Need You Now
In the first of Emma Douglas’ new Cloud Bay series, set on a small island off the coast of California, Caleb White has decided to retire from professional tennis. He doesn’t really have a plan for what’s next, so he ends up at CloudFest, a famous musical festival, at the behest of a friend. There he meets festival organizer Faith Harper and plans for his future slowly begin to form. As Faith and Caleb get to know each other, the reader is along for the ride in Need You Now.
Faith Harper is the daughter of a dearly-departed world famous rock star. Before he died, he and his band set up CloudFest, a Woodstock-cum-Lollapalooza that serves as the main economic engine of the small island. As his daughter, Faith has fallen into being the organizer of CloudFest, a job she dearly loves, but which is certainly not enough for her. A singer herself, she abandoned those dreams when her singing partner and brother abandoned her many years ago. In the first few pages of spending time with Faith, one gets the impression that she is a woman wallowing in what could have been and spinning her wheels in the meantime.
Caleb, as mentioned, arrives on the island at the invitation of a friend. Publicly, the speculation about his career is rife, but he’s fairly clear early on that he’s hanging up his racket. Elite competition has taken its toll on his body and mind and he’s ready to choose to retire rather than be forced to. He was expecting to attend CloudFest to give his brain a break as he made life altering decisions.
As to be expected with a character like Faith – who is secretly miserable but won’t admit it to herself – there is a lot of angst woven through the story. Staying in her head does not help with the focus, but the scenes with Caleb are breaths of fresh air. She has several Serious Talks with confidantes and mentors before claiming her future both professionally and with Caleb. They do achieve that coveted HEA, so fear not.
If that description seems lackluster, it’s because I felt the book was exactly that. There is nothing overtly wrong with it, but nothing overtly great, either. The book is told entirely from Faith’s PoV, which leaves Caleb difficult to connect with. When a story is told from only one character’s perspective, we usually get to know their peculiarities so well that they can become either grating or numbing – and Faith is numbing. She never progressed from book character to person-I-was-rooting-for. Having Caleb stay closed off and slightly mysterious did not balance out Faith and instead made the whole story hard to invest in. There’s potential in this series, but it’s not fully realized in this installment.
I hope that future installments allow for multiple perspectives on the tale, because the world of Cloud Bay seems intriguing and perhaps one I might re-visit. Full of characters that never become cartoons, there are certainly folks I’d like to spend more time with. Caleb and Faith, however, are not at the top of that list.