Chasing Swells

Romance - Contemporary
300 Pages
Reviewed on 06/04/2016
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite

Chasing Swells is a romance novel written by A.L. Goulden. After teasing his father, Randy, about being able to catch more swells, a young Dean Bazner sits on his surfboard, relaxing as his father tries to catch up. Years later, while on his way to Fiji (a stopover to Bali), Dean is advised that a writer will be joining him in order to write about his travels as a surfer. Nonplussed, Dean hopes the guy that they assign to the job keeps out of his way so he can train and compete in peace. A freelance reporter, Azure Thomas, arrives on the island, excited at having been chosen to write about the travelling experiences of the famous surfer, but after encountering some surfers during her initial journey to Fiji, she is less than impressed by their display of immaturity. The chemistry between Dean and Azure is electric from the moment they lay eyes on one another, but both maintain their cool exteriors in the name of professionalism. They soon realize that they share similar tragic pasts in the loss of their families so young, and feel an inexplicable need to protect each other from any unexpected curve-balls that life throws their way. While their inner voice keeps telling them both how much they need to distance themselves from each other, their attraction grows more and more, making it hard to keep their focus on their careers, which had originally brought them together in the first place.

This is certainly one of the most fun and realistic romance novels I have ever read. Getting inside the head of each of the main characters throughout the story made it very easy to relate to and engage with them both. A.L. Goulden’s use of coarse language at exactly the right moments and in the right doses adds to the realism of this wonderfully romantic (and often hilarious) tale of two adults who are in high profile careers and are used to others gushing over them, but who are determined to appear uninterested in each other, despite the more their feelings grow. Having a writer who knows nothing at all about the sport of the celebrity she has been assigned to follow creates an innocence all of its own, especially since the only knowledge that the writer has prior to her arrival on the island is a few hours of Googling. I found myself smiling throughout most of this book, seeing a shy boy and a modest young girl getting to know each other in such a beautiful setting while overcoming past relationships which have left them both scarred. I very much enjoyed Chasing Swells and recommend it to all those who love action, adventure, drama, jealousy and humor tucked into the perfect romantic tale.

Bil Howard

Sparks fly all of the way through December Rain by A.L. Goulden. Monica and Alex Waters are doing everything they can to try to restore their marriage to what it was before their affairs. Though they start to see some of the spark beginning to return and Alex is putting forth his best effort, he simply cannot compete with Monica’s memories of Quinn Matthews. As they are on vacation in Hawaii, reliving their honeymoon, they bump into Quinn unexpectedly. The look in Monica’s eyes when she sees Quinn is enough to let Alex know that things are over between them and he finally gives up on trying to hold their marriage together. Though Monica is devastated by the loss of her marriage to Alex, her grief isn’t even a speed-bump when Quinn suddenly reappears in her life again and the fairy tale world that she had envisioned with him begins to take place. The problem is, Quinn has a secret that he meant to reveal to Monica, but before he can, she finds out. Will Monica be able to trust him?

A.L. Goulden turns up the heat in the series with December Rain. Goulden does an excellent job of investing readers into the life and emotions of the characters and keeps readers fully engaged from one steamy scene to the next. The reader’s connection to Alex keeps them from trusting anything that Monica is doing. She seems out of control and unable to figure out where she is going with her life from one moment to the next. As Monica destroys friendships and Quinn seems to be just a little too perfect, there is a constant undertone that things will explode at any moment. Full of passion and plenty of steam, December Rain will certainly capture your full attention and keep you glued to the hot action.

Tracy A. Fischer

In a great new novel by the very talented author, A.L. Goulden, Chasing Swells will grab readers from the very beginning and will keep them reading steadily through until the very last page is finished. Follow the story of professional surfer Dean "DeBaz" Bazner, famous and well-loved in the surfing circuit, but desperate to get a World Title again, something he hasn't done since he was a rookie, before his career comes to an end. But when he meets Azure Thomas, a beautiful travel writer who has been assigned to cover his quest, his focus is divided. Azure, who has no previous experience with surfing, and is largely unimpressed with DeBaz's celebrity status, is like no woman he has experienced before. And the relationship that blossoms between them just might show them both that there is more to their lives than their careers and themselves.

I very much enjoyed Chasing Swells. Author A.L. Goulden has done a great job in creating characters that her readers will be able to connect with, relate to and truly come to care about, thinking of them long after the story is done. If that isn't a hallmark of a great author, I'm not sure what is. This story is gripping, lovely, exciting, and romantic all at the same time. Any reader who enjoys romances, especially those in a contemporary setting, would love Chasing Swells. I highly recommend this book, and look forward to reading more from author A.L. Goulden as soon as I possibly can!

Mamta Madhavan

Chasing Swells by A.L. Goulden is a love story set against the backdrop of surfing and the ocean. Dean Bazner, though a professional surfer and a talented athlete, always finds himself unlucky in never winning the World Title. Azure Thomas is a travel writer who comes to chronicle his journey and, unlike other writers, is not a great fan of surfing or Dean Bazner. This is just another writing assignment for her till she realizes that Dean Bazner is not just another hot athlete who is famous. After meeting Azure Thomas, he realizes his life needs more than just winning another trophy.

The romance is a must-read for all those who love the sea, surfing, and the romance knitted into this plot makes it exciting. Both the main characters, Dean Bazner and Azure Thomas, have been portrayed well and their attraction and liking for each other are tangible and readers can connect well to their feelings. There is always something very enchanting and mysterious when it comes to the ocean and, along with that vibe in the plot and the theme of surfing, the story is well-executed. For all those who love the ocean, adventure, drama, action, and humor, this book will definitely hold their interest. Readers will get pulled into the world of professional surfing. The book is entertaining and fast paced and will keep readers glued to the pages till the very end. All the characters who support Dean and Azure in the plot are also portrayed well and complement the story beautifully.

Gisela Dixon

Chasing Swells by A.L. Goulden is a contemporary romance novel with all of the ups and downs that sometimes accompany love. Chasing Swells is about a professional surfer, Dean Bazner, and a freelance journalist named Azure Thomas. Dean is a highly ambitious professional whose life revolves around his sport and “making” it in the cut-throat world of professional sports. For this, he has sacrificed a considerable amount of his life to pursue his dream. Azure is a young, independent woman who has pretty much made her own way in the world when her next assignment has her writing about Dean. The two hit it off with a mutual attraction; however, is Dean ready to make room in his life for love? And is Azure ready to settle down and put down roots for a man who is perhaps too focused on his other love, sports? This is what forms the plot of the novel.

Chasing Swells by A.L. Goulden is a modern romance novel and the central characters are extremely believable and relatable. Both Dean and Azure are independent people with jobs they love and the challenge is, are they ready for love and commitment? This is a question faced increasingly by modern people and the novel portrays it realistically. The writing style is engaging and keeps the pace moving. In the end, although this is a boy-meets-girl story, the characters and setting of the book make it an interesting read and fans of the romance genre will definitely enjoy this one!

Jack Magnus

Chasing Swells is a contemporary sports romance written by A.L. Goulden. Azure knew absolutely nothing about surfing or the type of life a professional surfer would live, but she was excited about her upcoming assignment to cover Dean Bazner, a surfing legend. She was a fairly new freelance writer with Travel World West, and normally this type of assignment would have gone to a more experienced writer, but Marie, who had gotten the assignment, was suddenly unavailable and the job had gone to Azure. Azure loved the idea of freelance travel writing. She was adept at packing light and at a moment's notice, and, after her last unsatisfactory relationship, she enjoyed the freewheeling and unattached lifestyle that went with the position. While she was covering Dean's event in Bali, his team was currently in Fiji where she would be meeting up with them. The island of Tavarua, where they were staying, enchanted her. She was treated like family by the Fijians she came in contact with and the Treehouse accommodations were way beyond her expectations. And Dean, well, Dean was another matter entirely. She didn't like the idea of being a fan girl or hanger-on at all, but there was something about him that she found hard to resist.

A.L. Goulden's contemporary sports romance, Chasing Swells, blends surfing, travel to exotic locales, and the stories of two independent and scarred people who might just be the best thing that ever happened to each other -- that is, if they can get past the baggage and the glitz of the pro-tour circuit. I was attracted to this title because of the surfing, the California locations, and those exotic locales, and I wasn't disappointed. Goulden makes those heats and competitions come alive; you can almost feel the hot, tropical sun and hear the boom of the big waves as they crash down. Azure and Dean are marvelous characters and their on-again/off-again would-be romance is fun to watch and totally unpredictable. Goulden also does a masterful job of creating a supporting cast for her two stars, and, as Azure realizes with a start, the reader can't help but feel as though those people have become like family, at least until the book is finished and then perhaps for a bit longer. Heady romance amidst the magic of sand and surf is a winning combination indeed. Chasing Swells is highly recommended.

Tina Gibbons

December Rain is the second book in A.L. Goulden's series after August Fog. Monica and Alex have struggled with their share of problems and are fiercely trying to salvage their marriage. Things seem to be progressing in the right direction, and they definitely have sparks in the bedroom. Just when they think they have things in hand, while revisiting the location of their honeymoon, Quinn - the source of Alex's pain and the man Monica can't forget - shows up on the scene. Alex realizes he can't hold on to Monica when he sees the way they look at each other and decides to let her go. Monica can't believe Alex is ending their marriage. Left sad, confused, and angry, she lashes out, wreaking havoc in all the relationships in her life. Quinn wants to figure out how to keep her now that she is back in his life, and Alex has to learn how to let her go.

A.L. Goulden delivers an extremely sensual story. To start with, the men in the book are drool-worthy – all in their own way. Monica is an emotional wreck. She feels like she messes everything up and she can't hold on to anyone important to her. Definitely a flawed character, torn between two loves and another old boyfriend, she engages in sexual scenarios that threaten the possibility of having a lasting happy relationship. In particular, in this installment of the story, she abuses some friendships and that is one of the most heart wrenching elements of the book. The other is the fact that she and Alex split up, even though she has a deep, life-long connection with him. It isn't enough. Real life is like that sometimes, and it lends an element of tragic truth to the story. December Rain is a tangled web, and all the deceptions are not sorted out when it is finished. It leaves room for another installment to satisfy the readers' need for resolution.

Samantha Rivera

December Rain is the story of Monica, Alex and Quinn. For Monica and Alex their relationship is ending, but for Monica and Quinn things are just beginning again. There has been time and distance between them since their awkward parting. But each of them is going to have to deal with the changes in their life and the difficulties that come with those changes. Discovering what to do next when their worlds and lives seem to be falling apart is going to take a lot of work but the reward, a chance to live happily ever after together after everything they've suffered together, may well be worth it in the end. For Quinn and Monica it has been a long time coming that they are able to live and be happy together, but can it last?

It was refreshing to have a character with plenty of flaws. Monica is the type of girl who makes a lot of mistakes and yet she is still able to overcome those mistakes and make a good life for herself. It was easy to relate to her and I found myself really hoping for the best for her because of everything that she went through. I also found it interesting to experience the way that she and Quinn managed to come together and be so happy. This book is most definitely a romance and has a number of scenes depicting sex. December Rain by A.L. Goulden was an interesting and romantic story of overcoming tragedy.

Faridah Nassozi

In December Rain, by A.L. Goulden, Alex and Monica were struggling to fix their marriage. They had both made mistakes in the past that almost crushed their marriage but they were still determined to make it work. The two were now seeing a therapist to help them get to the bottom of what went wrong in the past and how to fix it, but it did not seem to be helping. Other than a few stolen moments of passion, everything seemed to be crumbling. Then, as if their situation was not bad enough, while away on vacation they ran into Monica's former flame and this was more than Alex could handle - so he decided that it was time for them to separate. Then Monica's life got even more complicated as another flame from the past also showed up in her life. Can she and Alex once again find their way back to each other or is there too much water under the bridge and is this a sign for her to move on?

December Rain is a captivating love story filled with all the relationship drama you can think of; raw emotions, passion, complicated marriages and entangled relationships, it is all here. A.L. Goulden painted Monica's character as a woman at the crossroads and really struggling to find her next step in life and I loved the emotions the character came with. As we continue the complicated story of Alex and Monica's marital struggles and the effect on the other relationships in their lives, I could not help but feel for Monica in her moments of emotional confusion and vulnerability as she struggled to decide who she was really meant to be with. December Rain is a really special contemporary romance story.

Jack Magnus

December Rain is the second book in A.L. Goulden’s romantic series, Autumn Fog. Monica and Alex are in couples therapy to try to revive their troubled eight-year marriage. They have had to get over Alex’s year-long affair in the first year of their marriage, and Monica’s recent affair with Quinn, the artist who had lived next door to them in San Francisco. A Halloween trip back to the Bay Area seems to be sparking up their flagging love life, and they are soon flying out to Hawaii on a trip planned by Alex before he knew about the affair. This second honeymoon quickly and abruptly ends when they walk into a gallery, and Alex watches his wife as she sees Quinn again.

A.L. Goulden’s romantic novel, December Rain, is a tempestuous and stormy look at relationships and the things people do to and for one another. While it’s the second book in a series, the author gives enough background information for this to be a stand-alone novel. Monica and Alex, childhood friends and lovers, are obviously just too damaged to be able to repair their relationship, even if they can stoke up the romantic fires. Too much trust is gone -- and the reader quickly can tell that Monica has completely fallen under Quinn’s spell. I loved the settings the author used for her novel. The Bay Area is always a favorite for me, but New York City at Christmas time is hard to beat. Monica’s run along the beach road in Hawaii made me long to be there as well. Goulden’s characters are complex and engaging, and their responses are unpredictable and feel genuine. I enjoyed reading December Rain. It’s a torrid and entertaining contemporary romance, and it’s recommended reading.