The cover grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go until I’d filled out the form requesting my review copy. What can I say? I’m a sucker for a great cover.
The synopsis–too funny for words. I had to give this book a shot. I mean, what could be better than a fiercely independent single mother, an adorable little boy, and a tender man aching for a shot at loving them both. Actually, it sounds a lot like one of my books, and yet it’s completely different, too.
I love how books are like that–same general idea but… nope. Nothing like it at the same time.
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Friendship, Family, & Romance: What More Could You Want from Summer Reads?
The worst part about agreeing to read and review someone’s book is when you open it up to the first page and discover that it’s written in the style you hate most. First-person. Present tense.
Look, I grumble a lot about first person, but where I really struggle is with present tense. So here I was with my beautiful book and an opening that I could tell might be good… but I didn’t want to read. Just being honest here.
And that’s the problem with reviewing books. You have to be honest. But no matter how kind you try to be, that honesty is going to hurt someone who put heart and soul into every one of those words.
So now I’m left with a conundrum. I must be honest, and I must honor my commitment to read (done) and review (ouch!) a book I received free from the author because I requested it.
I felt certain in those first few pages that most of the problem would that present tense business. Let’s face it. If the trouble is your personal preference, then you can be honest without it being the author’s fault.
If that were all it was.
Yep, I’m getting the not-so-good out of the way so I can tell you what the author got right in Summertime Lilies. Because she did–LOTS of right. She wrote lots of things I really loved, actually.
So here’s what I didn’t. Conflict–there wasn’t much, really. Tension… not much of that either. Writers often talk about “Mary Sue” characters–those perfect people who have token flaws and really are too good to be true. Too good to be interesting. Well, in Summertime Lilies, I’d say the Mary Sue was the conflict/tension.
Lots of things came up that could have really created an engaging read, but instead, the author cleaned it up quicker than a neat freak at a crime scene. Not once did I believe that anything might keep Brittany and Matt apart. Their argument–both of them were right and wrong. It was obvious. The inlaw troubles? Not there. The token love triangle? Yeah… that third arm was broken off at the nub right away (thank goodness).
And then there was the faith element.
The characters pray. They go to church. And in an unexpected twist, they even consider what the Lord would want from them outside of church. That was refreshing! Part of me wants to complain that Brittany grew more from her interactions and bits of wisdom from a cousin than she did from the Lord–but I don’t believe it. Not really.
I think the point is that the Lord used this woman to speak some necessary truths into Brittany’s heart. And that was a beautiful thing.
But an irreverent use of “God,” a few mild euphemisms, and a definite obsession with lusting after her neighbor with his shirt off left things uncomfortable for me. Had the faith element not been in there, I’d have considered it a “clean read” and moved along. But with those elements, the others then stand out as a problem.
So with that out of the way, what did the author do right in Summertime Lilies?
A lot, actually. For one thing, the pacing of the book was perfect. Seriously, if it hadn’t been, I’d have struggled to get through the present tenseness. That’s a big signal to me, by the way. Nothing shows pacing problems (for the way my brain works, anyway) faster than me being eager to walk away from it every thirty-two-point-six seconds. Didn’t happen.
Characterization–amazing. Seriously, I cared about these characters. I fell in love with Grady–actually, he’s the best character of them all, except perhaps her brother Matt’s sister. Those three characters have no Mary Sue tendencies. Still, even Brittany and Matt, with their almost too-perfectnesses, made me care about them and root for them. And that happened even when I knew nothing would really stand in their way. Even when I shook my head at the idea that Christmas presents would cause a real problem.
Description–mostly perfect. Seriously. Not once did I go, “Get on with it already!” Instead, I spent most of the book knowing exactly where I was, what was around me, and all without too much attention drawn to the setting. WOOHOO!
The Hook–not of this book, though. Nope. It was the teaser chapter to the next book. This one is about Brittany’s brother, and whooooeee! I liked him in Summertime Lilies. I did not like him in this teaser. At all. I wanted to smack him. Give him a piece of my mind. Douse him in ice water. All at once.
And that’s what left me on a great note. Because, you see… I’m dying to read that next book. I’m so ticked off at the guy it makes my head spin. Did you read that? I am dying to read a book written in first-person, present tense because the author made me ticked off at a character being a jerk.
That’s what was missing from Summertime Lilies. I didn’t get that emotionally invested until the teaser for book two. But that’s okay. Because book two is going to be amazing. I can just taste it.
About the Book
Book: Summertime Lilies
Author: LM Karen
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction
Release date: Jan 30, 2021
A sweet and sentimental contemporary romance with a uniquely witty voice.
There are three things you should know about Brittany Masters:
- She’s a single mom and a nurse manager at the local cancer clinic
- She has big plans for a quiet summer
- She’s convinced that fudge pops are the answer to almost all of life’s most important questions
A new neighbor, Matt, making friends with her son while simultaneously pursuing her blow plans for a predictable summer right out of the water. A chance meeting at the cancer clinic where she works renews a connection with an old friend and gives her the perspective she’s been missing. From quiet nights on her front porch swing in Matt’s company to long talks in the clinic with her old/new friend, Brittany’s summer is anything but routine.