Saturday, September 14, 2013

Saturday Review: Summer Is for Lovers

Summer Is for Lovers
By Jennifer McQuiston
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: 
September 24, 2013

Caroline Tolbertson is not yet in her teens when, on a deserted Brighton beach, she first encounters David Cameron, a troubled young army officer who changes his mind about suicide almost too late. Thanks to her late father’s unconventional approach to rearing daughters, Caroline is an experienced swimmer who is able to guide the young soldier to safety. Keeping silent about the rescue is in both their best interests, and so they part with no one else knowing about the incident. But David, second son of a Scots baron, retains a vivid memory of his plain but passionate young savior, and for Caroline, David becomes the “verray, parfit, gentil knight” of her dreams.

More than a decade later, the tall, gawky Caroline and her older sister, Penelope, a generally proper, bookish miss with a stammer, are on the verge of spinsterhood, both of them poor material for the stuff of their widowed mother’s dream of seeing her daughters married ladies. Caroline is all too aware of her physical and social deficiencies, and she is troubled by them since she knows a good marriage is the only way she can fulfill her promise to her father and take care of her mother, and her sister. Prompt action is vital if they are not to descend from genteel poverty into outright penury.

Caroline and David meet the second time when David accompanies his mother to Brighton for a two-week stay while she recuperates from a lingering illness.  The sea air at Brighton works its restorative powers quickly because within for days, David’s mother is engaged in matchmaking schemes to see her younger son paired with an eligible bride. Both Caroline and David are reluctant guests at a social gathering at the summer home of an English viscount whose daughter is the match David’s mother has selected for him.

David, a caretaker by nature, and Caroline’s innocence intensifies the guilt he feels about an incident in his past. He is indignant when he realizes that she is the target of the cruelty of a group of shallow, immature aristocrats, and he determines that he will do his best to open their eyes to her intelligence and unique appeal and push them into seeing her as a worthy candidate for marriage. It doesn’t take long for Davis to realize that the friendship and desire he feels for Caroline insure that there is only one man he can see as her husband, David himself.

I enjoyed McQuiston’s debut novel, but I found Summer Is for Lovers, the second book in the series, to be even better. Caroline is a delightful heroine—strong physically and emotionally, intelligent, and vulnerable. Her aptitude for swimming makes her unconventional in an original fashion, and yet she is very much a woman of her time with limited choices.  David is a decent, honorable man who made a mistake for which he cannot forgive himself. I think for most people in real life, their strengths and weaknesses are entangled, often like the opposite sides of a single coin, and so I found David a credible and appealing hero. I applaud the skill with which McQuiston shows the development of the relationship between David and Caroline. I especially appreciated the scene where David sees Caroline in her natural element, the sea, and becomes aware that she is the very opposite of the graceless, plain young woman he thought her to be.

I also liked the fact that David is the second son of a Scots baron, the lowest-ranking title in the United Kingdom and that Caroline’s father was a newspaper owner. The Brighton setting also added freshness and interest to the novel. I even approve the “villains” of the piece who are not incredibly evil but rather weak and self-absorbed and incapable of seeing the “other” with sympathy and understanding.

This book is loosely connected to What Happens in Scotland, but it is not necessary to have read that book to follow the events of Summer is for Lovers. If you haven’t yet tried Jennifer McQuiston’s books, I recommend you do so. She’s high on my list of up and comers to watch.

McQuiston said in an interview with Tracy Brogan that Dierks Bentley served as the inspiration for David Cameron and Kip Moore as the hero of her third Avon novel, Moonlight on My Mind, a March 25, 2014 release.  An author who has a proper appreciation for country music hunks is clearly a woman of insight and discriminating taste.  What country music star inspires you to imagine him—or her—as the protagonist of a romance novel?


kipha said...

LOL amazing! I can't wait for this to be released and thank you for this review. For me Brad Paisley always comes up first to mind of country singers and then Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, Kieth Urban. Yup those guys.

Sharlene said...

I loved What Happens in Scotland & looking forward to this book! How about Jake Owen?

quantum said...

This sounds interesting and I might recognise features of Brighton!

I doubt that Kiri Te Kanawa could be considered a 'hunk' but her rendering of the French folk songs 'Songs of the Auvergne' do inspire me to imagine her as a heroine. LOL

Janga said...

Oh, Kipha, I like your list, particularly Keith Urban. I have written at least a half dozen scenes inspired by his music. "Raining on Sunday" is my go-to song when I need inspiration for love scenes. :)

Janga said...

Sharlene, I think you'll really enjoy SIFL. And a definite yes to Jake Owen!

Janga said...

Q, I thought Brighton was a real change in setting.

Do you know I wrote a biographical essay on Kiri Te Kanawa for a reference work? She's a fascinating individual even if she doesn't qualify as a "country hunk." LOL