Rising Tides is the second in Nora Roberts’ Quinn Brothers series. It’s not as good as the first in the trilogy, Sea Swept, but it’s still quite good. There’s somewhat less of the Quinn’s masculine brotherhood to savor, although the poignant and precarious situation of Seth Quinn, their adopted younger brother, remains. And while the author weaves a romance masterfully into this book labeled “fiction” on its spine, the book itself takes a bit too long to become as interesting as Sea Swept did. But considering that Ethan Quinn takes things slowly and methodically, perhaps that was intentional.
In Sea Swept, three brothers come together after their adoptive father dies rather mysteriously to care for a fourth “brother”, young Seth, 10 years old. Did their father commit suicide after being blackmailed by Seth’s horrific mother? What will they have to do to keep Seth in the family, and to find happiness themselves after their own horrific beginnings? Cam, the eldest brother, finds happiness in Sea Swept, with Anna, Seth’s caseworker. In Rising Tides, Cam and Anna don’t appear for the first half – they’re on their honeymoon. They are missed in Rising Tides; for me the book only started to gel after their return.
Rising Tides is Ethan’s story. He’s the Quinn brother who, as an adult, stayed in the same small Maryland fishing town Stella and Raymond Quinn raised him in after rescuing him from his tragic early life. He’s a fisherman now, but only living half a life. He won’t let the love of a woman into his life because he fears becoming abusive, which his birth mother was, before and after she sold him into prostitution. Ethan is a kind and thoughtful man; his background helps him relate to Seth in a special way. He’s also been in love with Grace Monroe since they were both kids. She’s been in love with him too, but is struggling just to make ends meet for herself and her small daughter. Both love the other from afar, at least until Anna decides to bring them together.
Nora Roberts brings Ethan and Grace together at the same time as she continues Seth’s story, and the story of Cam and Anna, Ethan, and (third brother) Phillip. This is the story of family, a growing family, a family with ties that bind, a family in which each member has been through tragedy. The Quinn family is a place of refuge, a place of healing. To be a part of the Quinn family is to bicker, cuss, connive, match-make – all in the name of love. This is a family with a strong legacy, and perhaps a ghost to guide them when they most need it.
I love the Quinn brothers – I love their smelly socks, their foul language, and their utter maleness. I love Anna, especially those shades of Daniel MacGregor in her! And I came to love Grace as well. I thoroughly enjoyed Rising Tides by the time I had finished it, but it was too slow coming together. For me, I need the whole Quinn family to be a part of things, and Cam and Anna’s absence was too strongly felt.
This is a work of fiction with a very strong romantic component. Ethan and Grace’s rocky relationship is extremely well written. Seth’s story continues throughout the book. This 10-year-old boy who has lived through more than any adult should ever have to bonded first with Cam, and now with Ethan. The truth about his parentage remains murky – it will surely be resolved in Inner Harbor, which will be Phillip’s story. Watching Seth become a “normal” kid as opposed to a skittish and frightened yet street-wise and world-weary kid is incredibly moving.
This is a series not to be missed. I recommend first reading Sea Swept, although it’s not a requirement. While less than a perfect read, Rising Tides has a tremendous amount to offer.