Surviving Raine by Shay Savage
…until the night his schooner capsizes, and he’s stuck on a life raft with one of the passengers.
Raine’s young, she’s cute, and Bastian would probably be into her if he wasn’t suffering from alcohol withdrawal. As the days pass, DTs, starvation, and dehydration become the norm. Even
the most closed person starts to open up when he thinks he’s going to die, but when she realizes their traumatic pasts are connected, it’s no longer the elements that have Bastian concerned.
He has no idea how he’s going to Survive Raine.
Bastian isn’t the most pleasant guy Raine could have ended up with in the middle of the ocean with no chance of rescue, but he has an uncanny knack for survival. As she digs through the walls surrounding the stubborn and challenging man, she finds something surprisingly different buried inside…
…and he can answer the question she’s asked for years.
She also has to live long enough to get through to him.
Wow! Wow! Wow! This was an emotionally intense read for me, that will, undoubtedly, stay with me for a long time. This is not an easy review for me to write because the story is so richly developed, disturbing, complex, and complicated. The central characters Sebastian and Raine cannot be easily labeled as a particular type of character; in fact, they defy any specific objective characterization. I think this is what makes the book so amazing for me.
Another refreshing aspect of this book, which falls into the contemporary romance genre, is that the point-of-view (POV) is told from only Sebastion’s perspective. A romance told by a male protagonist? Yes, I’m intrigued. After finishing the book, I think the author make a wise choice by limiting the point-of-view to just Sebastian. Delving into his psyche was fascinating, disturbing, and at times overwhelming for me.
I don’t think I could have handled Raine’s point-of-view as well. Another advantage in not having Raine’s POV is that I frequently wondered about the true motives behind her actions. I’m just as curious as Sebastian to know how she really feels about their relationship and how it evolves over the course of the story.
Sebastian is one of the most wounded characters I have ever encountered. When the story opens, Sebastian is depicted as a man with a powerful physicality, who is angry, brooding, and extremely aloof around others. At the age of 29, he is living as just a shell of the man he has the potential to be. Maintaining numbness is his main concern each day,and a steady supply of alcohol, cigarettes, and prostitutes keeps the nightmares at bay. He doesn’t want to think or feel anything about his painful past, so it is little by little that horrific scenes from his past are revealed as he gradually allows himself to remember the excruciating details of all that he has endured.
Sebastian is the captain of schooner who takes wealthy tourists out for excursions on the Caribbean ocean. Living on the sea, away from general society, allows him to escape his dangerous and violent past, for now. Fortunately, he has the congenial John Paul who helps him with ship operations and social interaction with the passengers.
When the ship capsizes during a storm, Sebastian finds himself stranded on a lifeboat with a young Raine. Raine is at times panicky and her constant questioning greatly annoys Sebastain. She initially seems so naïve, so inexperienced compared to the jaded Sebastian. The contrast in their personalities causes them to clash quite a bit since they are trapped on the tiny vessel with nowhere else to escape.
Sebastian avoids people as much as possible. Being forced to interact with Raine unnerves him and brings out appalling behavior. He is crass, verbally abusive, and has an inclination for violence. Not knowing how Sebastian might react, Raine is very cautious, even to the point of cowering around him. I don’t think this makes Raine weak. She’s in survival mode. Sebastian has the knowledge and skills to keep her alive. She has no choice but to try to coexist with him peacefully. I admire her tenacity to brave Sebastian’s wrath to learn more about him.
Sebastian is an alcoholic, and, when he gets the DTs, I feel like I’m on an emotional rollercoaster.
He reminds me of a wounded animal, scared and afraid to be touched. While in this vulnerable state, he lashes out at Raine in the cruelest of ways. As much as I wanted to despise him, I could not, when, in the midst of his delusions, he reveals details of his difficult life both through his hallucinations and his unintentional verbal confessions to Raine. His story is heartbreaking, and Raine can’t help but feel compassion for him, touching him to soothe his pain and comforting him regardless of his opposition. As Sebastian becomes more coherent, he discovers that he likes Raine’s gentle touch, and this act symbolizes the first chink in the thick walls of protection he has built around himself.
When Raine begins asking him questions about some of the things he said while in withdrawal, Sebastian becomes afraid of what he may have revealed, but decides to take a chance and trust Raine with his secrets, even though it may endanger both their lives. His willingness to trust is another huge blow to those impenetrable walls he has worked so hard to resurrect. When they both realize they have a connection to a past event, Sebastian worries that she will hate him for what he has done. Surprisingly she doesn’t blame Sebastian. However, I wonder if she will at a later point in time.
As the days pass, hope for rescue diminishes, while Sebastian and Raine fight for survival. Raine becomes extremely grateful to Sebastian, admiring his resourcefulness and unwillingness to give up. He becomes a hero to her, and this angers him because he doesn’t deem himself worthy of anything good. He cannot fathom why she is so interested in getting to know him.
“You really ought to stay away from me,” I warned her, and at the same time I leaned into her touch.
“That doesn’t seem possible at the moment,” Raine smiled and glanced around the small craft. “Even if it were, I wouldn’t want to stay away from you.”
“I’m not…a nice guy, Raine.” I didn’t know how to make her understand that there wasn’t anything else to me despite what she wanted to believe. I was what I was-violent, crude, and utterly unlovable.
Sebastian’s low self-esteem and self-loathing make him reluctant to get close to Raine. However, Raine has a feisty, persistent side and she just keeps working to tear down those walls:
“I’ve seen you, Bastian – the real you. I know what’s inside that thick skin you try to use as a shield. I’ve seen you at your worst, and I’m pretty sure I saw you at your best…when you told me not to be scared. You can’t fool me anymore, Bastian. I know too much. I know you’ve been hurt, and I know you’re scared.”
Most of the story revolves around the growing intimacy between Sebastian and Raine through their experience on the raft and when they find land. During their acclimation on a deserted island, there are scenes of intense, dramatic action that reveal a brutal side of Sebastian. Yet, Raine seems to accept him just as he is. A major turning point in the story is when Sebastian finally drops his barriers and gives his precious, safely guarded heart to Raine:
“I love you, and I need you to love me. I want it…so, so much…I need it. Even though I think it would be better for you not to care about me, I need you too much to turn away from it. I’ll never walk away from you, Raine. I swear-I’ll be with you as long as you will have me.”
I loved watching Sebastian grow emotionally as he his love for Raine provides him with a reason for living. At times, he is even able to show his vulnerabilities, especially since Raine is always telling him how much she loves and cares about him, no matter what. The erotic, passionate love scenes between them only solidify the bond they have formed.
However, Sebastian can’t seem to truly shake the feeling that if and when they are rescued, Raine will abandon because it’s still difficult for him to accept that she deems him worthy of loving. Thinking about this leaves him panicked:
“I couldn’t breathe. I was pretty sure my heart slowed down under the pressure. If she ever did that-if Raine left me- it would kill me. I didn’t doubt it at all. The pain of her being gone would definitely kill me.”
Maybe after spending so much time in Sebastian’s head has influenced my way of thinking because I wonder, too, if Raine will stay with him once they return to civilization, and she returns to her former life. Although she seems to accept him unconditionally, what will she do if Sebastian can’t return to his former life, without succumbing to alcohol again? Does Raine truly love him, knowing all that he has done? Is this merely a case of hero worship because he has the capacity to protect her now? No matter the hardships Sebastian has already endured, I do truly believe Raine’s rejection of him will prove to be his final breaking point, and the title Surviving Raine is an apt name for Sebastian’s struggles.
This is a completely engrossing story that ended with several unanswered questions about their return, their commitment to each other, and the danger they face after being found because of others who fear that Sebastian and Raine will reveal secrets best kept hidden. I so hope they find that HEA.
I look forward to the expected sequel.
A copy of this book was provided to me by the author via CBL tours in exchange for an honest review.
Excerpt from Surviving Raine
“What’s your problem?” I snapped again. I hadn’t really meant to, I was just tense and pissy.
The smoke was helping, but what I really wanted was a drink. I didn’t suppose anyone packed any of those little tiny airplane-sized booze bottles in the survival kits.
“I…um…” she stumbled over her words and looked away. Even under her darkened skin, I could see red creeping into her cheeks.
“What?” I was annoyed now. If she was going to complain about my smoking, I was going to lose it.
“I…have to go to the bathroom.”
I laughed. I took one last long drag, getting it all the way up to the filter before I tossed the butt out onto the waves.
“Then fucking go!”
“Didn’t you notice the en suite bath?” I laughed again, and then took a smidgen of pity on her. “Over the side, where do you think?”
All right, she did have a point there. Or rather, she didn’t have a point. Or a pointer. I had to laugh again at my internal joke.
“Just…I don’t know…hang your ass out over the edge. Or get in the water.
“I’d have to take off my suit.”
She blushed again.
“What? You want me to hang out in the next room for a few minutes? I promise I won’t gawk at you.”
She didn’t move. Well, actually, she was still fidgeting around; she just didn’t make a move to actually solve her dilemma. If she kept this up, she was going to pee in the fucking raft.
“If it makes you feel any better, I’ve already checked you out front and back, had my mouth on yours and my hand on your tit, so it’s not like…”
She gasped and covered her mouth with her hands. I realized how what I had said sounded, considering she had been unconscious the entire time. I shook my head.
“I didn’t mean…ah, fuck.” I grabbed my shirt and flopped down on my back, covering my whole face up with the garment. I lay there for a moment but didn’t hear her moving at all, so I yelled at her again. “Get on with it!”
She moved. I could hear her shuffle over to the front of the raft and then move around in one place, presumably taking off her shorts and her bathing suit.
“If you are going to get in the water, put the life preserver around your waist first and hold on to the fucking ladder. I don’t want to have to dive in after your ass again.”
“Okay,” she said. “Um…where is it?”
“Right outside the opening – on the left.”
“Thank you,” she said.
I listened to her move around a bit more and then felt her move closer to the opening and off to the side. There was a soft splash, and a minute later I heard her pulling herself back up onto the raft.
“There’s something similar to a towel over there,” I said – flinging my arm out in the
direction of the back of the raft and waving my hand around. “Make sure you dry off the floor, too.”
“Thank you,” she said.
I listened to her move around some more, getting pretty fed up with just lying there, baking, with my fucking shirt over my head.
“Are you done yet?”
“Almost,” she said quietly. Her voice still sounded scratchy. “Okay, I’m done.”
I grabbed the shirt off my face and sat up, looking over at her. She was adjusting the straps on her suit and still blushing.
“Do you know why my…um…throat hurts?”
“Yeah,” I said. I didn’t elaborate. After a minute she finally asked.
“Why does my throat hurt?”
“Because you inhaled a shitload of salt water,” I stated. “It fucks up your throat and your vocal cords. Give it a day; it’ll be better.”
“Thank you,” she said, again.
“Whatever,” I replied, again.
I shoved my hand down into the sealed up container for rations and pulled out a carb bar. I tore it in half and threw one of the pieces at her.
“Eat it,” I instructed. “You can have the other half in six hours.”
“Six hours?” she repeated.
“Are you a fucking recorder? Yes, six hours.”
I knew I was being a bastard, but my brain was working overtime trying to figure out what our best course of action might be. Having her here made it ten times more difficult. If it was just me, I was pretty sure I would be fine. There was plenty of food and water for just me. I could fish, I could take care of myself, and I could stay alive under pretty extreme circumstances.
Having her here with me just…complicated everything.
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