Another evening post for me today, apologies! I have the pleasure of kicking off Michelle Vernal’s blog tour for ‘Sweet Home Summer’. Thanks to Rararesources for the blog tour invite, and thank you to HarperImpulse for the ARC. Here is my review:
What’s a Matchmaker? I’m thinking a really, really old Irish version of Tinder…
Isla Brookes was terrified of leading a little life in the small New Zealand town where she was born and where her gran and mum were also born and bred. To escape their fate, she breaks it off with her teenage sweetheart and runs away to London. She’s spent the last ten years climbing the interior design career ladder and meeting the wrong kind of man until one day she wakes up and wonders what it’s all been for. Leaving her latest unsuitable man and job for dust Isla winds up sitting on a beanbag in therapy at a Californian retreat, where she realises it’s time to go home.
They breed em tough on New Zealand’s West Coast. A fact Isla’s grandmother, Bridget prides herself on. Her heart was broken once, and she won’t let it happen again, but now ever since her husband passed away, someone’s been sending her Valentine’s Day cards.
When the dance hall, the scene for this heartbreak, falls into decline, Bridget decides the link to her first love must be restored even if the events of long ago can’t be put right. She’s never heard of dating apps, so in a nod to her Irish ancestry, she decides to hold a fundraising Matchmaker Festival.
Then Rohan Sullivan blows into town on a strange wind offering his services as a bona fide matchmaker; suddenly it’s time for both women to remedy the mistakes of their past.
What does TWG think?
What a jam packed story this is!
According to Isla, staying in the same town as her mother and grandmother is beneath her. She wanted more in her life and felt that the only way she was going to get that, was to move to the other side of the world. However, due to spending a lot of time running away from herself and her family, Isla finally realises that she won’t ever find herself again unless she slows down and appreciates life for what it is. Plus, I think therapy in California may have swayed her decision as well.
I love the concept of this book, especially as a lot of readers may relate to the ‘losing yourself and finding yourself’ theme to the book. What I did struggle with however, was the pace. It took me a very long time to find something in the storyline to hold onto. Instead of the pace being upped and the grit being entwined into the book, there seemed to be a constant addition of brand new characters and, whilst I usually don’t mind meeting new people in books, if the pace isn’t there to go with the new characters, I find myself becoming incredibly confused and forgetting who is who.
That said, the real star of the ‘show’ was Isla’s gran. Her humour was on point, with the romantic element to her lifestyle becoming more evident as the storyline progressed. I actually think Gran needs to come back in a sequel as I feel that there is a lot more to her personality, with us only seeing the tip of the iceberg in ‘Sweet Home Summer’.
Once I had gotten into the storyline, I did end up enjoying it, laughing along with several of the characters. Personally, I think that the overall concept of this book is brilliant, with the underlying message being one to take notice of, but I just think that it could be a little more defined in its delivery. Hopefully there will be a sequel so that we can find out what happens next with Isla and Gran!
About the author.
Hello, my name is Michelle Vernal, and by way of introduction, I’m Mum to Josh and Daniel and am married to the super supportive Paul. We live in the garden city of Christchurch, New Zealand with our three-legged, black cat called Blue. BC (before children) Paul and I lived and worked in Ireland, the experiences we had there have flavoured my books. I’ve always written, but it was only after my first son was born that I decided to attend a creative writing course at Canterbury University. Oh the guilt dropping him at pre-school so I could learn the basics of story writing, but oh the joy of having conversation to contribute other than the price of nappies that week! The first piece I ever penned post course was published by a New Zealand parenting magazine. I went on to write humorous; opinion styled pieces of my take on parenting, but when the necessity for being politically correct got too much, I set myself the challenge of writing a
novel. Six books later and a publishing deal with Harper Impulse here I am. These days I write for a lifestyle magazine and my latest book Sweet Home Summer has just been released by Harper Impulse.