Sink or Swim (Shore Leave #2) ~ Annabeth Albert
I will be honest here, this book felt personal for me, in a way that it won’t be for most readers. MM books about main characters taking care of kids can be triggering for me because I had a kind of absent father when I was growing up and it just reminds me of all the moments that I missed out on while I was growing up. This book is mostly about two main characters who take care of two young girls, and while this topic really got to me while I was reading the book, it’s also the reason why I read this book in the first place. I wanted to read a book about a close and caring family taking care of kids and this is exactly what I got.
All of this to say that this book emotionally impacted me on a level that it probably won’t impact most people, because I could relate to the characters of this book, and it made me feel all the feels. So, my enjoyment of this book is deeply connected to my life experiences and that’s mostly why I loved this book so much.
Brief summary Calder wins a cabin in the mountains. He goes to visit it and when he arrives there, he finds Felix and the two young girls he’s the uncle to living there and Felix says that the property is his. Calder sprains his foot, and he cannot drive to go back to his house, so he stays with them for a few days, but then a snowstorm hits and they have to spend time together and Calder and Felix fall in love.
First, I just adored both Calder and Felix. They were both very nicely fleshed out characters and I just enjoyed their persona so much, they both seemed like people I’d love to meet in real life. I just loved both guys, as characters and as a couple. They fit each other well and were just such a strong couple. Second, Calder didn’t know he wanted kids and wasn’t really a fan of them, he also wasn’t a big relationship guy, but his caretaker side really came out with Calder and the girls and he kept doing everything to take care of them and to make sure that they had everything that they wanted and desired. I just loved how dedicated to taking care of the kids Calder was, he was such a good father figure. Third, Calder doesn’t always enjoy having sex, he prefers cuddling and physical touch to having sex, he preferred just kissing Felix and holding him to having sex most times. And they did have sex, but it wasn’t really a priority for them. Because of that, I liked how sensual the sex scenes felt in this book. They were more about making each other feel good than about rushing to get off and that really worked for me. I loved how much pleasure they both took in exploring each other’s body, that was just so lovely to read to me. Fourth, if there is one thing that I feel like isn’t present enough in books, it’s smaller gestures of affection. I love reading about anything that has physical touch as a love language, and I always want to see more hand holding, more cuddles, more kissing and I loved how this book put such a big emphasis on those. Every small gesture, and them just touching each other was greatly described and they both loved every second of it and that really worked for me. The kissing scenes in this book were described in so many details and they were so vivid that I couldn’t help but just adore all of them. They were just perfect to me. Fifth, I absolutely adored how many small moments of Calder and Felix playing with the kids there was in this book. Reading this book felt like I was talking to my good friends, and they were telling me in detail what they did with their kids that week and that vibe really worked for me. I just loved seeing all the family moments in this book.
Felix kissed me in earnest, and I’d never felt more like a winner in my life. I loved him so fucking much. It was funny, how long and hard I’d chased that label. I’d wanted so badly to prove I was a success. But it turned out there were other labels I wanted more. Dad. Partner. Husband. And hustling for those titles was going to be my biggest score. And Felix was the key, the true prize, not one I could win, but one I could earn if I were truly lucky.
Sixth, if there is two people who are amazing at communicating and telling each other what they want, it’s these guys. I loved how they talked about everything and talked everything over before they did something. These guys had some of the best communication I have ever read in a book, and I just loved it. Seventh, Felix didn’t really want to be in a relationship because his last one hadn’t gone down very well, and I understood all his reasons and worries, but it just made me a little sad how he kept telling Calder no when all Calder wanted was to date him. Calder kept showing how committed he was, and Felix kept being wary of Calder. In fact, Calder kept showing Felix that he was here to stay and how much he cares about Felix and the kids, and Felix kept thinking that Calder would leave them when Calder never made indication that he would, and that just made me a little sad to read. Sometimes it felt like Calder was a little more committed to making the relationship work than Felix and I just wanted everything to be a little more equal. I really enjoyed reading this one and it was such an experience for me, one I’m really glad I experienced.
Shore Leave Series