One Perfect Summer introduces us to the new character of Alice. Before she leaves home to go to University, she takes one last family holiday with her parents to a holiday cottage in Dorset. All set to have a relaxing break, she doesn't count on meeting a boy that will change her life forever - Joe. Despite only knowing each other a few weeks, they embark on a passionate love affair, but it quickly all goes wrong, and Joe disappears from Alice's life, leaving her heart-broken. At university, she meets German student Lukas, and is bowled over by his charm and affection towards her, and decides to settle down with him. But with Joe always at the back of her mind, will Alice ever be able to give 100% of herself to Lukas or is that one perfect summer going to ruin the rest of her future?
I loved Alice. I'll say that straight away because I think she's the perfect heroine for the book, and made me want to keep following the story and reading on to find out what Alice was going to do next. Toon writes her as such as believable character, you can't help but feel her pain when Joe disappears, and although I really disliked her relationship with Lukas who I believed to be a weasel from the very moment we meet him, you could see why she craved a steady relationship but I wish she had admitted her feelings for Joe more. She's a very realistic character though, and one I am sure the readers of this book will really like. Lukas on the other hand was horrible, and I really disliked how he controlled Alice quite subtly, but in a way that meant she was merely going through the motions of a relationship really.
Joe is just a fantastic character. He starts off as a shy young teenager working for his awful parents at their pub in Dorset, and comes alive when he meets Alice and falls in love. Now, as I was reading, I wondered if Toon would do as she normally does in her books and somehow reference one of the other characters from her books in here, and it took a while for me to twig this one, but when I did, I thought it was a fab connection! Anyone who has read Baby Be Mine, Toon's previous novel to this should recognise the character of Joseph Striker, the Hollywood heart-throb Meg befriends when trying to work things through with Johnny Jefferson... well....that's the connection! As I say it took me a while, but when I realised, I rushed upstairs to grab Baby Be Mine and check, and I was right! I really do love that aspect of Toon's books.
The story itself was fantastic to read, and I adored the setting of beautiful Cambridge. Toon's descriptions of the city, from the famous colleges of Cambridge to University, to Alice's job as a punter on the rivers was great, and it certainly makes me want to go back there again, it's written so beautifully it brings it alive in your mind with ease. The story has several time settings, at the beginning is pre-University for Alice, then we get back to Alice when she's at University, and then after a while it skips a few years on to when her and Lukas are moving on with their relationship, and then things really kick off. I loved the anticipation of waiting for Joe to show up again (revealed in the blurb, not a spoiler!), and was actually surprised it took as long as it did to happen. I've noticed people online complaining about the ending, but Paige has revealed that there will be a sequel to this book, most likely in 2014, so it'll be great to catch up on that ambiguous ending and find out what is going with Joe, Lukas and Alice!
As usual, Toon has written another absolute corker of a novel that will have you hooked from start to finish! I couldn't put it down once I'd started reading and honestly feel in love with Alice and Joe's story, it was so fantastically written you'll find yourself desperate for the happy ending they both deserve. Instead, we're left on a bit of a cliffhanger with a 2 year wait, but luckily, we all know it will be worth it! With a stunning setting, a fantastic set of characters and a great writing style that draws you in from the very first page, One Perfect Summer is one of those books that will be a 'keeper' on your bookshelf, and I know I'll be reading again. I especially loved the reference from Baby Be Mine but it really was a stunning read that I can't recommend highly enough!