I knew going into Saltwater Lover, it would be an interesting read. I was intrigued by the premise, and I wanted to see how the author tackled the historical context and a storyline involving two gay characters.
Saltwater Lover is the story of Captain Mather, a slaver, and Kojo, a slave who has been taken captive by Captain Mather and his crew. The reader is first introduced to Kojo while he is connecting with the spirits in his homeland. He is thought to be powerful and magical amongst his people. The reader is brought to the exact moment when the “catchermen” find Kojo, place him in shackles, and lead him away from his village.
Let’s start with the Pros: I enjoyed Ms. Saddler’s overall writing style. I think with slightly better editing to assist the character development and storyline, this novella has the potential to be a phenomenal read.
The Cons: I think the subject matter is not the type of material you compact into a short story. The complexity of the relationship between Captain Mather and Kojo needed to be developed a bit more. Because things happened in an accelerated pace, it made it hard to see the story as realistic. Just as white men lusted after black slave women, I’m sure the same occurred in the context of black men who were enslaved as well. Even more reason to enhance the build up. It was clear Captain Mather was at war with his feelings for Kojo and vice versa. It would have been great if that had been tapped into a bit more. The alternating POVs didn’t flow seamlessly. In one paragraph, the reader was following Kojo’s frame of thought and the following paragraph would immediately shift to Captain Mather’s perspective. It was a bit jarring. Also, for an erotic read, I found some descriptions odd. I understand wanting to paint a vivid picture but in my opinion, this description of Captain Mather was off: “The man’s blond hair smelled clean and salty with a hint of fish.” Huh? Fish? I’m pretty sure when people think of fish and a potential lover possibly smelling like a hint of fish, it kills the sexy. There were a few other interesting descriptions similar to this in the story particularly when it came to Kojo’s skin color. I get that this is an interracial story but harping on the contrasting skin tones can be overkill, and there was a lot of it.
As I stated earlier in my review, I think with some tweaking and the fleshing out of more details, this story has the potential to be a great read. I commend Ms. Saddler for the attempt but it simply didn’t work for me. My review falls between 2½ and three stars, so I rounded up to three stars.
-Reviewed by: Natalie