All of us wanted to read this ARC from Omnific Publishing, but Chick Lauren flew faster – and clipped more wings – in order to get the chance. 😉
At the end of Hydraulic Level 5, I found myself wanting to refer to author Sarah Latchaw as an “unholy cliff-hucker.” The creative curses that fall from protagonist Aspen Kaye Trilby’s lips are still stuck in my head, and I wish I had more to read. Hydraulic Level 5 was a twisty-turny road filled with hope and the fear of hoping too much. Even though I’d already read the original fanfiction version of the story, I was sucked right back into this new update…and hard!
Hydraulic Level 5 is a story within a story, a double-edged sword for an author. When executed properly, the jumps between each story can be a revealing look at another aspect of the world in which the reader is immersing herself. When not done successfully, the reader can find themselves confused, irritated, or just plain lost. Thankfully, the latter isn’t a problem in Hydraulic Level 5, as it’s definitely an example of a successful story-within-a-story setup.
The prologue starts us off with the world of the Water Sirens, a wildly popular book series written by author Samuel Caulfield Cabral. Sam is a successful author and playwright who even dabbles in a little Spanish guitar. He’s also the ex-husband of the story’s protagonist, Kaye Trilby. But most of that background can be gleaned from the story’s synopsis, so none of that was a surprise. What is striking, however, is how well Latchaw manages two different writing styles to present both the bigger story and Samuel’s words.
“Samuel’s” writing is poetic and philosophical. There is an interesting and intriguing cadence to “his” writing that stands tall against the overall flow of Hydraulic Level 5. Though the prologue pulls us into the world Samuel created for his book series, the rest of Hydraulic Level 5 intersperses chapters that tell a heartbreakingly different story. These chapters give you glimpses into the past of a boy and a girl who seem, in many ways, destined to love each other, although we don’t yet know where this fits into their present.
The bigger picture tells us about “today” in the lives of the characters. Wedding preparations for Danita, Kaye’s straight-talking best friend, and Angel, a goofy and fun-loving pilot, form the center of the story that brings together a cast of characters that will keep readers on their toes. Angel’s brothers, Hector and Santiago, lead adventure excursions and are joined by a hippie-style, VW Campervan-driving Cassady who has caught the eye of Molly, Kaye’s business partner and the third “Musketeer” of the ladies in the group.
The group of friends find themselves signed up for numerous extreme adventure trips, like surfing hydraulics and hitting class 5 rapids. They tell stories about going skiing, hiking, camping, repelling, spelunking, and cave climbing. They even take a group bachelor/bachelorette trip on a skydive jump. It’s the way of Colorado, or so Kaye explains. Surrounded by mountains and wilderness, extreme adventure is just what you do.
For someone who has only rock climbed in an indoor center, taken a guided whitewater rafting trip on a river with extremely easy rapids when I was about 13, and probably wouldn’t ever consider jumping out of a plane, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to commit myself to a world of extreme adventure sports, but the references are clear enough for even a novice like me to understand. Each chapter is titled with a reference to whitewater rafting and includes an explanation of what that term means. Not only did these references not interfere with my understanding, but I even learned a little something along the way!
The core group of characters in this story is supported by a cast of relatives and acquaintances that help to fill out personalities and showcase the relationships within the story. Kaye’s mom and dad, a farmer and a hippie baseball coach respectively, add a sense of whimsy and humor in their parenting styles, while the Cabrals, Sophia and Alonso, paint a picture of a much more traditional family, one immersed in Hispanic culture. Danita and Samuel, though technically cousins, are raised as siblings by Sophia and Alonso, and are part of a close-knit family that accepted Kaye and Angel as surrogate children early on. Through Samuel’s writing, we see stories of the four growing up together, particularly Samuel and Kaye…the beginning of their story.
In the narrated chapters, we’re thrown into a much different world, where Samuel and Kaye are ex-spouses, pulled apart by Samuel’s exodus to New York City to “find himself.” They have spent seven years apart, and it’s only because of the impending nuptials of a sibling and best friend that they’re pulled back into the same universe. And that universe gets turned on its head when the two finally come back together. But, to find out exactly how things get all turned around, you’re going to have to read for yourself. Although, you won’t get all of your answers, or at least not yet.
While reading, I didn’t even realize, as sucked into the story as I was, that my Kindle app was telling me I was 97% through the story, and I was nowhere near a resolution. Yes, I’ve read the original fanfiction version and, in theory, know where the story is headed. However, the world created in this re-write pulled me in so fully that when I read the words “Read on for a preview of the sequel,” I almost threw my tablet across the room because I didn’t want the story to be over. These characters have so much further to go, and I cannot wait for the release of Skygods to get me the answers to the questions I have – especially those answers I’m daring to hope for, despite my fears for their tumultuous journey.
I spent two days totally immersed in this story and found myself falling in love with characters that I’d once known but were now different. I found myself both rooting for Samuel and Kaye, together and on their separate journeys, as well as wanting to throttle them both throughout the process. Hydraulic Level 5 grabbed me and pulled me in, and I gave myself over to the story, not wanting to put it down, even after I’d gotten to the end. Highs and lows, laughing and crying, frustration and elation… I went on my own extreme adventure, one that left me breathless and calling Sarah Latchaw by some of her very creative curses for cranking up the emotional level and leaving me wanting to take it even higher.
How does a woman get over her one great love? With whitewater rafting, bluegrass, and a touch of revenge…
Kaye is an extreme sports addict with a kind heart and an axe to grind with her childhood sweetheart and ex-husband, renowned writer Samuel Caulfield Cabral. While Samuel enjoys a celebrity life in New York, Kaye remains in their hometown of Lyons, Colorado, running her PR agency and chatting daily with Samuel’s family, the beloved Cabrals—first-generation Mexican-Americans who have embraced Kaye as their own.
But when Samuel returns for his sister’s wedding with his new love interest, stunning editor Caroline Ortega , the gloves are stripped off. Kaye is determined to unearth the reasons behind the death of their marriage and why two people who lived to love each other were driven apart.
She discovers startling revelations about Samuel, about life…and about herself.
Social Media Links for Sarah Latchaw
This book gets two emphatic wings up from this chick, so be sure and preorder/order here!