Sunday, February 02, 2014

Undertow by Amber Lynn Natusch: Review & Giveaway


Title: Undertow

Author: Amber Lynn Natusch

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: October 30 2013

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How far does a girl have to run to escape a lifetime of pain and loss at the hands of Alaska's notoriously unforgiving Bering Sea? Twenty-seven-year-old Aesa Fredriksen thought landlocked Columbus, Ohio would suffice, and it does until the fear of regret drives her to return to Dutch Harbor in a final attempt to make amends with her nearly-estranged father. Intent on salvaging the wreckage of their relationship, she reluctantly agrees to join him—the only family she has left—as he heads out to fish for king crab, forcing her to brave the very waters that pulled him away from her as a child. The waters that stole her mother's life.

When the day finally arrives for the Norwegian Queen to sail off into an uncertain future, Aesa can't help but fear the worst. Beyond the violent swells and impending storms, there is far more than death and danger awaiting her on her journey: love awaits her too.
Decker, a young but seasoned member of her father's crew, is a force of nature as strong as Aesa, He's her perfect match, and even she can't deny it. But he too is a man of the sea, and with memories of tragedy and abandonment etched so deeply into her mind, can she overcome her demons and let him in or will she drown in her darkness, forever caught in its undertow?



Undertow collage


Becs’ Review


Amber Lynn Natusch is far better known as a paranormal romance writer and this is, to the best of my knowledge, her first contemporary romance but it’s easy to see the experienced hand of an established writer that guides you through this tumultuous and stunning romance.  It’s safe to say that I lost myself in this book, immersed myself in a world I ad no previous knowledge of and allowed it all to come vividly to life in my imagination.


Quick summary – Aesa, pronounced Ice-Ah, (be wary if you call this fiery redhead Ice!) has been estranged from her father, a Bering Sea Crab Fishing Captain since her mother’s suicide in that treacherous sea for which she has laid the blame firmly at his feet.  She has an innate hatred of the sea which she believes has robbed her of just about everything and everyone that has ever meant anything to her but her experiences as an ER Doc seeing more regret on the faces of patients and family members than she can purge from her memory have prompted her to return to her roots in Alaska and attempt to make peace with her Father.


undertow dna quotey


As her Father is about to set sail for the crabbing season and she has a little time on her hands before her ER residency in Anchorage begins, she agrees to face all her demons and embark out on the Bering Sea with her father and his crew on board the Norwegian Queen, determined to make sense of the past and to try to understand her Father.  His crew includes Robbie who Aesa has known nearly all her life and Decker, the calm, capable and rocksteady deckhand who represents everything that Aesa does not want in her life but can’t help but find herself deeply drawn to him.


Aesa knows that the life as a fisherman’s wife drove her mother to suicide – always saying goodbye to the man that she loved, never knowing whether he would return and, although she feels something for Decker that she’s never felt before, she’s completely torn as she knows that she doesn’t want that life for herself.  She’s done everything in her power to get away from it and now the lure of the sea is pulling her back towards a destiny she’s been desperate to avoid nearly her whole life.


Decker, for his part, knows what he feels for Aesa and understands her reservations and is such a noble man – despite outward appearances of being a rugged, hardened fisherman, he’s a real gentleman and incredibly zen and calm despite his rather torrid past.  He’s steadfast, loyal, patient and yet so incredibly all man. The experiences he’s been through have made him the man he is today and I fell head over heels for Decker, delicious fisherman that he is.


A man doesn't seek out a woman because he wants to screw her and leave, nor does he leave because he can't screw her at all. That's an asshole. A real man goes after a woman because he knows that life with her far surpasses that without her. He should be stimulated by her very presence, lack of clothing notwithstanding. That is a man.


undertow never let you fall


This was just a beautifully written romance.  Obviously the world of Bering Sea fishermen is completely new to me but the evocative writing and descriptions brought the harsh reality of that world vividly to life – I could have been standing on the decks of the Norwegian Queen watching the oncoming storm, savouring the salty smell of the air.  It’s wonderfully paced as Aesa and Decker’s growing feelings are given time to expand and for us, the reader, to really appreciate their burgeoning relationship.  There’s no insta-love, no falling into bed – every emotion here is deep, genuine and heartfelt and I really did lose myself in their story, willing them to find a happy equilibrium but there are shocks and high drama in store for this as, frequently, the story had me gasping out loud at what was happening.


Aesa has another issue to deal with here – the deeply damaged relationship with her father.  All through her childhood, she has watched her father walk away from her, heading out to that jealous mistress, The Bering Sea and her mother could not cope with the loneliness and Aesa blames her father firmly for all of this but she must learn the secrets of the past and come to terms with what really happened before it is too late.  I felt desperately sorry for this man who had essentially lost both his wife and daughter and was rooting for the two of them to make peace with one another and rediscover that father/daughter bond.


But the years and the distance made me realize that, while I had lost one parent, I was unwilling to lose another. As my ER rotation had taught me, life could change in an instant, leaving no time for regret. And I had much that I regretted. So I had returned home to salvage what was left of my relationship with my father, pulling the wreckage from the deep and fixing it slowly. I wasn't sure that it was even possible, but I was willing to try. That was why I had asked to do my residency in Anchorage, Alaska: to be closer to him before he left, yet again, to brave the open water and do what he knew how to do best.

Fish and grieve.


I think that the major theme at the centre of the novel is forgiveness.  Aesa has to face up to her past, come to terms with it and forgive her father for his perceived transgressions against her and her mother and put it all firmly behind her and move on and leave those demons behind.  Decker is a man who has been to hell and back but he is far stronger as a consequence and he has also had to learn to forgive someone very close to him.


This was just a sumptuous read for me – beautifully, evocative writing, a heroine to root for and a hero to die for, wonderfully paced romance with plenty of shocks and store.  Deeply heartfelt – this one worked for me on so many levels and is a Sinfully Sexy recommended read.


4.5 stars


undertow spiteful bitch




As I loved this book so much – I want more of you to discover it so I’m going to gift 3 lucky winners a Kindle eBook of Undertow.  For your chance to win, just enter the Rafflecopter below and Good Luck!!

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