Where Sea Meets Sky by Karina Halle
Published by Atria
Published on March 31st 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
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A new adult novel that perfectly captures the existential angst of your early twenties with raw wit, fresh insight, and true feeling from a critically adored NEW YORK TIMES & USA TODAY bestselling author.
Joshua Miles has spent his early twenties spinning his wheels. Working dead-end jobs and living at home has left him exhausted and uninspired, with little energy to pursue his passion for graphic art. Until he meets Gemma Henare, a vivacious out-of-towner from New Zealand. What begins as a one-night stand soon becomes a turning point for Josh. He can't get Gemma out of his head, even after she has left for home, and finds himself throwing caution to the wind for the first time in his life.
It's not long before Josh is headed to New Zealand with only a backpack, some cash, and Gemma's name to go on. But when he finally tracks her down, he finds his adventure is only just beginning. Equally infatuated, Gemma leads him on a whirlwind tour across the beautiful country, opening Josh up to life, lust, love, and all the messy heartache in between. Because, when love drags you somewhere, it might never let go even when you know you have to say goodbye.
“Take this opportunity … and find what makes you happy. You may never get that chance again. Time waits for no one.”
4 Road-Tripping stars
I’m a huge Karina Halle fan, and after falling in mad love with Love, in English, I was itching to get my hands on this book featuring Vera’s amazing brother, Josh. This book follows on really nicely from Vera and Mateo’s story, but don’t go expecting that this will be a repeat of their dramas. Where Sea Meets Sky is a completely different story, with a completely different feel – funny, sexy, sweet and heartbreaking with a touch of adventure – to me it felt like a coming of age story as two characters searching for that elusive “something” share an incredible journey which ends up changing their lives in ways they never anticipated.
I feel this lack. So much that it hurts. And I don’t know what it is. It just makes me sad. It makes me long and ache and I need something to fill it. It’s a constant pain and I’m so fucking tired of it.
Josh is in his early 20s and is coasting through life. He works meaningless jobs, has no real ties or commitments and still lives with his mother. He’s not a slacker though – he dreams of making a career with his art, he’s just tired with little motivation to chase after it. And then one night at a party he meets Gemma. A New Zealander travelling far from home all on her own, they share a deeply intense connection and they spend the night talking, opening up to each other, and of course having mad, wild monkey sex. Gemma is due to return home the very next day, but she leaves her mark on Josh, inspiring him to really start living his life. And when he is unable to forget about her, he decides to pack his bags and go off on an adventure of his own – to New Zealand, “the land of Gandalf and flightless bird and backward draining toilet water”, in the hopes of experiencing new things and finding her again.
I love Josh! Freaking LOVE him! He is smart, funny, sarcastic and sexy, is tattooed and pierced and has that smug arrogance that Karina writes so well. But he also has a huge heart and a vulnerability and honesty about him that makes him so relatable. He’s absolutely amazing, and the fact that the book is dual POV and we get right inside of his head just makes it all so much better.
I’m acting like such a pussy-whipped tool. It was a one-night stand, it was just for that one night. That’s what they are there for. I’ve had at least eight one-night stands before and every single one of them remained exactly that. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am, and oh, you’re welcome, too.
Why was this one different? What did she do to me? What the hell was it about her that made her stand out from all the rest?
When did I lose my motherfucking mind?
Gemma has returned to New Zealand after four months of travelling to find herself right back in the rut that she was running so hard to try to get away from. But when Josh unexpectedly show up, he throws her life into a spin and she finds herself experiencing the same rush that she had when they shared their one night together. Just as consumed by him as he is with her, she invites him to join the month-long road trip that she is taking with her cousin. Josh gleefully accepts, only then to discover that Gemma has a boyfriend (possibly a fuck buddy, the ‘relationship’ is a clusterfuck).
So the road trip becomes a journey for four – full of angst, frustration, and a whole bus-load of UST. But Josh and Gemma’s connection can’t be denied, and as they explore the wonders of Gemma’s homeland, they both start to question what it is exactly they want from their lives, and as they gain confidence and come to understand themselves better, they fall and fall hard.
I love you, I think as my heart seems to expand inside me.
And you’ll hurt me.
You’ll burn me.
You’ll mark me.
But it’s already worth it.
I love a good road trip book, and this is a great one! Karina really does a wonderful job at selling New Zealand – I’ve road-tripped around NZ myself, and though I didn’t get up to all of the adventures that Josh and Gemma do, I’m inspired to go back and experience what they did. And it’s all beautifully tied in to what they are experiencing personally.
I feel like I’m living my life instead of just getting by. I’m doing something, being somebody. Before this…I was just going through the motions. Now I am the motion.
The writing is beautifully poetic, and I was constantly highlighting. I was sucked into their emotional journey as much as their physical one, but it’s not all deep emotion and poignant revelations. Josh and Gemma are both foul-mouthed, dirty minded and occasionally irreverent, and in between smutty banter, intense eye fuckery and some crazy hot hook ups (seriously… WOW! *fans self*), the romance builds beautifully, and becomes something really special – even under less than perfect circumstances.
“Attachments hurt when they’re taken away. You’re leaving”
“So what?” I tell her. “I’m attached to you already and I’m still leaving … Doesn’t mean that the pain negates everything, that none of this was worth it.”
“At the very least, we should be screwing each other’s brains out until I get on that plane.”
“Gemma.” His voice is rough and heated. “Some people may expect nothing. Most people expect something. But you, you, should expect everything.”
But like I said, this is an angsty read, and there are a lot of hurdles to overcome before Josh and Gemma can find their happy ever after.
I must admit, I did get frustrated reading this book. Freaking Gemma! She is so stupidly oblivious about her douche ‘boyfriend’, and the fact that she was even with him irritated me. And that irritation became even worse when Josh came back into her life. Seeing the two men side by side, WTF was she thinking? And then stringing Josh along like she did! Ugh! Pretty much all of the angst and heartbreak was completely unnecessary, all because she was being so freaking stupid! And my heart broke right along with Josh’s as he struggled to understand it all.
“I’m not even mad anymore, Gemma. I’m just…I’m tired. I can’t figure you out for the life of me, and I don’t think you want me to try.”
But the book is all about figuring yourself out, and this is the journey that they have to go through to do it – literally and figuratively. It’s annoying, it’s heartbreaking, and I didn’t completely understand where she was coming from all of the time, but it was all part of her wake up call. And I had to keep remembering that I certainly didn’t have myself all sorted out in my early 20s, and I could relate to that feeling of ‘WTF am I doing?’ and the need for something safe.
I finished this book feeling like I had been on a journey. Josh and Gemma’s story may be frustrating, but it’s real, and it’s life changing for them. I thought Karina did a beautiful job with it.
“Let it be wild, let it be messy. It’s the first sunrise of many more to come. You can’t screw it up. If you do, there’s always tomorrow.”
I loved it – 4 stars.
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