I’m delighted to welcome Sue Brown and her latest book, Island Counselor, to my blog today. Below you’ll find all you need to know about this book, an enticing excerpt, my review as well as a giveaway, but we’ll start with a guest post. Enjoy!
Island Counselor by Sue Brown
Island Medics #2, part of the Isle universe.
Release Date Jun 20, 2016
File Formats epub, mobi, pdf
Recently I was honoured to be invited to author TJ Master’s birthday party. We all giggled at one of his presents, a very large, blue gnome to go in his garden. For the first time, I have a gnome theme in Island Counselor. Nick makes the mistake of buying his mother a gnome, and the numbers escalate until they take over the garden. Even Logan receives one as a present, albeit he is a reluctant recipient.
Before you ask, I don’t have any gnomes of my own. I just have a huge statue of a Great Dane, called Alex. He stares into the house from one corner of the patio, and has the reputation of freaking out all the dogs who come into the house. I have listened to many a dog growl at Alex, before they realise he’s very well behaved and isn’t going to attack them. Since the Blink episode on Doctor Who I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with statues, gargoyles and grotesques, but Alex is a good boy. He hasn’t threatened us or tried to send the Brown household back in time.
Do you have any statues or gnomes in your garden?
Logan is there for everyone, but who is there when he falls apart?
Counselor Logan Wilde has a successful therapy practice in London, but when a traumatic incident there leaves him suffering from PTSD, he takes refuge in his holiday cottage on the Isle of Wight, unable to face going back to work. Not that he’s allowed to relax. Logan’s time is taken up with helping Liam Owens, plus there’s Nick Brent, whom Logan discovers collapsed on the beach. Nick and Logan spend their time bickering with each other, but that doesn’t alter the attraction they feel.
Logan is forced to make some hard decisions about his future, which entails facing up to recent events. Only he’s not alone—Nick is with him. Unfortunately someone else makes a decision too, and now trouble is on its way to the Isle of Wight.
The Isle Series Information
THE PAT-PAT of Logan Wilde’s feet hitting the hard-packed sand echoed as he ran along the beach. He ignored the splashes of sea and sand on his shins and calves, instead focusing on the white building on the far side of the bay. The beach was mercifully free from tourists at this hour, and the sounds of the island waking up to a new day didn’t disturb his rhythm. His breathing was focused and even as he ran, although the tightness in his abdomen told him he shouldn’t overdo it.
A dog came bounding down the beach to the water’s edge and momentarily disturbed Logan’s pace. He dodged around the golden retriever, which barked happily but thankfully ignored him after that, more interested in the small waves rolling across the sand. Logan loved dogs, but he preferred to like unknown dogs at a distance. As a jogger Logan had been chased, jumped on, and even bitten by dogs. The owners were always apologetic, but apologies didn’t do much to control their mutts.
As the sun rose over the horizon, he ran on, enjoying the time to himself. Logan loved the Isle of Wight. He’d been coming here since he was a teenager on a school trip. Now that he owned a holiday cottage in Freshwater, he spent as much free time there as he could. Unfortunately—or fortunately—as his therapy practice back in South London was thriving, his free time had rapidly decreased. His time on the island was precious and he guarded it jealously. Most of the time he didn’t even let his friends on the island know he was here; he needed alone time to decompress.
Logan had nearly reached the end of the bay and was contemplating turning around, when he spotted a man sitting on the sand ahead of him. He wouldn’t have paid much attention except the man had taken off his left trainer and his sock. As Logan watched, the man swore loudly.
Logan jogged up to him. “Are you okay?”
“Do I look okay?” the man snapped. He was young, maybe midtwenties, with dark hair and long dark lashes that framed green eyes. He would have been handsome but for the sour look on his face.
Logan ignored the hostile words and looked down at his ankle. “Can I take a look? I’m a doctor. At least I was,” he amended honestly.
“Great,” the man muttered. “Like I haven’t seen enough of you lot.”
“It’s up to you. I can leave you here if you want,” Logan said cheerfully enough. “You’re going to have to move soon. The tide’s coming in.”
Sure enough, the sea was creeping up the sand and it wouldn’t take long for the beach to disappear.
The man scowled at him. “Just help me off the beach.”
Logan offered his hand. The man ignored it and tried to stand up by himself, only to crumple with a pained cry when he tried to bear weight on his left foot.
“Look, stop being an arse and let me help,” Logan said. He tucked the sock into the trainer, picked it up, and slung his arm around the guy’s waist.
They managed to get to the promenade without incident. Their progress was slow, and by the time they’d climbed the stairs, the man was sweaty and pale beneath his tan.
Logan manhandled him onto a seat and knelt at his feet. “I’m going to look at your ankle. You might need to get to the hospital and get it x-rayed.”
“It’ll be fine,” the man said. “I had an accident a few weeks ago. I shouldn’t have tried to run yet.”
Logan frowned as he gently examined the ankle. He didn’t fail to notice the man’s muscled calves and thighs with their dusting of dark hair. “I think you just twisted it.”
“That’s what I said.”
“So why do you look like you’re about to pass out?” Logan asked.
“I’m fine. You’ve done your Good Samaritan bit. Now you can go away.”
If the guy hadn’t been looking like death warmed over, Logan might have done just that. He had better things to do with his morning than deal with Mr. Bitchy, but something was wrong and Logan wasn’t going to leave the man here alone. He’d probably pass out and smack his head on the concrete.
The man tried to pull his leg away, but Logan kept him where he was. Logan sat back on his heels. “When you look like you can stand without passing out, I’ll go. Let’s start again. Hi, my name’s Logan Wilde.” He held out his hand.
The man stared at him as if he were mad, and then he gave a short laugh and shook Logan’s hand. “Nick Brent.”
“Pleased to meet you, Nick.” Logan gave him a direct look. “You twisted your ankle because…?” When Nick pursed his lips stubbornly, Logan sighed. “Jesus, Nick. I don’t need to be a doctor to tell you’re in pain.”
“It’s my left hip,” Nick said eventually. Logan nodded at him, trying to encourage him to continue. “I’m a fisherman—or I was up until a month ago. I slipped on the boat and smacked my hip. It’s taking a while to heal.”
“You can’t work until it is?” Logan guessed.
Nick shook his head. “I’m stuck on land until it does.”
“So what were you trying to do today?”
“I went for a jog.” Nick caught sight of the expression on Logan’s face. “I just thought if I could jog, then I could work.”
“So you overdid it even though your hip hurts like hell, then your leg crumpled, and you fell?”
“Something like that,” Nick said sourly. Then he sighed. “Yeah, yeah, I know I was stupid, but I’m desperate, Logan. If I can’t work, I’m not earning any money. I can’t even pay the mortgage on my flat, so I’ve rented it out to get some money in. I’ve moved back in with my mum.”
Logan didn’t need to be a mind reader to see how unimpressed Nick was with the situation. “I understand, but you have to give yourself time to heal. You’re just going to end up doing more damage if you try to force it.”
Nick huffed and refused to meet Logan’s eyes. “I need to get home.”
“Where do you live?”
“About five minutes from here. I’ll be fine.”
“You still look pale and sweaty. I’m going to get my car and drive you home. And before you argue, I’m going to put your sock and trainer on too.” He waited, but Nick didn’t say a word. “What? No arguments?”
“It hurts too fucking much to bend over,” Nick admitted.
“Hallelujah. Sense at last.” Logan carefully rolled on Nick’s sock and helped him with his trainer. “Stay there.”
Nick leaned back in the seat, scowling at Logan, who ignored it and got to his feet. Logan stretched, groaning a little at his cramped muscles. As he relaxed, he noticed Nick eyeing him up and down. When Nick caught Logan’s gaze, he looked away, still scowling, but his cheeks had gone bright red.
There! That’s it, review done. What else do you need to know?
Okay then, if you insist I’ll expand on what made Island Counselor such a fabulous reading experience. First and foremost it was due to Logan and Nick and the way their relationship developed. From the moment they meet the attraction between them is obvious, both to Logan and Nick and to the reader. The fact that Logan is not interested in a one-night-stand doesn’t put Nick off at all, and they more or less stumble into something resembling a relationship over the next few days without discussing it or the lack of definition being an issue.
While Nick is frustrated because he can’t do the job he loves because of a bad hip due to an accident, Logan struggles with far deeper issues, even if he’s reluctant to admit so both to himself and to others. And that’s where the story really came into its own for me. Logan’s issues are clear to see, and yet we’re not hammered over the head with them. While the attack he has survived is never far from his mind, he’s not constantly belly-aching about it. Having said that, he hasn’t really been dealing with the attack or the resulting PTSD either and it is the growing connection between him and Nick that makes him realise he has to come to grips with what has happened and to start thinking about what he wants to do with the rest of his life.
Nick is exactly what Logan needs. While Nick is understanding and supportive, he doesn’t allow Logan to get away with hiding from the issues any longer. And because Logan is really starting to fall for Nick, he is prepared to do what he has been avoiding so far.
I loved that the tension in this story didn’t come from a ‘will they – won’t they’ scenario, or lack of communication or some stupid misunderstanding. The threat, when they face it, is real, dangerous and also external. I can’t begin to say how refreshing it is to read a romance in which the two characters behave like grownups. Of course there are misunderstandings and moments that are far from perfect, but they happen and are resolved. For someone who dislikes protracted drama as much as I do, this was just about perfect. The at times touchingly sweet moments, only made the story better. The scene, early on in the book, when Logan catches Nick touching the spot on his cheek where Logan has just planted a soft kiss, put a huge and very happy smile on my face.
It was fun catching up with the characters from the previous books. I enjoy watching their stories continue, and their relationships grow. Seeing how issues those characters faced continue to be resolved gives these books a level of realism all too often missing from romantic fiction.
And finally there’s Sue Brown’s writing style, which I love. She never fails to draw me straight into her story, the images she paints with her words are clear and her characters are vivid and real. I always end up wanting to meet her characters and inhabit their world, because by the time I finish the story I have a hard time reminding myself it has all been fictional.
I’m not sure how clear my ramblings above have been and I hope they convey clearly how very much I loved Island Counselor. Part of me still thinks I should have just left it at ‘Wonderful’ J
Related link: Island Doctor review
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