This was a book I was really hoping to love. I have a hard time finding F/F fiction and the premise of this was interesting. I really thought this might turn out to be a good partner romance where a bad situation makes two soldier friends realize they have more between them than they expected. Instead what I got was my most hated trope of them all – a vulnerable person falling in love with an abuser/manipulator and it being sold as a HEA when they ride off together into the sunset.
Note: Spoilers after the tag.
Natalie is a victim. She’s been held hostage by pirates since her father sold her for drugs. And no matter how badly she felt about it, Cardinal’s attempts at seduction were simply to manipulate Natalie into freeing them and turning on the pirates. That could have been forgiven in my eyes if they’d gone their separate ways once the situation was resolved. It would have been a cruel thing to do, but it would have been for the best.
Instead, after five minutes of rage as she realizes she’s been used, Natalie is using the L word and planning out a future with Cardinal. I wanted to beat Cardinal upside the head and tell her that there was no way that a young woman who has lived through such abuse is in any state to commit to a relationship. Natalie needs years of therapy, not insta-love with the first person to ever show her a soft touch. Natalie hardly knows who she is after living in fear of her life for ten whole years. She needs time and space to work that out.
Relationships can bloom in the worst of places, but there was nothing about this story that told me what Cardinal and Natalie forged here has any chance of lasting. I didn’t feel like this was a good romance story, but one that used a bad trope to contrive a situation where two women ended up together. It was competently written and I did make it all the way to the end, but it left me feeling annoyed and unsatisfied. I’m starving for good F/F fiction, but Spring Tide was sadly not what I was looking for.