Desert Isle Keeper
The Summer Deal
This book was my introduction to Jill Shalvis, and boy was it a doozie. In a good way. The Summer Deal (fifth in the Wildstone series) sucked me in from the first page and charmed me until the last. I love that there was not only one great love story, but two; add to that the “bombshell of a secret” twist promised by the blurb, and I was hooked. Shalvis writes like the kind of friend you always want to have with you on a vacation – sassy, sweet, and sparkling. Her characters are people you want to hang out with, flaws and all, because it’s so easy to see a bit of yourself in each of them. And when the troubles come, you root for them wholeheartedly, all the while smugly smiling to yourself knowing there’s a HEA coming just around the corner.
Meet Brynn and Kinsey, polar opposites and childhood enemies. Brynn just stumbled her way home to Wildstone after coming off a brutal relationship with a jerk who not only stole her bank account but also her ability to trust herself and others. Defeated and licking her wounds, she goes back to the one place she feels safe, only to run right into her past – in the form of tall dark and handsome Eli. She clams up immediately and pretends not to remember him, though she has the stolen kiss they shared as teenagers on replay in her head. Determined not to get herself tangled up in yet another romantic disaster, she tries to extricate herself from the situation. Eli doesn’t make it easy for her by dangling in front of her the one thing she desperately needs right now: a place to live that’s cheap and away from her hovering mother. Unfortunately, the deal comes with a slight string attached, in the form of her arch nemesis, Kinsey Davis, who happens to also be a roommate in the house.
Kinsey, a no-nonsense, ice-pick of a woman, whose every comment stings, doesn’t like the situation any more than Brynn does, particularly because she knows something Brynn doesn’t – they are actually half-sisters, and Kinsey has no intention of telling her. Kinsey has her own Prince Charming, a hulking tatted-up nurse named Deck, but can’t seem to take the final leap and commit to him. And between the two sisters stands Eli, Kinsey’s best friend and Brynn’s crush. The history the two share is unfolded piece-meal with entries from each of the girls’ Summer Camp journal entries. We also learn that tough, sarcastic Kinsey has been battling with disasters of her own, and could really use a sister right now.
All of the relationship dynamics here are spot on: Kinsey and Brynn fumbling towards each other while simultaneously wondering which one will scream chicken first. The immediate attraction/denial between Eli and Brynn sparks like the Fourth of July, and the tender interactions between our heroines and the supporting characters are just the right balance of sappy and meaningful. By the end, you feel like even if these people weren’t related by blood, they would still be family. At this time where so much is unknown, and people seem so separated, it was lovely to feel surrounded by their normalcy.
The Summer Deal was pure sunshine to read. Put it into your beach bag immediately.