The Boys of Summer

Author: Sarah Madison

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Rating: 4.5 stars

Buy Links: DSP and Amazon

Type: Novel

Received from Publisher

 

Blurb:  David McIntyre has been enjoying the heck out of his current assignment: touring the Hawaiian Islands in search of the ideal shooting locations for a series of film-company projects. What’s not to like? Stunning scenery, great food, sunny beaches… and Rick Sutton, the hot, ex-Air Force pilot who is flying him around.

Everything changes when a tropical storm and engine failure force a crash landing on a deserted atoll with a WWII listening post. Rick’s injuries and a lack of food and water mean David has to step up to the plate and play hero. While his days are spent fighting for survival, and his nights are filled with worrying about Rick, the two men grow closer. David’s research for his next movie becomes intertwined with his worst fears, and events on the island result in a vivid dream about the Battle of Britain. On waking, David realizes Rick is more than just a pilot to him. The obstacles that prevented a happy ending in 1940 aren’t present today, and David vows that if they survive this stranding, he will tell Rick how he feels.

 

Review:  This well written story provided a wonderfully inventive and moving twist to the idea of what could develop between two people who are stranded together. I was so caught up in the story, or stories as it were, I barely put it down until the end.

First segment

The story begins in modern times. David McIntyre is a film location scout who has been flown around the Hawaiian Islands for several weeks by Rick Sutton, a man David figures could easily be leading man quality in Hollywood. Yeah, maybe David prolongs his stay, and yeah, maybe he wants to stay out longer on his last scheduled flight with Rick just to spend more time with the intriguing, enigmatic man. Little did they know that the decision to stay out a bit longer – combined with a fast brewing storm – would maroon them on a remote island. Rick is injured in the crash, but he can move to shelter. Shelter ends up being a long abandoned WWII outpost, full of ghosts and untold stories.

I took a strong liking to both David and Rick immediately. David is a friendly, straightforward go getter who has visions of producing meaningful work. He’s entirely likeable. He’s also not interested in simply chasing dollars. Rick is accommodating, professional, and obviously hiding out to some degree while nursing some hurt from his past. Both men managed to banter well, demonstrated through wonderful dialogue interspersed with much humor. By the time of the crash, David was quite smitten by Rick, but wasn’t getting any signals of such feelings being returned.

Surviving the plane crash and the aftermath was plausible, as both men had survival experience and were able to keep their cool. While awaiting rescue, the men worked to set up a camp together, and learned a lot more about each other in the close confines, including sobering information regarding Rick’s military background. David ended up tending Rick’s wound, while Rick fell into a fevered semi lucid state. Emotional intimacy was developing while they awaited rescue. With the situation, there was no opportunity for physical intimacy. However I felt the men in a sense were laid more bare since sex wasn’t an option, a potential easy out from actually talking. The close proximity, his care taking role, the shared experiences as survivors, and finally “The Dream”, would eventually lead David into examining and acting on his feelings for Rick.

The Dream

Interestingly, this segment isn’t segued into in an obvious fashion, such as “David fell asleep and ….” It is introduced as ‘Summer of 1940: Great Britain’. It makes up about 1/3 of story. As a lover of historicals, I was thrilled with the inclusion of this portion. This whole segment was obviously well researched and presented. . I was utterly transported to that era. David’s dream placed the men at a WWII England air base. Sutt was a young, yet seasoned, brash, talented pilot. David (dubbed Mac by Sutt), was a code breaker/analyst. The two met with all the personnel on the base at the cantina each night, where Sutt and Mac soon recognized and acted upon hidden sexual desires. Desires that Sutton struggled to tamp down, but David refused to. Sutton seemed on a path of self- destruction, fueled by watching so many buddies die, the bleak prospects of surviving the war, the zero prospects of living an authentic life if he did survive. David tried desperately trying to convince Sutt to turn his talents out of the skies and to other areas of the war effort. Sutt’s downtrodden frame of mind, the hopelessness of those caught in the war, the desperation on the part of David, was as well drawn as the descriptions of the physical location. This segment was so emotionally bittersweet. Damn wars. Damn inequality

Closing segment

The vivid and poignant dream proved to be the wake- up call David needed to lay his feelings for Rick on the line. It also carried a few side effects. After the dream David starting calling Rick “Sutt”, and Rick even addressed David as Mac a time or two. I do believe this was meant to illustrate the connection between David’s dream and reality – an extra spark to help push David to speak frankly to Rick after the rescue- which he did. Well, it took a lot of gumption on David’s part, but there was eventually more than talking involved… 😉 David realized there may be no tomorrows, no do overs to seize the opportunity. To seize Rick. Indeed Mac and Sutt in the dream may have had no alternative, but in real life David and Rick’s only obstacle were Rick’s self- doubts.

I was left wanting a bit more time to pass in the story before it ended. What I had really hoped to see was more of Rick’s layers peeled back before the two men flew off into the blue together. Perhaps in a sequel?!

This was a very well written adventure type story, but it is also so much more. Through David/Mac, and Rick/Sutt, the author presents wonderful portrayals of the human condition, how people basically haven’t changed too much as the decades have passed. How we need to be willing to take a chance on love while we can. I’ll definitely be looking for more from this author.

 

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