17 July, 2017

A #review of Summer Again (St. Caroline Series) by Julia Gabriel

                                                   Pages -  194 
                                                   Publisher -  Serif Books
                                                   Published -  March 29, 2017
                                                   Former Title -  Falling For the Prodigal Son
                                                   Originally Published -  September 26, 2013
                                                   Sold by -  Macmillan and Amazon
                                                   Genre -  Contemporary Romance
                                                   Sexual Content -  2/5
                                                   Language -  4/5

A sweet summer romance set on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay
A wealthy heir called back home by family duty ...
The town of St. Caroline had never felt like home to Sterling Matthew. Even though the Matthew family could date their residence back nearly a hundred years, Sterling had grown up in boarding schools—and promptly decamped for the ski slopes of Europe after college.
When his father falls ill, his mother calls him home to run the family business, the renowned Chesapeake Inn. What Sterling finds, though, is a business on shaky financial footing and a staff resistant to the radical changes he has to make. No matter. He’ll do what needs to be done … and then leave St. Caroline for good.
A woman who’s pulled herself up by the bootstraps …
For years, Lucy Wyndham wondered whether she’d ever catch another glimpse of the boy she’d crushed on at the Chesapeake Inn’s summer camp for disadvantaged kids. He’d been tall and quiet. Mysterious and aloof. And the owner’s son. Now he’s her boss and the attraction is just as strong—but they’re no more compatible today than they were as teenagers. When he informs her that the camp must be eliminated to improve the resort’s bottom line, she embarks on an ambitious campaign to save it. Even if the price is her job ... and her heart.
Summer Again was previously published as Falling for the Prodigal Son.

95 Customer Reviews at Amazon, 17 Critical

Technically, I should have rated this one 3.5 stars, but the reason for 4 is that I liked this one and it held my interest throughout, but the nice writing and practically flawless execution, if you can believe that, is why I rated it a bit higher than it deserves.

Hardly any, IF any, type-o's or grammatical issues here.

It is the story of a young, troubled girl from a poor part of Virginia who is lucky enough to be sent to a summer camp for at-risk youth and it changes her whole life.

When she grows up and graduates college, she gets married and has a promising Consultant career when her husband dumps her for another woman... AT the same resort where she'd attended the summer camp.

Now, here's where the story flaws being for me.

The implausible, if not far-fetched coincidences are annoying.

After she's dumped, the owners, a like-able couple, not only remember her from all those years ago, but they also take her under their wing, hire her as their new consultant, and the rest is history.

There was simply too much make-believe Hoo Boy! for me to accept or want to believe, and even if it IS a romance novel.

Two major instances where it just seemed as if God Himself came down to extol some tremendous endowment to save the day, which had me groaning in disbelief.

Without giving it away, let me just state for the record that wealthy people are wealthy for one particular reason: they know how to accumulate and then work out ways to keep their money growing.

Nine times out of ten, it is because they invest that income - not give it away - that makes them as wealthy as they are.

And, yes, we're all aware of instances where the wealthy bother to pass out a bit of their fortune to the less fortunate.


But, not in the way the author chose to handle one particular issue within the story.

The driving force behind the plot, no less.

The negative comments left at the Amazon page mainly centered around our Hero, the spoiled rich kid with an inverted name like Sterling Matthew.

To be honest, I didn't much care for him either, until I read the part about how he was treated as a child growing up in the shadows of the kids camp, and about how his parents were too busy running the resort to take any time out for their only child.

Then, I kind of said, "Yeah, well, I guess he has a bit of a right to that chip on his shoulder."

But the fact remains, he's a grown man when the story begins, and it is a little bit disheartening to try reading and then falling for a grown man with the mindset of a young child.

It just doesn't make for Romantic Leading Man material.

Also, the dude on the cover in NO WAY resembles the Sterling Matthew inside my head.

I had pictured a dusty blond head with a clean-shaven face and mesmerizing blue eyes.

What's with the dark hair and beard on the cover?

Sterling was a whining, disgruntled adult forced to return to his childhood home (the resort) when his father's health begins to fail and the mother threatens to disinherit him if he doesn't do as she asks.

He wants to close the Kid's Camp out of spite but continues to argue that it is the Bankers who are harping on the topic of using that stretch of waterfront to a better-suited purpose.

Lucy felt constricted both by her own demons and by the author's way of writing her into the story lines.

I couldn't get past her 'past' and never really saw her as a grown woman with boobies and a mature outlook on life.

However, Lucy and Sterling together worked, albeit in a very co-dependent kind of way that leaves me nervous even after having read their HEA.

In real life, I can't see those two lasting very long in a relationship or a marriage without some serious intervention and counseling on both parts.

This was a dark undertoned novel about coming-of-age, making the most of a bad situation, and learning how to cope with life in both instances of abject poverty and abundant wealth.

With both leads being so flawed, the author might have wanted to give Lucy more aplomb and Sterling more mature manliness.


This is an excellent choice for a budding author who wants to learn about style and flow, and yes, even about conflict resolution.

The author chose to go way over the top in two instances, but I still believe this is a great example of how best to write a Contemporary Romance.

If you are interested, there is a second novel in the St. Caroline Series


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