#BookReview: Beneath The Surface by Kaira Rouda

Dark Family/ Business Drama. This is one of those books with a wildly atmospheric setting – a short sail on dad’s megayacht over to Catalina Island and back, during which storms both literal and personal envelop the entire family. If you need likeable characters or levity… there isn’t any modicum of that to be found here. This is dark, gets darker, and right when you think it can’t possibly get any darker… goes nearly as dark as it can without involving kids or genocide or some such. It is a story where yet again Tony Stark’s like about Nick Fury in The Avengers comes to bear: “his secrets have secrets”… and this is true of pretty well every single person on the boat, as we’ll find out by the end of this tale. This is absolutely one where your own feelings about dialog and situations may vary, but I for one didn’t see anything “objective-ish” wrong with them, so I’m not going to fault the tale or the author here. I’m simply noting I’ve seen that complaint in other reviews, and I could see where that argument could potentially be made, but I personally didn’t feel they were. Ultimately an interesting tale, one near perfect for a dark stormy night where you don’t want an actual horror-type tale, but you do what to have a minor sense of suspense and foreboding, perhaps with a nice wine or beer. Very much recommended.

This review of Beneath The Surface by Kaira Rouda was originally written on September 3, 2023.

Featured New Release Of The Week: The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton

This week we’re looking at a tale of karmic suspense that takes place at least in part at sea and shows the commonalities and differences between cruising and yachting quite well. This week we’re looking at The Ex-Husband by Karen Hamilton.

Karmic Suspense At Sea. This book is a mystery/ suspense set partly in the UK and partly (or pretty well fully, in its back half) at sea mostly in the Caribbean and even one Alaska season. The dual timeline approach is used here to show the suspense of someone stalking our narrator with information she doesn’t want known and which they shouldn’t have in the present timeline, with the second timeline being “18 months ago” when her world came crashing down. Except that the 18 months ago timeline is filled at least as much with the entire backstory of how she got to that point as well. This tale is an interesting blend of both cruising and yachting, which are very different experiences. Even though the largest megayachts (such as the Azzam) and the smaller cruise ships (such as Windstar Cruise Lines’ Wind Surf) are roughly the same size, with cruising you’re usually with a few hundred (at least, it can be closer to 5,000+) strangers + up to 2,000 or so crew members whereas with yachting you’re usually with no more than a few dozen people you’re at least tangentially associated with – even if only through a common acquaintance – and no more than a hundred or so staff. Also, the onboard experience of a cruise tends to be more akin to a perma-mall/ theme park on a cruise vs a much more exclusive, bespoke experience on a yacht. (Think of the difference of going to say Disney World vs what happens on Bravo’s Below Deck shows, for example.) Still, Hamilton actually does a good job showing how similar yet different each of these are, even as she weaves a tale of con artistry and karmic suspense through both facets of sea-travel experience. Very much recommended.

After the jump, an excerpt from the book followed by the “publisher details” – book description, author bio, and social and buy links.
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