Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Review/Excerpt–Summertime by Christina Cole

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                                                       Published August 15th 2013 by Secret Cravings Publishing
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SUMMERTIME is the story of Linn Sparks, a young woman who wanted more than rural Kansas could offer. A talented singer, she craved fame, fortune, glamour and excitement. She found it all as a star of the stage at the Crown Theater in San Francisco.

It’s also the story of Ed Ferguson. For him, life was far less complicated. All he wanted was Linnie Mae, but she’d left him standing alone at the altar seven years before when she ran off to pursue her dreams.

Now, it’s 1914. War is breaking out in Europe, and Linn Sparks has come home to Brookfield, Kansas. She plans to stay only a few days – just long enough to help negotiate the sale of her parents’ farm.

At first, it seems that nothing has changed in the quiet little country town, but Linn soon learns otherwise. She’s surprised to find that Ed is now spending a lot of time with Polly Washburn. An even greater surprise comes when she meets six-year-old Thaddeus, Ed’s son. But perhaps the greatest surprise is that the town of Brookfield is now building a theater to honor Miss Tabitha Ann Collier, the spinster music teacher who helped Linn make her dreams come true.

Now that she’s come back, surely she’ll be offered the lead in the theater’s first production — a musical penned by Tabitha Ann herself. But staying in Brookfield means facing a lot of unpleasant realities. Between her strained relationship with a father who never wanted her, a mother whose grasp on sanity is slipping away, and the feelings she still has for Ed, Linn is overwhelmed by emotions.

She must also find a way to deal with Polly, the woman who was once her closest friend but who now has her eyes on Ed. And how can she handle Quentin Loonsfoot, the obnoxious son of the man her father crippled in a hunting accident years before? Quentin is determined to make her feel guilty — and to make her pay for her father’s mistake. Most painful of all, she must accept the truth about Ed and his relationship with Rachel Johnson, the woman who gave him a son.

Ed has a lot to deal with as well. He still loves Linnie Mae, but he knows she won’t stay. How can he spend the summer being near her and not get his heart broken again?

It’s a hot summer in Brookfield…a summer of hopes and dreams, a summer of passion. Could it also be a summer of forgiveness?

She stood at the doorway, framed by the hazy, yellow light coming from the parlor.

“Just thought I’d drop by, see how you were doing.” He couldn’t have wiped the silly grin from his face if he’d tried. For all the world, he felt like a kid again. A tongue-tied, lovestruck boy whose palms got sweaty whenever he was near the object of his affection—which was Linnie Mae Sparks. Then. And now. Some things never changed.

Damn, but she looked fine! He wiped his hands against his freshly-pressed trousers.

Linnie pushed the screen door open and stepped onto the porch. Gracefully, she moved past him and went to stand beside one of the tall, white-washed pillars. She leaned back, striking a delightful pose with her head tilted slightly and a hand at her throat.

“Isn’t it a bit late to be out calling?”

Her breathless whisper captivated him now, even as it had in the past.

“Yeah, I reckon it is,” he admitted. “I don’t mean to stay long, Linnie. I just want to look at you for a minute.

I need to know that you’re real.” Drawn, as always, by her charm, he stepped closer.

“I’m most definitely real.” She pushed herself away from the pillar, stretched out her arms, and twirled around before him.

“And you’re most definitely beautiful.”

Gentle moonlight bathed her in its radiant glow, imparting a soft sheen to the auburn hair that fell loose across her shoulders. Her eyes—the color of cornflowers—glistened. She twirled about once more, the pale blue hue of the cotton dress she wore shimmering in the night.

Linnie suddenly stopped whirling. She glanced at her skirts. “You’ll have to excuse my appearance,” she said, her gaze still downcast. “I usually wear gowns that are a bit—”

“Fancier?” Ed offered.

She nodded. “And fancy shoes too. With high heels.”

He looked down and smiled to see faded house slippers sticking out from beneath long, plain skirts.

“Actually, I prefer the simple style.”

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(Smacks forehead) Lord, what to say? What to say? Soooo very, very many things! I'm not quite sure how to classify this book. It does have romance, and it did play a major part of the book. It takes place in the early 1900's so it is a historical romance, but it struck me as more of a character study type of book. The protagonist Linnie May Sparks has some major issues to resolve. The first IMHO is her unmitigated self absorption. No, that doesn't sound right, too negative. Linnie May or to her adoring fans Linn Sparks, is a star performer in sophisticated San Francisco. She has a star's mentality. She is used to being fawned over and expects the finest of everything and everyone. She also expects everyone to hang on her every word and jump when she says jump. When this doesn't happen it must be because there is something inherently wrong with the other person. So, see? Linnie just has some minor issues to overcome.

Ed, poor Ed Ferguson. Lord please give this handsome, kind, down to earth, laid back man a temper. Easy going is one thing, but NOTHING fazed this man. Except Linnie May. (shakes head) Ed just never got over her, but he didn't put his life on hold either. He just went on about his every day life with a hole waiting to be filled. There were just so many cogs at play in this piece, and they all touched on Linnie and how she behaves or in some cases, doesn't behave.

You know what this book reminds me of? Those black and white Judy Garland/ Mickey Rooney movies where putting on the "show/play/musical" brings all the elements together.  It's not exactly like that, but that image stayed in my mind a great deal. The story is beautifully written, and as irritated as I sometimes was at Ed and mostly stayed at Linnie May (I use that name because Linn Sparks hated it) I still finished this book in one sitting because I was that engaged. Even though there are some scandalous elements for this time period, and a fairly incendiary scene towards the end, these were basically wholesome people. I say this not because of the sexual habits or morals, but because of their entire demeanor. I enjoyed the book and Linnie May's journey to adulthood. She does endure some hard knocks to her massive ego, but in the end it made her a better, stronger, more well rounded woman. I think I shall classify Summertime as a romantic saga. There that has a nice fit. Job well done, Ms. Cole, job well done.

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Christina Cole fell in love with words at a very young age. She’ll always be grateful to her grandfather and his patience as he taught her the joys of reading. Throughout her childhood she loved telling tales. She begged and pleaded for her mother to type them, but soon-- with her grandfather’s guidance -- learned to type for herself on his old Underwood.
Things have changed now. Her grandfather is gone, and so is the old typewriter, but Christina’s love for story-telling has remained strong. She now does her typing on a computer in a cozy little writing room filled with books, treasures, and a much-cherished photograph of her grandfather.

She is married, lives in the Midwest, loves history, hates winter, and is happily at work on her next historical romance, “Keeping Faith” -- Book 2 of “The Sunset Series”.

Blog/Goodreads/Facebook/Secret Cravings Publishing/Twitter

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Christina Cole said...

Thanks for reading and reviewing "Summertime". I enjoyed writing the story, and I'm always pleased when readers feel a bit of emotion from one of my stories. :)

Anna (herding cats-burning soup) said...

What a colorful book. Sounds pretty interesting. I don't know that I've read a romantic saga before. Hmm.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for dropping by. ��