Melissa Brayden is to me one of the very best writers in the lesbian romance genre. She has set a very high standard, you know like Mount Everest high. Each and every book a met or surpassed the quality and awesomeness of the previous book. That’s unbelievably difficult to achieve, to time and time again bring just the best of the very best. There is a but! With that being said Strawberry Summer is not my favorite of hers. Don’t get me wrong it’s good, totes is, it’s just not great.
Strawberry Summer spends a lot of the story in a flashback. When we meet the two main characters Courtney Carrington has just moved from Chicago to a small picturesque farming community just outside of Santa Barbara. The first day at her new high school, she meets and has her a-ha moment with Margaret Beringer. Margaret is kind of a loner, not unpopular, just keeps to her small group on the fray of popularity. She’s a strawberry farmer’s kid who spends her days hanging out with nature and reading Hemingway for fun. Courtney, a strikingly beautiful department store heiress is immediately smitten and doesn’t hold back her admiration. This is a story of first loves in a star-crossed lover kind of way. Time and distance keep pulling these two apart but they spend most of their late teens and early 20’s as a couple.
There inlays one big issue. You know as the reader a shoe is going to drop, you are waiting for it the whole time. This is a romance novel, they must break up to get back together, and they met as teens for God ’s sake. You know it’s going to happen! Right! So, there many stories that have done this exact same format and have done it very well. Poppy Jenkins is probably the biggest standout. To me, this particular book spends too much, like 75+% of the book in flashback mode. You just keep waiting for the younger days to be over and get to the now. Well, at least I did.
The other issues. It’s not fun! I know I can’t believe I wrote that, but it wasn’t. There just isn’t that great dialogue between the mains that you expect from a Brayden book. Up until know, you had amazing witty banter and wordplay. You just don’t see it in this one, maybe because Margaret is a more serious character and humor isn’t her go to language. I was missing it, I wanted it back! I also wanted that amazing tension Brayden is the queen of ratcheting up. Again, not there! I didn’t feel that the transitions were as seamless as previous books either, I kept thinking, another summer and they are still together, where are we headed, why is this not moving along at a faster pace. So much of the book was in the past, I just kept wishing more of it would have been focused on the present.
There are good moments too. Moments that are so sweet you smile and moments so tragic your heart breaks. Overall it is a good book, it really is. There are going to be people that adore this one, promise. To me, this one was somewhat, formula wise, reminiscent of Waiting in the Wings, but without the tension and amazing interchange between characters. Even the supporting cast was cute but lackluster. This feels harsh, and I don’t mean it to be. It is a good book, I totally promise. I liked you, Strawberry Summer, I do, but I don’t love you.
3.75 out of 5 stars
- Publisher: bold Strokes Books