Heat Factor: Moderate
Character Chemistry: The best thing about this book
Plot: We are studying Great White sharks because they are the coolest!
I’ll be honest here, I picked up this book solely because I figured it would give me an opportunity to use a bunch of Sharknado gifs.
However, there is a distinct lack of shark attack drama, probably because Spade is a responsible author who does not want to perpetuate the urban legend that sharks are evil eaters of human flesh.
Sam is a marine biologist who specializes in sharks, and has the opportunity of a lifetime when she is selected to participate in a multi-year research trip to study the mating habits of great white sharks in Australia. The only catch? Luke, a former diver for the Royal Australian Navy who drives Sam nuts – and has since they met ten years ago. In the interim, he lost some limbs to a Bull shark and became a shark expert, as one does.
Let’s start with the good: Sam and Luke have excellent chemistry. It helps that the story is told in the first person from Sam’s perspective, so we’re really in her head as she’s processing her feelings for this dude who pushes her buttons but also is extremely physically attractive. They are extremely competitive, so there’s lots of banter, but not in that overly quippy sitcom way. I completely bought the transition from antagonists to lovers, as Spade includes moments of connection, both physical and intellectual, amidst the sparring.
In addition, I appreciated Spade’s portrayal of a hero who had lost both a hand and a leg. He talks about his prosthetics matter-of-factly, and his disability does not hold him back from being a bad-ass while SCUBA diving with sharks.
The not so good: there is quite a bit of extraneous plot that doesn’t make a lot of sense. See, Sam and Luke and their team of scientists are studying sharks, but then, after the 50% mark, we meet a competitor who has decided to also study sharks but for the money? And he’s Sam’s ex from undergrad (she now has a doctorate, so you can do the math about how long ago they broke up) who is doing it also for revenge? I guess it’s supposed to add tension, but cage diving with prehistoric fish with lots of teeth seems like it would provide enough external tension to the love story. It felt tacked on, rather than fully integrated into the story, especially as it had no impact on the dynamic of the primary romantic relationship.
There are also a few minor continuity errors (Sam’s best friend meets Luke, but then later Googles him to see what he looks like) and weird bits of extraneous detail (Sam goes to the bathroom on the plane, and did you know that bathroom planes are small?) that momentarily took me out of the story.
I would recommend this smut to people who dig scientist heroines, or those who care mostly about the chemistry between the leads and tend to ignore all that pesky extra plot. Or people who are really really into Shark Week.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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Spade is donating a portion of her earnings from this book to shark conservation efforts.