Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Monday, January 17, 2022

a story of friendship, lust, and life-changing choices - Combustible by Al Riske

 "Combustible is a wonderful story ... The author did a great job of bringing each character to life ... I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a light read with a satisfying plot and interesting characters."- Kristi Elizabeth, San Francisco Book Review


Published: May 2021

It’s that summer between the end of high school and the start of something else. Dean Stockton and Curt Hutton are best friends, and more often than not you can find them rowing on the Rogue River at dawn.

Together they experience something they will never be able to describe adequately. But then they won’t really need to. Not to each other. It’s that moment of swing when rowers find the rhythm and everything falls into place. The shell seems to lift right out of the water.

Enter Isabelle Smiley. She’s beautiful yet insecure, knowing yet innocent, and crazy about Curt in a way that no girl has ever been crazy about Dean. She wants Curt to choose a college closer to home than the one he and Dean have selected—and she can be persuasive.

I’d never be able to hold out against a girl like Smiley,” Dean admits.

“Don’t say that,” Curt replies. “I told her she’d have to convince you, too.”

Everyone is conflicted in this story of friendship, lust, and life-changing choices. Only one thing seems certain to all of them: If Smiley strikes a match, Dean will catch fire.

"Sharply drawn and deceptively quiet, Combustible is an excellent novel that lingers in the mind long after completion. I loved it." - Mark Richardson, author of The Sun Casts No Shadow.

All the Way to France

The Sandpiper Bar & Grill overlooks the mouth of the Rogue River, and right now the parking lot is jammed with cars. A red Mustang convertible—the top down, for this is a starlit night in June—circles slowly to the back door.

      In the kitchen, the scene is a whirl of cooks, busers, and dish washers.

      Wearing an apron and a floppy chef’s hat, Dean cuts into a fresh cheesecake and passes a slice to the server waiting in the pantry window.

      Above the din, a line cook hollers

      “Stockton, you’ve got visitors out back.”

      Fellow pantry cook Victor Lee is shucking littleneck clams next to Dean, who says

      “Cover for me, will you?”

      Backed into a loading zone behind the restaurant, Curt’s freshly waxed convertible couldn’t be shinier. The girl from Brookings is still seated on the passenger side; Curt opens the door for her.

      Dean takes off his hat as he pushes through the screen door. He runs one hand through his hair, sweaty from the heat of the kitchen, while his eyes stay glued to the girl’s legs as she climbs out of the low-slung car. Her dress—white with tiny black polka dots—rides up and he can see all the way to France. She blushes but there’s reason to believe she is more pleased than embarrassed.

      “Dean, I’d like you to meet Isabelle—oof!”

      Curt’s date removes her elbow from his rib cage.

      “You know I don’t like that name," she says.

      “Well, how am I supposed to introduce you?”

      She turns to Dean

      “Just call me Smiley," she says. “That’s my last name but it’s what everybody uses.”

      They shake hands. Hers are soft and smooth—so much so that it’s unsettling.

      “What’s wrong with...?”

      Smiley cringes, so he doesn’t say her first name.

      “It reminds me of my grandmother," she says. “I was named after her, actually, but I can’t stand her. The feeling’s mutual, I’m sure.”

      “You don’t look like an Isabelle anyway.”

      “Thank you.”

      Only two words, but they say Dean is exactly right—and Curt is just … mean.

      “Busy tonight?" Curt asks.

      “A madhouse. But I think we’ve got it under control now. How was the show?”

      Curt holds his hand out flat, palm down, and tips it from side to side. Smiley looks appalled at his lack of enthusiasm.

      “She cried the whole time," Curt says.

      “Well, it was sad ... but I liked it," Smiley replies. “You should see it, Dean.”

      Since Dean doesn’t have a girlfriend and has never been to a movie alone, he’s not sure what to say.

About the author:
AL RISKE is the author of Precarious, Sabrina's Window, The Possibility of Snow, Then We'd Be Happy, and Combustible. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and ghostwriter. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, he now lives in California with his wife, Joanne, and their dog, Bodie.

Website * Goodreads * Twitter * Instagram * Amazon

Author' Giveaway:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


CCAM said...

"Coming of Age" is a difficult period and a challenge, I think, for the writers. The blurb/excerpt made me curious and the reviews I found were positive, therefore high on my short TBR list. A serious but promising story, thank you

lildevilgirl22 said...

This sounds interesting

slehan said...

Looks like an interesting book.
Thanks for the contest. 

Debbi Wellenstein said...

I enjoyed the excerpt. Thanks for the giveaway!

katieoscarlet said...

I like the simple cover. Sounds like a good read and from the review sounds like a light read which I need right about now. Looking forward to reading.

Sherry said...

Sounds like a very interesting book.

Sara said...

Thank you

abfantom said...

This sounds like an interesting book and I also like the cover.

abfantom at yahoo dot com

Audrey Stewart said...

I can't wait to read the story of Dean Stockton and Curt Hutton. Iwas intrigued in the first couple of paragraphs.

susan1215 said...

Sounds like an interesting book.

Amy Woolard said...

The excerpt is fantastic! I am looking forward to reading more!

Laura said...

What a perfect title and cover for this book.

wghutton said...

thanksthis sounds pretty interesting

laurie nykaza said...

This sounds like a great read that I would really enjoy.

Nancy P said...

Sounds fantastic

Anita said...

Sounds like a great read the book cover is interesting and different.

Danielle said...

Thanks for the giveaway, I love your page.