Desert Isle Keeper
Suddenly Last Summer
I love when a small town romance with heavy family themes can hook me. There are so many romances out there with the similar settings and similar issues: The hero or heroine lives in the big city and comes back to the small town, only to fall in love. I can get tired of reading the same formula, so when one jumps out to me as being better than the hoard, it is appreciated. Suddenly Last Summer has managed that.
I really enjoyed the first book in this series, Sleigh Bells in the Snow, so I was excited to see if the next installment could live up to the first. I am happy to say that I fully enjoyed reading about Élise and Sean. Sean has been avoiding having to spend any time back at his family’s resort since a falling out with his grandfather and the death of his father. However, he rushes home to be with his family when his grandfather suffers a heart attack. He is reluctant to spend too much time back at the resort and doesn’t feel totally welcome. While he’s been away, Élise has adopted his family as her own. She came from France to run the resort’s restaurant and fell in love with the O’Neil family. Unknown to everyone else in the family, Élise and Sean had a sexy tryst once before when he came home to visit. Now that they are back in the same place, heat begins to flare between them again.
Sean is an orthopedic surgeon and his career takes all of his time and attention with none left to devote to relationship. Élise was burned by a former romance and has no interest in getting seriously involved with someone. They seem like the perfect pair to share one smoldering night with no strings attached, as they did last summer. What neither expected was to find themselves around each other again and craving a second night, something that is off-limits to both of them.
The chemistry between Élise and Sean is palpable and I was rooting for them to get back together. I understood how their individual conflicts could keep them apart, not to mention living in different cities. When they finally gave in to the obvious spark between them, the love scenes were sexy without being overly erotic. Morgan focuses more on the passion between the people and the emotions involved than the actual acts.
When Sean began to develop more serious feelings for Élise, I was totally charmed by him. He became very vulnerable in his new feelings for her, and unsure of how to convince her to give me a chance to be something real. I thought his uncertainty was realistic and the pacing with which he became to fall for her was believable. I was pleased that he didn’t jump head first from anti-relationship to fully committed. We get to watch his slow, totally oblivious, stumble into his feelings. I actually liked Sean even more than Jackson, who was the lead in the last book. I didn’t expect him to be the more sensitive of the two.
Élise manages to be a French chef without being too stereotypical. She is a deeply scarred person in her heart and looks to the Snow Crystal resort as her home. Her affection for the O’Neil family and the restaurant she runs were touching. As we began to know more about her past, it was easy to understand why she would be afraid to fall in love again.
Suddenly Last Summer is, at its heart, the story of two people who have struggled with love and heartache, both romantically and with their families. Élise and Sean are both sensitive and afraid to be hurt again by anyone they care for. I love a story where you so desperately want the couple to fall in love, yet can fully understand their reluctance to let that happen. The push and pull of their relationship was steamy, sweet, and even wrung a few tears from me.
I think that, with both Sleigh Bells in the Snow and Suddenly Last Summer, Morgan manages to avoid falling into cheesy, small town romances territory by infusing her writing with real emotions and realistic characters. Instead of the quirky, elderly lady that is in everyone’s business, you have Sean’s mother and grandmother who are much like your own family. They cook, they love their families, and they may even meddle, but only as much as a real mother does. The O’Neil family could be a real family that you could meet anywhere. There’s definitely love between them but it’s also not always easy. They’re not caricatures of people with overblown traits. If Morgan continues to write believable characters like this that deal with real-life issues and manage to find love, I will be happy to read anything else she writes.
Suddenly Last Summer won’t shock anyone with its originality, but it doesn’t have to. Morgan shines through infusing verisimilitude into familiar tropes. If you’re done with over-the-top, silly, small-town romances that never manage to totally reach your emotions; I suggest trying one of Morgan’s books for a change of pace.