Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Summer Rental" by Mary Kay Andrews

Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she's made over the past decade of her life. Julia - whose caustic wit covers up her wounds - has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can't hide how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, and her live. And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world... though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina's Outer Banks is just what each of them needs.

Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he's hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to each other, even as Ty is about to lose everything he's ever cared about.

Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity. Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants, but can they also provide what she needs?

Five people questioning everything they ever thought they knew about life. Five people on a journey that will uncover their secrets and point them on the path to forgiveness. Five people who need a sea change, and one month in a summer rental that might just give it to them.

I love Mary Kay Andrews and have since I read "Hissy Fit" so many years ago. She puts out funny, Southern women's fiction, and other than "Deep Dish", she hasn't missed a beat. (Hey, I still liked that one, too, just not as much as all the others I've read). I put my name on the list for this, her newest title, as soon as our system got it, even though it meant it would be a dreaded 7-day title.

So imagine my surprise when I get my copy and start reading and realize - this is sorta serious stuff. Not wring-your-hands and cry-your-eyeballs-out serious, but a lot more serious than I remember her books being. There's an unplanned pregnancy (and no, I'm not giving anything away - you can spot that coming a mile away); there's job loss; there's potential bankruptcy and home-loss; and there's physical abuse. Heck, there's even possible murder! And while some of these issues have sort of popped up before in an MKA book, the subjects were dealt with quickly and with great humor. This time the subjects linger and the humor felt a bit more grim.

Now having said that I was shocked by the more serious, grown-up tone of this book, I have to say that I still enjoyed it. The friendships between the three friends was wonderful and felt very much like some of my real-life friendships. I really wanted to know more about Maryn, and that was perhaps my only disappointment, that her story was left unfinished. Maybe she will be the lead character of the next book? (hint, hint, MKA.....)

The romance is nicely done, developing at a leisurely pace. And as always, the descriptions of the seaside town, the houses, the furniture, etc, are just fabulous. You really feel like you're there and can easily imagine the cottages, the roads, the bicycles, etc.

Overall, I would say "Summer Rental" is a good read, and it would make a perfect beach book. Of course, I'm getting around to reviewing it way past summer and "beach time" but who knows? Maybe you'll be heading out to the coast yourself this fall/winter!

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