“In the end you don't so much find yourself as you find someone who knows who you are.” ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Jeff Martin, of 'Island Doctor' by Sue Brown, is happy with his life as a doctor on the Isle of Wight. It means he has to drive back and forth to the mainland on the weekend to be with is partner of ten years, Tris, who wouldn't dream of living on the island and thinks Jeff is mad to want to do so. Jeff has been doing it so long that he doesn't give the weekend trips much thought; it's just the way thing are. One day, on the way to the ferry, Jeff's car decides to break down...again. Jeff is rescued by Cameron Guillard, who happens to be a mechanic. Cameron helps get Daisy running again and Jeff is on his way.
This time Jeff's trip to Tris's ends up being a lot more than he bargained for. Tris isn't there; Jeff waits for him to come home. When Tris strolls in the next morning, he's not apologetic at all; he and Jeff argue about where Tris has been. During the confrontation, Tris admits that he has been cheating on him for years and pointedly informs Jeff that he has no intention of stopping. Knowing he deserves more, Jeff tells Tris it's over and returns home. Jeff meets Cameron on the ferry back and tells him about his breakup. Cameron is sympathetic and offers to take him to a pub to try to cheer him up. Until now Jeff has been leading a double life, i.e., no one on the island knows he's gay and everyone thinks that he has a girlfriend on the mainland. Jeff no longer has to lie about his life, but he's still nervous about coming out, afraid of being treated differently. Now that he doesn't have to drive back and forth on weekends, it gives him more free time to enjoy life, but Jeff has no idea where to start. However, having a drink with Cameron certainly seems like a step in the right direction. Even though it's too soon, Jeff can't help but be attracted to Cameron and feel more comfortable with him than anyone else.
After the first night, Cameron and Jeff are inseparable. Cameron introduces him to the other gay men on the island, who sympathize with Jeff about his breakup. They also fill him in on their gay community and Cameron is determined to show Jeff what he's been missing. Cameron is assertive, almost to the point of being possessive, but in truth, after years of Tris's indifference, Jeff may just need it. But exhibiting such strong emotionalism is often followed by jealousy and insecurity. When Tris shows up to win Jeff back, the enormity of the situation blinds Cameron to reason and he screws up spectacularly, almost irrevocably breaking Jeff's trust and causing unnecessary hurt for everyone.
The island is a world unto itself and can't be compared with any other place. There's a charm about it that has to be experienced. I'm invested in the island and in the marvelous characters Sue has written to populate it. I enjoy the wit and humor of this community as well as the eccentricity Sue so deftly blends with the circumstances surrounding her characters. I enjoyed visiting with the residents I'd met in previous stories and smiled at inside jokes even before they were explained to the newcomer. Going back to the island was like visiting old friends while looking forward to meeting new ones. I realize this is meant to be a stand-alone book, but without reading the 'Isle' series beforehand, I can't imagine how anyone could get the whole picture about this wonderful community and its sometimes odd but always wonderful, caring inhabitants. Thanks, Sue, for allowing me to revisit the island. I can hardly wait to see whom I will meet next.