Saturday, August 14, 2021

Denise Hunter - Summer by the Tides

When her grandmother goes missing from the family beach house, Maddy and her estranged sisters converge in Sea Haven, North Carolina. Being with uptight Nora and free-spirited Emma in the home where their family broke apart is a struggle Maddy is not in the mood to face, especially since she's recovering from her ex-boyfriend's recent betrayal.
As the sisters wait for word of their grandmother, they begin to pack up the family belongings--and unpack memories of the idyllic summers of their childhood. But with those memories come long-buried secrets, and Maddy discovers that all was not as it appeared that last summer in Sea Haven. Meanwhile, Gram's neighbor, Connor Sullivan, seems overly interested in Gram's whereabouts. Maddy is drawn in by his quick smile and steady gaze in spite of herself.
Undercurrents of jealousy and resentment threaten to pull the family under again, maybe for good this time. As tensions rise, the sisters must find a way to accept each other for the women they've become--and Maddy must decide if falling in love again is worth the potential heartbreak.

Comment: I can't remember why I added this book to my TBR. Still, when I was adding books to my monthly lists, I saw this one and added it anyway, even without much thought about what it would be like.

In this book we meet Maddy, the youngest of three sisters, as she leaves her job and her boyfriend, as soon as she realizes he cheated on her, both personally and professionally for they worked at the same restaurant. She goes to her grandmother's house near the beach when a neighbor leaves concerned voice mails about her grandmother's being gone. When she arrives, she starts to panic but then her sisters - estranged for years - also show up and it seems their summer will be a messy one. However, life has a way of turning everything around and there is always some lesson to be learned or some emotions to be processed...

I don't mind family dramas. I've read plenty to say that if well done or featuring characters one can like, even the hard things can make for an enjoyable read. When this book starts, it does feel drama will unfold until the end but there was also something about the writing style which made me think perhaps things wouldn't be as conclusion ended up being that the writing itself just wasn't as wonderful, although it did allow for a good enough story.

Maddy is a woman at a crossroads, things seemed to be going well for her until they don't. This book is also labeled "inspirational" and there is some talk about how being closer to God or having faith helps some situations but to be fair, I found this connection, between praying and an immediate result apparently coming true, a little too convenient. I wouldn't say this is the best way to express faith or praying but I'm not knowledgeable in theology to comment. I just think it didn't always feel right how the scenes played out.

That aside, this is also a romance. The concerned neighbor, Connor, ends up being someone Maddy can relate to and he also happens to have a struggling restaurant, so she is perfect to help him, meaning their lives can be so easily put together, as long as they face their mutual fears of being in a commitment with someone new, since both come from relationships which didn't make them happy, Maddy with her ex and Connor with his late wife. I did like their connection and the fact they had things in common, but the way things play out feels too convenient and I wasn't truly sold on their everlasting feelings for one another by the time the epilogue comes along.

Each sister has some kind of problem. Besides the reason why the oldest sisters don't talk to one another for years, they also have issues now, in her personal lives. Although they aren't the focus, we still have a lot about them and why they need to make peace. It's kind of obvious the goal here is to force a situation where they need to talk about what happened to them in the past (there are 3 or 4 chapters set in the past sprinkled through the novel, from young Maddy's POV, on why and how things progressed that way), proving that peace among the family is important. As for the method on how this was accomplished I wouldn't be too certain...

I think that this was a story with a good idea and interesting elements (the cottage near the beach, the restaurant business and how Maddy could help Connor, the estrangement between sisters and how could they make up..) but the execution...the writing style... I've seen some other reviews and some readers use the word "cheesy". I wouldn't get that far but it's definitely predictable and too simple for the kind of emotions the author wanted to develop.

I liked reading some parts, others weren't that thrilling. Based on this, I'd think twice about reading another book by the author.
Grade: 5/10

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