Bethany & Erryn review ‘Galaxies and Oceans’ by N.R. Walker. Self-published on June 23, 2018, 313 pgs.
Why we read this book:
Bethany: N.R. is an auto read for me so getting to read something new was a no brainer.
Erryn: It’s N.R. Walker. Nothing else needs be said.
NOTE: Bethany and Erryn were provided this book in exchange for honest reviews.
Seizing his one chance to escape, Ethan Hosking leaves his violent ex-boyfriend, leaves his entire life, and walks into the path of a raging bushfire. Desperate to start over, a new man named Aubrey Hobbs walks out of the fire-ravaged forest, alive and alone. With no ID and no money, nothing but his grandfather’s telescope, he goes where the Southern Cross leads him.
Patrick Carney is the resident lighthouse keeper in Hadley Cove, a small town on the remote Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia. After the tragic death of his lover four years ago, he lives a solitary life; just him, a tabby cat, the Indian and Southern Oceans, and a whole lot of loneliness. He’s content with his life until a stranger shows up in town and turns Patrick’s head.
Patrick never expected to be interested in anyone else.
Aubrey never expected to be happy.
Between Aubrey’s love of the stars and Patrick’s love of the ocean, these two fragile hearts must navigate new waters. If they can weather the storm of their pasts, they could very well have a love that eclipses everything.
Bethany: I think I have pretty much read everything N.R. Walker has written. Some more than twice. I have read and I have listened to her books and there isn’t one that I haven’t absolutely loved. So when we were offered a chance to read something new from her, well we jumped at the chance.
I think my heart started off broken with this one. Let me explain. You see most books begin with where the MC’s meet, fall, are happy happy happy, then the big bad ugly hits them, then comes the healing, which leads to the HEA. This one starts off with the big bad ugly, and a whole lot of pain and hurt. My heart was in pieces at the beginning of this book and I honestly was a tad scared to continue. But you see I know N.R.’s works and I knew she would make this better for me.
I wanted so badly to wrap Aubrey in a blanket and tell him it would be ok and that no one would ever hurt him again. Then in walks Patrick and he did that for me. I knew that Patrick and Aubrey were going to be something special, I just didn’t know how special they would mean to me. I can’t imagine the kind of pain that Patrick had been going through for years. Living with the unknown of what actually happened to his lover all those years ago. I just kinda broke a little more for him.
But the way he steps in and takes care of Aubrey, the way he cares for him. The fact that he can see that something really bad happened to Aubrey and doesn’t push for Aubrey to tell him everything shows you what an amazing man he is.
Yes Aubrey is a very broken and skittish man. NO ONE should have to endure what he went through with his ex, someone that should have cherished him. And while yes Patrick does care for him and show him that it is ok to let someone in to help. To let someone in he can love and be loved in return, Aubrey also has such an inner strength that you know with Patrick by his side he can get through anything.
This book hits on some very hard and dark sides. Darkness that might completely cripple some, these two men show you that they walked through fire and there was light(house) at the other end. I love everything N.R. writes and this one is no different, but it left me feeling different than her others. Not in a bad way, just in a way that proves to me over and over, this author continues to grow and strengthen as an author. It is why I know I will follow her with whatever she decides to write.
It’s been less than a year since I read my first N.R. Walker book. I fell in love with Henry and Reed from ‘The Weight of It All’ and have since made my way through much of her back catalogue. As it happens, but pure coincidence, I was listening to the Spencer Cohen series at the same time I was reading ‘Galaxies and Oceans’. ‘Yanni’s Story’ is book 4 in the Spencer Cohen series and was published a year ago. There are striking similarities between the two books and both have broken my heart in different ways. So, if you’ve read ‘Yanni’s Story’, know that many of the same issues are addressed and although the final relationship between Yanni & Peter and Aubrey & Patrick are different, much of the journeys are similar.
So why read ‘Galaxies and Oceans’ when ‘Yanni’s Story’ was so amazing? Because this is an author who continues to learn, to grow, to improve, and to hone her craft. Some authors are happy to write and publish enjoyable books and their readers will buy them and it is a mutually beneficial relationship. Ms. Walker, however, understands that her readers are sophisticated and are willing to embrace her growth as a writer. ‘On Davis Row’ was dark, gritty, and very real. It was a book that challenged me as a reader to examine issues I hadn’t necessarily wanted to – mainly criminal justice, family dysfunction, and redemption. And as much as I loved that book, ‘Galaxies and Oceans’ far surpasses it, and although I haven’t read all of her books, I would rank this one as one of the best I’ve read. Ever.
What makes this book so special?
Well, Aubrey, for starters. A reader doesn’t have to have been in an abusive relationship to understand the desperation this young man faces. As Ethan Hosking, the young man was living a lie and when he was offered the opportunity to die and be reborn – like a phoenix – he finds the courage and does just that. Sometimes it takes more strength to walk away than to stay and slowly (or quickly) die. Ethan died and Aubrey was born, heading toward the Southern Cross and the unknown. Although his story unfolds slowly after he moves to Hadley Cove, each revelation is more and more painful. The need to stay under the radar is critical, but when he meets one of the two gay men in town, he’s lost. His plan to remain inconspicuous and go unnoticed is swept away with the tide.
Patrick is a staple in town. He and his former partner were members of the community, but when Scott died, Patrick closed in on himself. Understandably, but a heartbreak nonetheless. Death is almost always tragic, but some losses are more painful than others. Residents of Hadley Cove would be happy to see Patrick dating a new man, but his heart is closed. Or so he believes. Because as prickly as Aubrey is, Patrick can recognize another wounded soul. When he says the following to Aubrey, I knew the men were kindred spirits.
“Stay,” I replied without thought. “Stay here today, with me. And tonight if you want. We don’t have to do anything sexual if you don’t want, but I just really enjoy having you here and never realized how lonely I was.”
Holy shit. Where did that come from?
Aubrey slid his chair back and hopped around to my side. He sat on my lap like it was the most natural thing in the world, put his arms around my neck, and rested his forehead on mine. “I really enjoy being here,” he murmured, lifting my chin for a soft kiss. “I’m sorry you were lonely, but I’m really glad I’m here with you now. I’ll stay today, and maybe tonight if you’re not sick of me by then.”
Unsurprisingly, Patrick is a gentle and considerate man. Anyone who has held on to a lost love for that long has a heart, and in recognizing Aubrey’s skittishness, is able to use his gentling nature to draw the damaged man out of his protective shell.
The relationship has hurtles, of course. As Patrick reflects, “Oh, God. I’d had my first kiss before he was born.” As for Aubrey, he tells Patrick, “Kind of like I’m lost at sea and you’re the lighthouse and safe harbor. I know when I’m with you, no one can hurt me.”
I knew the happiness couldn’t last because Aubrey wasn’t truly free to be himself. As long as his past was there, it was a threat to his future happiness.
I loved these men. The slow burn as the men discover each other and let down the barriers was lovely. Patrick is a gallant gentleman who is comfortable courting Aubrey. Their ‘dates’ are amazingly creative and yet touchingly simple. I wish I had a suitor like Patrick. That being said, I loved it when Aubrey said to Patrick, “It’s one of the biggest phallic shaped things in the southern hemisphere.” The lighthouse is the symbol of safety Aubrey refers to, but that imagery is just the beginning.
I want to quote dozens of stunning passages that occur when Aubrey and Patrick are discussing their loves – the ocean and the sky. I will select my favourites, but I’m sure other readers will have their own. As Patrick and Aubrey are seal watching, Aubrey reflects, ‘I knew that most people just saw dark skies when they looked up at night, they didn’t appreciate the stars, the galaxies, the infinite vastness of space. The endless possibilities, the significance and insignificance of life. Most people just saw a few stars and the moon and didn’t care. Much like how I viewed the ocean.’
Patrick, though, is an observer of the ocean. “I see something that’s beautiful and ancient. That’s unforgiving and unyielding.” In response to Aubrey’s further questioning, he smiles and says, “It’s not the ocean that bends and breaks. You think those rocks down there are unmovable and a solid force because the water crashes around them, but it’s the opposite. The ocean shapes them and breaks them down. It moves them, not the other way around. The ocean is a constant force of energy. It yields for nothing.”
There is a heartbreakingly beautiful scene which I won’t give the details of, but the fact Patrick would go to Aubrey in the middle of the night and coax him out to see something rare, speaks to the preciousness of their relationship. A coupling I had faith would survive all that was headed their way.
I take notes as I read, and I noted the number of times I ‘sniffed’ and ‘sobbed’. Yep, I was on a bus and sobbing. And the book has a happy ending. But that is the joy of Ms. Walker’s writing – she will make you work hard for it. You’ll get your happy ending, but the journey you take along with her heroes will squeeze your heart, and on occasion, churn your stomach.
This book is, as I said, one of the best I’ve ever read. I hope if you read it, you’ll experience the same range of emotions and are left at the end with such a warm and happy feeling.
N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.
She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who she gives them life with words.
She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love. She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.
She’s been writing ever since…
Get in touch with N.R.