by Jenn McKinlay
Release Date: May 16, 2023
Reviewed by PJ
For Samantha Gale, a summer on Martha’s Vineyard at her family’s tiny cottage was supposed to be about resurrecting her career as a chef, until she’s tasked with chaperoning her half-brother, Tyler. The teenage brainiac is spending his summer at the local library in a robotics competition, and there’s no place Sam, who has dyslexia, likes less than the library. And because the universe hates her, the library’s interim director turns out to be the hot-reader guy whose book she accidentally destroyed on the ferry ride to the island.
Bennett Reynolds is on a quest to find his father, whose identity he’s never known. He’s taken the temporary job on the island to research the summer his mother spent there when she got pregnant with him. Ben tells himself he isn't interested in a relationship right now. Yet as soon as Sam knocks his book into the ocean, he can’t stop thinking about her.
An irresistible attraction blossoms when Ben inspires Sam to create the cookbook she’s always dreamed about and she jumps all in on helping him find his father, and soon they realize their summer fling may heat up into a happily ever after.
Summer Reading has all the elements I look for when adding books to my summer reading list. There's a small island, reunited best friends, a heroine at a professional crossroads, a fractured sibling relationship, and a nerdy, romantic hero who captured my heart right along with Sam's.
The first thing I have to mention about this book is Sam's dyslexia and how it's handled. The author uses great care and sensitivity, coupled with research, knowledge, and first-hand assistance to craft this character. Then she takes it a step further by creating a reading experience designed to be more accessible to readers with the same diagnosis. I have never encountered a novel where the author - and publisher - used the cover, font, spacing, margins, even foregoing italics for bold print within the text of the book, all to enhance the reading experience for neurodivergent readers who pick up this book. Kudos to them!
I loved the gradual evolution of the relationship between Sam and her 14-years-younger half-brother, Tyler. As someone with four younger brothers, I can attest to the fact that the author nailed the angst, attitude, and vulnerable uncertainty of Tyler. The bond of understanding, and affection, that gradually formed between brother and sister was one of my favorite parts of the book, some scenes bringing me to tears while others (self-appointed chaperone) had me laughing out loud.
And then there's the food. Sam's Portuguese dishes had me drooling (do not read this book while hungry) and scrounging through the kitchen every half hour. Much like Tyler. Bonus for readers: there are recipes!
I was very curious to discover how McKinlay would handle a dyslexic heroine who did everything in her power to avoid books falling for a library director who was never without one. I hadn't counted on Ben. I adored him and I adored who he was with Sam, how he respected her and found ways to share his love of books with her in a manner that did not cause anxiety or make her feel less than. How he offered his assistance and encouragement to help her achieve her dreams. As a fan of this author's works, I also loved the fact that the book Ben shares with Sam in Summer Reading is an actual novel written by McKinlay. (Check out my review of Paris is Always a Good Idea)
The romantic relationship between Sam and Ben unfolds organically, with a nice balance of sweetness, sizzle, and emotional depth. Both characters are on a journey of growth that had me aching with them at points and cheering them on at others. There were some emotional stumbles along the way though they worked really well together to communicate their way through them. Except in the latter part of the book where an emotional blow for Ben causes him to walk away. We see the aftereffects from Sam's perspective but I wanted to understand Ben's thought processes as well, especially when their communication had been so open throughout the novel. It all turns out okay in the end but I felt a little shortchanged by the exclusion. Still, it's a small blip in the overall scope of a fun, thoughtful, and feel-good story and a sweet gesture from Ben convinced me that his heart was in the right place even if his head hadn't been. All's well that ends well and these two definitely ended well.
Summer Reading is a book I enthusiastically recommend adding to your summer reading list.
Have you read Jenn McKinlay yet?
Do you have a favorite setting for your summer beach/pool/backyard reads?
What elements do you look for in a summer book?
One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, May 19 will receive a print copy of Summer Reading.
*Must be 18
Thank you to Berkley for today's giveaway.
Another book to add to my summer reading. Jenn is a new author for me. Love sitting on back deck or floating in my pool.ReplyDelete
She has a wonderful back list of contemporary romance, rom-coms, and cozy mysteries. I'm a fan. :)Delete
Jenn almost never fails to delivery a fun read, so I'm looking forward to this one. My summer reading tends not to differ much from my other reading, especially since I'm someone who tends to hid from the sun - I just keep em coming fast and furious!ReplyDelete
"Fast and furious." That sounds familiar! LOL!Delete
I’ve read The Good Ones which is a romance set in North Carolina and I loved it !!! It’s another book about books sort of because the heroine is opening a romance bookstore in an old house.ReplyDelete
Oh, that was a good one. I especially loved King George, the rescue kitten and the hidden room.Delete
This book sounds like a fun read. I don't have a difference in my summer reading habits. Just like a book with humor, great characters and romance.ReplyDelete
This one has all three! :)Delete
I love Jenn's books! This one sounds like a perfect summer read. During the summer I do most of my reading outside sitting on my porch swing!ReplyDelete
Jenn's books are delightful and special. I enjoy reading in the backyard and relaxing in the sunshine.Summer books are usually light and involve family reunions, and beach setting.ReplyDelete
I'm so excited for this book. I added it to my Hold list at my library as it was recommended on a podcast that I listen to. I can't wait to dive in! I've read the Bluff Point Romance series by Jenn McKinlay (recommended by you!) and loved that!ReplyDelete
I am looking forward to Jenn's latest book as I have read many of her books which are extremely enjoyable. Summer reading is my favorite as I can sit on the patio and enjoy the beauty and warmth.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the terrific review. I have not read any books by Ms McKinlay. I do not have a favorite place to read in the summer. I am old and I read everywhere. What I look forward to in a summer book is an relaxing read as well as a read that is fun. Thanks again for this review which shows me this is a book I would enjoy.ReplyDelete
new-to-me author. love reading at the beach, when possible.ReplyDelete
I have read some of her cupcake bakery mystery series which I have really enjoyed. This sounds like another good book from her. Florida gets too hot in the summer, especially since I am going through menopause. I prefer to read in my recliner with the air conditioning going, along with the fan. If we go to the beach, I have to have a canopy to stay out of the sun and I can't evendo that after mid-June. In summer reads, I love when the characters actively participate in summer activities.ReplyDelete
I’ve never read anything by this author. Seems like a fun summer book! 😎ReplyDelete
I prefer to read by the pool in the summer.Delete
I have not read any books by Jenn McKinlay yet. I don't really have a favorite setting though I love scenery that takes you away in a summer read.ReplyDelete
I have not read Jenn McKinlay, but looking over her Amazon page, she has books that look like they would be enjoyable reads. No real favorite setting for summer reads. I might read more books set in beach or coastal settings, but I tend to read much of what I usually do. I might still pick up good suspense books and historical books, but I do tend to read more that are light and not dealing with seriously heavy issues.ReplyDelete
I haven't read any of Jenn's books yet. She's on my radar - especially with Summer Reading - so one of these days I will read her books. I honestly don't look for anything different reading wise during the summer. I always want books with interesting plots and locations and with characters who are generally likable that engage my attention.ReplyDelete
Ah, this sounds intriguing! I don't think I've read Jenn McKinlay yet, but this sounds appealing. As for summer reading, I guess I think of it as being potentially lighter in tone, and something I find hard to put down. In that sense, it won't be much different from what I prefer to read most of the year, LOL!ReplyDelete
Almost finished reading Wait For It, a LTRBC pick... I'm excited to read Summer ReadingReplyDelete
I love her books, this sounds really great! It's too hot in Miss. to read outside, so I read inside. Thanks for this awesome giveaway!ReplyDelete
This sounds like it'd be a great book to read this summer!!ReplyDelete
This sounds like it'd be a great book to read this summer!! [Posted above anonymous on accident]ReplyDelete