Title: Arriba Aruba!
Author: Jonathan Treadway
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Characters: Cray, Stone
Sub-Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Jilted at the altar when his best man ran off with his fiancée, Craydon “Cray” Wright trades in his Mexico honeymoon for a vacation in Aruba. When godlike Stone Ferris walks onto the plane, sits next to Cray, and makes his interest known, Cray decides to act on desires he’s felt since high school but ignored.
He agrees to let Stone show him the island, but what starts as fun-filled and casual turns earth-shattering for Cray. When his time in Aruba ends, Cray realizes his feelings for Stone have grown beyond fun, but he worries that it might not translate to real life in LA. Can he convince himself and Stone their love can be paradise at home?
The relationship depicted here is realistic, sort of. Cray’s in a vulnerable place, and Stone is hotter than hot. But… Cray spends way too much time in his head, especially about his ex-fiancée and ex-best friend. After the third tired tirade about those two lasting for pages on end, I fear I skipped a paragraph or two.
The story could have used more time with Stone, from his point of view. I longed to see what he saw in Cray, whom I didn’t particularly care for. Stone was far more interesting. These two meet on a plane, and realizing they share a destination, decide to hitch their wagons, so to speak. From friends to lovers, they explore the island and each other.
There’s a light touch to the writing here. Though both men lust after one another, they don’t act on it right away. There’s no insta-love here. Cray’s motives for a jump in the sack are a bit on the questionable side. But that was fine, the moral ambiguity of the whole situation, giving the tension another layer.
For a novella, though, the beginning with the wedding fiasco and the family took way too much time away from the romance. I skipped to the plane scene, I admit it. Impatience is entirely on my end here, and other readers will surely find the start fascinating. Like I said, the story could have used Stone’s point of view.
The end of their time together in paradise was handled well, in realistic terms. They both have to return to their lives and duties. This is basically Cray’s coming out story, both sexually and publicly. That’s why the wedding and the family take up so many pages.
Overall, a good romance—where the romance isn’t all the way to the top of the story in importance, but kind of shares first place with sexual awakening and coming out themes.
Reviewed By: Susan