Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan
Series: From Manhattan with Love, #5
Released: August 29, 2017
Reviewed by Sheena
Favorite Quote: “I’ve always loved you.” “It was sex -” “And then it was love. So much love I didn’t pause long enough to think about whether I was moving too quickly.”
After reading, and reveling in Miracle on 5th Avenue, the delightful third book in the From Manhattan with Love series, I was insta-sold on Holiday in the Hamptons. Miracle on 5th Avenue was such a joy that I went into this read with high excitement and high expectations. Which is why it pains me to share that, it didn’t do it for me. I didn’t buy the angst that kept the couple apart for ten years, I didn’t really buy the hero’s stuck in stasis, bland personality and I was over the heroines book-long low self esteem and I completely revolted against the love declaration and HEA- I guess that occurred at 91%. In a word, it was unfulfilling. And that really bums me out because throughout the novel it was there, just out of reach. That certain something that makes reading Morgan books so pleasurable remained elusive, the magic I previously felt out of my grasp. *blows bangs*
Professional dog-walker Felicity Knight loves everything about New York…until her ex-husband starts working at her local vet clinic. She hasn’t seen Seth Carlyle in ten years, but one glimpse of him – too gorgeous, and still too good for her – and Fliss’s heart hurts like their whirlwind marriage ended yesterday. So when her grandmother in The Hamptons needs help for the summer, it seems the perfect way to escape her past…
Their relationship might only have lasted a few scorching months, but vet Seth knows Fliss – if she’s run away to The Hamptons, it’s because she still feels their connection and it terrifies her. He let her go once before, when he didn’t know any better, but not this summer! With the help of his adorable dog Lulu, and a sprinkling of beachside magic, Seth is determined to make Fliss see that he’s never stopped loving her
Fliss was raised in a prominent family who on the outside appeared picture perfect, however, within, had foundation cracks and was ruled by her father, an unforgiving man who emotionally abused his family without remorse. Fliss grew up under his cruel tutelage convinced she was the “bad” twin, drawing her father ire almost as often as she tried to escape his mean spirited attentions. Besides a mother whom she loved but whom she could not turn to for help as she was just as lost to Fliss’ father’s iron fist as anyone else, Fliss had only her twin sister and brother who understood what life was like in their home. Such isolation made Fliss guard her secrets and her heart until the summer of her eighteenth birthday. The summer where she turned her attentions and passions to Seth Carlyle. Seth’s cared for Fliss for years and senses things aren’t okay at home. On Fliss’ eighteenth birthday he presents her with a gift from his heart and they embark on a whirlwind romance that ends in misunderstandings, distrust and despair. They divorce after a few short months and go ten years without contact, until now.
There is a heavy emotional thread that weaves through the story, but author Sarah Morgan manages to keep the story itself light and romantic despite the darkness of their past. Unfortunately, the baggage between the two was mishandled and they spent twenty chapters too long on a merry go round that left me dizzy and uninterested. Fliss was chronically running away from her feelings for Seth and her perspective on their history and the impact her father and Seth’s sister had on their marriage and divorce. She came across as so fundamentally damaged that I thought perhaps she should seek long term counseling ASAP, in the words of Mean Girls, she was almost too insecure and self conscious to function. Fliss spent far too much time berating herself and saying she wasn’t good enough for Seth and after awhile it was old news and unattractive.
Seth was almost just as bad. Overly deferential and accommodating. Aside from sharing Fliss’ pain and being unable to forget about her and unwilling to let her go when they reconnected, Seth was rather bland and didn’t ring any particular bells. Too often he was like a little kicked puppy, shooed away, shouted at, railed against and he’d come back for more.
“I can’t believe you’re bringing that up now. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“I know. You never do, but this time you’re going to.” He stood, too, determined that this time she wasn’t going to walk away. “You owe me that. You owe me a conversation.” He closed his hands over her shoulders and she tried to shrug him off.
“We’ve been divorced ten years. I don’t owe you anything. Dammit, Seth, this is my problem. I handle it the way I choose to handle it.” He wondered if she even realized that she didn’t really handle difficult things. She buried them. “Do you know what the real problem is? The fact that you think it’s your problem…you shut me out.”
I pitied the pair of them and that put a real damper on the romantic feels. 90% of the plot was Seth trying to convince Fliss to open up to him and take a chance on their future and there left room for little else. It was overwrought and I am still not convinced they have a sound HEA. I suppose they will marry, but with such deeply seated issues that resolved so late in the game, I’m not convinced. I couldn’t tell if Fliss was purely, committing to their future for Seth or because she really felt they were ready. Uncertainty is a pesky little hot and fuzzies killer. There just has to be some good times and from my perspective, the only good times were seen in a too brief flashback and hearsay.
The saving grace is that the writing itself is good. Morgan’s chops saved what could have been really meh. Despite the fact that I had significant trouble with this couple, it was an easy book to settle into and page turn. The atmosphere and imagery worked really nice and I enjoyed the transport to the beach and NYC.
Holiday in the Hamptons didn’t work for me, however, I am in no way dissuaded from reading more of Morgan’s can-stand-alone books in the series as her writing is engaging. This plot and the characters pushing it, was just a miss that I’m willing to forgive (and quickly) forget.