When you fall in love with a book and just don’t want it to end… This is Strawberry Summer!
Just because you’re through with your past, doesn’t mean it’s through with you.
Margaret Beringer didn’t have an easy adolescence. She hated her name, was less than popular in school, and was always cast aside as a “farm kid.” However, with the arrival of Courtney Carrington, Margaret’s youth sparked into color. Courtney was smart, beautiful, and put together—everything Margaret wasn’t. Who would have imagined that they’d fit together so perfectly?
But first loves can scar.
Margaret hasn’t seen Courtney in years and that’s for the best. But when Courtney loses her father and returns to Tanner Peak to take control of the family store, Margaret comes face-to-face with her past and the woman she’s tried desperately to forget. The fact that Courtney has grown up more beautiful than ever certainly doesn’t help matters.
When the first line in a book is “Courtney Carrington was the last person on Earth I wanted to see.” you know you’re in for a ride. But I knew that anyway because I was reading a book by Melissa Brayden! Can she actually write an inferior or second-rate novel? My answer is a categorical ‘no’. The standard at which she writes is why she is up there with the great Lesbian Fiction Authors of this decade and because her writing is impeccable but also her stories draw you in and make you feel like you’re a part of them. In a way her characters dance to her rhythm while we clap to the beat… It’s intoxicating.
Maggie is quiet, reserved and tends to keep to herself at school, that is until Courtney walks into her classroom and her world changes. Courtney and Maggie set off on a romantic journey that guides them through many years of love and sometimes sadness but with the ultimate goal of happiness… But can it be with each other?
Melissa wrote this novel in the first person narrative and there are only a few novels that I enjoy that are. This is one of those novels and now that I’ve read it I don’t think it could be written any other way. Plus did you see the cover? It’s one of my favourite covers to date!
The chemistry that is written between these two characters is palpable and the relationship had the ‘meant to be’ quality throughout. I normally favour one main protagonist over another but in this novel I loved them both as a couple, as friends and as lovers. They both clicked together and, for lack of a better expression, completed each other.
There are many things I love about this novel and I could pin point them all but I really don’t want to give any spoilers if I can avoid it because I wouldn’t mind rereading this again with fresh eyes to relive the excitement of the not knowing what’s coming next.
But here are a few little things… Firstly I want to mention that Melissa takes us back in time to the friendship and love Maggie and Courtney found as young adults. Now flashbacks can sometimes be a little much in some novels but when you get it right it works in a way that adds a counter balance to the story and gives us as readers more relatable protagonists because we’ve all been there. This book certainly took me back to my first crush on a girl. The feelings that you didn’t know what to do with and the looks at each other wondering are they thinking the same thing but in reality knowing it could never happen because you’re gay and haven’t told a soul yet! These are the moments I rarely reflect on but as I’m reading this book I’m wondering why I don’t… good times make for great books right?
Anyway I digress… but the book became more relatable with the teenage angst and the feeling of falling in love at a young age (not to mention with someone of the same sex) and it makes the book more raw and passionate when we understand the back-story. Melissa has gone a step further because giving us the knowledge of the past has intensified the hurt but also the love these two protagonists feel. This novel left me feeling very emotional wrung out (but in a wonderful way) by the end because I was feeling the emotions along with the protagonist the whole time I was reading.
Also the secondary characters were written extremely well and I can’t see this story being as good without them. Maggie’s parents and her brother, Clay just set the tone in so many ways. They added levity, love and moments that I thought my heart would burst with adoration. But also their friends gave insight into Maggie and Courtney by asking probing questions that would otherwise gone unanswered. There is a chapter in the book were Maggie asks for her brothers advice on dating a girl and they are interrupted by their parents. It was in that moment that I fell a little in love with Maggie’s family.
Lastly I liked how there were no major homophobic plots played throughout the book. It was extremely refreshing that this young couple could just be without the added stigma. Also I love that Melissa wrote a character that doesn’t except labels about herself and her sexuality! I was mentally high fiving her when reading that section.
I would love for this to become a series of books surrounding the town because I don’t think I’m ready for it to be over but this is true with many of Melissa Books.
This book is easily going onto my favorite’s bookshelf but it also might be a favourite among Melissa Brayden’s other novels and that’s a hard feat because I love all her books. So if you love lesbian romance fiction this is definitely the book for you as It hits all the right buttons and keeps you wanting more…
A beautifully written, 5 stars.
Strawberry Summer is due for Release on 1st of April 2017.
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