Monday, April 30, 2012

Clear Water by Amy Lane

Meet Patrick Cleary party boy, loser, and spaz. Patrick's been trying desperately to transform himself, and the results have been so spectacular, they've almost killed him. Meet Wes "Whiskey" Keenan he's a field biologist wondering if it's time to settle down. When the worst day of Patrick's life ends with Whiskey saving it, Patrick and Whiskey find themselves sharing company and an impossibly small berth on the world's tackiest houseboat.
Patrick needs to get his life together-and Whiskey wants to help-but Patrick is not entirely convinced it's doable. He's pretty sure he's a freak of nature. But Whiskey, who works with real freaks of nature, thinks all Patrick needs is a little help to see the absolute beauty inside his spastic self, and Whiskey is all about volunteering. Between anomalous frogs, a homicidal ex-boyfriend, and Patrick's own hangups, Whiskey's going to need all of his patience and Patrick's going to need to find the best of himself before these two men ever see clear water.
This was such a good story.  Patrick is a 23 year old who is still struggling with ADHD as an adult.  It's affected his self esteem, his career path, and indirectly, his relationships.   As with so many "invisible" conditions, people in his life seem to think that if he'd just get himself together, he wouldn't have a problem.  (And yet, the majority of the world doesn't seem to expect cancer patients to think themselves cured or amputees to will a new limb to grow.  This is a bit of a sore subject with me, can you tell?)  And Patrick has bought into this way of thinking, calling himself a fuckup and constantly apologizing and talking about how he needs to get his shit together.  But the Patrick that we see, and that Whiskey sees, is a kind, smart, curious, big-hearted, vulnerable man desperately in need of people who will believe in him.
Whiskey is a biologist in his mid-thirties.  He's spent the majority of his adult life working in the field, wandering from place to place and project to project as the grant money leads.  He's standing under the stars one night, thinking about settling down and making a home for himself, when Patrick literally crashed into his life.
The relationship between Whiskey and Patrick is the heart of this book, which is as it should be in a romance novel.  Whiskey has experience working with odd people, and his patience and understanding are exactly what Patrick needs.  And Patrick's desire to please, his need to accomplish something and prove his value, lay the foundation for both Whiskey's literal and metaphorical home.  They're both tender with each other, and want to take care of each other, which makes for a really heart-tugging romance.
That's not to say that it was the perfect book.  There's a bad guy sub-plot featuring Patrick's ex that I certainly could have done without.  Cal is only present at the beginning and end of the book, and he's never really anything more than a cardboard cut out with the words "Generic Drug Dealing Bad Guy" written on it.  He adds some shoot-em up interest toward the end of the book, but his actions don't make a heck of a lot of sense if you think about them too closely.
Also, the last chapter was sweet, but it was pretty anti-climactic and could have been cut down a lot.
So, not perfect in all respects, but Clear Water was an entertaining book with a wonderful romance at it's heart.  Definitely worth reading.  B+

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