Review: A Change in Tide by Freya Barker (2020)

Northern Lights, Book #1

Heat Factor: There is a good deal of self-love happening before the loving each other happens 

Character Chemistry: Overall good, but she played some games with him that I didn’t like

Plot: Woman decides she wants to figure out how to push past her PTSD agoraphobia anxiety for the life she wants. Man decides to focus on family after his hockey career is ended.

Overall: Everything is just fine.

Welcome to a world where we can review audiobooks on NetGalley! 

I like audiobooks very much, so I picked this one up because it was one of two romance options available for review when NetGalley started posting audiobooks. Right or wrong, I figured that demand would increase supply, so I decided to be part of the demand in hopes that I would soon be rolling in audiobooks. Fingers Crossed.

A Change in Tide isn’t something that I’d necessarily run over and one-click, but it also doesn’t have any tropes or plotting that I prefer to avoid, and that initial thought remained consistent as I listened to the book. 

In terms of audio, Tor Thom and Charley Ongel are easy to listen to. Neither does weird or annoying voices for the opposite sex, and they differentiate voices enough that conversations aren’t difficult to follow. That said, I have noticed when listening to audiobooks that sometimes the narration doesn’t feel quite natural, and I don’t know if that’s because the narrators are enunciating more than we would in normal speech or because the author decided to use a slightly unnatural phrasing (e.g. “I will see” rather than “I’ll see”). I think in this case it’s primarily the latter, but every now and again I wondered if the narrator had simply chosen to emphasize the wrong word in a sentence. Overall, it was an easy listen. Just FYI, I listen at 1.5x speed because 1x speed sounds to me like they’re drawing out every vowel sound, and I’m wading through molasses. 

On to the story. 

Jared is Mia’s new neighbor, and after they get off to a slightly rocky start (by which I mean she gets all judgy-pants when he’s having sex on the dock with one woman for all the world to see and then a couple days later is cuddling up to a different, very pregnant woman), before being thrust together when Jared’s sister goes into labor in his boat in the middle of nowhere on the lake where they both live. (That’s right, the pregnant lady is his sister. Assumptions are bad for you.)

In a past life, before she had PTSD, Mia was a successful midwife, so the story is able to progress when Jared and his sister transition from needing help birthing a baby to needing help figuring out what to do with a newborn (super normal). For her part, Mia really wants any excuse to cuddle that baby and be needed for her skills. The two households become inseparable friends. 

Other than the romantic relationship and Mia working through her anxiety, there’s not a super consistent plot thread to this book. Jared’s sister’s baby daddy, who abandoned her, reappears to cause trouble. Segue into Jared’s fame and notoriety catching up with him, which pulls Mia into a spotlight she doesn’t want. Then Jared gets into a spot of trouble when he goes all protective caveman when the press goes after Mia. And so on. 

All of this plotting felt natural to the story, and because Jared and Mia and co. were all pulling together to get through it, supporting each other and looking after each other as needed, Mia pulling back from Jared did not feel particularly natural when the, um, gray moment (I guess) occurred. I could wrap my head around her withdrawal in view of the role her anxiety plays in the story, but it wasn’t executed as a reactionary, anxiety-based withdrawal, it was executed as a deliberate withdrawal that made it feel like she was testing Jared and playing games with him. 

I’ll explain. There is a moment after a bit of high drama is resolved, when Jared has to leave town for the weekend to start his new coaching job. He’s also got to go back to work, like, the next day. But he comes home on Sunday night looking forward to spending the night with Mia again. He did not communicate this to her, but they’d essentially been living together through all the drama, so it wasn’t an unreasonable expectation. But Mia is all packed up and heads home, like, the minute Jared walks in the door. After living with him for weeks, being in love with him, being away from him for the first time in their relationship, and right after he bared his soul to her (which she did not reciprocate), she peaces out like it’s no big deal that she’s decided to go home. Because she wants to clear her head BUT ALSO because Jared always gets what he wants, so she shouldn’t make it easy for him – he needs to work for what he wants. Like. WTF, MIA. Does she explain any of this? NO. She just says she needs some space and her door is open and bye. If I were Jared, I would also be gutted, but his sister reams him because that’s always how it goes, the hero has to grovel even when the heroine is being a little bit mean. 

Mia can feel that things are moving too fast and that once the drama is over she needs to take a step back and get centered. But running off the minute your SO gets home after being away overnight without even having a “How did your big weekend go? And also let’s touch base on where we are” cup of tea is just a totally asshole move, IMO. And yet it’s Jared who apologizes for being privileged. I’m still very irritated about this.

Okay. Got a little ranty there, but that was the only point that I became frustrated. Otherwise, it was a calm, small town romance with a bit of “famous hero/country mouse” thrown in to spice up the pot. I’d live on that lake. 

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.

Buy Now: Audiobook | E-book (Amazon) | Paperback (Bookshop)

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