Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

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Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (249 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Fiery French chef Élise Philippe is having a seriously bad day. Not only have the opening day plans for her beloved café fallen apart, but Sean O’Neil is back in town, and looking more delectable than ever. Last summer, they shared an electrifying night together…and the memories have Élise really struggling to stick to her one-night-only rule! Her head knows that eventually Sean will be leaving, so all she can do is try to ignore her heart before she spontaneously combusts with lust.

Being back in Vermont—even temporarily—is surgeon Sean O’Neil’s worst nightmare. For Sean, returning home to the Snow Crystal Resort means being forced to confront the reasons and the guilt he feels about rejecting his family’s rural lifestyle years ago. But discovering that Élise has settled in Vermont and still sets his blood racing is a very welcome distraction! Thinking he can persuade her into a replay of last summer is tempting, but remembering how good they are together is going to make walking away more difficult than he could imagine…

Élise and Sean made a wonderful couple because they both thought each other perfect. The irony was that they truly were perfect, but not in the way either one expected, believed or wanted. Each character took turns suffering emotional blows that knocked them on their keisters and had them rethinking everything they believed to be true. The author had one common thread woven between the two main characters – the effect of assumptions. Élise and Sean were full of them.

Suddenly Last Summer picks up where the hints in Sleigh Bells in the Snow left off. I recognized a wonderful hook when I saw one so was thrilled to see Sean and Élise’s story come to life. The wait was worth it. This book is a solid standalone story and well worth checking out.

Élise is a heroine with emotional baggage called regret, guilt and a tinge of fear. Sean also suffers from guilt, but with him, the author added anger and resentment and a bit of self-centered emotional withdrawal. Ms. Morgan not only had the daunting task of figuring out how to make her characters face their guilt, understand their human failings and learn how to open up and forgive but she also had to make it interesting, fun and worth reading. She succeeded on all counts.

With the heroine, I loved how the author fleshed her out by using her dialogue – using her first language, French, and mixing up the two. It was at times humorous, but many times it acted as a clue. A clue that Sean picked up on many times throughout the book to an effective degree which in turn helped me understand Élise as well. It was a clever technique and I think it worked really well in the story.

Sean had a chance to be a hero in the truest sense of the word. I liked how the author had him dealing with it because it proved to his family that his calling was real, important and meaningful. The surprise comes from his discovering what they really thought which wasn’t what he thought which made him question other things he thought he knew. I love that kind of mired twist – it made Sean that much more interesting as a man, a friend, a brother and a lover.

I got to see the grandfather again and wouldn’t you know it, the author made me go ‘awwww’ all over again. He really is a prickly marshmallow.

The emotional secrets were pretty heavy in this story and made for good plot conflict. The constant allusion to Élise’s big secret got to be a little overused at one point; I’m not sure if it was the delivery or the verbiage but I was very glad when she finally revealed it. The constant hints and references were getting tedious. Once voiced, it was no longer a thorn in my brain and I could enjoy the fallout that rippled through the rest of the book.

Once again Ms. Morgan teased me with that flash of red. Something tells me the next book is going to a bit more intense and problematic for the hero in that story. There’s going to be three hearts affected and although I expect it to be emotional, it will be well worth it. All the brothers deserve their happy ever after and so far, I’m loving this series hard.

I was not disappointed with any of the scenes that had Élise and Sean together, especially when passion blew their minds and they lost control. It was hot, potent, delightful and effective writing. There was even a bit of humor injected when I least expected it. Just like in real life it made the moment more real, special and fun.

Suddenly Last Summer is a fun read with many surprises in store for a reader. It has a sweet and passionate romance between two characters I was delighted to see get their happy ever after. This is an easy, smooth flowing story that can make an afternoon fly by. The best theme that I found in the whole story is the reminder to tell those people you love that you DO love them. This novel brings that message home effectively and in a fun way. Suddenly Last Summer is a book not to miss.

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