Book Cover At the Water's Edge by Harper BlissFor those who enjoy some angst and dysfunction, but with a lot of oomph in the bedroom.

Ella Goodman is returning home to West Waters to heal and reconnect with her dysfunctional family. Kay Brody is the guiding light Ella isn’t sure she’s ready to find. During the course of the narrative, we follow this damaged individual on her path to redemption and cheer on her attempts to retrain her brain so she can see the good in herself, her family, and the small town in Oregon where she is tentatively placing her roots.

There are many difficult themes discussed in the novel, mostly centred on the journey of the protagonist and the realistic successes and failures associated with recovering from a traumatic experience. The first-person perspective really helps the reader get to the depths of Ella’s emotional struggles. However, the author went to great lengths to keep the “incident” a secret, which didn’t really fit with the POV choice. Presumably, the protagonist would not be consistently cryptic about something in her own mind when she already knows what the secret is. That might not bother everyone, but we certainly noticed it. However, the rest of the book used first-person quite effectively.

Childhood crush and current love interest Kay is exactly what Ella needs at this time, a calm in the eye of the storm. Kay won’t let Ella get away with her penchant for negativity and defensive responses. While we thought the relationship development between Ella and Kay was believable, we do feel that the sex scenes were more graphic than the tone of the book called for. The shifts from intense psychological distress to sexual encounters that would be more fitting in an erotica novel didn’t show the emotional, loving connection that we knew was at the heart of their joining. We both felt pulled out of the story at the graphic descriptions, which didn’t feel organic for the characters or the flow of the plot.

The secondary characters felt three-dimensional and complicated, each with their own issues that both helped and hindered Ella’s growth. It was interesting to witness Ella’s family grow and change along with her. This was the first Harper Bliss book we have read and would recommend it for readers who enjoy some angst and dysfunction, but with a lot of oomph in the bedroom.