaged but just as layered and her strength comes out a little more with every plot twist.
There aren’t a lot of secondary characters, since a big part of the novel is about the two women being stranded on a desert Greek island, but the few that pass by – Nicole’s parents, Fiona’s father – feel real enough. I’m not sure how much of the story itself is plausible but it really doesn’t matter.
I think I’ve found another author whose writing simply works for me. This is my second Rachel Lacey book and I am so looking forward to many more. The two I have read evoke the same kind of feelings as one of my favourite authors’ books, Lise Gold. Life isn’t always pretty (duh) but some people, some connections make it worthwhile, and this is what those books are about.