*I received this book from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books in return for a fair review.*
by Kris Bryant
Published Date: February 16 2016
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
Read: January 26 2016
My first book by this author.
This was a strange one for one specific reason - I've been reading so many books lately wherein the author felt the need to tell the story through many many points of view. This one? Just one point of view. From Tristan 'Tris' Stark. I guess 'strange' isn't exactly the correct word to use there.
The book has just one point of view, so let's start with her:
Tristan 'Tris' Stark is a 28/29 year old woman who works as a storm chaser during the storm season, and a university professor during the fall semester. If I recall one conversation correctly, Tris works as a teacher during the fall semester, a storm chaser during the spring semester, then spends the summer going over the data/film/pictures recovered during the storm chasing season.
What storms are chased? Well anything really, but mostly tornadoes. She does live and work where tornadoes are quite common.
Tris has worked for the last six years as a storm chaser, the entire time (unless I missed something) with a short-haired woman who looks like a lesbian, named Hunter. That particular aspect, about how attractive to the same sex Hunter could be, is brought up once or twice (or more). She's not actually a lesbian though (nor bisexual, nor interested in anyone but her musician boyfriend).
I got side tracked there mentioning Hunter. I had only meant to say: Tris has worked the last six years as a storm chaser with Hunter. Several times in the book two other people are mentioned, their parts are so small that I will probably get their names wrong. I believe it's Adam and Ryan. Also, 'teams' gets mentioned. About how there are teams sent out under the grant Tris got (and then failed to secure for the next season - major plot point here). But I am uncertain how the team system works. Since they never interact as a team. There's even a passage wherein Tris asked what the plans were for this other two person storm chasing team was for that night, with the expectation that she wouldn't get any information about which direction they planned to go or anything like that. Then internal mention that the storm might go north or south. I kind of got confused here. Two teams. Storm might go north or south. But they don't expect to coordinate at all? Granted, maybe I was wrong, but the reason for my confusion is the simple fact that I thought Tris was talking with people from her own university - on her own extended team. I must have gotten that part wrong.
Hmms. I kind of ruined the 'characters' section, didn't I? Mmphs.
Tris - 28/29 (she has a birthday during the storm season). Storm chaser. University teacher ('relatively new' at that, and forced to teach the 'boring' classes). Works with a woman named Hunter. Tris, apparently, is the one in charge of getting funding - which is a major plot point for two reasons: (1) funding for next season, a grant, fell through and Tris blames herself greatly for this failure; (2) there are trust issues wrapped up in the funding, tied directly to a former girlfriend, Julie, who 'stole' research, about 4 years ago, and screwed Tris -- therefore Tris is kind of naturally distrustful of motives/etc. when it comes to women/girlfriends and funding.
Hunter is a storm chaser who works with Tris. Despite looking like a lesbian (apparently), she has a boyfriend back home. Boyfriend doesn't 'mind' too much that she's on the road during storm season because he himself is a musician and has to go out on the road.
Maddox is a dog, a pitbull mix (I believe). He doesn't have his own point of view or anything like that, nor does the story follow him as he runs around. I've included him because he is quite important to Tris, Hunter, and, to a certain extent, the story.
Kate Brighten is a graduate student at a rival university who Hunter and Tris bump into (along with Gage, her storm chasing partner) while at a . . um . . . I'd like to say 'gas station/truck stop/food place'. Kate seems kind of stand offish and not particularly interested in Tris. Though there are some mixed signals going on. Which I mention because Tris kind of drools over Kate. Finds it hard to pull her eyes off of her.
Gage is the man Kate is chasing storms with. He doesn't really have much scenery to chew, so to speak. He's just there so that there's a reason Kate is out and about chasing storms, then to suddenly need to disappear because of an accident to his girlfriend, so that Kate has to ride with Tris/Hunter/Maddox. Then, later, be shown to be dangerously wild and reckless. He doesn't really have much of a personality or character beyond being a pivot point for other characters and plot points to pivot off of.
Others: there are, in fact, other people in this book.
Tris, Hunter, and Maddox the dog are out driving around the midwest chasing storms. Getting caught in massive hail storms. Watching clouds to see if tornadoes form, watching radar. Etc. There is some exciting moments while this occurs.
While taking a break from driving, they pull into a rest area (I believe it's a gas station that has food, bathrooms, etc.). They bump into two other storm chasers, Kate and Gage. They interact, then all four go to dinner together (mostly because Tris wants to spend more time drooling over Kate).
Time passes but it isn't always possible to tell how much time has passed; at some point Tris and Hunter encounter Kate and Gage hurriedly rushing from a hotel (might have jumped the gun on conveying that 'time passing' part, since this might be the next morning). Gage had received a call that his girlfriend had been in an auto accident and he needs to get to her hospital. Unlike her normal attitude on having students in her car (isn't keen on the idea), Tris suggests that Kate ride with Hunter and herself until Gage can get back. Everyone agrees.
So, for two weeks or so, Kate, Hunter, Tris, and Maddox drive around chasing storms.
More or less immediately, the story turns. One night, Tris' birthday night to be exact, the not-very-talkative Kate follows Tris when Tris takes a break from the party. To get air. To walk Maddox. The 'story turns' part involves what happens next. Apparently Kate was, in fact, also attracted to Tris. Unlike herself, Tris finds herself in a rather public sexual situation out in a parking lot. So, yes, the story turns. From being one that follows storm chasers, to one that does that plus has lots and lots of sex.
Naturally, to continue the plot section, 'something' occurs to cause 'issues' with this budding romance. Time must pass before the relationship might move to the next level. If it can.
The romance in this book was between Tris, a woman of 28/29, and Kate, a woman of, if I recall correctly, 23. I might not recall the ages correctly. I liked how both were described out on the road. I . . um . . . lost my train of thought.
On the one hand, the romance isn't one I've seen, personally, a lot. It's quite possible that others have read stories like this numerous times and will be quite bored with it. But, for me personally, the romance was somewhat refreshing. Two women find that they are attracted to each other, they are in a difficult situation in that it is difficult to find alone time; and in that both are a long way from home in a 'roadtrip' type situation. Instead of just pining away, they actually do something (to a certain extent, that is somewhat the refreshing part; so many times I read something like this and they don't do anything . . . for hundreds of pages). On the other hand, they sure did things backwards. They were friendly-ish with each other first, true, but sex did come before a romantic relationship.
I'm not really sure what I'm trying to convey in this section. There was a romance, it involved Tris and Kate. Not that far apart in age, but 4 or 5 or 6 years is a biggish gap when you are in your twenties (well, see, I lifted that almost directly from the book, that concept). They both find the other attractive. They act on it. One has issues that keep them closed off more than they might otherwise be, while the other has trust issues that can be violated, and if violated will find it difficult to move past the feeling of broken trust.
The book wasn't located in any one location - even when the storm chasing season was over, the activity still wasn't in the same location. Since Kate lived an hour and a half away from where Tris lived.
I did have a strong sense, most of the time, of being out on the road, of being in the storms, or near, of being next to farmlands, small towns, and the like. Quite well conveyed there.
I had a strongish sense of what Tris's house was like, and what Kate's apartment . . . well, that it . . hmms. I had a strong sense of what Tris' house was like. Kate's place, ah, it's coming back to me. Up scale. Amenities. Located so that the sound of the wind isn't as hearable. I had no sense of the location, the 'place' Tris' house was located. I mean, the town/city/rural area. Nor do I have any impression of what might surround Kate's apartment.
Not necessarily the most important thing in a story like this - more important that the time on the road conveyed what it needed to convey, which it did.
First off, in terms of the relationship, there were two cliches that popped up that seem to be used in romance books. I liked how they were used in this book here because they both seemed somewhat natural (to a certain extent) and weren't, in the case of the not actually mentioned storm related injuries, not used as a magical relationship cure. The two somewhat cliche like elements being miscommunication and I'm not actually sure what to call the second one (accidents? injuries/massive traumatic events that cause feelings to bounce around). The miscommunication here was more failure to communicate and was reasonable under the circumstances (I'm not sure if I should be purposely vague or not).
Right, so, now that I wrote a gibberish paragraph, let's move on. There was more sex than I expected. Having just one point of view was both somewhat refreshing, and somewhat limiting. Limiting in that I only had Tris view of Kate, and not Kate's own thoughts and desires. Though everything was conveyed quite well. Probably better, on one level, because I kind of ended up liking Kate, while my 'liking' for Tris was on a smaller level. Well, I liked both well enough.
In the end, I rather enjoyed the book and would give it a solid 4 stars (out of 5).
January 27 2016