Julia London’s Suddenly Dating would have us believe that a divorcing couple could unknowingly lend their lake house out for the summer to different people without realizing they had double booked the house until it was too late for the strangers to make alternative living arrangements, thus forcing them to be roommates for the summer. It is doubtful this could really happen, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. Sometimes an author makes a nonsensical story seem sensible or the reader is so entertained that she just doesn’t care if the story isn’t plausible. Ms. London accomplishes this in Suddenly Dating and creates a wonderful romance that is engaging and fun to read while packing an emotional punch and captivating the reader.
Lola Dunner has spent her life putting others first. She has taken care of her four younger siblings since she was six years old when her drug addicted mother checked out of motherhood. Lola repeatedly convinced Child Protective Services that someone was adequately caring for the children and prevented her family from being torn apart. She raised her brothers and sisters made sure they were able to go to college while putting her own dreams on hold. After launching them into adulthood, she then married and continued to put someone else’s ambitions and needs before her own – her husband’s. After a six-year lackluster marriage, she’s thirty-one, divorced and reevaluating her life, and she does not like what she finds. A jarring exchange with her ex-husband provides the kick in the pants she needs to make changes. She quits her uninspiring, dead end job to pursue becoming an author and accepts the use of a friend’s lake house in Lake Haven, New York, to write her book. She sublets her Brooklyn apartment and commits to ditching – at least temporarily – her role as everyone’s caretaker.
As Lola settles into the lake house, she’s confronted with an angry, hunky, Harry Westbrook, claiming he was also promised the house for the summer. Harry has a Type A personality and is anal retentive; therefore, he’s not happy when his carefully thought out plans are thwarted. He’s just sold his New York apartment; so neither he nor Lola has alternative living arrangements. Both are frustrated and resentful of the other’s intrusion and reluctantly agree to be roommates while vowing to steer clear of each other. Adding fuel to the fire of this epic mix up, they’re attracted to each other even considering that are opposites in personality and cleaning habits. Harry is an engineer, serious, stoic and a neat freak, while Lola is creative, expressive, emotional and messy. She’s also a very positive person, and he is a curmudgeon.
Harry is not always this grumpy, but his serious girlfriend recently left him when she became frustrated with his lack of time and money after he left his well-paying, secure job at an engineering firm and started his own business. Their uncoupling and his friend’s surprise offer of a free place to stay prompts Harry to escape for the summer. This also allowed him to sell his apartment and use the money for his money draining, fledgling business. He is worried his company will not succeed and is now questioning his decision to go out on his own. He wants solitude and the opportunity to focus on work and doesn’t need the distraction of a roommate, especially one as irritating and sexy as Lola.
While Harry sulks, Lola is basking in her newfound selfishness. She’s working on her novel, making friends and exploring the quaint, lakeside community. She is also amusing herself by needling Harry through baiting quips and small annoying gestures, such as leaving messes in the kitchen after cooking delicious meals that she doesn’t share with him. He eats Hungry Man frozen dinners and she has lobster macaroni and cheese. She’s not afraid to call Harry out on his surliness and make fun of his obsessive-compulsive tendencies.
Lola and Harry are charming as they flirt and indulge in snarky banter. As much as they do not want to desire each other, the sexual tension builds between them. Lola is slowly loosening Harry up and distracting him from the turbulent feelings resulting from his break-up and running struggling company. As their friendship grows, their attraction reaches a fever pitch, and they agree to a casual summer fling. A relationship isn’t what either wants or needs, because they are both emotionally bruised and at major crossroads in their lives.
Carefully laid plans are often shot to hell, and Lola and Harry find themselves starting to feel more than casual about each other. Their relationship develops at a realistic pace as Ms. London does an excellent job of developing her characters and investing the reader in their story. I adored witnessing Lola and Harry get to know each other, shed their defensive layers and fall in love. I believe I enjoyed the summer in Lake Haven just as much as Harry and Lola. I have not read the first book in the Lake Haven series, but I will definitely read it now in the hopes that it is as entertaining and recommendable as Suddenly Dating.