Deep Blue Secret by Christie Anderson

California teen, Sadie James, thinks her life couldn’t get any better. She has great friends, an energetic mother she adores, and the beach practically in her own backyard. But her carefree life is turned upside down when she’s rescued by a mysterious and strangely familiar boy who won’t even tell her his name.

Each time the boy appears, Sadie’s unexplainable attraction to him deepens along with her need to unravel his secrets. The boy is there to protect her. But as wonderful and exciting as it might be to have an irresistible boy with crystal green eyes protecting her every move, every minute of the day…why does Sadie need one?

As Sadie finds answers, she realizes her life isn’t as perfect as she thought. Not only is she caught in a world of dangerous secret agents she never knew existed, but it turns out her true identity may be the greatest secret of all.

This book has an interesting idea behind it. A group of otherworldly agents who travel throughout the world healing the sick by means of special healing waters. Sadie is connected to healing water in a way she’s never known and certainly doesn’t understand, but she knows something isn’t right. Then a mysterious stranger—a boy from her dreams with crystal green eyes—shows up every time she’s in trouble and somehow makes things okay.

This book had a lot of potential, and I admit I was very excited to read it. The cover, the copy on the back, and the great reviews on Goodreads were all great.While it had the fairly common normal-girl-falls-for-mysterious-newcomer-boy outline, the “secret agent” aspect was intriguing and seemed to promise something new. Unfortunately, the book didn’t quite live up to my expectations.

It had some definite strong points—a few pieces of “technology” that I thought were interesting, some very true-feeling friend drama, and some nice descriptions of landscapes*, to name a few. But for the most part, I felt like this book just wasn’t finished. The background story needed flushing out, as did the characters themselves—there was very little that made Sadie Sadie, very little that distinguished her from any other teenage girl. We don’t what her interests are, what her weaknesses are—we don’t even know what her favorite subject in school is. All we know is that she thinks her life is perfect—but she gets sad for no reason, and that she’s never felt much of anything for any guy—until her mystery man shows up, and then she’s so head-over-heels in love she can’t control herself.

I have to admit, the writing was very much like stuff I scribbled in my journal at seventeen, so in one sense it was very real… but at the same time, it too felt underdone. Details are skipped over and many things are told rather than shown. The whole story seems to be happening to Sadie—instead of being an active part of the story, she lets Rayne take her by the hand and lead her down a path. Her slowness to question red flags often left me frustrated.

I’m sorry to say that I didn’t particularly like this book. I wanted to. I really wanted to. I even feel badly that I’ve been asked to write a review, because I don’t want Ms. Anderson to be discouraged by what I say—I just want her to know that her book could have been better. It could have been more fleshed out, and it could have been sharpened.

Funnily enough, what I enjoyed most about the book were the things that Sadie couldn’t wait to get away from—the normal teenage things. I thought that the dialogue and the jealousies between the teens Sadie hung out with were very true to teenagers, and felt very natural. I almost wish the book had been a straight contemporary about the difficulties of high school. It would have been interesting to read a book about a teen who had bouts of depression even though she thought she had a great life—more interesting, I think, than having most of her emotions influenced by things outside her control.

But that’s just my two cents.It really does have great reviews on Goodreads.

You can buy Deep Blue Secret here, and find more about Christie Anderson at her website.

*Though I have to say, as a San Diego native I thought her version of California was sadly TV-version stereotypical, but I suppose Anderson grew up where the stereotype was the rule? My high school was nothing like a “sea of blonde,” personally. Just sayin’.

I was provided with a copy of  this book for review. It did not influence my review in any way.

Romance Blogfest: First Sight

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This is a very first for me—a blogfest! Hosted by Jordan McCollum and backed by Authors Incognito, this is the first of what will hopefully be a (monthly?) tradition for AI members, of which I’m lucky enough to be. As we were starting in February, romance seemed like a fitting subject, and more specifically, the challenge (which can be read by clicking the link above) is about “Love at First Sight, or Not So Much.” There’s an option to use a scene from a WIP or write something original. I’d never really written a “love at first sight” scene, so I wanted to try my hand at it. Here you go! And make sure to click on the link and read through the other author’s answers to the challenge!

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It was a hot day for February. A Saturday, too. A million people or more littered the beaches of Southern California, which was usually enough reason for me to stay away—I liked my beaches better quiet, something akin to private. It was the first day in months that my friends Wes, Ky and I all had off work the same weekend, though, so we did the same as everyone else, and took advantage of the heatwave. We were seventeen and after graduation we’d all split ways, it seemed natural to hang out as much as we could.

The funny thing is, at first I didn’t even see her. There was a whole gaggle of girls playing volleyball, a couple of whom I’d seen before from school. I noticed because Katie Huxley was there. I’d always had a thing for Katie. We sort of grew up together, and she was nice. She reached “out of my league” status around freshman year though, and I’d always been content to admire from afar.

The three of us were walking down to the water, but we slowed to watch the game a bit. We weren’t the only ones—it’s not everyday you see the volley nets used at all, much less by a group of teenage girls. Katie was serving the ball, and it went high over the net. Some girl on the other side lobbed it back, and it went out of bounds—knocking the girl on my left right into me.

“Oh hey, are you okay?”

Petite and blonde, she threw the volleyball back into the game before answering me. “Yeah, I’m fine.” She rubbed the spot on her arm that the ball had hit, and looked up at me.

Bang.

That’s the closest I can come to a description of how I felt. Her eyes were big and brown and seemed to hit me in the stomach like a physical force.

I can’t explain it. I’m not a flowery kinda guy. But man… I felt something. Right away. Not a flutter or whatever, but like I said, a bang.

“Um, hi,” she said, looking at me like she wasn’t sure what was going on in my head—I wasn’t either. I was probably staring at her. Probably creeping her out.

“Hi,” I said, shaking myself out of whatever trance I was suddenly in. “I’m Cole.”

She gave a polite smile and reached to shake the hand I hadn’t even realized I’d extented—who shakes hands? “I’m Leela.”

She only came up to a few inches above my elbow. She looked like she weighed maybe 90 pounds, soaking wet.

“Hey Cole, c’mon, we wanna get into the waves,” Ky said from behind me.

I gave a quarter turn towards him, but turned back to Leela first. “Look, I don’t ever do this… but do you want to come hang out for a bit? Maybe go get a boba later?”

She glanced over at the guy next to her, someone else I didn’t see until this very moment. Her boyfriend, maybe? But he shrugged his shoulders at her, and a second glance said maybe it was her brother. “You have your cell on you?” he asked. She nodded with a check of her back pocket, and he shrugged again. “It’s your life.”

I held up my hands. “No pressure or anything.” But I wanted her to say yes. I don’t know that I’d ever wanted anything else more in my life. I didn’t even know why.

Leela gave a shy nod and took my hand, sending another physical slam down my body. I think one more and I’d be in shock. Without a word, we followed Wes and Ky down to the water, two people in a bristling crowd.