Friday Book Review: Finding Shelter by M.J. O’Shea

Today I’m reviewing Finding Shelter by M.J. O’Shea. Let me just say, Wow. After the first two books in the Rock Bay series this came out of left field and was above and beyond what I expected. The story was tighter and more satisfying than the other two. Perhaps that is because this book checked some of my personal favorite boxes: high angst, a lot of WILL THEY/WON’T THEY?, a character with a rough past—hurt/comfort is the usual parlance. There are some warnings for this story: mentions of past dubious consent sex and potential rape, domestic violence, and past instances of child abuse. If any of this makes a story something you don’t want to touch then this one might not be for you.

FindingShelter

Let’s take a look at the blurb.

Rock Bay: Book Three

Justin Foster has nineteen years of nothing but trouble behind him. After escaping his abusive father, he finds himself in Rock Bay, Washington, with his cousin Travis. Justin is bruised and has a hard time trusting, but with the help of his family and the small town, he might be able to heal.

Logan O’Brien is also new in town, hoping he can finally get away from his past and the memories of the girlfriend who shattered his heart. It doesn’t take him long to realize Rock Bay can be more than safe harbor: it can also be home. And for the first time in his life, he finds himself captivated by a man-by Justin.

Justin is attracted to Logan too, but he’s also wary. Physically, Logan reminds him a bit too much of the closeted jerks who used to beat him up after school. But after one awkwardly amazing kiss, he’s smitten, despite how his past and insecurities continue to haunt him. Logan’s love, faith, and stubbornness are just what Justin needs to believe their love is worth fighting for.

 

The Good:

The delicious, sweet, gooey angst in this book was awesome. There was just so much of it. Justin had to escape from abuse, then deal with what years of suffering under his father did to him mentally. He had to come to terms with the fact that he is, in fact, fucking lovable, and then there was the whole LOGAN IS STRAIGHT AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT BUT HE WANTS JUSTIN. Yes, folks, this is a gay for you, something that was a pleasant shock to me.

Why was it a shock, you ask? I’ll tell you. I was in such a rush after Letting Go, the second book in this series, to see if there was something more about Mason and Drew’s story in the next book (There wasn’t. I’m still disgruntled about that deep down inside.) that I didn’t even read the blurb for this one. I was all, third book in the Rock Bay series? Thank you One Click Amazon service. I will partake since you ask so kindly. And then I started reading, realized I was reading the perspective of Logan, Mason’s supposedly straight best friend, and almost died.

A GAY FOR YOU. It was a lovely surprise present from the universe. I so thoroughly enjoyed it the last time I read one. I especially liked that the “possibly loving a dude” thing wasn’t a high angst part of the book.

Once again, the characters in this series pleased me with how wonderfully well-built they were. I completely believed that Justin and Logan were real people, even if Logan was just a teensy bit too sweet at times to be a real person. Or maybe that’s me being a cynical asshole. (Probable.)

I must comment that the flirting in this book was well done. It was adorable. I wanted to eat it up with a spoon. I can’t honestly say enough about how cute it was or how well done. It made the “angst/confusion/does he really want me?” so much harder to sit through until we got to the good part.

(If you’re like me you’re going to want to know…you have to make it through half the book before you get the goods. Hang in there.)

The Okay:

Once again I’m in love with the settings in this story. I really enjoy Lex’s coffee shop, though I don’t think that the scenery gets the work it should for this book to really stand alone. We don’t get much more than a glancing shop set up, so that someone truly walking into this story blind would have to do a lot of guess work. I mean, obviously it’s a coffee shop/café, but we don’t get much more than that.

The sex. I was going to put this in meh, but what I got to see was sweet and good and all the things that growing first time love should be. We saw Justin’s cherry being popped, we saw some really sweet romance built. The thing is, there just needed to be some more of it somewhere. I wanted to see Justin topping Logan. We get reference to it, but we don’t actually see it. I think that would have been a really fun scene considering Justin’s somewhat shy nature and it just wasn’t there. I was surprised when I got to the end of the book and we didn’t get it.

The Meh:

This story was good. In fact, I thought it was fantastic. It wasn’t a fast story, but it was steady and I thoroughly enjoyed it. That being said, I think the fact that this story was the third in a series that didn’t necessarily set the world on fire might have hurt it. You really need to read the first and second book in the series to not be confused about all of the different nuances in Finding Shelter, though it probably could be done stand alone if you really wanted to.

One thing that drove me crazy about this book was that Logan was supposed to be doing his senior year of college entirely online because plot decrees it so. I get that. Sure. But, it’s his senior year. The classes are harder and most brick and mortar colleges don’t offer the entire senior curriculum online. Plus, have you ever taken an online class after doing bricks and mortar? Ugh. Fail city, all over the place, mostly because you never remember to do the damned work. And he never seems to be doing his work. He’s always either spending time with Justin or working or going on cute fun outings with Justin. All he seems to do in relation to school is spend his student loan money. It’s not a big thing. I think most people wouldn’t be bothered by it, but I just kept going, is he doing his work? (I’m such a fucking nerd I can’t stand it sometimes.)

I don’t want to completely ruin it, but when you get to it you’ll see that the whole Carrie thing was completely expected. It was good, and I almost wanted it to happen, but it was one of the most predictable plot points in the entire book. It’s possible that I just think it’s predictable because I’ve already read the book and I see how well that scene slotted in, but….if you read Letting Go you would be expecting Carrie to pop up eventually.

 To sum it up, the story itself wasn’t unusually mind bending, but it was done well. I would read it all over again. I would relegate this book to comfort reads with it’s overall feel good vibes. It encompasses holidays and has a loving, inviting family (Logan’s for Justin). It has flirting and food. Definitely curl up in front of a fire with this book. (Or space heater, or whatever. Rock on fellow Urbanites.) This book was published back in 2013, and I’m hoping there are plans to revisit Rock Bay, though I can understand if there aren’t. There was no sequel bait in this book, unless it turns out that Brock is homophobic because, deep down, he’s gay.

(I would read it.)


If you would like to see these reviews as they shape up, friend Ki Brightly on Goodreads.

Check out The Shape of Honey, now available for Pre-Order both on Amazon and Dreampsinner Press.

TheShapeofHoneycoverart

Yulian Volkov is an entrepreneur and lone werewolf who hates the city. At a pack meeting, he learns the only member he’s attracted to is being expelled for crimes unspecified. Yulian strikes a deal with the pack leader to allow Rolly Witten to live on his farm and work in his Meadery. Although enjoying handsome Rolly’s company, Yulian must tread carefully, since Rolly doesn’t trust him and the pack doesn’t acknowledge homosexuality exists. Meanwhile, Yulian stealthily courts Rolly by teaching him the value of his wolf side.

Rolly, who’s known he was gay since he was a teen, has accepted a life of solitude—and a life of crime. He has no desire to relocate. Yet Yulian’s trust in his ability to do honest work builds his confidence. As life is settling well for them, Rolly learns a friend from his old pack had a crush on him, and he’s torn between returning his friend’s feelings or pursuing the budding relationship with Yulian. But that’s not their worst problem. Assassins are trying to take out both wolves, and they need to figure out who wants them dead or all the trust and happiness they’re building together won’t matter.

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