Honeymoons Can Be Hell: Something in the Water, by Catherine Steadman

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Erin and Mark are heading to the altar when the perfect life they’ve been building for themselves begins to crack after Mark is fired from his posh finance job. Erin, a documentarian working on a movie about prisoners getting ready for release, can’t afford their bills on her salary. They can get by for a while but they need to scale back their wedding considerably. Their one concession? They want to keep their honeymoon–a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Bora Bora.

As it turns out, this decision will haunt their future because the titular something in the water shows up: a suitcase full of money and diamonds that they stumble upon while diving. The rest of the novel is about how they react to this discovery and how even when they try to do the right thing it somehow keeps coming back to them. 

Talking too much about the rest of the book would give away secrets that you would benefit from experiencing on your own, so I won’t go there. I liked that Catherine Steadman takes a slow-burn approach to the plot. She really invests a lot in the characters and spends time letting you get to know them because she wants you to care, too. The prologue that opens the book works very well to draw you forward because you want to see how these characters get to that point. This all takes work and care, which is refreshing in a genre frequently far too focused on constant action and twists.

Still, at the end of the day this is a novel about privileged people making confounding decisions. Often pretty dumb decisions. Steadman does a lot to explain why they react the way they do but the point stands: they make the mess they’re in so much worse all the time. 

If you’re looking for something to read on a vacation or, dare I suggest, the beach, you really could do so much worse than this. It’s entertaining and good enough that I can get by the plot holes and more problematic aspects. I listened to the audio, which Steadman herself reads (!), and I would recommend going that route if audiobooks are your thing. She does a great job performing the book, and since she wrote it you feel safe knowing that she’s portraying it accurately.


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