“Water is life’s matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.” – Albert Szent-Gyorgyi
In Love, Like Water, Rowan Speedwell introduces us to Elian Kelly and Joshua Chastain. Joshua has been an FBI agent deep undercover within a drug cartel for three years. He was forced to kill or be killed more than once, and when he questioned the leader’s instructions, he was forced into heroin addiction. Rowan Speedwell beautifully captures his deep pain and guilt over everything he has had to do to stay alive and bring some really bad guys to justice.
After months in a rehab for his addiction, Joshua leaves the city for his Uncle Tucker’s horse ranch in New Mexico to make a fresh start. That is where he meets Elian Kelly. Eli is the ranch foreman. He has spent years rehabilitating abused, damaged, broken horses. In Joshua, he recognizes many of the same characteristics he has seen in the horses in his care. He sees a broken man. A man that he sets out to help heal the same way he helps his horses heal.
One of the keys to helping rehabilitate traumatized horses is to move slowly. Rowan Speedwell writes a deliciously slow, romantic and sexual tension between Eli and Joshua. The pace moves leisurely, like you would imagine the healing from deep trauma would move. The attraction between Eli and Joshua is undeniable, but it simmers cautiously beneath the surface until it can’t be denied any longer. I think the love that develops between Joshua and Eli is more realistic because it isn’t insta-love. The attraction is immediate, but their acting on the attraction and the deepening of feelings for each other is beautifully written in its realistic one step forward, two steps back style.
The entirety of Love, Like Water is beautiful. The scenery, the ranch, the way Speedwell describes the damage done to the horses and the parallels between the trauma inflicted upon them and the harm perpetrated against Joshua. The way Eli and Joshua find the one enchanting green space in the middle of all the desert. It is honest in that Joshua admits that he is never far from thinking about or wanting heroin. The magic dick doesn’t instantly cure his addiction. It takes time and professional help and constant work on Joshua’s part to overcome addiction. Speedwell doesn’t sugar coat that, she puts it right out there.
There were times when I wanted to wring both Eli’s and Joshua’s necks. There were moments of ugly crying. I laughed out loud more than I care to admit. For me, these are all the hallmarks of a great book. I want to feel something. I don’t want to just be reading about these men, I want to be able to feel their feelings and hurt with them. Speedwell brings the characters (and let’s not forget about Sarafina, Jesse, and Uncle Tucker!) to life boldly and honestly.
The bomb dropped in the epilogue, okay, TWO bombs, seem to ensure that there will be a sequel to Love, Like Water. I must say that I “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ” hope there is.
Reviewed by: Tina