Title: His Compass
Series: His: Book Two
Author: Con Riley
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 306 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
At a Glance: His Compass is next-level gorgeous. I read it in a single sitting, and wanted to start it all over again when I was done.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: Tom has one rule: don’t sleep with the crew. A second chance with a younger, gorgeous deckhand tempts him to break it.
After a busy season as a charter-hire skipper, Tom yearns for some downtime. His lonely heart also aches for adventure with someone special, but paying his bills has to come first. A surprise sailing contract and huge bonus offer his first glimpse of freedom for years. There’s only one catch: he must crew with Nick, a deckhand who jumped ship once already.
Nick’s as young and untested as the new yacht they’re contracted to sail, and he’s just as gorgeous. Forced to spend a month as Nick’s captain, Tom discovers depths he hadn’t noticed. He’s captivated, and happier sailing with Nick than he’s been in forever. However, their voyage is finite, and both men keep soul-deep secrets.
As the contract draws to an end, they must get honest about what’s in their hearts if they want to share a life at sea, and love, forever.
Review: In my review of His Horizon, book one in the His series, I noted that it was a story about what Con Riley does best—family, both biological and found, and friendships and community. Those are running themes of not only this series but of the author’s overall body of work. She excels at writing stories about everyday people, and then allowing them to face and overcome challenges that somehow make them feel extraordinary. What makes Riley’s books stand out in the Contemporary Romance genre is that despite the familiar tropes and themes, she somehow manages never to make those tropes and themes feel obviously tropey, nor do they read as recycled bits of other books, or of the genre itself. There is always an element that makes each book and the characters’ stories unique to them, along with a metaphor that becomes the guiding principle to those characters finding their happily ever after.
Captain Tom Kershaw is introduced in His Horizon. Nick, though, we don’t meet so much as we know him as the new crewman who didn’t last long aboard the charter yacht the Aphrodite. It’s a toss-up as to whether Tom’s first love is the sea or his boat, but two things are absolute—he doesn’t sleep with his crew, and he feels a bone-deep disregard for Nick as a lazy, lying, clumsy good-for-nothing who Tom was glad to see the back of when Nick did a runner.
Such a pity that Tom can’t stop thinking about the golden-skinned, wild-haired beauty.
As a second chance romance, Riley reintroduces Tom and Nick in a way that sets them up for some unavoidable close proximity aboard a new yacht Tom has been given the task of sea-trialling to see how she handles and what upgrades or repairs she’ll need to make her an exceptional charter vessel. Why Nick is back, Tom has no idea—and frankly, he doesn’t want to know. In fact, he orders Nick to shut up about it. All Tom wants is to get the trialling underway, and make it work with his planned trip to Plymouth for a family visit, which also happens to become an important and emotionally resonant piece to this tale. Of course, between Tom’s awareness of how gorgeous Nick is and the time he spends with Nick observing him, the more Tom realizes how badly he’d misjudged this sweet, caring, generous, kind, and thoughtful man. In the vein of rules being made just to be broken, Tom’s rule about not sleeping with his crew doesn’t stand a chance.
Tom and Nick’s story is an age gap romance as well, which can either go really right or really wrong for me, depending on how much the point of the age gap is belabored. Add this to the list of things Riley gets pitch-perfect in this book. The nearly twenty year difference in their ages is not ignored entirely, but nor is it a point of conflict between them, which I appreciated. There were weightier variables that made the story so much richer than worrying about an age difference, and in the end, what this author does is make Tom and Nick fit, not without their share of trials, but those only go on to strengthen their bond. As this story unfolds, Riley does a superb job of overlapping some of their life experiences as well, which made me fall for them and this book even harder.
As His Compass comes to its inevitable moment of truth, Con Riley pulls off yet another emotionally charged scene that she manages never to allow to tip over into trite melodrama for the sake of angst. Nothing here is manufactured but rather, it all comes to a head naturally, in a way that, yes, was inevitable, but the resolution is the key here, and it’s played out to the perfect degree of tense and beautiful and romantic and fulfilling and, as is a hallmark of this author’s storytelling, ultimately heartwarming. There’s always a theme of grabbing happiness and holding on when you find it, and that message resonates with Tom and Nick beautifully.
Everyone has those authors we’ll read blurb unseen. Con Riley is one of those authors for me. Her work, and His Compass in particular, is just that next level of gorgeous. I read it in a single sitting, wanted to start it all over again when I’d finished, and I can already say with a high degree of certainty that it will be on my Best of 2021 list.
You can buy His Compass here:
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2 thoughts on “Review: His Compass by Con Riley”
Lisa is right! This is a beautifully written book about two men, growing together, and building trust in a relationship. You’ll love it!
I’m so in love with Con’s writing <3 Must Like Spinach has been a longtime favorite, but this one may have just passed it.