One S’more Summer
(The Campfire Series, #1)
Published by: Ink Monster LLC
Publication date: May 30th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
If you love Sophie Kinsella and Emily Giffin, you’ll love this heartwarming debut from a fresh voice in contemporary chick-lit that offers a lighthearted and fun take on friendship, love, and how to recover from past mistakes.
For twenty long years, Gigi Goldstein has been pining away for her best friend’s guy. She knows it’s wrong and it has to stop, but she hasn’t been able to let go ever since they all met on the bus to summer camp back when they were 7 years old. The same week that her best friends finally announce their wedding date, Gigi loses her high-profile design job. With all of her dreams unravelling, she runs to the last place she remembers being happy.
Taking the Head Counselor position at Camp Chinooka, Gigi hopes to reclaim the joy she felt as a camper, but the job isn’t all campfire songs and toasting marshmallows. Gigi’s girls are determined to make her look bad in front of the boys’ Head Counselor—the sexy but infuriating Perry—and every scrap of the campground is laced with memories.
When Gigi finally realizes she can’t escape the present by returning to her past, she’s forced to reexamine her life and find the true meaning of love. But will she be able to mend fences and forgive herself before she loses her one real shot at happiness?
Beth Merlin has a BA from The George Washington University where she minored in Creative Writing and a JD from New York Law School. She’s a native New Yorker who loves anything Broadway, rom-coms, her daughter Hadley, and a good maxi dress. She was introduced to her husband through a friend she met at sleepaway camp and considers the eight summers she spent there to be some of the most formative of her life. One S’more Summer is Beth’s debut novel.
With summer firmly upon us, it’s time to bust out the sunscreen, the beach towels and, of course, the light and fluffy lakeside-appropriate summer romance novels. While a lot of the other “beach read” romances I’ve read as of late fall firmly in the “formulaic and predictable” category, One S’More Summer is one of those rare finds that is a delightful departure — for the most part. I’m honestly quite impressed it came from a first time author, Beth Merlin.
After losing the love of her life and her illustrious fashion design job, Gigi Goldstein feels as if she has no choice but to get the hell out of New York City — at least for the summer. Instead of following in her parents’ footsteps to run to the Hamptons, she finds herself acting as Head Counselor for the very summer camp in which she grew up, Camp Chinooka. While there, she’s forced to confront her heartbreak, her creative block, and, ultimately, her pig-headed co-counselor, Perry. You know how they say all clouds have a silver lining? She just might find hers in this summery exile.
I’ve found myself flying through this book quicker as of late than I have other books of similar length; there’s just something about the way in which Merlin has chosen to tell this tale. While I’m generally not a fan of flashing back and forth in time when telling a story, especially a romance, I find that it’s actually one of the most logical methods of sharing her experiences before and after the calamity that had become her personal life. Furthermore, I actually enjoy that Gigi — while we are not explicitly told is Jewish — is clearly coded as such, which seems to be uncommon in contemporary fiction. I’m all about some positive representation, y’all. We also have some other campers of color — like fellow counselor Jordana — that get a huge amount of time in the spotlight, which I enjoyed.
My one gripe, however, is the standard quasi-tsundere attitude that Gigi initially takes with Perry throughout the first chunk of the novel. This book has a lot going for it that takes it out of the norm of the usual contemporary romance — mostly in the fact that it’s well-written — but I wish that Gigi didn’t cross so often into the realm of stereotypical leading lady-dom. Can’t we just have a romance novel where the main couple gradually falls in love with each other naturally, without this bullshit will-they-or-won’t-they-stop-hating-each-other nonsense?
All irks aside, though, because this is a good example of what contemporary romances should be: fun, light-hearted, and not overly serious. It’s always a struggle to find cute books like these nowadays that don’t take themselves so seriously, but I’m glad that Beth Merlin has taken the time to flesh out something that feels mostly real.
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