Desert Isle Keeper
Shining in the Sun
If you prefer your romances uncomplicated and your heroes to be winning examples of morality, this isn’t the book for you. Shining in the Sun is as far from uncomplicated as you can get, and both heroes walk the line of moral ambiguity, one much more than the other. But those qualities are part of what makes this romance so gripping, and at times, so heartrending.
Every summer Alec Goodchilde takes a trip to the Cornish coast and spends a month living aboard his yacht. It’s the only time he’s able to escape the trap of his life – including a fiancee and an overbearing mother – and actually be himself. Alec has long felt the massive weight of familial expectations on his shoulders: The expectations to follow in his father’s financial career, marry a suitable wife, and breed suitable children. But he’s slowly choking to death on these expectations. He’s also never allowed himself to act on his attraction to men; has never really admitted to himself or anyone that he’s gay.
If it weren’t for that one month of solitude and freedom, he’d go crazy. But this year his car breaks down, forcing him to spend time in a small tourist beach town. It’s here that he meets Darren, a golden-boy surfer to whom Alec is instantly and intensely attracted. If only he can find the courage to act on his desire, this might be his best summer yet.
Darren Stokes takes a month off every summer to escape the drudging factory assembly line and soak up some sand and surf. He typically picks up a rich man to finance his fun, but after a truly horrible experience last year – from which he still bears both emotional and physical scars – he no longer trusts his instincts for choosing a partner. But Darren’s brother needs money desperately, so when stuttering, shy, and obviously rich Alec introduces himself, Darren cautiously accepts, knowing he can get money from this mark, even if he has to steal it.
If you haven’t read Beecroft’s writing before, you’re in for a treat. She has an amazing way with words, and writes with an eloquence that brings both setting and emotion to life in vivid detail. Whenever I pick up one of her books I can’t put it down, and Shining in the Sun is no different.
Another quality inherent to her books are the rich characterizations of her heroes. Alec is a unique hero in that he’s an intelligent, successful man, but there’s a sheltered innocence about him that makes him incredibly endearing – even while you’re wishing he’d stand up to his mother. Darren, on the other hand, is harder to like, if only for his plan to take advantage of Alec’s naivete. Darren’s had a difficult life; growing up in poverty with a set of god-awful parents. If it weren’t for his grandmother, he’d likely have turned out as bad as his brother. So even knowing Darren’s plan, I couldn’t help but feel a connection to his character. I understood his reasons for his actions, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with them.
I really have no complaints about this one. I suppose I could say that I wished there was more resolution to Darren’s situation with his family, but there’s also something to be said for not having every aspect tied up with a nice, neat bow. In fact, the more I think on it, the more I’m glad it wasn’t all perfectly pressed at the end. Maybe it just feels more real that way.
All in all, Beecroft delivers a romance that is complicated, emotionally satisfying, and thoroughly compelling. I’m fairly certain that Shining in the Sun is her first foray into contemporary romance, but I have to say that I’m very much hoping it’s not her last.