Crab fishing is the setting for this trilogy of good time romancin' fun. Ever since the Mike Rowe-narrated super reality show about rich boat owners and their hard-working crews captured the imagination of Real America, Crab Fishing has become A Thing. The Deadliest Catch is a super-successful reality show on Discovery that has spawned books, T-shirts, and an XBox game. And now not one but THREE frickin' romance novels. Whoa.
That thar is just the cover of the first novel. Yep. That's what a crab fisherman looks like. All waxed chest and jeans. Snort. These books are firmly in the Graphic Category. Debbie Macomber this ain't.
Book 1: Heart of the Storm
Charlene (Charlie) Henderson comes from a fishing family. Her dad, Bull, was such a crab fishing legend and her brother, Kevin inherited the boat. Charlene's mom, Mona, painted with a 6-inch Icy Bitch Brush, hates the fishing life. Charlene and Kevin grew up with another fishing wunderkind Ethan Shannon and his sister Kelly. They live in Anacortes, WA but fish the Bearing Sea--like most of the exceptionally wealthy fisherman. Charlie and Ethan have a history. There are FEELINGS and A PAST and they were separated by FISHING.
Well, at some point Kevin and The Daughter of Norway went missing and Charlie wants to get to the bottom of that. After interviewing a guy in prison she's off to Dutch Harbor to find her brother. Someone shoots at her plane on landing and she tells Ethan about it when he meets her at the airport. Gone was the tomboy and here was A Woman, Ethan thinks bitterly. He's pretty pissy about the way their relationship. They have feelings at each other--Charlie tried to make Ethan choose between fishing and her. He picked fishing, she left. He was upset and sad and went fishing. She feels bad but still looooooves his stocky-framed, chain-smoking self.
Yeah, these book has a lot of Angry Kissing and flinging the wimmins about, so be advised.
After allowing her to work onboard The Celtic Rose as the gender-appropriate cook while they fish and then run out to some place in the Russian part of the Bearing Sea, Ethan kissed her aggressively. Charlie has to practice putting on her survival suit so they can pass the Coast Guard inspection so they can fish. Charlie stops off at the local dispenser of wisdom, Barbara Kanook, to say hi and get some clothing and they're off. Ethan's butt is perfect, whatever than means, and poor Charlie has to look at it every time he climbs a ladder.
Philip (Pogie) Crane, Jamie Taylor, Gabe Hernandez, and Cal Hendricks round out the crew and they shove off. Wooo, life at sea. Charlie is a puker and vomits copiously the first night they are out. She rallies and makes my least-favorite meal of meat loaf. The crew loves her cooking and all develop crushes on her. Because she is the only woman and she feeds them.
Charlie and Ethan reminisce about their past naked times. They are frustrated and sleepless. They meet in the galley, both needing a cup of coffee. I wonder what will happen??? Nothing yet, sillies, we aren't that far into the book!
Blah blah, talking to the crew, moving pots. Bler Bler things. We find out that Pogie has a thing for Barbara. Kelly, Ethan's sister, is going to school for marine biology. Charlie takes a turn at the helm and lets Ethan sleep. Charlie keeps bugging Ethan to get to Some Island where her brother was last seen--ignoring that they would be entering Russian waters without permission and diesel on a crab boat runs more than $10,000 per day. (That is not an exaggeration.)
A Very Bad Man named Ken Stabler behaves like a Douchebag with an agenda while they offload in St. Paul. He had something to do with her brother's disappearance. Dun dun Dunnnn. Pogie tells her that people think Kevin and Ethan were running drugs or something and that's why everyone treats Ethan like crap and don't care about Kevin's disappearance. Is this the place to tell you that fishermen are the gossipiest bunch of old biddies on the face of the earth? Because they so totally are.
And now we have the Graphic Portion of the Heart of the Storm.
Nobody wants Charlie to just sleep with Ethan and leave. That would ruin him, they say. They explain what It Means to be a fisherman's wife. (It means shitty work with little to no pay. No way to talk to your partner for days on end. And owning a piece of glory.) FEELINGS oh the FEELINGS.
Suddenly, deckhand Cal mutinies and takes over the boat. Oh noes! And here comes Ken with a pile of Russians to take over The Celtic Rose. Cal is Ken's toadie and they are meanie means bent on stopping people from learning about Kevin's disappearance At All Costs! Like all evil masterminds, Ken spills his copious guts and tells of his evil tale of evil. Ken is a federal fisheries observer who dabbles in smuggling. Go, Ken, make that GS-9 work! There is tussling and some noses get broken. Charlie is stuck in "the stateroom" and sees a hulking blond man with violet blue eyes. Kevin's eyes. Holy shit, it's Kevin and he's speaking RUSSIAN. WTF, indeed.
Kevin is working with the Russian DEA, or something I can't really be bothered to care that much, and has infiltrated a the Ivanisovich mafia outfit. (I want to call him Ricky Sargulesh because I love Party Down so, so much.) Kevin, Ethan, the good crew members, and Charlie fight off the pile of evil Ken brought on board. Ken has placed illegal guns onboard The Celtic Rose and was intending to meet Ivanisovitch's boat for an illegal trade. Kevin wants to catch Ivanisovitch, so onward into the night they go.
Meanwhile, Charlie has learned that she loves both Ethan and the Sea. The only reason she thought she hated it was because her mom told her to. Mom is bitter awfulness, yes?
They steam into the night toward danger although they alerted the Coast Guard and the Russian Coast Guard. They meet the Russian ship and there is gunfire and stuff! Ethan gets shot and Charlie has to drive the boat. (Also? in order to run a boat that size I believe one needs a captain's license. It's not a Lund.) A rogue wave smashes the radar and the radio so they are in the dark. Ethan is bleeding every damn place, but they make it to St. Paul island to be medevac'd.
Everybody meets in the Hospital in...Juneau? Um, no. The biggest hospital in Alaska is in Anchorage but for really serious stuff people go to Seattle. This has been your friendly Bullshit Romance moment, love MuskegHarpy.
Mona shows up and is pissy and awful to everyone because she has exactly 1 dimension. Turns out that Mona told Ethan to take a hike and Charlie was better off without him. Mona! Kelly, Ethan's sister, is nicer and all, "I love you Charlie. You're so great. I missed you. Woot!"
There is a reason Mona suck so much, turns out she is in on the smuggling and Ken Stabler, nee Dillard, is her brother. Dun, Dun, DAAAAAAAA! Icy Bitch is a criminal, too. She will try to kill her kids at some later date.
Ethan, predictably, recovers from his injuries enough to ask Kevin for Charlie's hand. Kevin goes and runs the boat while Ethan recovers in Anacortes. Charlie and Ethan just don't want to be apart ever again and Charlie finally decides that she likes fishing after all. They get back out on the boat and Charlie is puking again, only this time it's because she's knocked up! Yay! nothing like morning sickness on a huge, vibrating, diesel-powered, steel beast.
All that's left is surprising Charlie with a wedding once they were back in Dutch Harbor.
Tune in again for Book 2 of the Alaska Man trilogy: Edge of the Storm--it stars a Coastie!