- By Amelia C. Gormley
- Editions: ebook, paperback
- Published: May 19th 2014 by Riptide Publishing
- Genre: New Adult MxM Contemporary / Romance
- Source: review copy
- In a Flutter: Intense, heartbreaking and gorgeous!
One summer can change everything.
Hi, I’m Topher Carlisle: twenty-one, pretty, and fabulous. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. But let’s get real. Walking the fake-it-til-you-make-it road to independence and self-respect isn’t easy. Especially since my mom’s a deadbeat alcoholic, and most of my family expects me to turn out just as worthless. Oh, and I’m close to losing my college swimming scholarship, so let’s add “dropout” to the list.
My BFF has invited me to stay at her beach house on the shore of Lake Michigan. That’ll give me one summer to make money and figure out what I want to do with my life. So of course I decide to have an affair with my BFF’s married, closeted dad. Because that always works out.
Now I’m homeless, friendless, jobless. Worthless. Just like my family expects, right? Except there’s this great guy, Jace, who sees it differently. He’s got it all together in ways I can only dream of—he’s hot, creative, insightful, understanding. He seems to think I don’t give myself enough credit. And if I don’t watch out, I may start to believe him.
It’s been a while since I felt an Award of Excellence need for a read, but Sugatuck Summer was just too good not to get it. Obviously I felt the need to go full-on review on it because…FEELS! Gawd almighty, so many FEELS!! *takes deep breath* Okay, let’s do this properly.
The contemporary setting was great, we got some Sugatuck (obivously, lol), some Grand Rapids and Chicago scenery, and not just scenery but community-viewing, if you know what I mean. I loved the diversity, from vacation area to small-burg to big city kind of different feels. I also liked the way communities of those environments were portrayed, without it being a point or anything of the read, but their reactions, the way they reacted to their peers (or non-peers). Great contemporary worldbuilding, all the way.
But la piece de resistance here were obviously the characters, for me. Our main character, Christopher Carlisle, was the kind of fuckedup fabulous darling I simply can’t help but love to death. He’s a ‘milk & chocolate’, Justin Timberlake haired, green eyed self-declared drama queen who’s had a very, very hard time growing up as a talented kid in a small-burg setting. Of course his family has been trying to de-glam him all through his life, to reduce him to a neat little standard cookie-cutter thing they could easily control, though not quite accept.
The odds are stacked against Topher from the get-go, with an attention-seeking addict mom, conservative uncle and aunt, and two sisters who are either too involved in their own kind of screwed-up coping mechanisms or raining down the guilt drops all over.
Some of the issue Topher has had to deal with growing up are what I’d describe as authentic and very, very well portrayed in the read. The points he makes about having to explain a naturally depressive brain, if you’d like, aided by the awkward to abusive handling of an out-of-the-norm kid, the way people judge and react to it, a lot of the time going with “you’re too self-involved and that’s why it all seems so dramatic” or “it’s all in your head, you’re making it out to be a lot more dramatic than it is” – one of my personal favorites, by the way, everything about this young man struck a chord deep within me. If you’re not happy go lucky kind, if you’ve had to deal with shmit that most people haven’t and therefore don’t get even when they’re trying to be accepting and understanding, if your inner monologue very often or always works against you – if any of those apply to you, you’ll identify with Topher’s first person narrative to the point of heartbreak. I did.
Everything about him, about what he goes through, including the event regarding his mom closer to the end there, is a fabulous lesson in suffering, how it affects some of us, how we manage to cope with it and how different kinds of help either bury us deeper of help us take that crucial first step to move on. A big role in Topher’s evolution was of course Jace, the love interest the blurb talks about. But I felt Brendan, Topher’s BFF’s dad, was also a very important point in Topher’s growth. It’s a great instance of how sometimes you’re conditioned or conditioning yourself to react in a certain way to someone’s kindness and focused interest in you. I can’t spell out too much without spoiling the read for you, but what happens between Topher and Brendan was a crucial point in Topher’s growth, I think.
And then there’s Jace… Jace, the well-balanced rebel-like artist, the tattooed & pierced grounded yet free-spirited guy who pretty much plays the role of the knight in shining armor, swooping in and saving Topher (mostly from himself and the mean inner monologue his growing up has built). Now, if Topher had been anyone but who he is, if his history had been any other than what it was, the way Jace just swoops in and loves and heals and supports might have seemed far-fetched. But the reality of delightfully screwed up people is that they do attract the supportive, healing type – or the severely screwed up type who enjoys the same kind of company. It’s just how chemistry tends to work, right? The fact that meeting Jace and the whole art gallery/tattoo shop setting happened made sense, because we all eventually run into a set of circumstances that seems like a ray of light to pierce the darkest of our glooms. It happens, sometimes we miss the moment and it’s lost, but sometimes we’re paying attention in the right direction and we become aware of this ray of hope, we take advantage of it and build ourselves a better life.
Of course the Topher / Jace chemistry was insanely hot, the one on one was highly intense both in terms of hotness and in terms of emotional connection, and I loved, loved, loved them together. I’m pretty sure you will too.
The story was dramatic, and if you’re looking for a light, summer time read, this ain’t it. It deals with lots of issues, brings different perspectives on it, shows how one might grow but how easy it is to not do that either, how different paths one might choose to walk down might end. In the end, it’s a heart wrenching, emotionally gripping, freaking hot romantic story that I’m almost certain you’ll love if you’re down with sassy main characters and you’re willing to invest yourself emotionally in Topher and his story.
The delivery is fabulous, and I might dare say the somewhat understated cover and the blurb don’t really hint at the kind of delicious damage this read might inflict on you. I cried, and as you might have noticed already, I do always love reads that make that happen for me. I cried, I gritted my teeth, I cringed in places because it was hard to stomach what had happened to this awesome, talented guy as he grew up (there might be some triggers if you’ve been abused in childhood, it’s not a very focused on thing, just something that happened and that Topher talks about once, but just in case it’s a ‘hard limit’ for you, know that it is mentioned after him and Brandon are in a shower-related scene). In the end I was left smiling, somewhat bruised emotionally – hell, you can’t not be after a story like this! – but ultimately very happy I chose to give this baby a try.
Fully recommended, it’s very, very, very worth you giving it a try in my opinion.
Hi, and welcome to the Saugatuck Summer blog tour! Thank you to Butterfly-o-Meter
Books for hosting me today! For those of you who have seen me talking about it on social media for the last nearly year and a half, you know that Saugatuck Summer was a labor of love far beyond what I would normally claim for one of my books. Of course I love them all, but Saugatuck Summer came from my very soul. Actually, I’m not certain it came from me at all.
Basically, here’s what happened: One day I was driving along, running errands, and Topher Carlisle whispered one line of dialogue in my ear. Just one. When I asked him what I was supposed to do with that, he promptly took over my brain for fifteen absolutely insane days and at the end I had the first draft of Saugatuck Summer.
Topher’s story of recovery, hope, making mistakes, and growing up just told itself, and the experience of being the conduit for that was at times grueling and heartbreaking, but also euphoric and wonderful. It was one of those experiences that, as a creator of some form of art, be it musical, visual, or literary, you have once or twice in a lifetime if you’re extraordinarily lucky, when you know you’re creating something magical. I’m not sure it will ever happen to me again, but I feel absolutely blessed that this book has come of it.
This week on the Saugatuck Summer blog tour, I’ll be sharing some bonus content from the book and a sneak peek at another upcoming book in the Saugatuck universe. I’ll also be having a heart-to-heart discussion with Marie Sexton about our experiences as adult children of alcoholics and how they translated into writing our ACOA characters from Saugatuck Summer and Family Man, giving you a peek at some of “Jace’s” art, and I’ll be sharing the official Saugatuck Summer soundtrack from a brilliant singer/songwriter of my personal acquaintance, Casey Stratton.
And finally, all week long I’ll be asking trivia questions from Saugatuck Summer and this week’s blog tour articles, and each correct answer emailed to me offers you a chance to win your choice of any of my backlist titles!
So put on your sunscreen and let’s go!
HOW TO WIN YOUR CHOICE OF ANY SINGLE BOOK FROM MY BACKLIST (all-in-one volumes not included):
At each stop along the blog tour I’ll be asking a trivia question from Saugatuck Summer. Yes, this means some familiarity with the book is required, whether you purchase a copy, have an ARC, or employ the Kindle or B&N lending programs. If you visit some of the other blog tour stops, you might also find the answer in some of the excerpts.
PLEASE DO NOT ANSWER IN THE COMMENTS. Instead, send the answer to me privately by using this contact form. Each response will enter you into the drawing and three winners will be picked. The more questions you answer, the more entries you get. You can choose from any of the following titles:
Inertia (Impulse, Book One)
Acceleration (Impulse, Book Two)
Velocity (Impulse, Book Three)
The Laird’s Forbidden Lover
An Inch at a Time (The Professor’s Rule #2)
Inch by Inch (The Professor’s Rule #3)
Every Inch of the Way (The Professor’s Rule #4)
To the Very Last Inch (The Professor’s Rule #5)
(Note: Giving an Inch (The Professor’s Rule #1) is already available free at Riptide, and my pre-Saugatuck novella, The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, is available for free at Amazon, All Romance eBooks, and elsewhere.)
Again, please do not post your answer in the comments, but submit it to me privately.
To give people time to read and respond, the contest will remain open for one month after the release of Saugatuck Summer. It will close on June 19, and the drawing will be held on June 20.
Today’s Saugatuck Summer trivia question:
Chapter 25, what sort of career does Topher want but doesn’t think he can ever have?
About the Author & Links:
Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.
Her self-published novel-in-three-parts, Impulse (Inertia, Book One; Acceleration, Book Two; and Velocity, Book Three) can be found at most major online book retailers, and be sure to check Riptide for her latest releases, including her Highland historical, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, the The Professor’s Rule series of erotic novelettes (co-written with Heidi Belleau), the post-apocalyptic romance, Strain, and her upcoming, New Adult contemporary, Saugatuck Summer, available now.