REVIEW: SECRETS IN SUMMER, BY NANCY THAYER

 

Memorial Day weekend means that seasonal visitors have descended on the glamorous island of Nantucket. For year-round resident Darcy Cotterill, it means late-night stargazing in the backyard of the beautiful house she grew up in and inherited from her beloved grandmother. It’s also Darcy’s chance to hit the beach and meet her new summertime neighbors. But the last person the thirty-year-old librarian expects to see staying next door is her ex-husband, Boyz, along with his wife, Autumn, and stepdaughter, Willow.

Darcy must also navigate the highs and lows of a new romantic relationship with local carpenter Nash Forester even as she becomes smitten with handsome vacationer Clive Rush, a musicologist in town to write a book and visit family. And she finds herself pulled into the concerns of Boyz, Autumn, a charming elderly neighbor, and an at-risk teen.

As the season nears its end, Darcy must decide her next move: retreating to the comforts of her steady and secure island life, or risking it all for a chance at true happiness.


My Thoughts: Swept away by the author’s descriptions of the homes, gardens, people, summer events, and the magic of the island, I savored every page in Secrets in Summer. I felt an immediate connection to Darcy, whose grandmother Penny had raised her, having had a special relationship with my own grandmother. I could understand why she loved the home that had belonged to her, and where she grew up.

I could visualize the backyard gardens that were close together, separated only by hedges, which also lent themselves to unique connections. When Darcy found out that her ex-husband Boyz and his new wife were renting the house next door, I anticipated that there would be awkward moments. And there were, but what I didn’t expect was the relationship that would develop between Darcy and Boyz’s stepdaughter Willow.

In the rental house on the other side of Darcy’s were an elderly woman Mimi and her grandson Clive. Mimi was like a surrogate grandmother, but her vivid personality and her tendency to openly share her thoughts made her a more modern day version of Penny. All the new and old friends shared the delights of the season.

Themes of friendships, even those transitory summer connections, kept me interested throughout, as did the drama from Willow, who turned out to be a more likable teen than we usually see in fiction…or real life. Would Darcy find a permanent love connection with her lover, Nash, or might she choose someone new? A delightful story that made me long to visit Nantucket and find some summer friends that might even last through the seasons. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: BEACH BREEZE, BY JOANNE DEMAIO

After a heartbreaking summer on the Connecticut shore, a group of beach friends is as adrift as an unmoored rowboat. When a dismayed Jason Barlow drives as far away from the sea as he can, leaving behind his wife, Maris, as well as their stately cottage on the bluff, that news hits like a sudden wave. Gathering over an intimate meal in a coastal diner, the friends make a solemn pact to lean on each other and not make any more rash decisions.

Which is all well and good, until each friend wavers–testing relationships, commitments, and especially love in the little beach community of Stony Point. But can the magic of the weathered boardwalk, whispering lagoon grasses, and sweet salt air cure what ails them?

My Thoughts: Reconnecting with the residents of Stony Point brought this reader back into all of their lives during a huge loss that seemingly took them each off course.

Jason Barlow was especially impacted by the sudden death of his new friend Sal DeLuca, who had become like a stand-in for Jason’s lost brother Neil. Struggling with his walled-off feelings, he takes to the road without a backward glance. But then he is brought up hard by the swell of his feelings, and calls his wife. Maris and her sister Eva join him, and for a bit, it seems as though Jason might have reached a defining moment.

But more will happen in the days and weeks ahead that will remind them all that sadness and sorrow are not easily forgotten.

Each member of the community is affected by Sal’s loss, and his mother Elsa shows just how much she is changed by it when she suddenly decides not to continue the beach inn renovation. A decision that will hit Jason hard, especially, as he was counting on the work, as were his employees. From one rash decision to another, the friendships are slowly unraveling, and their desperate effort to make changes leads to a pact. One that might curtail future wrong moves.

But will their pact help them move on, or will they have to take drastic steps to right the wrong choices they are making?

A beautifully written story that showed the strength of their bonds in the wake of tragedy, Beach Breeze carried me through to the final moments of an unforgettable summer…and earned 5 stars.

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REVIEW: BEACH BLUES, BY JOANNE DEMAIO

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Stony Point, Connecticut, is the perfect place for both old and new friends to enjoy the summer months.

Celia Gray is a newcomer who has arrived to stage cottages for local realtors, and to heal from a painful divorce, and while she stays in her friends’ cottage during her time here, she begins to form connections among the friendly residents.

Elsa DeLuca is the first of many who engage her, sweeping her up into a cozy circle of warmth, bringing her into her own whirl of activity as she renovates Old Foley’s into an inviting bed and breakfast inn, which she has dubbed Ocean Star Inn.

Soon Elsa is joined by her son Salvatore, who is seeking to heal from his stressful job on Wall Street. But could Sal be harboring other reasons for his summer sojourn?

While new connections form, the old friends show up to provide a backdrop for the summer explorations, and remind us of why we love visiting the beach community populated by Jason and Maris, Kyle and Lauren, and Eva and Matt. We watch as all the old friends share the memories that are part of their legacy in this place, nourishing them during hard times, and how they now bring the newcomers into their circle of trust.

One newcomer, the new beach commissioner, offered an annoying yet humorous backdrop to the usual friendly interactions. He was constantly on hand to issue citations for supposed violations to residents and visitors, with a pompous air and inflexible attitude. The Hammer Law was another rather strange rule: no hammering between the first day of summer until Labor Day, which put a kibosh on any construction work. It was interesting to see how Jason, the resident architect, managed his way around the rules.

Beach Blues is a continuation of the adventures of the characters’ journeys from previous books, and we come to look forward to what they add to this year’s adventures. More secrets are revealed, and with a sense of hidden darkness hovering overhead, we begin to suspect that sadness is not far off. But can the love and romance and celebration of the new lives they have created bring joy, despite any potential sorrow?

This delightful read is a book to savor for the summer, which earned 5 stars.

BOOKISH FRIDAY: “THE GIRLS OF AUGUST”

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Welcome to another Bookish Friday, in which I enjoy sharing excerpts from books…and connecting with other bloggers, who do the same.

Let’s begin the celebration by sharing Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and let’s showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

What better way to spend a Friday!

Today’s feature is an e-book I recently downloaded because it seemed like a great nod to summer, and even though summer is almost over, I can still feel it in the air.  The Girls of August, by Anne Rivers Siddons, is a story about four women and the rituals that kept them together…for a while.

 

 

 

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Beginning:  Of all the fifteen summerhouses, the first one was the best.  That’s what we all agreed on, for a while, anyway…until we grew wiser, more measured in our joy, more careful with the doling out of praise.  Funny, we rarely agreed unanimously on anything, but for years there had been no doubt about the Colleton house.  At first glance it had seemed designed—brick, board, and shingle—for the girls of August.

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56:  (Madison) Barbara hung on to the counter and said, “Woooo.  I think I’ve had too much bubbly.”

“Listen!” I said, happiness coursing through me like a sparrow on the wing.  “I think Teddy told me he loved me!”

Rachel took a drag and blew the smoke in a roiling stream, angling it so that it missed her eyes.  “Really?”

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Blurb:  Every August, four women would gather together to spend a week at the beach, renting a new house each year. The ritual began when they were in their twenties and their husbands were in medical school, and became a mainstay of every summer thereafter. Their only criteria was oceanfront and isolation, their only desire to strengthen their far-flung friendships. They called themselves the Girls of August. But when one of the Girls dies tragically, the group slowly drifts apart and their vacations together are brought to a halt. Years later, a new marriage reunites them and they decide to come together once again on a remote barrier island off the South Carolina coast. There, far from civilization, the women make startling discoveries that will change them in ways they never expected.

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What do you think?  Have you read this one?  Do the excerpts captivate you?  Come on by and share your thoughts.

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