This is my first story from L.J. LaBarthe, although the author has been publishing stories for the past 6 years. I think I have never really been intrigued with the blurb from her other stories. This one though, well, the blurb AND the cover called to me: interracial couple (Australian guy and Indian guy) and look at that elephant!!
It was pretty low angst and the romance low-key. There was no huge drama in terms of Garrett and Jai becoming lovers and involoved in relationship. For me, this story was more about Garrett and how he must adjust to new life choices after his injury. Interestingly, even if Garrett was described as being frustrated with the constant pain, the continuous therapy, and the lost of his job as an arborist (Garrett was quite proud and happy being an arborist!), he never came to me as whiny. Garrett was determined to be better, so he was willing to do what his doctors told him to, including coming to Havelock Island. So yes, there were times when he complained but I thought it was a natural thing to do. I would probably do the same if I was in his position.
The writing, however, was not as emotionally engaged as I would prefer it to be. There were a lot of descriptions that sometimes sounded like a travel book, especially when it was related to Havelock Island. Don't get me wrong, the scene where Garrett swam with the elephants was probably one of the most majestic moments I have ever read in this genre. I could see it in my mind's eye and I want to experience it myself. But in overall, I didn't feel like I was pulled into these characters' lives; it felt like there was a distance between them and I. I still really liked it but I couldn't say that I loved it, you know? Thus my 3.5 stars.
Now, I wish I can swim with elephants -- without having to experience pain/injury first. Maybe I should start googling for places that offer such thing.