This time, even if this is a contemporary novel, I’m surprised the author managed the same achievement with a totally stranger setting; the Hawaiian culture is pretty popular, for different reason, to the US author, but I think it had to be difficult for a stranger to reach such detailed background. True, one of the main character is British, but all the quite rich cast is plain American. Plus, due to the length of the novel, more of 400 pages, there was plenty of chances to be caught in mistake, and for as much I can, that didn’t happened.
I also liked the many parallelism the author did with the title of the book: Sea Change of course refers to one of the main character of the novel, the Sea indead, which bind together Bran, a former US Coast Guard, and Steve, a British vet with a specialization in sea animals. The I think the “sea change” refers also to the tides and to the changes happening with them: Bran has always thought his life was to be a Coast Guard, but now, due to a work related accident, he is no more fit to the role; he has to rethink his life, and he is not sure of where this change will lead him. While Bran is unsure of his career future, I didn’t detect any uncertainty on his sexual awareness, Bran is gay and he has no intention to go back in the closet, not even for a man he could arrive to love. On the other hand, while Steve has his future career planned ahead of him, he has not the same clear path on an emotional level: he professes to be straight, and in search of the right woman, but he had at least a long-term relationship (6 months at 20 years old is long-term) with a college roommate, and so, he is not total against the idea of having a relationship with Bran, only that he is not exactly ready to be open with that. I don’t know but maybe since Bran has issues with a lot of his life aspect but apparently not with his sexuality, maybe he cannot accept to barter also on that, and so for him it’s all or nothing.
Now in any “ordinary” length novel, the gay for you sub-plot would have been the easy card to play, and as often happen, the sudden turn from straight to gay of one of the character would have been not so much supported by his emotional development. In Sea Change instead the author has plenty of time, and story, to make it believable, and so when Steve arrives to the conclusion that he is in love with Bran, it’s not sudden, but a well ripe, and well thought, decision.
As usual I concentrated on the romance plot, but this is not “only” a romance novel, it’s something more: there is the setting, that can tags this novel as multicultural, the adventure and even the quest of a man who is searching for his future. But well, from my perspective, the romance is very important, and even if here it arrives a bit late (more or less ¾ of the book), be patient, and I will assure you, it will be worth the wait.