Doing it at: 6%
Catnip: Tattoos; Artists; New Zealand; Canadians; Quarter-life Crisis; Existential Angst; Volkswagen Camper; Emotional Unavailability; International Romance; Sex En Plein Air
Shame Scale: Moderate. It’s definitely not one for reading in public. There’s loads of blush-worthy sex so you don’t want to be reading on the bus *Ahem Cleone.*
Fantasy Casting: Douglas Booth; Shay Mitchell
“Joshua Miles has spent his early twenties spinning his wheels. Working dead-end jobs and living at home has left him exhausted and uninspired, with little energy to pursue his passion for graphic art. Until he meets Gemma Henare, a vivacious out-of-towner from New Zealand. What begins as a one-night stand soon becomes a turning point for Josh. He can’t get Gemma out of his head, even after she has left for home, and finds himself throwing caution to the wind for the first time in his life.
It’s not long before Josh is headed to New Zealand with only a backpack, some cash, and Gemma’s name to go on. But when he finally tracks her down, he finds his adventure is only just beginning. Equally infatuated, Gemma leads him on a whirlwind tour across the beautiful country, opening Josh up to life, lust, love, and all the messy heartache in between. Because, when love drags you somewhere, it might never let go—even when you know you have to say goodbye.”
I loved this book. It gave me feels, and I almost never get feels anymore. It’s a book written about early twenty-somethings that actually manages a realistic voice, and captures that feeling of being set free into adulthood without a map. I could relate to it. It felt nostalgic, like reading about my ten-years-younger self. AND there was a satisfying romance with tons of two person push-ups.
Josh (Vera’s little brother from ‘Love in English‘) meets Gemma at a Halloween party in Vancouver (Josh’s home town), where he’s dressed like Khal Drogo, and she’s Vampire Leila, from Futurama. Gemma is on her last day of a backpacking trip around North America, heading back to New Zealand the next day. They click, they bang on a pool table, then they bang all night in Josh’s mom’s house – where he lives because for once this is a realistic book about twenty-somethings – and they discover that they actually really like each other. They’re both struggling with that quarter-life crisis ennui, and Gemma tells Josh that he should get out and travel, have a life-changing experience.
Flash-forward, Josh can’t stop thinking about Gemma and decides to quit his crappy job and take off to New Zealand for a few months before he starts art school. He somehow manages to find her, even though he doesn’t know her last name – only that she works at a gym, and they both realize the sparks are all still there. Gemma unfortunately did not find her trip to be a life changing experience – she’s fallen back into the same job and the same shitty meat head boyfriend she had been trying to get away from. She invites Josh along on road trip around New Zealand in an old VW Camper that she’s about to take with her cousin (who stars in Halle’s next one), and then to make the book fun, her dickhead boyfriend decides to come in a show of territoriality. All the forbidden feelings and jealously stuff that you would expect show up for a while, but since this is a romance, you’re basically just waiting for dickhead to take off so they can get to the point. Aka beach sex.
On top of that, this book read like a love letter to New Zealand and it made me want to drop everything and book a trip. The descriptions of the country and the places they visited were insanely evocative. I’ve always thought that the only reason to go to New Zealand was to see sheep, get skin cancer, and to travel the path to Mordor and climb Mount Doom. But apparently New Zealand is a goddamn paradise with glowworm caves and volcanos and loads of teal blue beaches.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I bought my first Karina Halle book because I liked her book covers. I am a marketing woman’s dream. I adored The Pact, decided to try Love in English, and obviously enjoyed Where Sea Meets Sky. I’m putting her on my automatic pre-order list, because everything I’ve read so far has been golden. Lots of listless characters, no dicking around about the dicking, and gorgeous international themes woven throughout. I’m feeling curious about her older series and you’ll probably be seeing them on here in the near future.