4 out of 4 stars
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Claire and Peter have two grown-up kids, successful careers, and twenty-five years of marriage behind them, but they couldn’t be further apart. When Peter tells Claire that he needs space and is leaving, Claire's hopes for salvaging their marriage evaporates. Has he met someone else? Claire thinks this is a very likely possibility.
Claire’s mother, Mary, fiercely loves her only daughter, so much so that she concocts a secret plan to help Peter and Claire save their marriage. Claire thinks she is going to her yearly summer retreat with her girlfriends, but there will be a surprise guest—Peter.
The island is beautiful and remote—an ideal place to rekindle the spark. Still, the retreat will force the couple to face the wrench in their relationship; emotions will run high, and shocking revelations will be made. When all is said and done, will they go home together or their separate ways?
A Sea for Summer by Shelley Kassian is the first book in the Places in the Heart series. The story lives up to the title as it is definitely a breezy summer read. The couple traverses between a small town and a luxurious island, complete with decadent views and miles of sandy beach. It was easy to get lost in the scenery and be transported to the remote island. But it’s not all sunsets and expensive wine; despite the idyllic surroundings, the couple must come to terms with their failing marriage. This means addressing issues that cause resentment and discomfort. The book is told from the third-person perspective and mostly follows Claire but occasionally switches to Peter so readers can fully experience both characters.
My favorite aspect of the story was its simplicity; there were no shocking curveballs. Instead, it unfolded at a leisurely pace, and the characters weren’t overly complex. A Sea for Summer was easy reading—perfect for sitting on the dock at my cottage with a cocktail in hand. The beautiful scenery, romance, and just the right amount of conflict comprised the book, and it was the escape I was craving.
Furthermore, I appreciated how the author addressed relevant issues that apply to couples that have been married for twenty-plus years; I believe there is a shortage of representation for this age group in most romance novels. Readers want to read about what happens when the newness of marriage wears off, and a couple gets a little gray and chubby around the middle—how do they deal with stagnancy in a relationship? Thus, Peter and Claire’s plight will resonate with readers.
The book was exceptionally well edited, and there were no issues with spelling or grammar. There was nothing to dislike, and I am delighted to give this beachy story a rating of four out of four stars because of the idyllic setting and likable cast of characters. Despite being a romantic story, the book was free of raunchy sex scenes and foul language and would be appropriate for any audience.
With that being said, the book is better suited to readers who enjoy reading about mature marriages that are flawed and represent the average couple. I think it would be a perfect choice for a book club!
A Sea for Summer
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