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"The Summer Children" by Dot Hutchison
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Top customer reviews
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Just as the story blurb describes, Melissa (re-named "Lissie" early on in the book from flirt and future bed-partner Nate), is currently separated from her cheating husband, Alex. Lost and confused after the unexpected cheating broke up her 14-year marriage, Lissie tries to embrace life and find fun and fulfilling things to do with her new-found free time. She tries dating apps, singles meet ups, and ultimately falls into volunteering for a theater company and joining a rock climbing gym. Both hobbies unexpectedly find prospective dating partners, but always-faithful Lissie suddenly finds herself not-really-dating but sleeping with two men. The entire experience opens her eyes to casual sex, honesty about both physical and emotional needs, and makes her analyze the role she had in the demise of her marriage.
I really enjoy Tanya Chris's writing style. The characters are all fun and dynamic. Lissie is a terrific main character who is allowed to grow through this incredibly trying time in her life. The hobbies she picks up are outside her comfort zone, and I liked how they were explained so the reader could understand. I do not work in a theater nor do I rock climb, so I can't speak to the accuracy of any of it, but it was fun to read about and easy to follow. Nate, the actor, has depth that hasn't yet been fully explored, and I really hope there will be a follow-up novel where someone is able to show him the benefits of monogamy. His character was absolutely perfect and exactly what Lissie needed when they started sleeping together. Derek was an adorably sweet and helpful climbing instructor. I loved how he was both incredibly confident about his climbing skills yet timid about dating or making a first move. Alex is the cheating ex-husband. He comes across as a peripheral character, but he is an important part of the story line, and I enjoyed learning about him as well.
I gave this 4 stars because although I really did enjoy reading this and I love Tanya Chris's writing style, there were a few things that didn't quite work for me. I really wish we had more interactions with Alex (the ex). People separate for lots of different reasons, and it would have been good to have more direct contact with Alex since Lissie keeps thinking back on their failed marriage as she tries to navigate her future. I think there were elements that were rushed or glossed over about their relationship that would have been helpful to see. Also, there were a few rushed transitions between scenes that left me confused about whether I missed something. There is also an age gap between Lissie and both of the men that was definitely not explored as much as it could have been. The blurb made it seem like it was a huge part of the story line, but I honestly kept forgetting about it while reading. Finally, there's a scene toward the end in a tent... it was really hot and fun to read, but it didn't seem to fit with two of the three characters involved. I was surprised by its inclusion, and it took something away from the story, in my opinion.
Despite the few flaws, I enjoyed this story quite a bit. I like reading about characters who are experiencing personal struggles, and I like to see how they can overcome those trying times. Tanya Chris is an awesome writer, and I can't wait to read more of her writing!
While I really enjoyed reading this and got very caught up in Lizzie's story, I'm really hoping Ms. Chris returns to writing MM stories as she does such a great job with them.
Look. I love age gaps and this book has TWO relationships with age gaps. Melissa is navigating her way through a break-up with her cheating husband to find out who she really is and finds herself in a casual relationship with two different, younger guys. HECK YES.
Derek and Nate have tremendously different views on romance, sex, and life. They each bring our protagonist something different to learn about herself and push her to new levels. The three of them have a unique dynamic, and it's so engaging to watch them interact.
There's a lot of beautiful writing in this book and hecka sexy scenes. Including one excellent m/f/m scene.