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Retro Reading: Summer Cruising by Dave Benbow

"And I'm your cruise director...."

"And I'm your cruise director...."

This Goes Down Slower Than Titanic

Over the last few years it seems like the only books I've been reading are mysteries, so I continued the tradition by going forward with Summer Cruising by Dave Benbow.

With gay pride in June I thought that those who love to read would enjoy this romp aboard the fictional RMS Princess Diana as 1,300 gay men take to the sea for a week. Not only is there murder and romance on the high seas, but disaster.

So, where do I begin? First off, I did think it was a pretty good book in the tradition of Jackie Collins, but I also felt that I was missing something as I had gotten into the first few pages. After finishing the book, I discovered that it looks like this could be a part of a trilogy. Although I can't confirm it since I've been unable to find a complete character list from Benbow's earlier novels.

If I had known that some characters who appear in Daytime Drama and Male Model I think I would have read those books first so if I were you, I'd start with those two first.

Back to the review and story.

As the story begins one of the passengers is out at night looking for sex and he finds it with a mysterious stranger up on deck. The ship has only been at sea two days and underwear model Jorge Camarillo has already lusted after and been lusted after by most of the men onboard. After he's thrown over the side of the ship, no one seems to notice he's missing. Even his assigned cabin mate.

The story then shifts to six days prior to Jorge's murder with the passengers arriving in Barcelona where the cruise will begin. While there are so many characters in the book, I'm assuming that the main character here would be Zack Barnes, who is dumped by his lover at LAX moments before getting on the plane.

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Zack is devastated by the breakup since his boyfriend, Bayne, informs him that he's met someone new and would rather have a relationship with him. Since Bayne is extremely well off, he tells Zack that when he gets back he'll have him moved out of the house they share and into an apartment. Great way to start a romantic vacation.

Along the way, we meet other passengers such as Frank and Andy, Rick and Kurt (who know Bayne) reality television personality Geoff Corbin, Jebb Miller and a bevy of others.

However, it's Hayden Beasley who enters Zack's life and the two become a couple. Hayden lives in Barcelona and is good friends with Rick and Kurt so after the couple get together with Hayden, they reacquaint themselves with Zack and introduce him to Hayden.

Well, Zack and Hayden hit it off immediately and they slowly start to become a couple and soon enough are declaring their love for one another. It's only been a few hours and the two are sharing Zack's spacious cabin.

During the course of the book, there's sex galore and when the ship stops at different ports of call, I found it to be quite tedious as page after page was devoted to that particular attraction. For me, this seemed like a long travel brochure that wouldn't end. I really didn't care. I wanted to get to the disaster.

With a bomb onboard it ultimately goes off and even the disaster itself was kind of boring. In anticipation, I kept thinking that the disaster itself would bring about a much better outcome of the story, but I was sorely disappointed.

Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed with this sea cruise. The premise was good, but I think Benbow put too much into the relationship of Zack and Hayden. Had I written this, I would have been writing about the bombing.

I think if you're looking for a good beach or poolside read this summer you may find it in this or Benbow's earlier work. I'm debating whether or not I'm going to get the previous books, but who knows.

The summer's just beginning.

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