Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Cottage at the Beach (The Off Season #1), by Lee Tobin McClain (author), Sandy Rustin (narrator)

Recorded Books, ISBN 9781980091301, May 2020

Trey Harrison is an injured K9 cop, on unwilling disability leave, with his disability benefits not yet kicked in. There's also the problem of the issues that let to the impulsive mistake that led to his injury. He and his dog, King, rushed into a meth house when he heard a baby crying. This also placed at risk the officers who responded when he did call for help. His chief was already concerned about his behavior; now he's sent him to "volunteer" in a program called Healing Heroes. He'll be working in a program for troubled teens, a non-profit program based at a private school, serving teens not at all from the same social circles as most of the students--the students the school wants. It's not a program Trey feels is a good fit, but he needs a way to get by till his disability kicks in.

Erica Rowe is the teacher in charge of the program. She's also taking care of her older sister, Amber, who has had a difficult struggle with cancer, giving Amber and her daughter, Hannah, the home at the beach in the town of Pleasant Shores that Amber has dreamed of. Erica dreamed of being a mother, and her dedication to the troubled teens program became even greater when a hysterectomy to protect against the cancer that not only threatens Amber, but also killed their mother, ended the chance of having children of her own.

Their first meeting, an accidental encounter on the beach, is not promising. Erica doesn't think a K9 cop used to encountering teenagers as criminals is a good fit--exactly the doubts that Trey himself has.

But Erica has to save the Behavioral Support program from the principal determined to shut it down, and Trey has been told he has to succeed at this rehab assignment if he wants his old job back. It starts off rough, but they do both have motivation. And much to both Trey and Erica's surprise, he does connect with these teens, seeing in them something of his own troubled adolescence.

The romance between these two makes lots of sense. The problem is that the tension mostly comes from them not really communicating. They each at different times say something to the other about something that's a real issue for them, and is very unhappy when they don't get the response they hoped for. Except they talked around the problem, rather than actually sharing the crucial details that would let the other understand. I wanted to knock heads together.

They're good and interesting characters, and surrounded by other good and interesting characters. Or even annoying and interesting characters. Julie, a recently divorced older woman who owns the Healing Heroes cottage, is also a mother, and grandmother to two teenagers, Caitlin and Sophia. Mr. James is a WWII veteran who is also very good with the kids from Erica's program. His son Kirk is in the same age range as Julie--and her friend and employer at the local bookstore, Mary. Mary and Kirk may have been an item sometime in the past, but neither is saying anything. We really get the sense of a full and active community in this tiny island town, which for me really adds to the enjoyment.


I bought this audiobook.

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