Review: Saving Michael (Surf Bay #3) by Ashley John

The Deputy Sheriff of Surf Bay has hit rock bottom. After pushing his boyfriend away with his drunken, violent behavior, Michael doesn’t have any reason to live anymore. Sleeping in his car and on his father’s couch, Michael is spiraling further and further into a dark pit as he drinks himself to death. 

The local vet, Caleb, is young, attractive and full of life. His passion is saving the animals that pass through his surgery, but when the very place he loves is engulfed in flames, it’s up to the local, drunk police officer to save him from the fire. After being saved, Caleb invites Michael to his mother’s annual Christmas party to make his ex, Ace, jealous, but as Michael and Caleb get closer, Caleb knows there’s more to the dark void of sadness that fills Michael, than first meets the eye. 

He makes it his mission to save Michael, but is Michael beyond saving? Michael witnessed something horrific as a child that changed the course of his life forever, but will he be able to bring justice to the memories of his past so he can have a future?

*This is a stand-alone story, but certain characters and plots have been carried over from the first book in the series, Lost & Found. This is an novel of approx. 83,000 and contains sex depicting sex between two men*

I've been dithering over how to rate this story - do I give it 3.75 stars, or 4? As you can see, I settled on 4. After reading the first two books in this series, I was really eager to find out more about Michael. After book two especially he was an easy character to hate - we saw him at his worst, and his worst was being violent towards the MC of that book, Porter. Of course I wanted Porter to have an HEA and Michael was not part of that, but I had a feeling there was more to him than what met the eye and Ashley John proved me right.

What I like about Ashley John's characters is they are not two dimensional. Michael is a perfect case in point. He had more depths than just drunken-bully. It just took a while and Caleb to show us...although, did it? Because, despite his thought process, Michael was the one who went into a burning building to save Caleb. He could have walked away - I liked this. I liked that the author showed us Michael's integrity, however deeply drowned in alcohol it was, before Caleb was in the picture. It showed that it was truly the Michael Caleb saw that we were seeing, not just a character conveniently changed to make a story fit.

Talking of Caleb - oh was he a sweetie! Boy oh boy did I like him. So nice - yet he wasn't perfect...I saw what he did to Ace! Again, even with this character that could potentially be 'perfect' Ashley John managed to round him out, make him more real.

It took a bit of thinking on how to rate this book because sometimes it did seem a tad convenient...but after I thought about it, I realised that fits the Surf Bay series just right. It is a feel good read - despite some angstier moments - because it is inherently about love and relationships. And yes sometimes it's a little bit rose-tinted glasses, but that's the kind of story it is. Enough drama to keep you interested but with characters and relationships that warm the heart. Don't read them expecting a gritty true-life scenario, heartache and angst. That's not what these books are about. And I have to say, I love how Ashley John portrays love; perfectly imperfect.

At times I felt a bit more research wouldn't have gone astray, and there were some English to American-isms that got missed (icing instead of frosting for example) but nothing that dragged me from the story. An extra edit might have caught some of these things but, like I say, none of it was detrimental my enjoyment of the book.

I have to say, this is an author I hugely admire for his hard work and attitude. He is young, but he had a dream and decided to follow it.  He doesn't expect it all to just happen, he works really hard to make it a reality. Reading back that sentence it sounds like I know him - but I don't. I reviewed a book of his and gave it ...well, it wasn't the most favourable review ever. Instead of getting upset though, he thanked me and took on board the points and asked me to review (here) his next book, knowing full well that I had not previously connected with his work.  Way to go Ashley! With that attitude you will go a long way - in my humble opinion!

A copy of this book was provided in return for an honest review.

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