Irene Hannon's novels have been a favorite of mine for awhile, especially those filled with suspense/mystery. The novel, That Certain Summer, takes a more relaxed story that is built on the lives of four adults, two of whom are sisters. There are some aspects of the novel that are mystery-like because they reveal something about the characters' past or present life.
A major health issue brings Val back to the hometown she left ages ago to help Karen through the summer care for their widowed mother. Val's reasons for her return are to handle a situation that has been dogging her steps for the past 18 years. David is a physical therapist who moves to Washington to take a new position because he felt the Lord led him and his daughter there. Scott's life is irrevocably changed in one night, and now he has to find a new reason to live, to hope that all days will not be as dark as the present days.
Margret is the mother of Val and Karen. Her stroke has done nothing to change her demeaning attitude or tongue. However, as she recovers, she is about to give a peek about why she is that way when her daughters least expect it. This easy to read novel explores issues we all wrestle with at different times in our lives, whether they be questions of faith, wrestling with doubts or concern for the future. Other parts show how real people might respond to living through divorce, infidelity, and learning not to compare oneself to standards we aren't meant to.
Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts God offers to us, and it definitely isn't something we usually seek out. One aspect of the novel talks about self-forgiveness, which isn't a thought or teaching I agree with as I don't see that in the Bible. There isn't anything good in and of ourselves. Genesis tells us that our hearts are inclined to do wickedness continually. We are to believe in God's forgiveness for He alone is the source.
Redemption of lost relationships as portrayed in the novel can be real if God is doing the redeeming. Sometimes relationships cannot be redeemed as if to picking up where it was before, though forgiveness towards others can happen. I read the book in a short amount of time and enjoyed it a lot. There is hope in this novel and the way the consequences of behavior can be dealt with in loving and secure relationships. I liked, too, how one person didn't seem to embrace the faith that was lived out before him for years even when facing serious health issues. How true that we cannot decide for others, but we can choose how we will respond to their choices whether we agree with them or not.
I have always enjoyed Irene Hannon's suspense novels. When I learned she had written a
contemporary romance, I was intrigued by the plot, and knew it would be a good story because I was familiar with Irene's writing. I wasn't disappointed!
That Certain Summer is about two sisters who couldn't be more opposite in personality, outlook on life, and the directions they took as adults. Karen Butler had married and never left their small Missouri hometown, while her sister, Val Montgomery, had moved to Chicago to seek a career in theatre.
The story opens with newly divorced Karen struggling to raise her teenage daughter mostly on her own since her ex seems to float in and out of their lives. Never married, Val teaches drama in a Chicago area high school and seems to have everything going right for her (in her sister's eyes at least).
The one thing they have in common is their aging mother who has just suffered a stroke and is in the midst of rehab. Cranky before the stroke, Mom is now more crotchety than ever and testing the patience of Karen. As much as she and her sister don't always get along, Karen cannot wait for Val to take over some of the weight of caring for their invalid mother. Val's summer break from her teaching duties can't come any too soon.
What Karen doesn't know is that Val is bringing home more baggage than then kind you put in a suitcase. She has a secret from her past that she hopes to resolve by coming back to where it all happened.
What is unexpected for both women, are the two good-looking guys that enter their lives that summer or the women's admissions that their mother isn't the only one who needs healing.
I really enjoyed this story and how Hannon deepens her characters as the story develops and the sisters start peeling back onion-like layers to get to the nub of what has caused misunderstandings between them over the years. I hope to see more multi-layered romances from Irene Hannon. She is certainly an author I'll be looking for in this genre!
I received a complementary copy of this book from the publisher for purpose of review. The opinions expressed here are my own and no one else's.
This Christian fiction novel reveals an old secret combined with love and forgiveness.
Karen, a divorced mother of a teenager, feels frustrated as she bears all of the burdens of her life as well as those of her mother's illness. Her sister, Val, a high school drama teacher, chooses to live a good distance away and until now, has not found many opportunities to visit. However, when their mother suffers a stroke, Karen calls upon Val for help.
The two sisters struggle as they learn to work together to care for their unappreciative mother. Rehab therapy sessions, meal preparation, laundry, and other necessary errands fill their lives. Somehow, the sisters discover a comfortable respect for each other.
Thank you to Donna Hausler at Baker Publishing Group for my copy. Available June, 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
I wasn't sure how to put my finger on the pulse of this book. It's not a romance. But it's not strictly women's fiction. It covers more than three characters and a depth of issues. Does it fit into one genre and readership? Hmm, probably not. I'd label it contemporary for fans of Karen Kingsbury.
Much moves through this story to propel the motion forward. Characters are largely likeable and deal with some pretty significant struggles. I felt in many cases, how these struggles were handled was done with finesse and strength of writing. The ending made me smile. Because of some of the subject matter and our characters' past choices, I wasn't sure if the story would truly resolve in a way I appreciated, but it did.
I read the novel over a couple days while traveling and didn't feel as though I truly became invested in the characters as a whole. I think the main reason being is I felt pulled in too many different directions and emotions. My loyalty for one character over another was not equally divided or united.
I think it's a sweet love story, a family saga and an emotional history upon the page, but I don't think I would mark it among my favorites.
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers for my ARC to review.
**Available June 2013 from Revell, a division of Baker publishers**
I was excited to try a book in a new genre by Irene Hannon - all her works that I've previously read were suspense. In the end? I prefer her suspense. But this book was very good and definitely kept me reading! It had an interesting story, and the character development was amazing - I certainly felt like I knew them all. Really enjoyed that a lot! Like I said, a good story_and really, a fascinating exploration into human nature. I would recommend it for all Irene Hannon fans and for people who enjoy contemporary stories that aren't romances. Overall, I enjoyed this book and will read it again. (Most of all though, looking forward to the next book in the Private Justice series, "Trapped"!)
Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
**Revell sent me a free copy of this book as part of the blog tour. I was not required to post positively, only honestly. I was not reimbursed for this review in any other way.**