Published By: HQ
Released On: 26/05/2022
When Joanna Whitman’s famous ex-husband dies in a car accident, she doesn’t know what to feel. Their dysfunctional marriage held more painful secrets than she cares to remember. But when she discovers that the young woman with him in the crash is pregnant, Joanna feels compelled to act, knowing exactly how brutal the media spotlight will be on celebrity chef Cliff Whitman’s ex-wife and his mysterious female friend.
Ashley Blake can’t believe it when Joanna shows up in her hospital room and suggests they hide away at her beach house on a sleepy stretch of California coast. Joanna should be hating her, not helping her. But alone and pregnant, Ashley can’t turn down Joanna’s offer. Yet she knows that if Joanna ever found out the real reason Ashley was in that car, their tentative bond would shatter instantly.
Joanna’s only goal for the summer is privacy, but her return causes major waves in the local community, especially for the man she left behind years ago. All Ashley wants is space to plan for her and her baby’s future, and to avoid causing any trouble for Joanna. But as secrets spill out under the hot summer sun, this unlikely friendship is about to be out to the test.
Thanks to NetGalley and HQ for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
I’ve only ready Sarah’s Christmas offerings and whilst I’m definitely a festive wintery person, I am a big fan of her writing so I was keen to get stuck in and see if a summer-based one was just as good. And I needn’t have worried.
This definitely feels more adult, more serious than the others I’ve read, and that’s not a bad thing. The serious tone suits this story and it’s themes, and there are some tough subjects like death and grief, loneliness and isolation, parent loss and miscarriage, hormonal teens and an invasion of privacy. But it’s all subtle, it’s not like a wallop of one thing after another.
There are three main POVs – Joanna, Ashley and Mel. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two, Mel’s slightly less, but it did provide an extra layer of narrative and emotion to the story as you read further on.
At first I did think it was going to be an easy read, a happily-ever-after romcom type situation, and whilst there were elements of that, it definitely goes a lot further and a lot deeper than that.
This is more character focussed for me than plot focussed. Each person is wrung dry with feeling, they’re clearly whole and well rounded, people that Sarah knows in and out and has come to love, and that love pours out of the page. The writing is very natural, nothing seems forced, her books all feel like you’re sitting talking to a close friend.
The sign of a good book is one where you don’t keep an eye on how long it’s taking you to read. Before I knew it, I was half way through.
It is comforting and loving and friendly and warm. It’s full of love and the importance of friendship and making your own family. It makes you question yourself, it shows that not everything is how it may appear on the surface. It’s full of strong women, but they’re not strong just to make a point, they are naturally powerful women, whether they believe they are or not.