I received the following guest review submission from Betty Fokker while I was working on my own review for the book. So I’ve included both here for your reading pleasure. No, no, don’t thank me. It’s that Fokker’s fault.
Making Waves is about a surly, pissed off guy named Alex who is screwed over by the company he’s worked at for years. Those pensions-worth-nothing, sorry-you’re-broke, nothing to show for decades of labor stories? He’s one of those, along with his crew of former coworkers who (a) also got screwed over and (b) know, much like Alex, that the big boss who made off like a bandit is up to international levels of no good. They decide to become pirates and intercept a shipment of nefarious but very valuable goods in order to take back what was taken from them – their financial security as they all get older.
Enter Juli, who is trying to charter a boat and cast her uncle’s ashes into the ocean, as per his last request. Alex and Juli meet at a bar one night, and zippy, funny attraction sparks fly as they pretend to be newlyweds in order to try to win a few hundred dollars in a bar game. But that night, Juli stumbles onto the wrong boat after mixing alcohol and medication in an unfortunate manner, and ends up stowing away with Alex and his band of odd pirates.
First, Betty’s review:
I will admit, up front, that I bought this book because I am friends with Tawna Fenske. By friends, I mean I read her blog and we post on a blog in common and we totally “like” each other on Facebook. It’s the 21st century equivalent of sleepovers where we braid each others’ hair.
I will also admit, up front, that I expected not to like it. Not because Tawna isn’t a good writer; I enjoy her blog and she can rock a pithy phrase. No, I expected not to like it because the plot summery left me cold.
“When Alex Bradshaw’s unscrupulous boss kicks him to the curb after 20 faithful years as an executive with the world’s largest shipping company, he sets out to reclaim his dignity and his pension. Assembling a team of fellow corporate castoffs, he sails to the Caribbean to intercept an illegal diamond shipment. None of them counted on quirky blonde stowaway Juli Flynn, who has a perplexing array of talents, a few big secrets, and an intoxicating romantic chemistry with Alex…”
“Shit,” I thought to myself, “it’s got a freaking pirate/stowaway theme. Did she have is shipped in from 80’s cold storage?” I knew with a motif like that it was either going to be a romantic-thriller or a “comedy romp”. A glance at the bright and chirpy cover art informed me that there was no gore in this opus, so high-jinks were about to ensue. Pirate Farce. Joy.
So it was with a heavy heart that I bought the book and uploaded it upon my Kindle. I said a brief prayer that there would at least not be any “mistaken identities” or “twins” comedy of error slapstick in it, and began to read.
Y’all, I was totally hooked in the first 10 pages.
She managed to make it funny without making it ludicrous by trying too hard. The plot twists were implausible, but there was always enough details added to give them an air of possibility, and encouraged the easy suspension of disbelief. Moreover, she has grabbed the art of written banter and made it her personal bitch. Not once did I have to endure stilted dialog. No matter how contrived the original situation behind the dialog, the dialog itself made you ignore or forget the previous contrivance. Nor was I subjected to pedantic infodump. She managed to convey a ton of information in an easy, breezy lemon-squeezy kind of way.
Fenske occasionally bordered on the absurd, but only seldom crossed into ridiculous territory. Even then, the silliness was so well-written that the reader cheerfully tripped along, eager to find out what next befell Alex and Juli.
I genuinely liked the protagonists, and wanted them to get their Happily Ever After. Moreover, the supporting characters were so endearing that I cared about their success as well. The only person who wasn’t a well-developed character was the bad guy, so the reader was able to enjoy his downfall with nary a qualm.
This book was the equivalent of eating whipped cream … sure it was light and airy, but it is also surprisingly rich.
I give it an A-, and a strong recommendation.
My review is a bit different. I liked it enough to keep reading to find out what happened in the end, but not because I was attached to the characters or invested in their story enough that I was compelled to find out what happened to them. I wanted the resolution to the plot, and didn’t care so much what happened to Alex and Juli. And while I had a hard time remembering specifics of the plot in the weeks after I read the book, I have a positive inclination towards having read it. I liked it while I read it. It was funny in moments, silly in others, eye rolling in some, but on the whole it was fluffy, silly fun, which was the book’s intention, I think. My reaction is hard to articulate not because it was “meh” (It wasn’t). It’s hard for me to explain because it was a book I liked while I was reading it, that didn’t feel like a chore to finish, but once I did, I couldn’t remember much of it. The looney tune goofball plot is the driving force, not conflict between the characters – primary or secondary.
The characters were in service to the plot, not vice versa. Interestingly (to me, anyway), my thoughts on the characters are almost the opposite of Betty’s: I wasn’t invested in the characters, but I was enjoying the madcap goofy plot and the outright silliness of it all enough to follow through to the end. Juli was a little too perfect for me, a little too manic pixie expert girl in some parts, and blissfully naive in others. Alex was the grumpy captain upset with his little pants captain’s interest in Juli, and I didn’t think he was all that and a bag of chips, either. He was a perfectly noble and serviceable hero in a crazy-fest plot.
I sometimes enjoyed and was sometimes irritated by the goofy, if sometimes stereotypically outlandish side characters—by which I mean they were more defined by their quirks than by their actual personalities. The giant, silent, former NFL gourmet chef, for example. I was more able to accept that it was possible to keep some of his ingredients fresh on the boat they were on than that he himself was plausible human being.
Betty is right that there was some great dialogue at work, and while there were moments of wooden oddity, it wasn’t found in what the characters said, but more in what they did. This is, to me, the essence of a beach read. You can pick it up and put it down in an afternoon or two at the beach, jump into the prose without too much trouble in remembering what had happened before. And if you can’t remember, it’s not a big deal, because the story will entertain anyway.
My grade: B-, with reservations, which for the purposes of this joint review I’m going to average to a straight B.