Two sisters as different as night and day. Karen was the responsible wife, mother and daughter who tried to please everyone. Her marriage has fallen apart, her daughter is angry and wants her parents back together and her mother is mean, criticizing and controlling. It's no wonder she feels hurt, lonely and dowdy. Val has been MIA for years, she's running from her past and her criticizing mother. She is the beautiful talented daughter with a secret that has brought great guilt to her life. These two sisters come together to care for their sick mother for the summer. What they find is greater than either ever imagined for themselves. After being distant since childhood they develop a closeness as never before. I fell in love with them and their guys. I enjoyed watching the characters faith grew and developed as the story unfolded. The characters are well written brining hope, forgiveness, and romance for the sisters. I have loved Irene Hannon suspense books for awhile but this is my first contemporary romance I have read by her. I give it five stars and can't wait to read another by her. I want to give a high-five to the author and publisher for bringing compelling Christian books that are entertaining and give hope to the reader with stories of faith.
Two sisters who have never been close--what will a summer caring for their mother bring? I have a sister that I am very close to and so, this book was very special to me. Karen and Val connect in a way that they have never experienced before. Their mother is quite difficult and they find themselves working together to get her through rehab following a stroke. Meeting for a weekly shopping trip and coffee gives the sisters a chance to talk and resolve issues. Being a caregiver of our parents is not easy, and I think many will find moments that they can relate to in Irene Hannon's book. Throw in romance and you have the makings of an incredible read!
This was the first book I have read by Irene Hannon but it won't be the last!
I won a copy of this book in a giveaway from Revell Publishing.
Ms. Hannon grabs the reader at the beginning and takes you on an enjoyable trip we can all relate to, or will, in our lives as we go through the tough times with Karen and Val to get to the other side.
I am a fan of Irene Hannon's mystery/suspense books. They are some of my favorites in that genre. When I saw that she was writing a women's fiction with no suspense I was worried. Worried because I was afraid that it couldn't possibly be as compelling as her other books. But I wanted to check it out anyway. Thank goodness that this book was one of my biggest surprises of the year. It was a big surprise because it was every bit as compelling as one of her mystery/suspense books, but not for the same reasons. The characters in this book are some of the most real I have read lately. Good, bad and ugly. The relationships are almost eerily true to life, sister to sister, daughter to mother, daughter to dad, new love... the conversations are engaging and the situations are real. There is forgiveness, finding new purpose in life, finding new love, following God's plan... this book is so much more than I could ever have predicted. As much as I love Irene Hannon's mystery/suspense... I am looking forward to her next women's fiction book and I'd love for her to bring these dear friends back again.
Irene Hannon is known for her romantic suspense stories and is a prolific and well-decorated author. That Certain Summer takes a slight right, returning to a previous love as she drops the suspense and focuses solely on the romance plot. Although she has written more than thirty-five books this is the first one I have read of hers. Overall, I found the story enjoyable.
I thought Irene put a lot of attention to detail in creating her characters. Karen, the good girl and Val, the pretty and talented one are so different and yet so much alike - very typical for sisters. Their tense relationship has been created by a critical mother, pitting the girls against each other. Neither is looking forward to their summer working together taking care of their mother after her stroke. Yet, as God is so good, He uses that which we fear to teach us more about ourselves and those close to us. The women realize how much of each other they have in their own qualities. Hannon does an excellent job of portraying this in her writing.
The male counterparts, Scott and David are also well-written characters. Their personal journeys feel realistic and the affectionate feelings that develops between them and the sisters is a sweet love affair. The struggles the men face are deep; a single father and a man broken and lost after a tragic accident. Both men have to turn to God to find the true path they are to follow. All four of these characters have their own focused point of view.
There are a many supporting characters that do not have the front stage; Kristin (Karen's daughter), Michael (Karen's ex-husband), Margaret (mother to the sisters), Victoria (daughter of David), Dorothy (Scott's concerned mother), Steven (a youth in the church who lost his dream of playing football professionally after losing use of his legs), and Pastor Richards. They all help paint the picture of community surrounding and supporting the main characters.
The plot walks the sisters through self-discovery about their short-comings, their strengths and their need for each other. Val has a secret that she has shoved deep inside for almost eighteen years, causing a raging river of guilt and shame which is revealed towards the end of the story. She finds forgiveness and renewal by facing her past instead of hiding it. Karen learns self-confidence after a long marriage as a passive doormat. She finds a new voice just in time to walk her through another family tragedy. The last one hundred pages of the book were the best.
Overall, the story is compelling and persuasive; however I struggled with the layout. Due to four different points of view I found it slow and choppy. It wasn't until 3/4 of the way through the book that I felt fully invested, "have-to-finish-the-book" kind of feeling. In my perspective this is a great vacation/beach read where you have time to spend with the characters, fully immersing yourself for a large chunk of time into their worlds. Due to a busy lifestyle in my home I had to read in snippets. With constant scene and point of view changes, (often three or four each chapter) I had too many opportunities to put the book down.
I still recommend this book to readers who love a deep true to life story with flawed characters trying to mirror their Creator. A great summertime, faith-filled and inspirational read.
"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".