Reviewed By Tori
Favorite Quote: “Why do women always fall for bad boys, then get angry when they turn out to be bad boys?”
Casey Reddick, a celebrated chef, never expected to wake up to a sexy naked man showering on her front porch but she’s not one to complain. That is until he sees her watching him and accuses her invading his privacy and spying on him.
Tate Landers, a famous movie star, has spent most of his life dealing with someone always wanting something from him. When he sees a gorgeous woman peeking at him out at him from his gate house, he automatically assumes she is yet another fan looking for a payout.
Casey thinks Tate’s an unbearable snob and goes out her way to avoid him. His ex-brother in law, Devlin, only reinforces her dislike of Tate as he regaled her with stories of Tate’s wrongdoings. When Casey is co-opted to play Elizabeth Bennett in a summer stock version of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, she is dismayed to find her Darcy will be none other than Tate. As Casey gets to know Tate better, she realizes there is more to him than his cold, rough exterior, but she unsure who is the real Tate and who is the actor. And if he’s acting…what happens when the curtain comes down for the final time?
The first in a trilogy, fans of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice will enjoy Devereux’s comedic interpretation as she modernizes this classic and centers it around a chef who’s afraid of being hurt again and a movie star who just wants someone who loves him for himself and not his bank account. Deveraux keeps the outline of Pride and Prejudice intact and fills it laughter, romance, eccentric characters, witty dialogue, and some outrageous scenes. Rambunctious right off the bat, this story speeds along like a freight train, whipping down the track while rocking frantically from side to side. Casey and Tate are Mr. Darcy and Ms. Elizabeth Bennett. Their first meeting sets the tone of their relationship as Tate’s haughty attitude puts Casey on the defense. From there, the relationship commences to go downhill as a series of misunderstandings and incriminating, unsubstantiated rumors only serves to make Tate look like the villain in the tale.
“She hates me.”
“Females don’t hate you.”
“She does. I, uh, well, I ate one of her pies she made to bring here.”
“Some berry custard thing? With a top crust like a flower? Everybody’s been saying it was missing. You didn’t steal a pie, did you? I mean, really?”
“Yeah, I stole that pie. And, yes, I ate the whole thing. With a spoon. A big spoon.”
Strongly character driven, Deveraux introduces us to a wide array of personable, well-developed characters whose lives mirror the play taking place. Deveraux takes some liberties as she re-imagines these people and their relationships; allowing it to play out on stage. Deveraux also brings in characters from another series that helps to tie the Montgomery/Taggert world to this one. There are also references to her book A Knight In Shining Armor that only serves to solidify this merging.
Casey’s backstory reminded me a little bit of Katy Long from Deveraux’s Legend. Like Katy, Casey is also a celebrated chef who takes a struggling restaurant and makes it a 4-star winner at the expense of her own happiness. An absent mother completes Casey’s feelings of abandonment and loneliness. The similarities end there. Casey decides to take a break from cooking when she realizes that she has been so busy with her restaurant, she misses the fact her ex-boyfriend has moved out of their apartment and is dating someone else. A family friend, Kit (Christopher) Montgomery, offers her a place to stay in Summer Falls, VA to regroup and also help cater the play he is putting on. Strong, intelligent, and witty, Casey’s need to be not caught unawares again causes more than a few problems along the way but she is smart enough to admit when she’s wrong. And boy, is she wrong a lot. At times I found Casey’s attitude towards Tate annoying, especially when it basically comes down to her own prejudices and rumors rather than any real substantiated facts.
Tate, our hero, is simply delicious. Witty, charming, and sexy, Tate is the ultimate caretaker. He tries so hard to make everything perfect for everyone but often it gets taken wrong because of his almost fanatical need to guard his and his family’s privacy. He is in Summer Falls to take a look at the restoration of his family’s estate-Tattwell Plantation. Though it was sold out of his family years ago, he bought it back for his mother who has since passed. Like Casey, he has no problems admitting when he’s misjudged someone though he is much quicker to give someone the benefit of the doubt and forgiveness.
Tate and Casey’s chemistry is explosive from page one even though the relationship starts out on a decidedly antagonistic note. I enjoyed that Deveraux doesn’t make their journey easy and offers readers a whole world to explore while watching this couple. The story reads fast and furious with it’s multiple characters and off the wall subplots weaving in and out. Strong writing and amusing dialogue and scenes hooks you instantly. It does has a messy feel to it that some may find daunting to try to sort through though the overall effect is decidedly charming. Even with the sheer almost overwhelming amount of external noise, the protagonists’ romance maintains a firm hold on the story and offers much entertainment to the town as they work through their issues (both internal and external) along their path to happily ever after.
“Don’t you guys have something else to do?
“Not anything as exciting as this. And could somebody get us some water? Drinking out of the hose has lost it’s country appeal.”
The Girl from Summer Hill is a boisterous romance that gives readers a small town contemporary overflowing with the laughter and heat that always seems to follow Deveraux’s characters. Fans of Deveraux’s and Austin’s are sure to enjoy. I look forward to book two in this series.