I discovered this book because Merri Hiatt is one of the people who talks a lot on the Absolute Write boards that I like to visit when I am stuck in my edits. The theme of women who had the names of seasons for characters caught my attention since I use elements tied to seasons in my own work. Different concepts? Yes. Still got me curious? Yes.
Last night I finally had a pause in my edits for Moon Dance (read: I'm stuck!) so I figured I might as well read something. Today's review was suppose to be Vision in White by Nora Roberts but that's going *slow* because the book's print is obnoxiously tiny and giving me a headache. So my apologies to anyone who is like, "Where's the Vision in White review?" -- it may be a while yet.
I didn't go into Summer Love with a million expectations. Instead, I downloaded the sample for it and for Autumn Love and liked them enough that I decided to buy Summer Love and give it a go. Ready to hear what I think of Summer Love? Read on...
The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Summer Lansing is used to reading about love in books, keeping her at a safe distance from heartbreak. Mike Duncan doesn't know the meaning of the word safe. He's spontaneous and thrives on taking risks. When the duo cross paths, searing kisses soon follow and Summer finds a real-world passion she never knew existed.
Summer Love is contemporary romance. To me, this means that the characters are going to drive the plot, and they are going to determine whether the book is interesting. Summer Love had a totally wonderful cast, and since this is part of a series I am looking forward to catching up with them all again in the other books?
"But Kat, this is the plot section..." Yeah, I know. I really liked the stuff that we get to see her plot wise. The book club meetings are fun, the interactions at Mind Travels are great... But this is all placeholder. It's the characters and what is going on within them that counts.
Summer's need to have a plan and her struggle learning to listen to her heart outside the confines of a book. Winter being given a hard time by her boss. Autumn's determination to succeed as a country singer. And of course the nearly electric chemistry between Summer and Mike. (Can't forget that, can we?) Those are the things that immediately come to mind when I think of Summer Love.
Summer seemed to have all her ducks in a row, perhaps even a bit more then was good for her. I could definitely relate to her love of escaping inside the pages of a book and her need to have things planned out. She had layers and I appreciated that. She felt this need to have it all together and to succeed, but she also had a warmth about her -- the way she is friends with the people she works with, for instance -- that kept her from being unrelatable.
Mike is Summer's polar opposite. He likes to live by the seat of his pants and I think the effect he had on her was definitely for the better. Let me be clear: Mike wasn't some lazy freeloader or anything like that. He had a job, knew tons about various aquatic subjects (surfing, scuba diving, etc.) ... But he wasn't out to become #1 boss or anything like that. I think that this parallel brought out the best in their characters.
The rest of the cast is really what made Summer Love stand out from other great romances I've read. I really grew to love the characters of Port Townsend. I felt like I got to have a glimpse at a whole little community, not just our hero and heroine. And yet this was done in such a way that it never took away from the central romance. If I had to give a favorite character outside of Mike and Summer, it would likely either be Kitty or Winter.
I'm not gonna lie: the attraction between Mike and Summer takes off like a bat outta hell. The characters have lived in the same town for a while, and Summer seems to have had a crush on Mike for a while at the book's start. But the evolution of their relationship was definitely fast and furious. This probably won't sit well with people who are anti insta-love, but I was fine with it personally. By the end of the book this is addressed and the characters and relationship grow from it.
Merri Hiatt did a great job of capturing the chemistry and intensity of how these two felt. I was really able to get behind what was going on with Summer, both when things were going good and when problems arose. I was rooting for them to get together, but I both understood and respected her desire for caution and her fear or being hurt or left behind.
The only other thing I can really say about Summer Love that might be a deciding factor for anyone is that there are some POV changes in this book and they can happen pretty quick and last short periods of time. This is not a constant thing and once I knew it was going to happen I was fine with it. But I know this might not be cool for everybody, so I figure its probably best to point it out. On the plus side, in my opinion, it allowed me to connect with the cast better since there were a lot of people coming and going. It made me very eager to read the rest of the books in this series.
Summer Love is a fun quick read that I zipped through effortlessly. I read about 90% of it in one sitting and likely would have finished the whole thing in one go if it hadn't been 4 a,m. and I hadn't been tired. A quaint little town full of quirky characters and a book club I'd love to join if the place was real and I lived there served as a lovely backdrop for a wonderful romance between two characters who had totally sizzling chemistry. This is the kind of book that tempts me to turn around and read the next in the series immediately. Highly recommended!