The Summer House [Jenny Hale]

Some summers will stay with you forever…

Callie Weaver and best friend Olivia Dixon have finally done it: put their life savings into the beach house they admired through childhood summers, on the dazzling white sand of North Carolina’s Outer Banks. They’re going to buff the salt from its windows, paint its sun-bleached sidings, and open it as a bed and breakfast.

Callie’s too busy to think about her love life, but when she catches the attention of local heartthrob Luke Sullivan, his blue eyes and easy smile make it hard to say no. He’s heir to his father’s property empire, and the papers say he’s just another playboy, but as they laugh in the ocean waves, Callie realizes there’s more to this man than money and good looks.

Just when true happiness seems within reach, Callie and Olivia find a diary full of secrets… secrets that stretch across the island, and have the power to turn lives upside down. As Callie reads, she unravels a mystery that makes her heart drop through the floor.

Will Callie and Luke be pulled apart by the storm it unleashes, or can true love save them?

My thoughts on the book: This is the first “summer” book I’ve read from Jenny Hale. I had already reviewed one of her Christmas novels a few months ago and I had really enjoyed the author’s writing style. So I knew that I was likely to enjoy this new publication.

And the promise of a feel-good, romantic story has been delivered. I really had a lovely time delving into this heartwarming tale. The whole cast was endearing and easy to like. Although at first, I was having some reservations about the “millionaire” side of Luke.

I couldn’t not say anything about this element of the book, especially given that I sort of criticized this recurring theme/cliché in chick lit in my last review of the French translation of “A Night With Grace Kelly” by Lucy Holliday. But, last weekend Pippa Middleton did marry that kind of rare man, so it is not as unrealistic as one would think, right? Let’s accept this feature as part of the wild romantic fantasy we might all nurture to some extent at some point! 😊

Overall, I enjoyed seeing the main protagonists slowly get to know each other. The author really managed to write warm scenes with vivid, dynamic descriptions. I really was under the impression that the film was unfolding before my eyes.

The Summer House is a feel-good love story for the hopeless romantics we all secretly are. Luke is the dream boyfriend we’d all wish to meet one day — kind, supportive and reliable. I recommend this book if you need a sweet, easy read to escape.

My score:  ♥ ♥ ♥ (= I liked it a lot)

*****

Special question for the author: I’m having some doubts about a short sentence that I found a bit odd in the context of the hurricane taking place near the end. Since Luke is a wealthy man, how come his sister is worried about where he would stay if his house is destroyed? One would think that accommodation wouldn’t be a problem for a millionaire? Or did I miss something?

EDIT (May 24) : Jenny Hale kindly answered my question on Twitter. If you need some background info like me, here it goes:

In a year, 38 million people visit overnight on a strip of land a mere 200 mikes long. During a big storm, People need to be in town for repairs but it’s a busy little place and very few hotels. Thanks for the review! Glad you enjoyed it. And all those visitors have rented cottages so they’re all booked or destroyed during a hurricane. Hope all that makes sense! 🙂

Interview with author Jenny Hale

Christmas is a perfect time to binge-read warm, festive novels about love, friendship and family. I’ve recently finished All I Want for Christmas by US best-selling author Jenny Hale. After posting my review (click here), a new idea popped into my mind: Why wouldn’t I follow-up with an interview in order to more actively engage with the author? Jenny Hale kindly agreed to answer a few questions. Enjoy!

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Thank you for agreeing to this interview. As a best-selling author of romantic women’s fiction, do you find it easier to write novels or does the success put more pressure on you?

J.H: Every single novel is its own adventure. Each time, it doesn’t get any easier for me, just different. I enjoy the ups and downs of all of them, though.

You’ve already written four Christmas novels, including the recently published All I Want for Christmas. Is there a reason for this recurring theme?

I usually like to write one winter and one summer novel, and what better time during the winter than Christmas?

You’ve opened up about needing to be outside (e.g in coffee shops) to find inspiration. Do you have a specific process to source ideas and put together a good plot? How do you go about creating a brand new world?

It usually occurs during collaboration with my editor. Once we’ve agreed on something, I just go with it and see what I get. As for the actual writing, I like to be around people and in new places—something to spark my creativity.

Were any of the characters and/or situations inspired by your friends and relatives?

No. I try not to base any characters on real people.

To the readers who haven’t read your books yet, which one of your novels would you recommend them to read first? And why?

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses – I had so much fun writing this book. I was at a very high point creatively and just adored the characters.

What storytelling tips would you give to aspiring writers wishing to write a good Christmas story?

Think about Christmas elements and then go deeper. Like in All I Want for Christmas, Nan put up a Christmas tree. But going deeper, she was so tidy and organized that she’d write notes to herself as to where the ornaments went so the next year she’d remember. The characters then played a game to try to guess the locations.

Christmas movies are always very popular at this time of year. Would you ever consider writing a script for a holiday TV movie?

No. I leave that to the professional screenwriters. 🙂

Can you tell us more about your next novel?

It’s set in the Outer Banks, barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. The heroine has just moved there to open a bed and breakfast and she gets swept up in a romance with a famous local playboy. That is, until a secret threatens to tear them apart…


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Jenny Hale is a US best-selling author of romantic women’s fiction. She has already published six books — A Barefoot Summer, Summer at Oyster Bay, Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses, Summer by the Sea, A Christmas to Remember, Coming Home for Christmas, All I Want for Christmas.

To learn more, visit her website: http://itsjennyhale.com/

Twitter @jhaleauthor

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/jennyhaleauthor/

jennyhale

All I Want for Christmas [Jenny Hale]

Snowflakes are falling, there’s carol singing on every corner, and Leah Evans is preparing for a family Christmas at her grandmother’s majestic plantation house in Virginia. It won’t be the same now that her beloved Nan is gone, but when Leah discovers she has inherited the mansion, she knows she can give her daughter Sadie the childhood of her dreams.

But there’s a catch. Leah must split the house with a man called David Forester. Leah hasn’t heard that name in a long time. Not since they were kids, when Davey was always there to catch her.

Now David is all grown up. He’s gorgeous, successful, and certain of one thing: Leah should sell him her half of the house.

They can’t agree, but as they share memories over wine by the log fire, Leah notices a fluttering in her stomach. And by the look in his eyes, he’s starting to feel it too.

Will it be Leah or David who must give up their dreams? Or, with a little bit of Christmas magic, will they finally understand Nan’s advice to them both about living life without regrets … and take a chance on true love?


My thoughts on the novel: A special thank you to Bookouture, NetGalley and Jenny Hale for letting me read this heartwarming Christmas tale. All I Want for Christmas is a must-read feel-good novel for this holiday season.

Single mother Leah Evans is an interesting character. She’s strong-willed, sensitive and loving. I really enjoyed reading about her relationship with daughter Sadie and her close friends a.k.a The Girls! After learning about all her struggles, you cannot help but feel resentment when the news break that Nan, Leah’s beloved grandmother, actually didn’t leave the family property solely to Leah as originally planned. A certain David also inherited half of it. This intriguing turn of events makes you really wonder what could have happened for lovely Granny to throw such a wrench in Leah and Sadie’s dream!

As the plot unfolds, the reader eventually grows to appreciate Nan whose secret is unveiled with poignancy. Leah and David share childhood memories that resurface as they spend quality time together. Step by step, you realise that all Nan did was with a specific purpose in mind.

All I Want for Christmas is a festive, touching novel about family, friendship and love.

Score: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥