I am unsure how to review this book. I loved it. I knew I was going to love it. I am enthralled with the choices Olivia Dade makes with her main characters throughout this three book series (this being the finale following Spoiler Alert and All the Feels). I want everyone to read it and have the same experience that I did. I’m aware that most likely not everyone will as I think there’s a certain kind of lived experience needed to fully grapple with the characters Olivia Dade is choosing to forefront in her work.
Ship Wrecked is built on the back story of lovers turned friends before finally exploring their romance. Maria and Peter felt immediate sparks when they met, and it’s only a few hours before they acted on that attraction (we in fact join the characters mid-act as the book begins). After spending the night together Maria left without a word or note – she had no further expectations for their interlude – only to see Peter again when he’s cast as her co-star on Gods of the Gates. The co-star she’ll be filming with, on an isolated island, for six seasons.
In fact, the two are the only cast members in their plot line and will film 95% of their scenes on a remote Irish island with a small crew. Maria, based on her priorities and needs chooses to make the location a happy family unit, including Peter in that warmth even though he has been a complete jackass to her following their mutual audition. She can see that Peter will not create his own pathways to friendship (though she does not yet know the whys or the full extent of his isolation) so she takes the first steps, slowly but surely weaving him into the web of connection that builds amongst the crew. Eventually, Peter recognizes what Maria has done for him and continues the work on his own. Once they are past their initial issues their mutual respect and adoration for each other becomes evident and is put on hold as Peter declines a return to a sexual relationship with Maria while they are filming.
Dade’s stories are always very character-driven, which is on display to great effect in Ship Wrecked with two characters well-developed outside of their romance. Maria and Peter have deep emotional backstories which Dade utilizes to craft a story around trust and recognizing what one needs in order to be happy and to put aside the baggage given to us by our past traumas. Because they both have traumas that haunt their pasts and influence their actions, although one of them is much further along the path of making healthy choices. This wouldn’t be an Olivia Dade book without humor, and we’re gifted with that with the rest of the Gods of the Gates cast and Maria’s family, assuming a bit of absurdist humor is your thing.
There is also a bit of an age gap – 11 years to be specific. On their first encounter she’s 25 and he’s 36, when action picks back up again in earnest after 6 years she’s now 31 to his 42 (which also qualifies this for Read Harder Task 7: read a romance where one of the leads is over 40). It also feels important to note that this is a sexy, body-positive work that does not fetishize or erase the fatness of the characters. Instead, there a plot points that circle directly around their size and their respective choices. Dade, again, created people whose fatness is a trait as simple as her blonde hair or his aloof demeanor.
Unlike All the Feels I do think that you should probably have read the first two I order to properly enjoy this one. There are fewer interstitials, but there are enough, and the third act brings in plenty of characters from the earlier books.
Thank you to Avon for the advance review copy. It has not affected the contents of this review, only its timing.
Bingo Square: Funky (as in bass line.)