Rating: 5 stars
Buy Link: Amazon | All Romance
Swimmer, BFF, and pretty boy extraordinaire Topher Carlisle is spending the summer at his best friend’s family’s beach house at Saugatuck. Although Mo won’t be there the entire summer, Topher plans on finding a job to earn money so he can cover the rest of his tuition. Then Brendan Gardner, Mo’s father, shows up. Topher’s attraction to Brendan is great, but in order to ignore it he goes out. On his birthday, Topher meets Jace and after a flirty, sexy night at a club, Topher spends an amazing night with Jace and never expects to see him again.
Then one night, after a weekend that Mo visits and leaves, one thing leads to another and Topher and Brendan kiss. And for a second Topher wonders why he can’t have it all, so he lets himself, even if it’s only one time. But it’s not only once, and as much as Topher wants it, the last thing he wants is to hurt the only person he cares about. The only thing he asked of Brendan was to be respected, but when the day comes to break it off since Brendan’s wife and daughter are due to visit soon, Brendan breaks the promise to the nth degree.
Working as a catch-all, Topher finds true friends in his bosses Robin and Geoffrey and when Brendan goes against his word, Robin and Geoffrey give Topher a place to stay. But when Mo and her mother come for their visit, Topher finds himself avoiding his best friend in order to keep his secret. And worse is trying to keep the secret when Robin and Geoffrey show up with Jace in tow for the big Fourth of July celebration.
Now that Jace is back, Topher can’t help but want… something. But his life has never been that easy, and as wonderful as Jace is, Topher’s life has never been that simple. So when things flip upside down, Topher expects Jace to run screaming. What he gets instead is a lesson in trust and staying.
Oh, this book. I just… The words are difficult to come by because it’s so good. It’s taken me a few days write this review because this story captured me and held me completely that it was hard for me to move on after I finished. Saugatuck Summer is an amazing story of struggle and maturity. This is Topher’s story, his journey, his growth. It’s a story of the mistakes made in youth and forgiveness, especially self-forgiveness.
You see, Topher is not the perfect guy, yet he’s pretty perfect. Topher is so broken, it’s hard for him to see himself any other way. Anxiety disorder is the foundation for who he is and he owns that, but his issues have deeper roots and they have damaged him in ways that are hard to see past. Topher makes mistakes, pretty difficult ones to move past, and he never acts like he doesn’t, but he learns from them and becomes a better man. I love Topher. I love his complexities and his flare, and I adore his humility and love for his friends. Even after all that went on with Brendan, he still missed the friend he’d made in the older man. His layers are endless and for that he’s so beautiful.
Besides the fact that it is written in Topher’s first person POV, this story is character driven. There are so many amazing personalities and presences. Jace is a freaking rock. He is understanding and patient, almost beyond reason. He’s a free spirit who finds love and follows his heart to make the man he loves happy. And then Robin and Geoffrey and Ling are those friends who will protect those they love from whatever is haunting them. No matter what. And Brendan, even though I wanted to dislike him, I couldn’t so much—although he gets a little strange.
There is so much to this story—Topher’s relationship with his family (and seriously, there is so much there it could be a story in itself), Topher’s relationship with Brendan and Mo, and Topher’s relationship with Jace. It’s how this author weaves this story that makes it so beautiful. It is an amazing story, absolutely captivating.
Yes, this story involves cheating. I’d like to make it clear that it’s not so much the adrenaline rush type of cheating. What Gormley has done here is show the attraction of what the secret relationship holds, but she also portrays the massive guilt and overwhelming fear that accompany such a tawdry affair. And this author does it in a way that, as a reader, I felt the pain Topher felt. I hurt right along with him.
This book is perfectly crafted from the weaving of plots and sub-plots and side stories to the enrapturing writing and perfectly paced story. It’s a heartbreakingly beautiful story of perfect imperfections. I honestly couldn’t get enough. I wanted so badly for it to continue. I can’t wait to see what comes next from this author. I highly recommend Saugatuck Summer by Amelia C. Gormley.