Review: Wake (Tidal #1) by K. Evan Coles & Brigham Vaughn

A love worth the wait

Carter Hamilton and Riley Porter-Wright room together as Harvard undergraduates. An immediate friendship forms, but as the years pass it deepens into something neither man understands. As attraction simmers under the surface, lines begin to blur. When they move back to Manhattan, they gradually slip into the lives their families have envisioned for them.

Both men marry, but in time, Riley realizes he’s ended up in a passionless relationship like his parents’ while his career takes center stage. Although he loves his wife, Carter misses the emotional and physical connection he shared with Riley.

The weight of Riley’s feelings and his growing discontentment with his life eventually push him to tell Carter the truth about how he feels. Shocked and unable to face his own feelings, Carter rejects Riley.

As each man comes to terms with the lies they’ve told themselves, each other and the people around them, they find their lives changing in ways they never imagined. They soon discover that the truths they’ve been longing to tell shake the foundations of their friendship.

Reader Advisory: This book contains polyamory and infidelity, expressions of homophobia by multiple secondary characters, divorce, scenes of M/F/M intimacy, references to parental neglect, disownment, one brief scene involving a physical altercation.

Carter and Riley are two of the sweetest characters I’ve read in awhile. I loved them both. Their easy friendship and low drama lives during college made this a really easy to sink myself into.

There is a fair amount of UST but it’s so balanced that it didn’t gnaw at my gut the way other stories do. I think Carter’s personality really helped with this. He managed to maintain a real innocence even as he grew.

Carter is the more playful in this friendship. He’s also impulsive, and doesn’t really peel back the layers of why, he just expresses his want.
Riley is serious, and reserved. He never speaks his truth, partly out of the fear of rejection, and partly because he thought rationally about all the implications of that truth in terms of his future.

This story has cheating. There really is no excuse for it, but it was easy to empathise with the characters than if their backstory wasn’t a big part of this book. This story opens in the future and slides back to Carter and Riley’s college years. The expectations of family, and even with the disparity between how Riley and Carter were raised, the underlying homophobia, and general future expectations for career and family paths are the same. They both know that they are supposed to get a degree, start a family, and be successful in their parents’ respective companies. That is a lot of pressure for two young men to adhere to. Privileged as they were, there was a ripple of rebellion, but only as a pit stop on the way to fulfilling their obligations.

These two authors wove me a story that I was completely invested in. I wanted for Carter and Riley. I excused their discretions because the authors made me understand their motivation and their roadblocks. College was their time. It was where they could be free, albeit discreet, to explore each other in a way that felt safe, even if it wasn’t between just the two of them. I felt their love for each other, even if they kept the full scope of their feelings to themselves (or in Carter’s case, was totally oblivious and not ready to admit it to himself).

I know some readers will not enjoy the cheating aspect to this story. I don’t generally enjoy it myself, but there is something deep and beautiful in this story that overshadows the men's’ infidelity and made me want for them. Maybe it’s because I know life is messy. Not everyone gets their HEA and a lot of damage can be done while trying to do what we think is right at the time. Expectations can be tall orders and someone will always be disappointed in another’s choices.

I really loved these two, and I loved this part of their journey. I didn’t love the decisions they made as adults, but their college years were filled with mostly happiness, fun, and a deep friendship that lasted well beyond graduation.

This ends on a cliffhanger, but it was done in a way that allows the reader to take a deep breath and reflect on the story that has been told. While I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the second story, I didn’t feel angry or frustrated about the way this story ended, and I think the time I had to reflect on the mess and chaos, made the story stronger for me.

I would recommend this to people who enjoy a complex slow burn love story. You won’t get your HEA or even a HFN but this is completely worth the read for the character and relationship development.

A review copy was provided for an honest opinion.

1 comment:

  1. This is just the kind of stuff I'm gravitating to lately. Excellent review. ;)