The Summer of You
By Kate Noble
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Release Date: April 6, 2010
Every once in a while, you come across a book that from the very moment you start reading it, you know you’re going to love it. The Summer of You by Kate Noble was just such a book for me. It’s no wonder Ms. Noble’s previous book, Revealed, is nominated for a RITA award—her writing is flawless and pure. I was reminded of the late, great Jane Austen and could certainly see this book adapted as a movie.
Lady Jane Cummings, only daughter of the Duke of Rayne, has been through a lot in the past year. Her mother passed away leaving her family completely bereft. Then her father’s mind started deteriorating and Jane’s brother Jason, Marquis of Vessey, abandoned her and the duke at Crow Castle, the remote ancestral estate, and took off to the Continent with his friends. After the proper mourning period, Jane and her father return to London with the hopes that the doctors there can help the duke with his sporadic memory mishaps. . . and so that Jane can enjoy herself a little bit. When her brother returns and locates Jane at a ball, he orders her back to the castle. Their father’s mind is getting worse and Jason is afraid the duke and the rest of the family will be disgraced because of it. Jane refuses to go back there, telling Jason that she’ll go crazy if she does. They eventually agree (thanks to a little blackmailing on Jane’s part) to set off for the Cottage, the family estate in the small town of Reston, where they used to spend their summers.
Upon their arrival at the Cottage, they are besieged with fellow neighbors paying a call and once again Jason takes off and leaves his sister alone to do all of the greeting by herself. He doesn’t return home until the next morning and Jane scolds him (which she knows is like talking to a brick wall) for leaving her and making her worry and finds out that he was aided by the nephew of the recently deceased widow Lowe—the same man that neighbors claim is a strange hermit and the mysterious highwayman that has been relieving travelers of their possessions as of late. Jane decides to take a walk and thank the man properly with a basket of goodies. She learns that he is none other than Byrne Worth, the brother of her friend’s husband, whom Jane had met in London a few months before.
As a former top-notch British spy, Byrne came to Reston after inheriting his aunt’s house seeking a quiet refuge to heal after a debilitating leg injury. All he wants is to be left alone. Then the beautiful Lady Jane Cummings comes to visit and he enjoys her clever, spirited companionship and realizes that he wants more of it. And he is pleased that the feeling is mutual. Jane believes him when he tells her he isn’t the highwayman and they agree to work together to uncover the true identity of the thief. In the process, they discover a deep, abiding friendship which ultimately leads to so much more.
Byrne and Jane are extraordinary characters that instantly captured my heart. Both are smart and witty and treated each other with intelligence and respect. Byrne is very perceptive and knows that there’s more to Jane than just being a duke’s daughter. He truly appreciates her honesty and willingness to help him. Jane is remarkably strong and bears so much on her shoulders, thanks to her irresponsible brother. She takes pleasure in knowing that when she’s with Byrne, she can be a new Jane—one that is happy and utterly content in his presence. Kudos to Ms. Noble for not allowing either character to do anything stupid or succumb to the usual clichés that appear in so many romance novels. This was incredibly refreshing! And the secondary characters weren’t just “story stuffers”—they were perfectly drawn and added exceptional depth to help move the story along.
The Summer of You is an absolutely beautiful love story and historical romance at its finest. Ms. Noble has penned a remarkable tale that I would not be surprised to see nominated for a RITA next year. You do not want to miss this one!