Author: Kate Noble
Genre: Romance/ Historical
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publication date: April 6,2010
Paperback: 352 pages
Stand alone or series: Stand alone but characters first appeared in Revealed
Lady Jane Cummings is certain that her summer is ruined when she is forced to reside at isolated Merrymere Lake with her reckless brother and ailing father. Her fast-paced London society is replaced with a small town grapevine. But one bit of gossip catches Jane’s attention- rumors that the lake’s brooding new resident is also an elusive highwayman.
Jane must face the much discussed mysterioso after he saves her brother from a pub brawl. She immediately recognizes him from London: Byrne Worth, war hero and apparent hermit-whom she finds strangely charming. The two build a fast friendship, and soon nothing can keep this Lady away from Merrymere’s most wanted. Convinced of his innocence, Jane is determined to clear Byrne’s name-and maybe have a little fun this summer after all.
Why did I read the book:Kate Noble is one of my favorite romance writers right up there with Julia Quinn, Loretta Chase and Meredith Duran.
How did I get the book:ARC from the writer.
On the covers: ALL of her covers so far have the headless woman IN THE SAME POSITION. The first time, it was cute what with the cute yellow address and all. The second time was unoriginal. The third time? IT’S TIME FOR A CHANGE.
I am a huge fan of Kate Noble’s novels, she writes beautiful, deeply romantic books, that never fail to engage my emotions and always, always remind me of how much I love Romance novels, when they are done well. Her first book, Compromised was very good; her second book, Revealed was as close to perfection as a romance can be. The Summer of You falls somewhere in between the two – better than the first but not as made of sheer awesomeness as the latter. Still, it is a damn fine book regardless of which genre it belongs to.
Jane Cummings is a Lady. Daughter of a Duke, sister to a Marquis, she is in her element when she is attending parties of the Ton and she enjoys her place in society very much. Or she used to. For the past year, she hasn’t been around that much. About one year ago, her mother died and she was left alone (whilst her brother Jason decided to finish his Grand Tour of Europe) to grieve and to take care of her increasingly sick father in one of their far away properties. Sick of being alone and in charge, afraid for her father’s help, she decides to go back to London where she meets her brother who just returned from the Continent. He is adamant that their father should not be in society anymore: as third removed cousin to the King, his dementia might spark gossip about a Royal Family in the throes of mental disease.
Jason decides they must retire to the countryside and the settle on the Cottage, one of their properties in a small town within the Lake District, where they used to spend their summers when they were younger. Jane, not particularly happy about moving away again, alone with her father, blackmails Jason into joining them and off they go.
Upon arriving there, they find that the town is still pretty much the same, dealing with the same issues as before and with the same gossipmongers. Those are the ones to talk about the new guy in town. Someone who showed up a little over one year ago, who makes no attempt to become part of the town, who growls at people and keeps to himself. And because of that everybody thinks he is the highway man who has been attacking the neighbourhood. Jane knows better though: the man is Byrne Wroth, brother to her friend’s husband and someone she met before (in Revealed). She also knows (or rather suspects) that he used to be a spy for the Crown and now has retired even since he had bullet injury to his leg that has all almost crippled him. It is to recover from this injury (and from his addition to the opiates that alleviate the pain) that he moved to the small house he inherited from an aunt.
If I had to pick a couple of “themes” for the novel it would have to be: memories and change. All of the characters are saddled with memories of their past, and what it used to be. Jane and her moments as the toast of the ton and of her father’s healthy days; Byrne and his former glorious past at the top of his form and free of addiction; Jason and being free of responsibility or once he arrives at the lake, about his first love Penelope; a secondary character, Victoria and his memory of falling in love with Jason when she was little.
The fact is though, all of it is in the past and they all need to accept how everything has changed. Some of them like Jane and Byrne find mutual comfort that helps them in that. Byrne proves to be a much welcome respite to Jane’s day to day life, having to deal with the horrible reality of her father’s illness (having had someone suffering from dementia in my own family it is so easy to sympathise with Jane’s life) , with her brother’s irresponsibility and her own solitude. Similarly to Byrne, Jane is a breath of fresh air, someone who pulls him and pushes him to get out of his funk. They both need to find the footing to their new circumstances and they do that with honesty and true appreciation for each other.
Jason, on the other hand has a more difficult journey, he is the character who abhors change, who completely fails to grow up. He is a spectacular secondary character in the way he is portrayed: at the time, the reader feels compelled to kick him the ass, sometimes it is hard not feel a smite of sympathy for him. I will not be surprise if he gets his own book and I would actually welcome it. So many times, sequel bait is boring as it is predictable, but not here.
The Summer of You is a very slow-paced novel, but it is one to be savoured. The writer takes her time setting the foundations of the novel by introducing us to all aspects of Jane’s life prior to engaging in the romance proper. It provides a vivid, real insight on the lives of many residents of Reston and I am not kidding when I say that I loved getting to know all of them. The secondary romance storyline between Victoria and…someone else is nearly as compelling as that of Byrne and Jane.
The writing is absolutely lovely. Sometimes filled with humour:
The rust colored dress set her hair afire, and the sparkle in the large teardrop diamonds at her ears; it matches the sparkle in the depth of those brown eyes and her smile, wide and welcoming…
Stop it! A distracting line of thought was one thing, he surmised, but he refused to be accused of romantically sensational description.
Rust colored dress, sparkling eyes, indeed. She looked beautiful. Which was a constant for Jane, he reminded himsefl. No need to be so…syrupy about the matter.
“I have to say, sir, this is not a terribly welcoming expression,” Jane said, her seductive alto far more welcoming than the look on his face, apparently.
He almost rolled his eyes.Seductive alto. He must be going soft in the head.
Sometimes profoundly moving, be it the scenes where Byrne opens up to Jane, or Jane’s relationship with her father (the final scene between them made me cry) or the one sex scene in the book. In fact, I would call it the “love making scene” : the thing about Kate Noble’s books is that all of them, we get to see the couple in the actof falling in love and more than titillate, the sex scenes are there to effectively bring them together in the climax(hee) of their relationship. The one here is very, very beautiful, the point of view alternates between them every paragraph of so and it is just…..sigh worthy.
If I have one criticism is that Jane is a more fleshed our character than Byrne is. I don’t feel like I really know him as much as I know Jane (or as much as I knew his brother Marcus when he was the star of his own book – Revealed) . I do know one thing though, actually make it too things: I do know they belong to each other once the book is finished and I know that this book belongs in my keeper shelf.
Notable Quotes/ Parts: The words “I love you” are never uttered in this book and yet there is not a shadow of a doubt that they do love each other:
He bought his head up, and her eyes caught his in wonder, as both their breathing slowed, both floated back down to the reality they had left behind. But before they landed, she found his ear, mumbled those words she had come here to say and only now, in this state of total loss and freedom, had the audacity to speak.
When he repeated them back, pushing a lock of hair behind her ear, he became acutely aware that for the first time in his life, everything he wanted was granted, and he could think of nothing else to ask for.
Sigh worthy right?
Additional Thoughts: Make sure to come back later as we Kate Noble will blogging with us about what inspired her to write the novel – plus a chance to win one of the two copies we will be giving away.
Verdict: The Summer of You is beautiful and tremendously romantic. Another winner from Kate Noble who should be on every historical romance reader’s keeper shelf.
Rating: 8 – Excellent
Reading Next: Steampunk Week 2 approaches so loads of Steampunk novels in the horizon.