It happens every year. Someone, somewhere asks the question. “Where’s your favorite place to read?”
The question holds heavy implications, though. It just doesn’t mean “at home” or “on the couch” or “at the beach.” Wrapped up in one six-word question are dozens of interrelated ones. Questions like:
- Sunshine or rain?
- Paperback or Kindle?
- Hot tea or chocolate or… maybe a fruity iced drink with a little umbrella?
Yeah, the “favorite place to read” question comes well wrapped and tied with nuances that make it interesting.
I never know how to answer it, either.
I’ve lived in so many places—rolling countryside, orange groves, the base of the Superstition mountains, the beach, the desert, the Ozarks. In all of those places, I read books—deep books, fluffy ones, and everything in between.
I’ve also read books in places I didn’t live—the mountains, by a stream, in the sky whizzing through clouds at speeds that you just feel like you should feel. But you don’t.
So if you ask me that book one day, I may say in a house by the fire, on a couch, snuggled up in a blanket with rain beating against the windows.
On another day, I may dream of The Barn in North Carolina—that wonderful retreat place with its golden pine walls, trickling stream outside, and sneaky raccoons on the roof.
Today, after reading Summer by the Tides, I’d say the beach. Ocean breezes, sand between my toes, massive amounts of sunscreen that will do nothing to protect me from getting red and miserable, an icy Coke, and a book. A good one.
This is happening on Saturday. Our family is going down to Irvine for #5daughter’s graduation from UCI and #7daughter’s request was a beach—not Newport. We’ve done that one too much, apparently.
I’ll be reading a book by an author who, coincidentally, I’ll be seeing on Wednesday—all the way from Wisconsin. Go Pack Go?
I kind of wish, however, I could have been reading the book I just finished.
Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter. The minute I saw the title and the author, I knew I had to request a review copy. It’s been a few years—probably a decade since I read anything by Denise Hunter, and I remembered liking her.
There was, however, this tiny niggle of trepidation. Why? Well, because I’ve discovered that if you take time off from reading an author’s works, or they take a sabbatical from writing, sometimes you go back, reread, and just aren’t impressed anymore.
It’s happened to me a few times, and I’m sure it’s happened to my readers, too. I didn’t want it to happen again.
Note: Links may be affiliate links that provide me with a small commission at no extra expense to you. Additionally, I requested a review copy of this book and chose to review it.
Why This is The Book to Read This Summer
After about a decade of not reading anything by Denise Hunter, I’m glad I chose Summer by the Tides to break my unintended hiatus. Maybe I should clarify. I did not purposefully choose not to read Ms. Hunter’s work. It was just one of those life things.
But seriously, this book was exactly what I needed this week. See, I’ve just read two really good books—both put out by Ms. Hunter’s publisher. While I really enjoyed them, I had gotten nervous about Thomas Nelson and the direction it seemed the company might be going.
Well, I didn’t see it in this book.
Seriously, Summer by the Tides has everything a good summer read should as well as some solid, spiritual encouragement. I really can’t find anything to object to. The author even dipped her toe into spiritual waters that I don’t theologically agree with—and left it there. She brought up a possibility without stating, “This is how things are. Thus saith the Lord” in any way, shape, or form.
I looked for problems—trust me. Full confession here. I was on high alert for them. When two characters show some hint of attraction, I was ready to scream, “INSTA-LOVE! Unrealistic!”
Then it hit me.
I was being ridiculous. At that point, I went back a few chapters and started over. So glad I did.
From page one rich, multi-layered writing captures your attention and your heart. Everything is layered like a good phyllo pastry. And, like said pastry, it crumbles as you bite into it.
In the best way.
Because when characters crumble on the pages of our books, we see who they are underneath all those layers. Sometimes authors do that, you know. The pile on layers to characters until those poor fictional people look ready to brave a Minnesota blizzard. Except the book takes place in July. In Cancun.
Hunter was brilliant. She wrapped her characters in that phyllo dough and allowed them to be laid bare for us to see, to understand, to empathize and sympathize with.
Even the bits that might have seemed implausible just… weren’t. Every time I wanted to snap at one character for being so unforgiving—for not even listening to apologies—I’d realize those apologies hadn’t been made.
And looking at pain I see play out in my life, I see that this is exactly how it works.
Maybe that’s what’s so great about this book. Perhaps it’s just that it feels like I’ve seen it play out before—and yet I haven’t. Not this exact story. Not this exact way.
Sure, it’s a family drama/romance. It’s romantic women’s fiction, actually. Twenty years ago, I might have even said it was unrealistic and soap-operatic. But I’ve learned in the last couple of decades that there are more deep, ugly, unbelievable things in more “normal” families than I’d ever imagined.
It doesn’t just touch the unsaved. Christian husbands wake up to discover wives they don’t recognize anymore. Christian kids discover a lifetime of secrets their parents hid from them. And, sometimes, Christians even “put God on a shelf” while they try to live their lives without Him. Books like this one show what happens when we do those things.
Even better, this book has something for everyone.
For the romance buff—it’s there. In spades. And for people like Pepper Basham, there’s even one totally “stick-your-head-in-the-freezer-kiss.” I actually read it.
Okay, that’s a lie. But I did read part of it. Made it through a bit before I just turned that page. But for me, that’s equivalent to saying I read it three times or something. It’s kind of the beach read equivalent to the “train kiss” at the end of North and South.
That’s high praise—the only kiss I’ve ever NOT turned my head from. Just sayin’.
Okay, in the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that most of the time I do. I’ve seen it over and over. But I recall making myself watch the whole thing when I realized I wasn’t squirming and miserable inside the first time.
For people who love family drama? Got it. Want a good misunderstanding? It has that, too. How about unexpected romance? Yep! Learning what the Lord means when He calls us to trust? One character learns that one.
It even has an adorable dog, okay?
Once upon a decade ago, Denise Hunter had a row of books on my shelf. Time passed, people asked to borrow something good to read, and I passed them on. Now her “spot” sits empty.
Well, it did. Summer by the Tides just took up residence there. As for me, I’m off to find another Denise Hunter book to join it. After all, it should have a sibling close, don’t you think
Summer by the Tides is on tour with Celebrate Lit.
Book: Summer by The Tides
Author: Denise Hunter
Genre: Christian Fiction, Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 21, 2019
From the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom (now a beloved Hallmark Original movie) comes a heartfelt story of family secrets, forgiveness, and unexpected romance.
Following a painful betrayal, Maddy Monroe’s love life is a wreck, and her restaurant career is in shambles. When her grandmother goes missing, she and her estranged sisters converge at the family beach house in Sea Haven, North Carolina. Being with uptight Nora and free-spirited Emma at the place where their family broke apart is a struggle, and undercurrents of jealousy and resentment threaten to pull the sisters under.
In the midst of the storm, sparks begin to fly between Maddy and Gram’s maddening neighbor, Connor Murphy.
As the sisters pack up the family belongings, memories of idyllic, slow-paced summers are resurrected. But long-buried secrets also come to light as Maddy discovers that all was not as it appeared that last summer in Sea Haven—nor today in the seemingly perfect lives of her sisters.
As family tensions rise and Connor causes tumult in Maddy’s heart, the sisters must find a way to accept each other for the women they’ve become before the bitterness of the past destroys their hope for a future.
About the Author
Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 25 books, including A December Bride and The Convenient Groom, which have been adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies.
She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Carol Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.
When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking green tea, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband are rapidly approaching an empty nest.
To learn more about Denise, visit her website DeniseHunterBooks.com; Facebook: AuthorDeniseHunter; Twitter: @DeniseAHunter; Instagram: deniseahunter.
Read an Excerpt from Summer by the Tides
MADDY MONROE WAS COWERING behind a ficus tree near the hostess station when her cell phone rang. Her hands shook as she silenced the phone before it drew the attention of the staff.
She jabbed the elevator button for the third time. “Come on, come on.” A star could be born in interstellar space, a polar valley carved by a glacier in the time it took the elevator to reach this floor. Stairs were not an option, as she was on the twentieth floor of the Waterford building and sporting heels.
She sniffled. Drat. She seemed to be crying. She swiped a hand under her eyes, heedless of her makeup.
She heard voices, Nick’s boisterous laugh. Maddy shrank deeper into the ficus and finally, finally, the elevator dinged its arrival.
“Maddy?” Noelle’s concerned voice tunneled down the hall. “Maddy, wait.”
“Oh, come on,” she muttered, tapping her fingers against her leg until the gold doors crept open. As soon as she could fit, she squeezed inside and punched the ground-floor button.
She didn’t draw a breath until the doors sealed and the elevator began to drop. She placed a palm over a heart that was threatening to beat its way out of her chest. Her white blouse clung to her back, and her skin prickled beneath her arms.
She closed her eyes, the scene that had just transpired playing out in fast-forward in her mind. And then, as if that montage weren’t painful enough, the image of Nick’s face appeared. The look on his face just before he’d kissed her good-bye last night.
Nick. She clamped her teeth together until her jaw ached.
There had been signs. Many of them, really, she was realizing now. They ranged from whisper-subtle to neon-sign obvious. But like so many other walking clichés before her, she was only seeing them in retrospect.
Maddy opened her eyes to the buttery sunlight streaming through her blinds. She scrambled for her iPhone to check the time. But as she did so, the events of yesterday washed over her like a tsunami. She didn’t have to get up at all, because she didn’t have a job anymore.
Her cell buzzed with an incoming call, and she squinted bleary-eyed at the unfamiliar number on the screen before declining it.
She drooped against her pillow, only now aware of how fat and swollen her eyes felt. Of the persistent achy lump pushing at the back of her throat. Her heartbeat made the bed quake. Her eyes burned with tears. Yesterday’s anger had faded, and something worse had filled its spot.
Yesterday she’d come home, changed into yoga pants, and worked in her little garden until she was too exhausted to do anything but flop on the sofa. She hadn’t fallen asleep until after three o’clock in the morning.
She didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to see anyone. She didn’t even want to be awake today.
She pulled the covers over her head and prayed for oblivion.
Required text: Taken from “Summer by the Tides” by Denise Hunter. Copyright © 2019 by Denise Hunter. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.
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To celebrate her tour, Denise is giving away a finished copy of Summer by the Tides!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/e541/summer-by-the-tides-celebration-tour-giveaway