Review: A Summer Place

A Summer Place
by Ariel Tachna

Overseer Nicolas Wells had been coming to Mount Desert Island for ten summers to help build cottages for the rich and powerful. Despite his secrets, he had grown comfortable in the peaceful little island town, getting to know its inhabitants and even to consider some of them friends. The eleventh year, however, he arrived to startling news: the island’s peace had been shattered by a murder. At the request of the sheriff, Shawn Parnell, Nicolas agreed to hire Philip Hall, the local blacksmith and the probable next victim, in the hope that the secure construction site would be safer than his house in the village. He never expected the decision to lead to danger. Or to love.

Set in the late nineteenth century, Summer Place is a touching romance that is genuine and timeless.

Phillip is a sensitive young man and I couldn’t help feeling for him. He’s been bullied since he was a kid but I was so impressed how he handles his tormentors, with dignity and dismissal. He doesn’t let their insults bother him, but I could sense that he has learned to expect this behavior, and not just from the cretins that have pestered him for years, but from everyone. So I was really moved as many in the town rally to support him and his humble acceptance and awe at the unselfish approval of others is truly heartwarming. He’s at a disadvantage because everyone knows that he is gay, but he doesn’t know if Nicholas is, but boy, does he hope he is! The careful attention Phillip pays to Nicholas to try and validate his suspicions keeps the sexual tension between the two high. I really wanted them to get together, yet drawing it out just makes the first intimate encounter that much more satisfying — a perfect example of good things coming to those who wait!

Nicholas is in the closet and intends to stay there, regardless of his barely-controlled attraction to Phillip. Due to his position, this wasn’t hard for me to understand. Nicholas is a complex character and I respected many things about him, especially how his workers look up to him, and I loved that he inspires such loyalty. But when it comes to Phillip, the poor man has so many inner conflicts as he tries to deny the attraction. I wanted him to just get over it; yet, the slow development of their romance enhanced the story for me and made it that much more sensual and gratifying, so I was ultimately pleased by his restraint!

Both men perform strenuous labor in their jobs and their beefcake bodies are evidence of it. Each of them is used to having the more dominant role in a relationship, so this facet of their pairing makes it even more exciting and gave me goose bumps as they fight for—and relinquish control. I think I was able to enjoy the lingering anticipation of the consummation so much because I was able to hear both men’s point of view; their thoughts, fears and fantasies about one another. I grew to care about Phillip and Nicholas and wanted their happiness, and though I was anxious for it to happen, I was more than willing to wait as I relished the unfolding of their intrigue and desire.

The supporting players are rich and brought even more warmth and appeal to the story. I was guessing who the villain is (different guesses each time!) throughout and I wasn’t disappointed with the final reveal. A delightfully sensual romance, I am happy to recommend Summer Place.

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Review by Chamomile

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