This is my third surf-themed contemporary romance read so far and I really have no explanation why I keep picking them up. Maybe its my non-tanning, sedentary Asian ass' way of living vicariously through the pages. Or maybe it's my inexplicable attraction towards the blonde, bodacious (somebody needs to kill that word. Yesterday.) half-naked men (or just droopy pretty male nipples, really) in their covers. I also have an unhealthy love for Garlic-flavored SPAM for which I also have no excuses for, but I'm pretty sure one has something to do with the other. In my previous attempts at this very specific, very alien genre, I can't say my unnameable expectations had ever been met and this book unfortunately continues with that tradition.
Blue centers on the yoga-initiated just add seawater attraction between Iris Fox, a local surfing ingenue in Newquay, and Zeke Francis, the world-renowned champion of something important in the world of surfing. She doesn't know this because New Adult Contemporary Romance Clause of Cliches No. 05 states that the heroine can't know the true, celebrity status of the immeasurably attractive hero for the first 25% of the story, logic be damned. This is ofcourse followed by a "WTF he's a superstar and he's totally into me and wants to make me a superstar too!" reveal. So Iris is given the opportunity to train and compete to be the new surfergirl model of Zeke's brand sponsor because, why not?
Oh and because the New Adult Contemporary Romance Clause of Cliches No. 03 says so, there should be a troubled douchedude ex-boyfriend from Iris' past with a tragic backstory and a posh ex-girlfriend from Zeke's side competing for the same prize as Iris.
I may not be entirely clear why I am drawn to surf-themed stories but it’s definitely not because of its stereotypes. I learned I can tolerate the IDEA of tree-hugging, world-saving, adrenaline junkies but not the sacrilegious concept of VEGGIE BACON and a love triangle between a guy sporting a YOLO tattoo and another branded with a tramp stamp.
I respect the vegan principle, but this just somehow felt gratuitous. And I'm sorry but those just begs some level of ridicule, the kind that has no place in a book downward-dogging itself to a pretzel trying to make me swoon while also paddling so desperately in convincing me it's a legit surfer romance.
With Fistral full-on pumping through, and no calm channels, we had to turtle-roll through the impact zone at top speed, as the longboards were too sturdy and buoyant to duck-dive. It wasn't too tricky, as long as we hit the waves really fast and at exactly ninety degrees.
There was too much technical infodumping on techniques and maneuvers for someone lying on the couch eating a non-organic tub of ice cream to keep track of while remembering to be entertained. It came across like a desperate attempt to convey legit street/beach-cred especially when paired with the annoying surf celebrity and brand namedrops. It was a true test of patience wading through the Kelly Slater-worship and the Quiksilvers, Ripcurls and Billabongs when all I really wanted was to understand these ridiculous people at any level, why they are doing these things why I have to bear witness to it.
The narrative had several afterschool special worthy storylines going for it, bouncing focus from premarital sex to homophobia to drug-dependence in competitive surfing to growing old in the lifestyle to Christina Aguilera-triggered violence. Why do I need to know these things? The fact that this book assumes that it's of monumental importance to the pretend plot for me to know the reason behind Iris' ringtone for Daniel and Zeke just makes me want to punish something.
It was bad enough that these characters were obvious caricatures of the surfer culture stereotypes but the distinct lack of any redeeming quality to these people just made the story unpalatable as a whole. Iris' point of view was nails on a chalkboard, her jargon so 'mega' judgy toward ‘tanorexics’, peppered with aggro' annoying cliches that I'm a bit bewildered I managed to tolerate it long enough to finish this. She's a borderline slut-shamer (New Adult Contemporary Romance Clause of Cliches No.2 right there) dishing an extra side serve of blatant envy and unfounded hate towards women remotely as talented or as attractive as her. The only consolation being its mostly in her head.
Unfortunately, you are trapped with her in there for the next 249-pages.
She was wearing an Adidas peach training top that topped just above her navel, and white leggings. I mean, who in their right mind wore white leggings? You could see everything, or rather the fact that she wasn’t wearing anything underneath them. In contrast, I was wearing a black vest that I’d bought for four quid in the Ann’s Cottage summer sale and camouflage reebok shorts. If she was Sports Illustrated, I was the Army Times.
Because one’s choice of workout gear is CLEARLY the best way to judge a person’s character and Iris’ self-deprecating attitude will surely endear her enough to me that I would care whether she chooses the steroid-juiced guy who uses “porno” as an adjective or the former Meth-head who has been philosophically enlightened because he’s now a vegetarian and his shirt says ”It’s not the destination, It’s the glory of the ride.”
There was zero chemistry between Zeke and Iris, with Zeke coming across like a bored celebrity who didn’t have nearly as much interest towards Iris as she had towards him. I suppose finding either of them terribly unappealing to begin with had something to do with the fit of giggles that pathetic excuse of a “shocking” plot twist in the end sent me into, but the catatonic ‘brah’-infested dialogue definitely didn’t this book’s cause. Certain exchanges sounded like a soliloquy rather than a conversation between two people and sometimes there are lines that just begs to be mocked.
”So why can’t we just see how it goes? Have a cool summer together?"
“Because I’m falling in love with you.”
This is my third surf-themed contemporary romance and neither of the previous two shredded my expectations so efficiently as Blue. So much so that I am looking forward to my next foray into this sub-genre. I’m quite confident nothing could disappoint me anymore as much as this did.
Review Copy courtesy of the publishers thru Edelweiss. Quotes taken from the uncorrected proof based on the UK edition.