The Summer Deal
The latest in Ms. Shalvis’ Wildstone series has two half-sisters – one of whom knows of the other and one of whom is ignorant of the fact – who become roommates For Plot Reasons and learn to trust each other. Each sister gets their own happily ever after to boot, but the core of this well told tale is the relationship between the two women.
When we meet Brynn Turner – who is protagonist number one – she’s heading back to Wildstone to the safety of her mothers’ home after being grifted by a con-man. Her mothers are lovely and warm and welcoming and… suffocating. So setting out on her own again becomes emotionally mandatory. She ends up in a house with two folks she knew from summer camp: the Hot Boy and the Mean Girl.
Kinsey Davis, aforementioned Mean Girl, has been in various stages of kidney failure for most of her life. She knows that the constant physical symptoms – combined with some truly A+ parents and I mean that in the most sarcastic sense – have combined to make her grouchy and hard to get along with.
Which is why she’s never told Brynn Turner that they’re half-sisters. Well, part of the reason why.
The rest of the reason, which is a lot about unpacking emotional baggage and navigating the tense relationships many with chronic illness have with their own bodies, unfolds throughout the book. There are trademark Shalvis-isms in here – a giant dog, some quirky side characters, doting mother figures, and heroines who highly value orgasms as much as they value self-discovery – and anyone looking for those rhythms will be thrilled with this work.
For me, the focus on two heroines (and therefore two romances) makes me yearn for past books of hers where each Brynn and Kinsey would have gotten their own entire arc and I could have spent more time with them. However, if these are the kinds of stories Shalvis wants to tell these days, I’ll be grateful.
Overall, The Summer Deal is a frothy but grounded summer read about people who find family in strangers and learn a lot about themselves along the way.