Something in the Water by Ben Starling

Something in the Water by Ben StarlingThis book is very hard to classify which can be a bad sign but is not in this case simply because the story is strong. If you’re expecting a traditional romance, though, you’ll be disappointed. There is a confusing, realistic, at times frightening, romance that doesn’t hold to the markers expected in a traditional romance. The book is, however, mainly an environmental thriller with a mystery to solve that aspiring investigative reporter Teal Douglas is capable of undertaking if she only has faith in herself.

I’m going to avoid major spoilers, but I’ll say one of the reasons it doesn’t follow traditional romance guidelines is because Teal is in a long-term relationship through most of the story that is not the love story. This relationship is both toxic and abusive, clear from the beginning, though I felt Edward/Bear was a little overdrawn at times in both the descriptions of him and his behavior. I didn’t always agree with what Teal chose to do, but at the same time, I always understood why she did make those choices, so I’m divided. It’s certainly as complicated and messy as real life. The love story is a low-key romance that has non-explicit sex and is mainly about the people coming together because of what they believe in.

As might be expected with my characterization of an environmental thriller, there’s a strong environmental message mixed with mysticism in a beautiful blend of spiritual tradition and scientific knowledge. For the most part, the story is grounded in the contemporary world with a clear understanding of the problems we face not just in what’s happening to our planet but also clear in the mentality that drives the wealthy to act as they do. At the same time, the story starts with music no one else can hear and Teal’s close relationship with her grandmother’s ghost.

The real love story is not between Teal and the man you’ll meet as you read, but between aware humans and the planet we live on. It’s about the connection between the Earth and every creature on it as well as sacrifices made for the greater good.

The description overall was lovingly drawn and quite evocative, especially in the boat and ocean metaphors, something that calls to me quite strongly. Despite my frustrations with the Teal and Bear thread, the main story has truly bad “bad people” and gives the good people the opportunity to stand up for what they believe in, even when it seems like everything will collapse. The investigation was at times harrowing, but the pieces were in place for me to recognize key elements while also learning about the lengths those with money will go.

The many cast members came to life on the page, both those who cared and those who did not, making for fascinating, realistic people, excepting my issue with Bear. Frank and Nancy were lovely, as were Kris and Emma, while their stories fleshed out the main one. Bob, however, plays a key role, and the way this apparently unstable native is drawn is compelling. I figured out his story so the seeds are there, something I appreciate in the books I read, especially those with a mystery element, and Bob’s were not the only seeds laid.

So, basically, if you pick this up looking for a traditional romance, you might not like what you discover. However, if you are looking for a passionate story with characters who are both interesting and driven by the need to make a difference, you will not come away wanting as Something in the Water fulfills that wish admirably.

P.S. I received this novel from the author in return for an honest review.

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