“This summer will change everything…
Alice Emerson is in need of a new beginning. Broken-hearted after her beloved grandfather passes away and her relationship falls apart, she makes a pact with her best friend Sasha. Swapping city living for the beautiful sun-bleached beaches of the Outer Banks, they launch an ice cream shop together in the crumbling house by the sea where Alice spent blissful childhood holidays.
As Alice and Sasha settle into the close-knit community, making friends with the locals and tempting them with their delicious recipes, Alice finds herself falling for the warm charm and golden smile of mysterious doctor Jack Barnes. Spending time together during sunshine-filled days and long romantic evenings, Alice starts to wonder if he could be the one for her?
But just when Alice’s summer couldn’t be more perfect, she discovers an old letter tucked away in the beach house. It contains a family secret that turns Alice’s world upside down and makes her question everything she’s ever known. And then Jack complicates their summer romance with an unexpected offer…
Faced with a difficult decision, will Alice and Jack follow their hearts and find true happiness this summer?”
This is the first book I have read by Jenny Hale, although I understand it is actually her tenth book, with a previous four summer reads and five Christmas books published so congratulations on reaching that momentous milestone, Jenny. I was originally drawn to the book by its beautiful, summery cover and the setting of the book in a beach resort on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. (Regular readers of my blog will know I am a sucker for a book set in the USA, particularly the Southern states. I am obsessed with them.)
I raced through the book in an afternoon and have been left with mixed feelings which have caused me to give pause and carefully consider what I was going to write in my review before posting it to ensure I am being fair to the book.
There is a huge amount that I loved in this book. The setting was every bit as rich and beautifully brought to life as I had hoped it would be when I picked it up. From the opening line, “Alice Emerson plopped down in the sand, looking out at the restless ocean as it peeked over the sea oats” I was as much in love with the location as the main character is. The ocean, the beach, the little town, the clapboard houses, the cute restaurants – I could see it all perfectly in my mind’s eye and it acts as a character in the book in its own right which is just as it should be. The author has a beautiful way with language and description and has created a wonderful world in this story.
The characters in the book were well-constructed and fully-rounded and very likeable. The main character, Alice, was easy to warm to and got us on side immediately with her dilemmas. The friendship between Alice and her best friend, Sasha, is genuine and heart-warming and I completely believed it. Jack is perfectly drawn as Alice’s potential love interest but it is her son, Henry, who steals the show in this book. He is a gorgeous, vibrant little boy and the channelling of all of Alice’s concerns through the filter of her doing her best for Henry added an extra dimension of challenge to what might otherwise have been a fairly ordinary will-they, won’t-they summer love story. This took it up an emotional level for me as a mother myself and I loved this aspect of the story. The only character I found slightly disappointing and who could have done with rounding out a little more and given more depth to add interest to her role in the story was Melly. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was about her that I didn’t take to (was she a bit too nice, a bit of a drip – I’m not sure) but I never warmed to her.
The story was fairly gentle but there was enough emotional conflict to keep me interested and this is potentially a perfect, easy summer read save for a couple of issues that spoilt it a little for me.
Firstly, the timeline just did not work at all. Everything happened way too quickly, even allowing for a belief in love at first sight. Alice goes from vowing off men to being head over heels for a man she has spent about four hours with, within a couple of days of arriving in the town. He’s meeting her son, she’s meeting his father and feeling a sense of responsibility towards him before she’s known him a week. It didn’t feel true to me, which spoilt my ability to immerse myself in the story. In addition to the love story, there were other things that just didn’t work from a time perspective. Alice has been in town less than 48 hours and she has already collaborated with a local artist to finalise the logo for her ice cream shop and ordered a transfer for the window, about five minutes after she has picked its name. At the beginning of the book, we are told that Alice’s mother died when Alice was sixteen. However, it is later discussed how Alice’s ‘parents’ were supportive of her when she becomes a single mother and also how her mother started to feel guilt over certain past decisions she had made at the time Alice had Henry, but Henry was born when Alice was nineteen, long after her mother was dead. These kind of details seem minor but are again a distraction from the storyline and a more careful edit was needed.
Secondly, and this may be more an issue of personal preference, the ending was just too saccharine and perfect for my tastes. I expected this book to end in an HEA as would anyone who picks up a book of this nature but this one seemed to have been gift-wrapped, topped with a big bow and had a cherry stuck on the top. If the book had finished at the end of Chapter 29, I would have been happy. I wish I had not read Chapter 30. However, as I said, this may just be my personal taste. The author of this book is American and is writing for a segment of the American market that I am sure would demand Chapter 30 (one of her books has been made into a Hallmark movie) and I think there is a slight difference between what American romance readers expect and what is normal for the UK market. We are much more reserved over here!
These issues aside, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it as a sweet summer holiday read and I would not hesitate to pick up another book by this author. And I still adore that cover, it fits the book perfectly.
One Summer is published today and you can buy a copy Here.
My thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for my copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
About the Author
When I graduated college, one of my friends said, “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day.” Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to me.
Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t.
While I didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, I completed a novel that I felt was worthy of publication. The result was Coming Home for Christmas, a heart-warming story about the magic of love at Christmas, and 2017 TV movie on The Hallmark Channel.
The rest is history.
When I’m not writing, I’m a mother of two boys and a wife to a very supportive husband.
Connect with Jenny:
Facebook: Jenny Hale Author