Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade
November 15, 2022 by Avon
Review by Melanie
Let me begin by stating that Olivia and I are very friendly on Twitter and I generally adore her both as a writer and as a human. That being said, I can promise you that my personal feelings for her did not in any way influence the amount of effusive praise I am about to heap on this book
I don’t know what it is about her books that just does it for me but to be blunt, Olivia’s brand of contemporary romances just hit all the right notes and speaks to my romance trope ids. I once read someone on Twitter describing her books as being about kind people being kind to each other and somehow still managing to have tension and I think that’s what i love so much about her books, her characters are always innately kind and loving, full of compassion and care for each other, despite having baggage that causes them to have self-doubt or sometimes make questionable life choices.
Take, for example, the 2 MCs in this book, Peter and Maria. The book opens with Peter and Maria getting it on which in itself is a bold choice and a much welcome one. They don’t know much about each other except in the biblical sense of the word and therefore when Maria sneaks out of Peter’s hotel room while he’s asleep and he wakes up to find her gone, both their actions and reactions are born out of self-defense mechanisms due to their own personal backstories and not out of any desire to hurt the other person.
And then, in a twist, they run into each other at a big audition for a very popular tv show, and suddenly, they’re thrust into this situation of forced proximity, when they’re both cast in pivotal roles where they play eventual lovers. Their scenes are mostly just with each other and so they, plus a small crew, are shuffled off to a tiny Irish island where they are forced to work together and live together for 6 years.
And for six years, these two circle each other, initially wary and judgmental, and the way Olivia writes the progression of their relationship is so lovely and slow blooming and yet, perfectly in keeping with who each of these characters are as people. They go from distrustful coworkers to friends with the most delightfully witty banter, the kind that makes their legions of fans devote hours of their lives writing fan-fiction and RPF (Real People Fiction) dedicated to them and the characters they portray.
Peter is shy and awkward and aloof. He doesn’t know how to make small talk. And having been left very abruptly by a previous partner, he is very hurt by the way Maria stole away after their one-night stand. And his reaction is to lash out, to keep her at a distance because even when his opinion of her is colored by his past hurt, he can’t help but feel attracted to her, drawn to both her beauty and her personality.
Maria carries her own share of baggage, and can’t understand why Peter is so angry over her leaving – after all, she didn’t promise marriage, it was simply a one-night stand. Their backgrounds also inform how they approach their work, or rather how they approach this opportunity they’ve been given. Peter is desperate to keep the job and not shake the boat, whereas Maria is steadfast and true to herself and her principles, unshakeable in her beliefs and ideals.
One of my favorite scenes in this book is when Maria and Peter are asked by the producers of the show to lose weight in service of the storyline and Maria outright refuses, standing up both for herself and for Peter. While this particular scene is not Peter’s most shining moment, his comes a bit later, when in an effort to literally protect Maria from a life-threatening filming situation, he feigns illness to delay filming in dangerous weather conditions.
It’s a one-night stand to sudden costars to eventual friends to lovers storyline and both of these characters will steal your heart and break it and then help piece it back together. Peter wants financial stability and to impress a father who has never given him the validation he so desires. Maria, for her own part, has major abandonment issues and simply wants to keep the people she loves (especially Peter)close to her. They are two people who deeply love each other and yet are at cross-purposes and watching them both have necessary realizations about what they really need and want and the compromises they are willing to make unfolds in such a beautiful way. Yes, there are hurt feelings and tears shed, but there is also forgiveness and kindness and empathy and ultimately, yes, it’s a story of 2 kind people falling deeply in love and working through their respective emotional baggage to find a way to be together.
The final chapter of the book is a beautiful way to wrap up this entire series, peppered with characters who featured in the first 2 installments of this series and throwbacks to events that happened in the past, as well as making sure every character in the series got exactly what they deserved, whether it be good or bad…or a jar of pickled herring shaken in their face.
Content Notes: off-page parental death, foster care, older child adoption, difficult parental relationships, off-page cheating by a minor character, abandoned by a previous partner, fat shaming, and encouragement to lose weight by superiors;