Monday, July 18, 2016

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: INTO THE BLUE by Pene Henson--Includes Author Interview!

Into the Blue

Author: Pene Henson
Release Date: July 7, 2016


Tai Talagi and Ollie Birkstrom have been inseparable since they met as kids surfing the North Shore. Now they live with their best friends in a pulled-together family, sharing life and the saltwater in their veins. Tai’s spent years setting aside his feelings for Ollie, but when Ollie’s pro surfing aspirations come to fruition, their steady world shifts. Is the relationship worth risking everything for a chance at something terrifying and beautiful and altogether new?

Pages or Words: 236 pages, 72,600 words

Categories: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult, Romance

Buy the book:

Across from them, one of the Brazilians plays guitar. Ollie doesn’t recognize the song even when a couple of others sing along. The beach is wider and the sand finer than on the North Shore, but every beach is a little like home. Ollie misses the Blue House; he misses the surf and the palms and the shoreline he knows so well. He misses Jaime and Sunny and Hannah. Still, though he’s as far from home as he’s ever been, Ollie’s comfortable. These are his people, too. He leans back on his arms and looks up into the dark. 
He’s watched the night sky since he was a little kid, but down here in the Southern Hemisphere he doesn’t recognize the hundreds upon hundreds of stars. The Southern Cross is up there. Ollie tries to orient himself. 
Tai shifts toward him, then looks up and follows Ollie’s gaze. The warmth of Tai’s body settles into Ollie’s heart, grounds him. Ollie leans into him a little, and their arms brush to the elbow. The contact simmers in the air between them. 
Unexpectedly, Ollie knows what he wants. “Come back to the hotel,” he says quietly to Tai. He pitches his voice low. It hums across the tiny space between them. No one else can hear him over the pounding surf and the sound of the music. It’s easy to be bold in the dark of a beach where Ollie’s never been before. He’s shocked by that same boldness.

Carra's Review

The first words that come to mind after reading Into the Blue are "simply wonderful".  The story is at the same time calming, comfortable and yet laced with tension .  It's a friends-to-more story, the kind where the main characters escalate things temporarily, under the assumption things will go back to normal afterward.  We all know how those things tend to go...but the author takes us there in the best possible way-and for a first novel, I'm left pleasantly surprised with a new author to add to my auto-buy list.

Tai has become one of my favorite characters.  He's sweet, charming, thoughtful, and very in tune with his best friend Ollie.  He's the one who's had feelings for Ollie all along, but never acted on them-he doesn't want to risk their friendship, or the little family they've created with Ollie's brother Jaime and their friends Sunny and Hannah.  Ollie is an exceptional surfer, and can seem aloof with his aversion to crowds and touch.  His realization that he wants to try more with Tai turns things complicated, even when he puts constraints on their "experimentation".

Tai and Ollie together is comfortable and just...right.  They have incredible chemistry, and fit together almost like they are one person--definitely two halves of a whole.  Following their story had me totally engrossed and not realizing how the time was flying by, and I did not want to put this down until I was done.  The writing flows so smoothly, is descriptive and soothing and really made me feel like I was in the story with the characters.  And it didn't matter that I don't know a thing about surfing-the story is told so well that I understood everything and even when it was going into detail about the competitions, the overall story was still concentrated on Tai and Ollie.

Into the Blue was an amazing, emotional 5-star read for me, and I've put it on my top recommendations list for new adult M/M romance.  It's a heartwarming story, even when it's tearing at you...and the heat between Tai and Ollie feels like a magnificent bonus.  Recommended for readers 18+ for M/M sexual content.  I'm really looking forward to more from Pene Henson-she's set the bar high with Into the Blue!

Meet the author:

Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the city’s LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time enjoying the outdoors and gazing at the ocean with her gorgeous wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. Into the Blue is her first novel.


Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Pene Henson author of Into the Blue.

Hi Pene, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

When did you write your first story/book? How old were you?

This one is my first book and I started writing it when I was 40. But I’ve written stories since I was little. I focused on studying for a while there and only wrote poetry (especially when I was sad.) I re-discovered fiction writing when I was 26 or 27. I started small, with short stories. It took years to build to this point.

Are you a plotter or pantser?

I walk a line through the middle. I plot things quite broadly, with more of the detail and some of the essentials missing, but I stick with that plot as I go because I like the way a narrative opens and closes. 

What do you think makes your book stand out from the crowd?

Ooh what a nice question. I think my kindness to the characters and insight into real humans is a quiet way the book stands out. The characters are so real to me and I wanted them all to be so happy. Add to that the bright summertime visuals and sweetness of a run down beach house and a found family. 

How do you find or make time to write?

As I have a full time career and two young children, I steal the time from so many other things. I had to give up a lot of time with my friends and a lot of late nights with wine for early morning starts at 4:30. But that’s the only time the children are quiet and work is quiet and I can write. I gave up some sleep and a lot of hair washes. I didn’t cook as much as I like to do. Generally it hasn’t been ideal but it’s also been essential and perfect. 

What do you like to read in your free time?

I love reading realistic and quick witted romance novels such as Jennifer Crusie’s consistently excellent books and Jane Austen novels. I enjoy queer romance too. I have a lot of comfort books, books I’ve read before and still can’’t wait to read again and be in that world. Others of my favourite novelists are A. S Byatt, P. D. James, E. Annie Proulx. 

Rafflecopter Prize: Grand Prize: $25 Interlude Press Gift Card, Five first prizes of an e-copy of ‘Into the Blue’ by Pene Henson

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1 comment:

  1. I so appreciate this wonderful review, and how you saw the boys. Thank you! Thank you also for hosting me here. I look forward to speaking further.