Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review Tuesday: A Summer Reunion

A Summer Reunion
By: Kasey Michaels, Sarah Mayberry, and Teresa Southwick
Publisher: Harlequin
Release Date: July 5, 2011

A Summer Reunion is a trio of connected novellas featuring the same characters but with a changing focus.  From the cover copy:


Now that she's reunited with her sister, Tori Fuller doesn't regret a moment of her life. But she's never forgotten the guy who got away. Heart surgeon Sam McCormack is as sexy and irresistible as he was back in college…and ready to prove to the woman he's always loved that it's never too late to start over.…


Lauren Sutcliffe never expected her mother's sixtieth birthday bash to lead to romance. But gorgeous Aussie builder Adam Hunter wants to stake his claim on the bossy, burned-by-love caterer. He wants to share all her tomorrows,
if Lauren will just say yes!


David Longwood isn't looking for love…until a family reunion throws him in the path of free spirit Kinsey McKeever. Suddenly the buttoned-down lawyer is rediscovering his passionate inner self 
and dreaming about forever after…with Kinsey.

The first story, “All Our Yesterdays” by Kasey Michaels, is a double reunion story. It begins with the reunion of two sisters, Tori Fuller and Peggy Longwood, who were separated from one another and from their younger brother when Peggy, the oldest, was only eight. Peggy was adopted by parents who loved her, but Tory was less fortunate. Her troubled childhood helped to determine her decision to run away when she, as a college student, discovered she was pregnant. Yes, this is a secret baby story—with a difference. The “baby” is thirty-two, a wife, and the mother of three. It is she who finds her father, Sam McCormack, a heart surgeon and a George Clooney lookalike. Tori and Sam have some obstacles to overcome, but eventually they achieve their HEA.  I loved everything about this story: the relationship between the sisters, the fact that they are both writers (Peggy, a children’s author and Tory, a cartoonist), the ages of the lovers (Tory and Sam are in their mid-fifties, and Peggy, who also has a love  interest, is a widow approaching her sixtieth birthday), and all the family threads that are woven into the story.

The middle story, “All Our Todays” by Sarah Mayberry, is the story of Laurie Sutcliffe, the daughter of Peggy Longwood, and Adam Hunter, the Aussie partner of Peggy and Tory’s deceased brother, Stephen. Laurie, the mother of two teenagers, is still struggling to redefine herself as newly single after seventeen years of marriage ended in divorce and as a successful business owner rather than the failure her faithless husband made her feel. Adam makes her aware of herself as a woman for the first time in well over a year, and she’s not sure she’s ready for the feelings he stirs in her. Adam falls hard for Laurie from his first look at her, but he has his own reservations. He’s well aware of all the potential complications, not the least of which is that he and Laurie are from different countries. This is a more conventional romance than the first story, and Sarah Mayberry does her usual great job of creating sexual tension and building a relationship. Laurie is a sympathetic character, and it is rewarding to see her surprise and appreciation as she learns what it is to be involved with a man who values her achievements and supports her dreams. Adam is a delight, one of my favorite kinds of hero. He’s in over his head from the beginning, but he’s not sure whether to paddle like crazy to keep afloat or to give up and drown in the sea of unfamiliar emotions. I'm a Mayberry fan, and while I prefer her novels, I liked Laurie and Adam's story a lot. 

The final story, “All Our Tomorrows” by Teresa Southwick, focuses on Peggy’s son, David Longwood, and her protégé and physical therapist, Kinsey McKeever.  The young David, an intrepid youngster, was the model for Davy Daring, the hero of his mother’s books; the adult David, scarred by a friend’s accident for which he feels responsible and by a bad breakup. Kinsey, a conditioned people-pleaser, has major trust issues as a result of growing up in a foster care system and never feeling part of a family. There are some great scenes in this story, including a sweet and sexy storm scene and a funny scene where David is surrounded by his mother, his aunt, and his sister—each in turn demanding that David share his feelings. But I had some problems with it too. David’s guilt and supposed heartbreak are both cured in an instant, making simplistic what should be complex. Even more troubling was that I never really understood why these two people fell in love. I just felt as if pieces of the story were missing.

There is an epilogue. If you are a sentimental reader, you’ll love it. All the happy endings are brought together and tied in a beautiful bow with a smile decorating one trailing ribbon and a teardrop decorating the other. If you’re a cynical reader, you may become mildly nauseous at this point. Me? I lean toward the sentimental.

Overall, I’m giving A Summer Reunion four stars, the average of five stars for Kasey Michaels’s story, four and a half stars for Sarah Mayberry’s story, and three stars for Teresa Southwick’s story.


TerriOsburn said...

First off, adore the new look. What a pretty blue. Very pretty, Janga.

I like the sound of these stories, though I had trouble following who all the characters are. The middle story sounds like the closest to what I would enjoy, but I'm intrigued by the first story as well.

I could probably muddle through the third to read a nice Aussie hero. :) Since I'm not reading at all these days, three shorter stories might actually be doable.

Janga said...

Ter, maybe I should have included a family tree. LOL Peggy is the pivotal character. Her sister is the heroine of story 1, her daughter the heroine of story 2, and her son the hero of story 3. Sorry! I should have said exactly that.

The Aussie hero is terrific. (He's in the second story.) Have you read any of Sarah Mayberry's categories? I highly recommend her.

TerriOsburn said...

Oh, I didn't get that at all. LOL! But I'm not up to par today. I rarely if ever read categories but you led me to a great find with Karina Bliss so I'll look for Sarah's as well.