Initial reaction: This is one of those times when I feel torn about a rating because there was quite a bit in this that took turns away from the typical New Adult novel, but at the same time, it doesn't shed many of the stereotypes and some things had me feeling a little ragey at the consideration.
But for what it's worth, I liked Kellen and Gina's relationship, at least watching it in its better moments and for the fact that the two actually talked out their issues. That's far different than from what most authors do in this genre. Was it dramatic? In turns, yes, but not overly so for the situations and conflicts that were in each of the characters lives.
Still, I had a few bones to pick. Hopefully I can explain more in the full review.
Anna Cruise's "Maverick" is the first novel I've read from the author. The premise in this is very promising, about a surfer grieving over the loss of a good friend and mentor, but as his grief consumes him, his prospects in his career fall by the wayside. A manager, Gina, is hired to help get Kellen's affairs in order, but the two of them embark on a much closer relationship than the professionalism of their careers demand. Likewise, they both have heavy measures of grief to carry and have to navigate through those trials.
This book started really sluggish, and I'll admit, the writing itself left much to be desired. I wasn't pulled into the narrative, and worst for wear on a collective perspective? This book is told in two perspectives that aren't delineated in the text as they come up. Rule of thumb: if you are writing from two perspectives in first person, NOTE the perspective of who's talking at the beginning of the chapter, otherwise it's very easy to get lost as a reader. I'll admit a few times when reading the narrative, I had to reorient myself as to whom was speaking, and that threw me out of the narrative, especially in the beginning.
The novel goes through Kellen's grief - he's also got attachment issues as evidenced with his actions in the beginning. I liked the descriptions of his being on the water, and I liked Kellen's attachment to the sport (being someone who is not only weak for any story centered on the water, but also sports). I did not like him as a character at first. I think as Gina came into the picture, the story became so much more interesting. Gina starts off as a no-nonsense agent that helps Kellen repair his public image in different ways. I definitely like the descriptions of Kellen working with the kids at the swim camp as well as Gina and Kellen's confrontation with the family of the guy Kellen punched at the beginning of the novel. I also appreciated hearing Gina's backstory and at the very least the interesting measure of grief that she had within the novel.
I definitely appreciated Kellen and Gina's ability to talk out their issues and own up to the things they did wrong. Was it a little quick for resolution? Yeah, but at least there was an attempt for the characters to be human and redeem themselves for parts of the palpable conflict. And I did like watching their relationship grow, at least the few parts of the novel where that was actually shown, rather than told.
But there's a lot of conflict in this novel that came across as contrived. I don't want to say that this book follows in the typical New Adult formula (abrasive hero, weak heroine, rape or attempted rape used a conflict plot point, instalove, etc), but it does
hit a few of the aforementioned stereotypes. And it came across as really obvious that they were put in just to throw the conflict out there, so that the hero and heroine could reunite. That vexed me, especially with one last curveball towards the end.
I wish that the novel had a bit more vetting out, more showing than telling, and such for it to be a better experience. But it was okay, at least for an introduction to this author. I'm not sure if I'm going to continue reading Anna Cruise's novels at this point, but I will say there were parts of this novel I liked. But it still could've been much better than what it provided.
Overall score: 2/5 stars
Note I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.