Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: Today I chopped liver that has more brain than you.
I’m a big fan of Sarah Morgan, but for some reason I never picked up the first book in this series, Sleigh Bells in the Snow. May adored it last year, so when this book came around, I grabbed it and I have to say, it’s one of the best contemporaries I’ve read this year. It was just perfect for my mood – it has a stressed out hero, an energetic and passionate heroine, a family that has very funny banter and sex in a forest. It’s a win-win.
Sean O’Neil is a very well known orthopedic surgeon in Boston, and his career is his top priority. He is not shy about bringing women to his bed, but he has zero time to commit to them outside of the bedroom, leaving many sad-faced women in his wake. Sean grew up in Vermont on his family’s Snow Crystal resort. He spent his summers hiking in the woods and his winters skiing with his twin brother Jackson and other brother Tyler. While Jackson and Tyler thrive off the resort Sean wanted to be a surgeon since he was a little kid. He never connected with the resort like his brothers and grandfather do. As an adult, after his father died, he had a falling out with his grandfather, and now rarely makes it home to see his family. The previous summer, on a rare visit, he let off some steam in the bedroom with the resort’s French chef, Elise. It was just a one night thing and they both amicably walked away. When Sean gets a phone call that his grandfather collapsed though, he rushes home. Staying at the resort to make sure his grandfather recovers okay, he is reunited with Elise…and that darn sexual chemistry just won’t simmer down.
Elise left France after a very bad relationship. Having no family alive, the O’Neill brood has taken her in as one of them. Elise has sworn to never love a man again, but when Sean starts spending time at the resort, it’s hard to ignore him.
First lets talk about how adorable Elise is. She is so passionate, almost too passionate. Throwing all of her energy into cooking and making the resort the best it can be. By chance, Jackson happened to be in Paris when Elise was having complications in her previous relationship, and he helped her to get out of this relationship and offered her a job in Vermont. Elise now feels completely indebted (lovingly indebted) to Jackson and his family. She is loyal and I loved that about her.
When Elise and Sean meet the previous summer, they have a one night fling – and what I really enjoyed is that they were both totally okay with this. They’ve thought about each other and it’s a tad awkward to see each other again, but they are both mature about it. And when they see each other the next summer, they are cute and flirty about it.
Handing the phone back, he turned his attention back to the pastries. “Are those for eating?”
“You’re cruel and heartless. I knew it the moment I met you. You used me for a night of scorching sex and then discarded me.”
Flirting with him was like dancing with fire.
Much to his own surprise, Sean ends up being the one to pursue Elise. At first just for a repeat of sex, but it turns into more for him as Elise is the stubborn one. The pain of her past and her devotion to his family makes it very difficult to pursue something serious with Sean. But Sean’s easy going demeanor makes it hard to resist. This story has a lot of quiet humor and charm that sneaks up on you.
“Exercise is good for stress.” Sean stood up. “I’d suggest sex, but I’m guessing you’d say no, so why don’t we go for a walk instead?”
Distracted by the mention of sex, Elise stared at him. “Walk?”
“You’d prefer sex?” His lazy gaze was loaded with humor and she felt some of the tension ease.
“I should go to bed.”
“You won’t sleep with all that adrenaline rushing around your veins. Show me what you’ve done with the boathouse. Last time I saw the place it was nothing but splintered planks and cobwebs.”
“Now? It’s dark.”
“I’ll be fine if you hold my hand.”
It was impossible not to smile. “All right.”
And then he gets a little more intense…
Caught off guard, she lost her balance and fell against him. She put her free hand on his chest to steady herself, met his eyes and almost drowned in a flash of intense blue, heat and raw desire.
“You asked me to let you know if there’s anything else I need.”
“I didn’t mean–” She couldn’t breathe properly. The attraction was so shockingly powerful it almost knocked her off her feet. “You promised you’d finish the deck.”
“You’ll get your damn deck.” His voice was rough. “You think about it, don’t you?”
“You know what.” His eyes were on his mouth.
And while their romance simmers and develops, this story also has a great family atmosphere. Sean has a twin brother (hero from book one) and another crazy brother (his book is next and I’m dying for it) and they give each other a hard time as brothers do. Their banter is one of my favorite things about this book. I also loved Gramps, and his devotion not only to the resort but to his family. The tension between him and Sean is very well done.
Suddenly Last Summer has everything I want in a contemporary romance. I can’t wait for the next book in this series.