Stolen Summer is much more than a simple friends to lovers trope. It also deals with making choices—and how they affect those we love. While this is an early work by S.A. Meade, it is still very well written and captivating. Her characters have a fragileness about them, which encourages a desire in the reader to gather them close and keep them safe. The story itself is still topical today as it deals with the unrest and violence in the Middle East. There was so much to this story—the roller coaster of emotions and action that takes place each time Evan is sent on another assignment is more than enough, but added to that is the moment when Evan realizes he is actually gay and not just unable to commit to a woman or find deep, satisfying intimacy with her.
Evan and Colin have been friends since college days. There’s has been an easy relationship with both dating and dumping women rather regularly. Neither of them has ever spoken of the one drunken encounter where they brought each other off after watching porn together. While on his latest assignment embedded with British forces fighting the Taliban, Evan comes up close and personal when an IED goes off injuring the captain and killing others. After barely escaping with their lives, Evan is sent back home. Returning to a lackluster relationship with his girlfriend Katy that he is fairly certain is at it’s end, he sets up a visit with his old pal, Colin. During his time away, Evan had begun to ponder the idea of his recurring attraction to Colin and if, indeed, he could actually be gay—which would certainly explain his inability to find real connection with any of the girls he had dated in the past.
When the two men meet it‘s as if they had never been apart. There is such an easy way about Colin and Evan finds himself relaxing in a way he never has before. Before long, Colin drops a bomb on Evan by telling him he is in love with him. While Evan doesn’t declare his love in return, it is fairly obvious that he cannot get enough of Colin in or out of the bedroom—they just seem to fit. But Evan is restless and loves the rush his job affords him, so when an opportunity to expose a key figure who has been supplying arms to the enemy in Pakistan arises, he jumps at the chance to go. However, that means leaving Colin behind—but it’s only for a few days or so…or is it?
One of the best elements in this novel was the real sense of tension between Evan’s need for excitement and his growing commitment to being a part of Colin’s life. While I felt there might have been a tad too many sex scenes, for the most part they were utilized as a way for the reader to experience the growing intimacy between the two men and the strengthening of their love for each other. Even though the two had known each other for years, the author chose to use Evan’s job as the foil to demonstrate how fragile a new relationship can be. Also, I was grateful Evan held his emotions back a bit—yes, he admitted freely to wanting Colin, but beyond the physical attraction he was unsure if he could honestly state he was in love, so he didn’t, and Colin understood. For me, this made what the two men had more realistic and, consequently, Evan’s decisions were more honest overall especially when it came to the job.
I also felt Evan’s entrenchment in foreign countries and the battle scenes were gut-wrenching and real. I could feel the tension, the heat and the fear that lurked beneath Evan’s calm exterior. I was glad the author chose to allow the horror of the battlefield to linger for Evan—causing him to feel unbalanced and afraid. There was no clean fix or rapid recovery from war and the way the author chose to handle all that happened to Evan was just excellent.
Although an older work by the talented S.A. Meade, Stolen Summer stands out as one of her finest. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and I recommend it to you!
P.S. You can enter to win a copy of Stolen Summer and more than 100 others prizes in our Friends & Enemies to Lovers Week giveaway March 6-12, 2016!