Title ~ Love on the Jersey Shore
Author ~ Richard Natale
Publisher ~ Bold Strokes
Release Date ~ 15th February 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
Sexual chemistry and the search for real love can be a combustible mixture.
When the hunky young Anthony Ragucci falls for his dream man, a handsome attorney named Hunter Reese, his happily ever after fantasies are threatened by the meddling of the dashing and haughty Robert Burke. His loyal cousin Frank quickly rushes to Anthony’s defense, only to find his efforts hampered by a growing attraction to the inscrutable Robert.
Ultimately, the two cousins discover that Love on the Jersey Shore is a sink or swim proposition. Watch out for the undertow!
“Love on the Jersey Shore” is a soap opera. There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s a good soap opera - and it is. There’s a huge amount of love, heartache, disappointment, success, support and betrayal packed into the pages of this book. It’s the story of two working-class New Jersey guys looking for success and love (perhaps) on the Jersey Shore, in the Atlantic coastal communities that serve as the summer resorts of the wealthy and well-connected, mostly from New York. The Jersey Shore is the New Jersey equivalent of Long Island’s Hamptons, a seasonal retreat where a guy willing to work hard and kiss a little butt can go far. There are some year-round residents, but they’re mostly old money, families whose “summer cottages” of yore are the mansions of today. In that respect, they’re a bit like Newport, Rhode Island, the lavish summer playground of the Astors and Vanderbilts.
Although Anthony and Frank Ragucci are cousins, they’re more like brothers. That’s exactly as it should be, since they were raised under the same roof after Anthony lost his mother at the age of 9. Frank goes to university and earns a degree in Architecture; Anthony goes to work in a nursery. As it turns out, Anthony has a huge green thumb and a great eye for landscape design, so he starts his own horticulture business, tapping into the wealth of the nearby Princeton area, building an admirable reputation for creating stunning landscapes and formal gardens. Frank decides he doesn’t want to work in an office, so he gets a contractor’s license and founds a renovation/real-estate company. The two cousins continue to work together, their chosen careers as complementary as their lives have always been.
Things go pretty well for both of them until they make one ill-advised investment. They put both of their life savings into a “fixer-upper” on the Jersey Shore, combining their talents and energies to rehab and improve the property for a quick flip and a huge profit. What they didn’t count on was the real-estate bubble bursting, and the market falling apart around them. So they move into the house they bought to flip and use it as their base of operations to branch out into the affluent Shore community.
And that’s where the fun starts. Warning: you have to suspend your disbelief to seriously get into the machinations and twists of these two young men’s love lives. It all starts with Anthony breaking his rules and falling in love with a gorgeous client, Hunter Reese. Hunter is the scion of a wealthy family who recently passed the Bar and joined a big, powerful law firm. The two young men fall madly in love. That is, until a third party, who may be the devil incarnate (or actually a really cool guy, depending on your perspective) intervenes and ruins things. I can’t tell you much more, because almost anything from this point on is a spoiler, but you have to believe that the rich young man who, just days before, was madly in love is convinced to leave Anthony and move to a foreign country. Hunter may be gorgeous, but he’s obviously not the brightest card in the deck. No wonder it took him three tries to pass the bar.
And the guy who engineered this abandonment is far from done with the Raguccis. In fact, he has feelings for one of them. He’s filthy rich, obviously very entitled, and more than willing to damage lives to satisfy his own selfish need for control. But he’s also an undercover nice guy who saves the Raguccis, more than once, anonymously. Perhaps he’s suffering from multiple personality disorder?
The author provides another made-for-TV villain, the filthy-rich anti-gay matriarch of the family the Raguccis are working for (their biggest project to date), and who bears an uncanny resemblance to Cruella deVille.
I don’t mean to be snarky, but it takes a lot of disbelief to buy into this story - but that’s the nature of soap operas – and this is indeed a soap opera. It’s a soap opera about love, disappointment, loyalty, betrayal, homophobia and, above all, the struggle between the 1% and the rest of us.
Even though I didn’t believe the characters for a moment, I do admit it was still a lot of fun to read “Love at the Jersey Shore”. It’s a guilty pleasure, like watching daytime soaps and wondering how you ever got suckered into the convoluted plotlines and characters – even though you know better!
So, if you’re looking for a few fun hours, some attractive characters, villains to boo at, heroes to cheer for, go ahead and give this book a go. “Love on the Jersey Shore” is pure escapism, but sometimes, that’s exactly what we all need. If you love soap operas, you’ll love “Love on the Jersey Shore”.
Meet Richard Natale
Richard Natale is a Los Angeles-based writer and journalist. In addition to the current short stories available on Amazon, two additional titles, THE MUSCLE HOUSE and the short-story collection ISLAND FEVER can be accessed through thewritedeal.org or Google Books.
Natale's novella JUNIOR WILLIS was recently published. His full-length novel CAFE EISENHOWER, hits the shelves on November 18, 2014, and the YA fantasy novel DOUBLOON, is also due for release in late fall 2014.