Tuesday 2 August 2016

Guest Review: Summer at Oyster Bay by Jenny Hale

They say falling in love is easy. But what if you know it’ll break your heart?
For Emily Tate, returning to her charming childhood home Oyster Bay is like coming up for air after the fast pace of her city life. At the farm her grandfather built, surrounded by sister Rachel’s chatter, Gram’s buttermilk biscuits, and the soft, white sand, Emily is reminded of exactly who she is and what she holds most dear. 

When Emily starts work at elegant Water’s Edge Inn, Charles Peterson, the handsome new owner, asks for her help. He wants to expand and needs Emily to teach him the local ways, so he can convince the planning commission. Emily vows to make him fall in love with her hometown, just the way it is. 

At work, Charles is reserved and serious, yet once Emily has him kicking off his shoes in the sand and sailing across the glistening Chesapeake Bay, she sees another side to him, and their easy rapport feels like the start of something big.

But when it becomes clear Charles’s plans for the inn involve bulldozing Oyster Bay, Emily is heartbroken. Will she lose her home and Charles all at once, or can she save Oyster Bay, and give true love a chance? 

Review:Although Jenny Hale has written a good few books, this is the first one I have read. I liked the idea of the subject matter, and the book's cover as well as the title promised a lovely summery story with sun and sand. It actually proved to be a little more than that, looking at what can sometimes be sacrificed in the quest for progress. I'm afraid that the story didn't grab me from the word go and pull me right into the plot. In fact, I found it a little hard to get into. 

The main character, Emily Hale, arrives back at her childhood home after an absence of 3 years to find that it is in danger of being demolished to make way for expansion of a local hotel/resort. This situation is complicated by the fact that she has come home to work at that very hotel as events planner. The new owner of the hotel, Charlie Peterson, is convinced that the expansion is necessary if the resort is to survive and, moreover, is good for the community and local economy. He has to persuade the local authorities of this, but Emily sets out to change his mind. 

Oyster Bay is a lovely old property built by Emily's late grandfather, and is full of memories for her and her grandmother, who lives there still. Emily's sister, Rachel, also lives nearby with her husband and sweet four-year-old daughter. In addition to the house, grandfather also built a barn and a boat, and there are lovely descriptions of the surrounding area, set on Chesapeake Bay. Emily is understandably attached to everything about the property, even though, or perhaps especially as, she has been absent for a while. 

Unfortunately, I really didn't like Emily. She behaved really badly at times - more like her young niece than a grown-up with a responsible job. I think Charlie was a strange character as well. He was supposedly a hard headed business man, but put up with all sorts of behaviour from Emily (his employee in the end of the day), allowing himself to be led here and there as she attempted to convert him to her way of thinking. The way in which Charlie resolves the whole situation is ingenious and ever so romantic, but even that I found lacking  in credibility. 

All in all, I found this book a bit of a disappointment. The story trundled along and didn't excite my imagination greatly. It did make me want to dip my toes into the water of Chesapeake Bay though, so it wasn't all bad. 

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