In Too Deep by Tracey Alvarez (Due South #1)
Released: December 19, 2013
Reviewed by Mandi
To save her brother from financial ruin, Piper Harland must do the one thing she swore she’d never do—return to the tiny island home-town where Ryan “West” Westlake crushed her heart. Piper is tough, resilient and a little wild—much like the remote and beautiful Stewart Island where she grew up. As a cop who’s part of the elite New Zealand Police National Dive Squad, bringing the dead back to their families still doesn’t stop the guilt she feels over her father’s drowning death. Now nine years later she’s obligated to return to a hostile community as the outsider, and forced to work with the man who was once her best friend and first lover.
West is an Island man, through and through. As owner of the local pub, he lives and breathes the local community, and sure as hell can’t imagine living anywhere else. But most of all he refuses to ever fall for a woman like his flighty mother. He lost Piper once to give her the chance to fulfill her dreams of becoming a cop. But now she’s back for an unexpected six week visit to help her brother—his best mate. Maybe West wants her a little bit, maybe he can’t resist the temptation to tease and touch her, but can he fall in love with such a flight risk?
I decided to try this one mostly because the blurb caught my attention. The heroine is a cop, a police diver more specifically and I thought that was different. This is also a debut book and I’m always looking for new authors to try. This one pleasantly surprised me.
Set in New Zealand, Piper is a cop, who also has her diver certification. Her father’s drowning years ago still lingers over her, and on one particular dive where she finds the body of a teenage boy, the memories of her past become too much. Her colleagues notice this and she decides to head home to her small island for a much needed vacation.
When she gets home she realizes her family is in disarray. Her brother’s boating business is in danger of failing due to an injury he suffered and he has been too stubborn to ask for help. Also back home is her old flame, Ryan Westlake or West. West is her brother’s best friend (oh I love a brother’s best friend trope). They were lovers at the age of eighteen before a bad break-up and then her father’s death. West offers to help her brother and in turn Piper offers to help West at his family’s restaurant, all the while trying to avoid those pesky romantic feelings that keep popping up between them.
Piper is a tough heroine, and I liked that about her. She is a bit prickly, stubborn, never backs down from a challenge – and boy does West like to challenge her. Women feel intimidated by her. But deep down she is scared – scared of coming to terms with her father’s death and scared of failing at life in general. She is really scared of letting West back in again. This author does a nice job letting us get to know the characters and their lives. She takes her time with it – maybe sometimes a little too much time – I thought there were some slow parts. The author makes West and Piper really work for their happily ever after. Their sexual tension – the glances, the way West gets all growly – the time he jerks off in the bathroom with her right outside – all super, sexy hot.
Besides the romance, Piper and West both have family issues. West has an ailing father and a mother who left the family years ago. Piper has her injured brother with a chip on his shoulder. There is a lot of page time devoted to their families and the supporting characters. As some of these characters are getting books in the future, I like that we got to know them in this book.
Another fun thing for me is that this book is set in New Zealand so some of the terminology is different for me. For example, West wears a swimsuit called a ‘Budgy Smuggler’ – after a google search I saw it’s similar to a speedo – but with a much better name!! (Piper approved of this as well).
Overall a little slow at times but a solid romance with nice character development.