At Piper’s Point by Ethan Day
Publisher: Loose ID
Length: Full Length (210 pgs)
Other: M/M, anal sex
Rating: 4.5 cherries
Review by: Phlox
Ten years and many boyfriends later, Cassidy Winters finally returns to the ancestral home of his late grandmother, Sadie Hart, despite the best efforts of his father to prevent it. Cassidy's plans of a quiet, seaside ceremony to wish a final farewell to Sadie quickly unravel. Interruptions run roughshod, beginning with Neil, who walks out of the ocean and straight into Cassidy’s bed. The dominos topple one by one when the little dog he rescues from the hounds of hell brings him to Ben, the hunky vet who rescues Cassidy right back. News of his arrival spreads faster than Cassidy’s legs, bringing his boyhood friend and first love Nate Sommers to his doorstep -- leaving Cassidy spiraling into a multi-layered love snafu. As if the island wasn’t getting crowded enough for Cassidy’s good taste and bad decisions, best friends Ollie and Spencer arrive in time to witness the uninvited return of Cassidy’s most recent ex, Teddy, who’s refusing to stay dumped.
Fists fly and all hell breaks loose amid mojitos and martinis while Cassidy finds himself planning a huge party to celebrate Sadie's life. Accusations are aimed as arguments and libidos boil over, but even through the chaos Cassidy knows exactly who he wants. While he's certainly willing, he isn’t sure if he's ready or able for love and life at Pipers Point.
Don’t judge a book by its blurb – you may miss something truly delightful. I’ll admit I hesitated over this read because the publisher’s blurb made the main character sound a bit self-absorbed and shallow, and as if the story would consist merely of him jumping from bed to bed. I found myself, at first, pleasantly surprised by my mistake and then helplessly drawn in as the story unfolded.
Cassidy suffers from commitment issues, it’s true, but he’s so much more than a shallow lothario. From unsupportive, distant (sometimes downright nasty) parents, to his difficulties feeling comfortable in his own skin, to his inability to admit there was only one man he ever truly loved, Cassidy has spent his young adult life in desperate denial. He takes lovers with the understanding that it’s temporary, telling himself that nothing can be permanent. But he’s truly a goodhearted, generous soul and even as he breaks up with his lovers, he can’t quite kick them to the curb – thus his interesting collection of friends who are also ex’s.
While the story has a number of funny moments, there’s a note of melancholy weaving through it. Cassidy hasn’t come to Piper’s Point on vacation; he’s come to return his grandmother’s ashes to her home. It’s through Cassidy’s love for his grandmother, and her love for the island, that we’re allowed to see the depth and breadth of the emotions involved. There’s nothing shallow about his struggles, and his pain becomes very real to us. The author chose to tell the entire story through Cassidy’s point of view, an interesting choice, but one that brings us close enough to him to hear his heartbeat, and which allows the misunderstandings with his old love, Nate, a more believable dimension than if we had been allowed inside Nate’s head.
The locale, this small-town island, has a certain magic to it and Mr. Day never info-dumps a description of it at his reader, but allows us to absorb the flavor and taste of it slowly, as one would on an actual visit. Sadie, Cassidy’s deceased grandmother, and her house, are no mere plot points. They are characters all their own, in the best sense of the word.
After my first, wrongheaded impressions had been swiftly shattered, I found it amusing that Cassidy and Nate spend most of the novel not having sex. Quite honestly, the not having sex and almost having sex was hotter and more squirm-inducing than most sex-filled novels I’ve read. The ultimate message, that it’s never too late if you can muster the courage necessary, strikes a universal chord. With enough light moments to keep the gloom at bay, and enough serious, often heartrending moments to engage the emotions fully, this is a romance for all seasons, a timeless story that proves acceptance has nothing to do with generation or status.