Monday, August 11, 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Sweetest Summer

The Sweetest Summer (Bayberry Island - Book 2) by Susan Donovan

Publication Date: 08/05/2014
Publisher: Penguin Group
Imprint: Signet Select
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 352
ISBN-10: 0451419294
ISBN-13: 978-0451419293

(Received for an honest review from Signet Select)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Indiebound

Susan Donovan on the WEB: blog, twitter, facebook, goodreads

Books in the series

Bayberry Island

1. Sea of Love
2. The Sweetest Summer

Coverart: Click the Image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.

Excerpt from, The Sweetest Summer, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.


A mermaid statue could be the cause of heartbreak or everlasting romance for a practical-minded police chief and his first love—in the second of the delicious Bayberry Island trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Susan Donovan.... 

Every instinct told Police Chief Clancy Flynn that his island’s claim to fame was nothing but a silly tourist attraction. But now and then, he couldn’t help but wonder if his lifetime of bad romances—starting with the pretty tourist who broke his fourteen-year-old heart—could be traced back to a childhood prank involving that very statue....

Then one day the pretty tourist comes barreling back into Bayberry—all grown-up and on the run with her niece. Though Evelyn McGuinness is wanted for kidnapping, she tries to persuade Clancy that there’s more to the story. Now the by-the-book police chief must make the toughest decision of his life: to take Evelyn into custody—or into his arms....


Susan Donovan brings reader's the second book in her Bayberry Island series, centering around a local mermaid statue with a legend for finding true love. The Sweetest Summer is exactly what it appears to be, a sweet romance, that is both heartwarming and enchanting at the same time. Where Donovan differs from the 'same ol' love story' is in the details. Her ability to add secondary conflict and emotional situations sets this book apart from the typical contemporary romance. Donovan provides a great follow-up to Sea of Love and will have readers waiting, not so patiently, for her next offering!

What I liked:

Susan's Donovan's books always make me smile. That in itself is a great compliment to any author. She has the ability to allow readers to become invested in her characters, to share in their victories and even in their defeats. She endears her readers by making her characters real. Often in books the main characters are unattainable for one reason or another. They may have lived hundreds of years in the past or they could just be the kind of person the reader would never have the opportunity to associate with. But Donovan's crowning glory in the Bayberry Island series comes from making her characters accessible to readers. They are easy to identify with and their circumstances are often ones the reader has experienced themselves or wish to, where love is concerned.

Evie and Clancy, have a shared past. First love. Nothing is sweeter than that. That first time when you experience your heart rate speeding up or wanting to spend every moment with another person. Donovan's portrayal of this wonderful time in the lives of two teenagers is compelling and heartfelt. Her story takes place in the present, but the flashbacks to fourteen year old Evie and Clancy give the book a feeling of nostalgia and stand to make the reader even more enamored with their story. Donovan uses this literary technique so well that readers will feel like they have actually read two romances instead of one. I liked that idea and it certainly added depth and emotion to the story.

I was expecting a typical romance without a lot of fluff. Donovan's books often have a charm about them that make them a perfect candidate for a summer read in the hammock or on the beach. But this particular book had a bit more substance. The conflict involved in the story surrounded a kidnapping. Evie was kidnapped her niece, Christina and has returned to Bayberry Island to hide. At first I wasn't sure I was going to find her reasons for taking the toddler justifiable. But the more I read the more Donovan convinced me of Evie's reasons and motivation. This part of the story added a whole new layer to both the emotional impact of the novel, and the authors intent to make her storyline current and believable. Is it possible that a family member might kidnap a child to keep them safe from other unsavory elements in that child's life? Absolutely! It happens all the time. Are they right in doing so? That's the real question, isn't it. It was well done and made me think, not what you expect from a romance, huh?

What I didn't like:

The villain in this story is Christina's biological father, who happens to be a member of congress. Not exactly a character that would easily be thwarted. My problem with him was not in who he was, but his characteristics and personality were not consistent. He flip-flops around a bit and doesn't come across as a very credible character. I think Donovan let him get away from her a bit. 

Bottom Line:

I really enjoyed this book. I thought Donovan provided fantastic characters, who were real and identifiable. I thought she used humor in a subtle way and that the romance was believable and sweet. It was a heartwarming story that had some grit to it. Each aspect of the story was well written and very engaging. A great addition to the series!

The Sweetest Summer is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

About the Author:

Susan Donovan’s novels have won accolades for being witty, sexy, and entertaining. A former newspaper reporter with journalism degrees from Northwestern University, Susan is a USA Todayand a New York Times extended list bestseller whose novels have been translated into dozens of languages. The author of Sea of Love, Susan is a two-time RITA Award finalist and her novelTake a Chance on Me was named Best Contemporary Romance of 2003 by RT Book Reviews magazine. She lives in Maryland with her family and assorted pets. 

Giveaway Details:

The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for one copy of The Sweetest Summer by Susan Donovan.

~ You must be an email subscriber to participate.
~ US addresses only.
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST, August 25th.

1. Please leave a comment about a tourist attraction you know of that is supposed to have magical properties.

2. Please fill out the FORM.


Karen B said...

Magic Kingdom at Disney World!

holdenj said...

The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is the Blarney stone. I have a friend headed to Ireland, so it's been on my mind and in conversation lately!

Charlotte said...

I do not know of any.

traveler said...

Many hotsprings are supposed to have healing properties within the water. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

Rita Wray said...

I can't think of any.


Sue Farrell said...

Many fountains are supposed to grant wishes if you toss in a coin.

justpeachy36 said...

There are a lot of places that are considered to have curative abilities. From Stonehenge to Machu Picchu. A few of my favorites to read about include The Dead Sea, Hellsgate in New Zealand and the Dragon's Cave in Thailand.

Linda Kish said...

I don't really know of any.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I have heard for years that Niagra Falls is a very romanic where couples fall in love. Many go there for weddings and Anniversaries. I would love to win this book. Thanks Debbie. Maxie
> mac262(at)me(dot)com <

Anita Yancey said...

I don't know of any tourist attractions that have magical properties. Thanks for having the giveaway.


Texas Book Lover said...

I honestly don't know of any...but I haven't traveled anywhere so I wouldn't.

bn100 said...

don't know any

Anonymous said...

Italy with the 3 coins in the fountain thing and Ireland with all its whimsy and the Blarney Stone.