Wednesday, October 19, 2011

SUMMER RENTAL By Mary Kay Andrews

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Date Published: June 7, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-64269-3
Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Reviewed by Lynne
Obtained via publisher.

Ellis Sullivan and her best friends since grade school, Julia Capelli and Dorie Dunaway, decide to reunite for a month. A summer rental in Nags Head, North Carolina provides them the perfect retreat, and soon they are together again, enjoying the beach and sharing life’s problems and joys.

Ellis, recently fired from her banking position in Philadelphia, is uncertain of her future, since jobs are scarce these days. Divorced, she hasn’t been involved with a man in ages, but is looking forward to spending time with her friends.

Dorie, soon-to-be-divorced, finds herself pregnant and is also uncertain of her future as a single mother. Since her husband teaches at the same school she does, she is also not sure whether to remain there, yet she knows that survival on her income alone would be difficult.

Julia, a model, has been involved with a man she loves, Booker, for years. Although they live together, she has made it clear she does not want to marry him, although he is open to the idea.

Upon arrival at Ebbtide, the summer rental, the friends discover it to be a rundown, ramshackle place in need of repair and upgrading. Upset at this discovery, since Ellis spent so much time planning their month-long vacation, she sends numerous e-mails of complaint to Mr. Culpepper, the landlord. What Ellis doesn’t know is that he is, in fact, Ty Bazemore, a gorgeous hunk, their neighbor, that has drawn the women’s notice. Bazemore, struggling to retain ownership of Ebbtide, rents it out in order to supplement his income as a bartender and day trader.

Maryn Shackleford soon enters the picture. On the run from her dangerous husband, she makes a deal with Dorie to rent the spare room at Ebbtide. Ellis and Julia reluctantly allow Maryn to share their rental, although she is a complete stranger going by the assumed name of Madison.

It isn’t long before Ellis and Ty become attracted to one another and begin what the women believe is nothing more than a summer fling. Dorie, too, has found a love interest in a local deputy.

As the summer progresses, the women soon bond with Maryn, who finally lets down her guard and tells them the truth of why she is there. But when her husband comes looking for her, to retrieve what belongs to him, it is then the women realize how important their new friend is to them and risk everything to help her. And it is then that Ellis, Dorie, and Julia come to decisions that will affect their lives in so many wonderful ways.

SUMMER RENTAL by Mary Kay Andrews is a wonderful read. It was so much fun, I couldn’t put it down. It is one of those special books you don’t want to end.

It is easy to see why Ms. Andrews is a New York Times bestselling author. She is an extremely accomplished writer, as evidenced by her many other popular books and history as a journalist.

SUMMER RENTAL is a story that will remind a woman of the fun she may have had with her own girlfriends, whether as children or later in life. It is also easy to relate to each of the women in this story, for those who have endured dangerous relationships, insecurity, doubt, fear, or whatever. Ms. Andrews has skillfully played her hand at mixing all of them into this story. She has created genuinely likeable characters, with a dose of reality mixed in.

I liked the fact that Ty Bazemore became attracted to Ellis rather than the fashion model. It says a lot about his character. His choice even surprises Ellis, who is quickly charmed by this handsome man.

Ellis’s friends are a lot of fun, and Ms. Andrews writes them in a way that makes you want to be friends with them yourself. And their display of care and loyalty for one another, since childhood, makes them endearing. Their openness and honesty at times makes you easily overlook their more negative qualities of lying and conniving, when they felt it was necessary. Despite everything, it is wonderful to see the tight bond of friendship displayed by Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. And later, by Maryn, to some degree.

Let’s not forget the bad guys. Not just Maryn’s wicked husband, but Bazemore’s ex-wife and her new husband. Each of them manage to get under your skin, but not in a nice way, as they seek to establish themselves as the dominating forces in SUMMER RENTAL.

Ms. Andrews has an extremely creative mind and weaves suspense and intrigue into this heartwarming tale, SUMMER RENTAL, so wonderfully that it leaves the reader satisfied and hoping for more. It is, indeed, a page turner, with a great plot, great dialogue, and great characters who will turn your heart upside down with delight. It might even be interesting to see a sequel to this story.

I would definitely recommend SUMMER RENTAL, not just as a great summer read, but for anyone who feels the need to escape to a beach-like setting with a group of people who are guaranteed to stir your heart into knots as you share their vacation, their ups and downs, and their happy ending.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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