“I really thought he was the man for me, except he didn’t show me the kind of man he really was. Not then. That didn’t come until much later.” – Thom Collins, Safe Harbour

SAFE HARBOUR by Thom Collins is an engaging M/M romance thriller. Although it’s the second book in the Jagged Shores series, it can be read as a standalone book without needing to be familiar with book one, North Point [see my earlier review of it here on the BLOG]. This novel is a perfect mixture of romance and suspense that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

Matt, a busy lawyer, travels to Nyemouth, a seaside town, for a vacation. He rents a holiday home with a stunning view of the harbour. Jake, who grew up in the city, now lives in Nyemouth and runs a restaurant business with his sister. He also volunteers on the local lifeboat crew. Although Jake left his controlling husband Vince a year ago, Vince refuses to give him a divorce. On Matt’s first night in town, he sees Jake and Vince arguing. Vince becomes violent, and Matt comes to Jake’s aid. Despite the situation, Matt feels an instant attraction to Jake. As they get to know each other better, they feel a distinct connection and decide to take a chance on a holiday romance. However, Vince isn’t ready to give up Jake; he’s determined to keep his husband and will do anything to make it happen. As Matt’s and Jake’s feelings for each other deepen, they don’t know the danger posed by Vince’s obsession. [Author Image On Left Property Of Thom Collins.]

These characters are exceptionally well-crafted, each with unique personalities and profoundly personal story arcs. The descriptive world is nothing short of immersive, as the author’s writing style is vivid and rich, allowing the reader to experience the North East of England seaside setting with all five senses. I could almost taste the ocean spray on my lips as I felt the wind and rain of the north coast while the waves relentlessly crashed against the rugged rocks. A toxic character’s behaviour is often mirrored by their gradually degrading physical appearance, a “representational” trope I appreciate. Collins’ writing completely transported me to another world, making it impossible to put the book down.

Throughout the Jagged Shores series—and Safe Harbour is no exception—one of the things that stands out to me is how the author portrays love’s intricate and often thorny nature. Love is never a straightforward emotion, whether romantic or platonic and can lead to destructive outcomes when mishandled. What I find remarkable about Collins’ writing is his delving into the multiple layers of complications that love can bring. Reading the series can be frustrating and exhilarating because the characters’ decisions often leave you wanting to intervene and direct them towards better or different choices. However, this kind of interaction with the narrative makes it an exciting and solid romantic thriller that stays with you long after you’ve finished the novel.

Matt struggles to break free from the toxic relationship he has with his drug-addicted ex-husband, who was repeatedly unfaithful to him during their marriage, causing him to face numerous issues, both emotional and financial. Even after getting divorced, Matt still continues to take his ex’s phone calls and provide him with financial support despite claiming that he would stop doing so. At what point do you stop being concerned and selfless and become a doormat? How long can a past love, even knowing it was one built on lies and duplicity, hold a person hostage? Oh, the many times I wanted to slap Matt upside his head.

Jake is minimally better at fostering a permanent separation from his relationship. What was once a marriage that involved emotionally and financially controlling behaviour has grown into physical abuse brought on by Vince’s sick response to Jake’s refusal to back down on wanting a divorce. Still, even after being hit by his ex, Jake allows himself to fall prey to his emotions and what little respect he thought he still owed his past love and gives Vince other opportunities to inflict further toxicity upon his life. Stop talking to him! Get a restraining order!

How fascinating it is to see relationship scenarios that have typically been portrayed in heterosexual romance and drama now being explored in a queer/gay male context, including issues such as the varied forms of spousal abuse and the legal and emotional challenges of divorce. Collins is a gifted writer with a rich imagination that allows him to create vivid and authentic portrayals of complex relationship situations that cross all sexual orientation and gender boundaries.

Collins’ writing style is inclusive and offers a diverse and genuine representation of our world, particularly concerning the LGBTQ community. Life can be difficult for queer individuals living in smaller towns, but I appreciate how the novel portrays the residents of Nyemouth. They do not exhibit any bigotry towards their queer inhabitants. Although homophobia does play a role in the plot of a later book, it represents only a tiny voice in Collins’ seaside world of inclusivity. This is a thoughtful representation of moving against stereotyping.

Thom Collins has done a fantastic job of creating a well-written, engaging story that will keep you hooked from start to finish. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves a compelling gay romance with added thrills and spills.

Safe Harbour (Jagged Shores Book Two) is available for purchase at, and Barnes & Noble. For more information about this author, follow Thom Collins on Instagram, his Pride Publishing Page, and check out his website.




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