Last Kiss of Summer
Last Kiss of Summer is the first book in Ms. Adair’s new Destiny Bay series, set in Washington State. This one focuses on the local, very famous pie shop and its new owner, Kennedy Sinclair. Trying to carve out a new life for herself after her previous one imploded, Kennedy attempts to change the minds and hearts of a town stuck in their ways, and finds love along the way.
When we meet Kennedy, she’s on her way to meet her fiancé at a ballroom dancing studio in the greater Atlanta area. They’ve been in a bit of a rut, but she’s excited about an upcoming trip to Argentina and has high hopes that the trip will provide the boost of energy their relationship sorely needs.
Little does Kennedy know that the fiancé also feels they needed a boost. His solution, however, was to find that boost in the form of their dance instructor. When Kennedy overhears them doing a horizontal tango, the focus of her life becomes getting out of Atlanta. Thankfully, there’s a solution a hand. Through family connections, she purchases a pie shop in Destiny Bay, WA in an attempt to turn a passionate hobby into both a career and a fresh start.
When she gets to Destiny Bay, she sets to work winning over the locals with her interpretation of their beloved apple-based desserts. You see, the particular pie shop she took over is an institution in this town and their star pie is an apple one called the Humdinger. It has won prizes in competitions for years, and the town seems hesitant to embrace anything other than it.
The problem is twofold: one, the shop is haemorrhaging money by having such a narrow product base, and two, there are only so many apples to go around.
The apple issue is exacerbated by the local cider maker, Luke, who is the son of one of the bakery’s former owners. Right at the same time that Kennedy needs a variety of apple in order to get her business off the ground, he needs the same to get his new craft hard cider launched and distributed.
The two clash heads over business strategy and apple allotment, but eventually their chemistry cannot be denied. It’s a slow process with lots of stops and starts, and this is a simmering enemies-to-lovers tale if I ever saw one.
Because of the pain of her previous relationship, and the fact that this story takes place immediately following her dance studio discovery, Kennedy is not exactly in a warm and trusting place when it comes to men. This is completely understandable, but it certainly affects her ability to connect to Luke and my ability to connect to them as a couple. Mix in the fact that both of them are keeping major secrets from each other regarding business decisions and apple allotment and I feel like I spent most of the book muttering “would you just open your mouths and communicate?!”
Discord caused by lack of communication is one of my least favorite types of conflict. While in reality I’m aware of the bravery and vulnerability it takes to be honest with someone about feelings or to trust someone quickly, in fiction, I prefer people to talk. I get frustrated when I know everything each character is doing and thinking, but the other characters are completely in the dark, and I can see the fights and frustrations coming a mile down the pike. Thus, while the book is well plotted and the dialogue witty, I struggled to fully connect with either the hero or heroine.
One thing I did love about the book was learning about apples. I’m a process nerd – I love to read about how the sausage is made, so to speak – and so I was so delighted that Ms. Adair went into such detail about how different apples taste, which ones work better in which dishes, and so forth. I learned so much and will certainly be a more discerning shopper in the future!
Overall, I would recommend Last Kiss of Summer to any enemies-to-lovers trope fans, especially those who like the conflict less explosive and more subtle. The conclusions are all satisfying and the world is developed enough that I can see myself happily coming back to Destiny Bay for a visit.