Can a summer fling turn into love that lasts a lifetime? Former underwear model turned entrepreneur Clay Stryker has loved, tragically lost and vowed that he'll never risk his heart again. After making his fortune, the youngest of the rugged Stryker brothers returns to Fool's Gold, California, to put down roots on a ranch of his own. But he's frustrated to discover that even in his hometown, people see him only for his world-famous...assets.
Firefighter Chantal (Charlie) Dixon grew up an ugly duckling beside her delicately beautiful mother, a feeling reinforced long ago by a man who left soul-deep scars. Now she has good friends, a solid job and the itch to start a family-yet she can't move toward the future while she's haunted by painful memories.
Clay finds an unexpected ally, and unexpected temptation, in tomboyish Charlie, the only person who sees beyond his dazzling good looks to the real man beneath. But when Charlie comes to him with an indecent proposal, will they be able to overcome their pasts and find a love that lasts beyond one incredible summer?
Why I Read this Book: I think we all know by now that I enjoy reading this series. It’s a cozy contemporary romance with a small town setting.
What I Liked: Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot I liked about All Summer Long. It wasn’t so bad that I had to DNF it but I was a bit disappointed. That said, here’s what I did like.
Charlie is honest and speaks her mind. I like that about her. There’s no guessing work; she just lays her cards right on the table.
The tender moments between Charlie and Clay. All things considered, Charlie is pretty much a virgin. Clay did very well during the moments when Charlie was experiencing something for the first time. He was patient and very considerate. Which leads me to the smut. The smut was pretty good.
What I Didn’t Like: I didn’t feel the chemistry between Charlie and Clay. It’s not whom I thought Charlie would end up with and it’s not whom I thought Clay would end up with. Whereas in the other Fool’s Gold books, the hero and heroine are usually a perfect match for one another.
I don’t like the way the date rape topic was handled. Charlie had avoided men for the past 10 years, when the date rape happened, and thought sleeping with Clay would “cure” her. No therapy for Charlie. It felt like Charlie overcame the repercussions from her her date rape ordeal too easily.
Another skeleton from Charlie’s closet was her mother, Dominique. The two never had a mother-daughter bond because Dominique was too narcissistic. The ultimate conclusion regarding this relationship wasn’t convincing to me.
One thing that puzzled me was when Clay put “get a house in town” on his to-do list. He just bought some land next to his mom’s ranch. Why not build a house for himself on that land, like Rafe and Shane are doing? Maybe I missed something but it seems a whole lot more convenient for him to live on the land, and be closer to work, than to live offsite.
I didn’t like the Nate story arc being used as a plot device to create friction for Clay’s business. Clay had enough working against him in regards to his alfalfa farm that I don’t feel Nate needed to be in the story at all. And Clay consequently beating himself up because he went against his gut in regards whom he hired as the farm manager (Nate) was unreasonable. Anyone would have gone with Nate. He had more experience in farming, whereas the other candidate had NONE, and his background check came back clean.
And while I’m on the topic of Nate, why is it that when Clay fired him, Clay told Nate he was going to pay him what he was owed plus an additional two weeks pay on top of that? What warrants the added two weeks pay to a slim ball like Nate?
The book ended at the 80% mark for me. There was some unnecessary drama thrown in at the very end to shake things up. I suppose to warrant the BIG finale of an ending. Aside from that, nothing much really happened except for some clues on who’ll be in the next few books. (Just exactly how does Justice know Patience? Is Justice related to Lillie? Who’s Evangeline going to hook up with? And who’s going to hook up with the new guy in town that recently bought the radio station?)
Overall Impression: Unfortunately, All Summer Long fell flat for me. It was definitely my least favorite of the ‘Summer’ books and it rates right along next to Ethan’s book (my review). Yet I’m still going to keep reading this series because I love the small town dynamic. Hopefully I’ll find the characters and storylines in the next trio of books more interesting and entertaining than what I found in All Summer Long.