A Summer Affair
A Summer Affair suffers from slow pacing and a problematic beginning. Neither main character is easy to warm up to, and that the heroine’s last name is so odd it jerked me out of the story every time she appeared didn’t help.
A widower with a soft heart – for most people – Dr. Blue Calhoun rescues an injured boy from crimpers (men who shanghai crew). Dr. Calhoun tries to take the boy home to heal his wounds, but he runs away. He later discovers that the boy is really lady adventurer Isabel Fish-Wooten (I defy you to read that name on every other page and not giggle or roll your eyes). Isabel is a little off-putting at first. She shows her gratitude to Blue’s lifesaving gesture by running away from him. Then she returns to his house with a gun shot wound and forces him to care for her – not winning first impressions.
Isabel’s gunshot wound leads the doctor to believe she was involved in the shooting of a police officer on the docks. Wary of trusting her, he nonetheless lets her stay at his house. She continues to be something of a pain in Blue’s backside, but somewhere along the way she becomes charming and works her way into the affections of everyone in the household, including Blue, despite his best efforts to keep her out of his heart.
Isabel’s stubbornness and persistence become pluses in helping Blue raise money for the Rescue League (his charity) and in helping his son, Lucas, with issues typical to teens whether in the Victorian age or 2003. Isabel keeps her past a secret from Blue and worries when someone threatens to expose her. Isabel is a character who grows on you. As for Blue, he’s a stubborn, tortured soul. His wife’s death hit him hard, and he’s never completely recovered emotionally. He’s one of those men who keeps his wife’s room exactly as she left it and allows no one in it. Emotionally distant from his son and other women, Blue devotes himself to his work. A successful physician, his charity is also important to him. He has little time for his son, and their time together focuses on the negative. Blue was a harder character to warm up to than Isabel.
Isabel and Blue at first don’t seem to be a good match. Isabel is naive about love and comes off as totally inexperienced since attraction and love seem to be new emotions to her. Readers are told that Blue is immediately attracted to Isabel, but it’s hardly believable. He thought she was a boy, then, as she held him at gunpoint, he thought she was a criminal. And he supposedly lusts after her? Their story does grow more believable as they come to know each other better and as Isabel begins to get Blue to open his heart. Their deepend relationship is more enjoyable than its unbelievable beginning.
Lucas is a strong secondary character. His romance with June Li could easily become another entry if Wiggs does a series about the Calhoun family. At first glance Lucas seems nothing more than a troublemaker, but he’s clearly a troubled teen. He doesn’t have a good relationship with his father, he grew up without a mother, and he never dealt with her loss in his life.
A suspense subplot involving the mystery of who shot Isabel and the police officer seems more an afterthought than an integral part of the story for most of the book. It comes back to the fore near the end and picks up the pace, a good thing for the dragging story.
Overall, A Summer Affair isn’t bad, but the characters take too long to show their better sides. Add the slow-to-start romance, slow pacing and tacked-on suspense, and the result is a very average read.