It’s clear right away which of the four men on the porch in front of her is Dean. His confidence and physique are superb. Although the Latino man could easily pass as a competitor, Dean’s bleached hair in its slightly wavy shag fits the stereotype. She wasn’t expecting him to smolder though. His jaw is too chiseled, and his chest muscles are too thick. Sure, surfers are in great shape, but she thought they were lean, vegan types. This was a meat eater. A strong, tall, carved, carnivorous man. She can feel her pulse pounding when he stands to greet her. If she lacked all self-control, his cobalt eyes would’ve sold her the moon.
Dean’s playing spades on his porch with the guys when he sees Lennox and Moses walking with a beautiful, tall brunette. Her long yellow sundress flows in the breeze like a flag waving for his attention. Even through all that fabric Dean can see her hips swaying naturally as the cotton clings to her body. Before he can survey her bare breasts underneath, she raises her eyes towards him. Even at a distance, they glow like the ocean, adding a spark to her perfect smile. It’s worse than he dreaded. He can handle pretty or attractive, but this woman is beautiful.
Moses stops to show her something, stealing those eyes away and Dean flinches. Not holding her attention stings a bit. He drops the cards in his hand, giving up. There’s no way he can deal with real distractions right now, in life or a card game.
The other guys turn and stare. The way she genuinely listens and reacts to everything is intoxicating to watch. She doesn’t carry herself like a beach bunny, but her skin is just as golden. Her long brown hair isn’t being twirled or tossed by a nervous hand, it just flows naturally, never shaking her poise. Most of the women in Dean’s past walked with a false confidence. Especially Abigail. She was always ready for a photo through a veil that sheltered her from the world’s honest eyes. This woman in yellow is different. She doesn’t need to be patronized or complimented, and her laugh is so unguarded and full.
Fuck. She’s gotta knows she’s beautiful. She wouldn’t have traveled in that if she didn’t. He stands as casually as he can manage wondering if she’s going to be a bitch. Part of him hopes she is so it’ll be easy to blow her off, but her laid back shoulders and relaxed smile hint that she’s pretty cool. He blurts out, “Welcome to Fiji,” wincing at the sound of his own voice. I sound like a fuckin’ idiot. He cracks his knuckles gently at his side until her cheeks flush a little.
Dean, pro surfer and quintessential charmer, is peaking at just the right time as to overtake the number 1 ranking and he doesn’t need any distractions. Azure, a travel writer, is on the cusp of a big break if she can lick her next assignment. Good thing her next gig is one Dean Bazner.
There is nothing better than cool ocean breezes and great waves. Although I’m doing time in Suburgatory, now I can recall many a lunch break watching the surfers and the waves, but mostly watching the surfers. There is something magical about their effortlessness. Chasing Swells has that same bewitching allure. It doesn’t hurt that the locales are exotic as the locals, and the glimpse of the contemporary nomadic athlete lifestyle is fascinating.
Azure and Dean are believable and relatable characters, and I couldn’t help but root for them even when they seemed content to keep each other at arm’s length. But Chasing Swells is more than a boy meets girl story. It is a study in facing one’s fears and coming out the other side intact. Finding love and support along the way are but a bonus. The narrative is multilayered and rich with action and emotion and reads more like a memoir than fiction. Even if you’re not a surfing fan (although I’m sure you’ll change your mind after this reading) you will appreciate the care in which Goulden’s reverence for the sport comes through and as well as enjoy the skill of elite athletes. Azure’s writing career gets a glowing address that has the advantage of uncomplicated deadlines and writer’s block (that’s my jealousy talking by the way), but it’s Goulden’s skill with narration and nuance that makes this story special. Chasing Swells is a great read, and much like the perfect wave, it will leave you speechless with its beauty. Start your summer off right and pick this one up now.
About the Author
A. L. Goulden has a BFA in Film Production from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Her love of a good story came way before college, but when numerous instructors and peers praised her dialogue she realized her creative writing hobby was a skill worth honing. Her 18 year career in interior design, production design and art direction for film and television have spun a unique perspective on visually emotional tales of relationships and the thread that ties all things together.
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