Thursday, July 28, 2011

{Review} Summer Lovin' Anthology: Summer Breeze


Published Date: July 5, 2011
Publisher: Omnific Publishing

My Rating:
Four Stars

What’s better than lying on the beach with a great story to read? How about lying on the beach with seven great stories to read? Whether you're going to the beach or you just wish you were, Omnific Publishing's Summer Lovin' Anthology is a compilation of romantic short stories that will whisk you away on a sweet escape.

Sweeten up your summer reading and contribute to a great cause at the same time. Omnific Publishing has partnered with the Save the Ta-tas Foundation and all proceeds will be donated to the charitable organization. Read the romance and do your part to Save the Ta-tas!

This collection of sweet summer romances brings together seven of Omnific Publishing’s authors for some “breezy” romantic reading. In just one book, you can find Carol Oates’ Irish mythical storytelling, Jennifer Lane’s sassy swimmer, and Hannah Downing’s second chance at first love. While Nicki Elson spins a beautiful tale of remembered love, Killian McRae employs a modern twist with her technology-based romance, and Sarah Glover tells the story of best friends’ summer discovery. Rounded out with Susan Kaye Quinn’s glimpse into the next chapter of her Life, Liberty and Pursuit gang, this anthology offers something for everyone to get lost in this summer. (SOURCE)

I read Summer Breeze after Heat Wave. I'll be honest, I saved this one to read second because I knew it would be, well, I'll be honest, mostly sexless. I know! I know!

Now that the confession is out of the way... I LOVED IT. I loved every single one of the stories included here. I did a lot of cheesy girly swoony sighing. I'm surprised a glove didn't appear on my hand as I waved it in front of my face. I had the vapors! I needed smelling salts. I'm a sucker for cute and sweet stories like these.

So let's get down to business!

In The Summer Prince by Carol Oates we kick off with 15 year old Niamh going to the Beltaine celebration. She and her best friend sneak in because those under 16 aren't allowed. From across the field she spies a handsome stranger who is watching her intensely. Niamh doesn't know who he is or what she should do. I admit that at first I was nervous about his appearance, not knowing whether he was the "good" or "bad" guy.  You can almost feel her nervousness at being there.

Niamh's friend suddenly does something shocking, turning everything upside down. Then she's running through the woods, and into the mysterious boy from before. But how can she trust him? Her fear is so palpable I could practically taste it. But when Regan reveals himself to her, a whole new world opens up.

He is caring, compassionate, and incredibly attractive. Try as she might, Niamh can't help but be pulled to him. Even when she believes she's in danger, she can't walk away to save herself.

This story is so beautiful and emotional. I am hand flapping right now because I'm afraid of giving away too much! Carol's writing is so beautiful and flowing that you feel like you are there with Niamh. I couldn't get enough. I want more. I have such a soft spot for lure and Irish stories. I can't even tell you.

Princesses, Princes, Fae. Sigh.

Swim Recruit by Jennifer Lane was a fun switch from a fairytale land. I love Jennifer's style and the way she tells a story. I've read her full length novels so I knew I was in for a treat here. I adore that she took her own personal love of swimming and gave it to us in such a fun way.

Abby is heading to Chicago on a recruiting trip for a swim scholarship. I have always been fascinated by people that have amazing swimming skills so it was excited to me to get to read a bit about it. She's picked up from the airport by one of the coaches and whisked away to the university. Once there, she meets Reese, a student and fellow swimmer that is surrounded by gossip. Abby doesn't convict him of whatever unknown crime and her host for the weekend can't explain why everyone hates him.

I always find myself rooting for the underdog so it was no surprise to me that I liked Reese right away. He's a great character and not at all what one would expect a guy of questionable morals to be. Surely there is more to the story than everyone else knows, right?? RIGHT!

When our amazing swimmer girl has the chance to talk to him it all comes tumbling out. I just wanted to hug Reese, and Abby too, because she is not without her emotional turmoil either. These two are such fantastic and strong characters. They are very real and passionate about their sport, their families, their friendships. You can practically see them leap off of the pages. I'd like more swimmer boy and swimmer girl, if you please?

Third, Full Speed Ahead by Susan Kaye Quinn is - please hold while I gather my wits and stop being a 15 year old swoony girl. Ahem. Ok. I might say this a lot through this entire review but it's true every. single. time. I'm a sucker for military guys. I actually bouncy clapped when I realized Susan would give me a a little taste of what I love with this story.

Enter Clay Lane. AND BONUS, a southerner to boot!? SQUEAK. Clay, will you marry me? Ok. Sorry. I'll act at least a little bit normal.

Teagan is a little suspicious when her boyfriend starts doing a lot of volunteering for cadet recruitment trips. Even with the assurances of her best friend and the obvious love Clay has for her, she's certain something is up. Their relationship started in a whirlwind and now she's worried it won't last. Silly girl! I think he's as swoony over her and I am over him. Erm...

Unknown to Tea, Clay and her brother have a little secret. That accounts for the whispering and the exchanged glances between the two friends. Of course a girl would get suspicious of that! During one particular instance of Clay being out of town she drags her bestie to the one place she doesn't want to go. A fashion show, complete with a military chic theme. Sounds like a fun time to me!! Suffice to say, lots of surprises pop up. All of them too sweet for words.

I giggled and "aww"'d my way through this entire short. And now I need to go buy Susan Kaye Quinn's full length book. I need some more military man in my life. Even if it's fictional.

Next up was The Second Sunrise by Hannah Downing, where we are introduced to Hayley, who has spent some of her summer vacation with her older brother, Max and his friends, in Cabo. She has feelings for Max's roommate, Chris and after they share a moment on the beach, Hayley begins to think he feels something too. But that's not the case and he immediately refuses to acknowledge that anything every happened between them. Hayley is heart broken. I felt everything she did. The excitement and then the disappointment. No girl wants to think that the guy she's in love with is repulsed by her.

Jump into the future and Max wants Hayley to join in on a trip again. Of course she doesn't want to go. Why put herself through the humiliation again? Poor girl. I just wanted to hug her. Then go find Chris and slap him a few times. Chris has spent all of this time ignoring Hayley, barely able to look at her. It almost made me feel like he was just a big jerk, aside from the beautiful way Hannah Downing wrote him. I just knew there was something more to him. Hayley finally agrees to go (Yay!) but tells herself she'll ignore Chris the entire time (Oh?!).

When you have unrequited feelings, mixed in with her meeting a handsome stranger, things are going to get interesting. Throw in an ex girlfriend, a mix up of hotel rooms, confusion due to lack of communication and you're good to go!

Hayley spends their time miserable, trying to find a guy to spend her vacation time with but failing because Chris is always on her mind. Chris remains Mr. Grumpy ... and jealous. Until their last night there. Then, finally, some things are resolved. Some words are exchanged and then I cheered.

I love the "I'm in love with my siblings best friend" stories. This one hit the spot!

Followed by Sway by Nicki Elson and Rose, who starts to get serenaded by someone outside her bedroom window. Hmm. Intrigued, aren't you??  The songs he sings to her bring back memories of Rose's love. They even seem to give her some hope and happiness. She has been alone for some time, with only the company of her two sisters, who visit her each week. The eldest sister is snarky and, well, not nice. At all. Hmph. I did some eye squinting at her because it seems if she's miserable, she wants to make everyone else so too.

The sisters notice Rose's peculiar behavior. Her day dreaming smiles and the way she sort of rushes them away each time they visit. She's in a hurry to get to her room, to sit by the window and wait for her serenade. Being the suspicious type, the elder sister decides to stick around one night, to wait and see what's going on. Does Rose have a new man in her life?? Surely not! Hee.

They speculate on who it could be. The gardener, perhaps?? When the two find out about the nightly singing and then discover who it is, they are flabbergasted. I love that a dash of mythical was sprinkled in with what I thought was starting out as a 'normal' story. The elder sister tries to trap the crooner but Daisy, the middle sister jumps to his defense. Iris, the eldest, is determined to make a fool of Rose - to break her heart. I grew to dislike her even more. Why can't just just let Rose be happy in her old age?

Hate and jealousy festered in Iris for decades and she wants revenge! It's so sad that people can't be happy for others, let them live their lives and leave them alone. Iris definitely can't do that and it's kind of sad, for her at least. When Daisy stood up to Iris I did a happy dance for her. It was about time someone bucked her off her high horse.

I certainly didn't expect the story to end the way it did but I loved it all the same. Nicki Elson took something simple and turned it into something extraordinary. Kudos to her!

Then, Interpersonal Communication by Killian McRae brings us the newly divorced Katie, who can't seem to get anyone to stop using her married surname even though she's asked repeatedly! Even when she starts a new job, the offending name is on all of her business accessories - name plate in her office, business cards. I could just feel her exasperation.

She meets a stranger in the library after they both reach for the same book. His skin on hers is like electricity and she hot foots it out of there and back to her office. Later, her hunky boss asks her to have a working dinner meeting with him and all the possibilities begin to skitter through her mind. And I admit, mine too. EEP!

But when she gets to their meeting place  she realizes she was wrong. His parting words are like a shot. He's asking her to leave her heart open to falling in love again. The next week she dresses differently. Even slipping into something her ex-husband hated, and even forbid her to wear.

Apparently, that little bit of rebellion catches someones attention. Through a series of emails and texts we get to know a little more about her even though Katie's mystery suitor won't reveal his identity. Oh! Intriguing. Whoever this person is knows a lot about her. Where she stopped for coffee, how her 'date' with her boss went. Peculiar. But the way it's written, it doesn't come across as creepy stalker either. I had so much fun reading their exchanges, her trying to figure out who he was and him deflecting her questions.

When her violent ex-husband appears things take a turn for Katie. But her secret admirer stays true and waits for her to open back up to him. Then they finally decide to meet face to face, make plans, and it's disastrous at first. I had a lot of "oh no!!" moments, worried it would never happen for them or that he would not be who I expected or wanted him to be. When someone comes to her rescue and whisks Katie away I got that butterfly sensation in my stomach. He si sweet and caring and absolutely perfect.

I would love a continuation of this. I know I've said that about practically every story, but it's true!

And last but not least Whatever it Takes by Sarah Glover is probably the perfect icing on the cake of this entire anthology. I'll just be upfront right now and say, Dear Sarah, please have these two main characters pop up somewhere in the future. I loved them so much!!

A divorcee and a widow, Graham and Jen, friends and vacation buddies for years. Even their children are friends. Graham and Jen share an easiness with one another and I smiled my way through every scene with those two in it. I'll just insert dreamy sighs here.

The other couples they share the vacation home with are determined to set Jen up with a famous writer, who is coming too. On their travels to the house Graham tells Jen he needs to talk to her about something. Fears float through Jen's head, mainly that he is going to move away. Even then, I wondered if there was more to her feelings for him, other than just friendship. I crossed my fingers for that.

As they all spend their days and evenings together, sharing conversations and meals, Graham's tension becomes obvious, even to Jen. Although she doesn't know what is going on with him, she begins to wonder more and more. One particular night she sees him with one of the other house guests and jealousy sets in. There are little peeks into Graham's admiration of her but then he backs out, continuing his grumpy attitude and leaving Jen in confusion. Silly woman doesn't realize he's jealous of the attention she's getting from the writer.

One night, and one dance might change all of that. If both of them would just let down their guard. Maybe even discuss their feelings. With an explosive argument on the beach and an intense kiss, things change rapidly (and the crowd, or at least I, go wild). Confessions and kisses and caresses, oh my.  I got the warm fuzzy feeling you get after a perfect day or a nice hot bath. Or a kiss from the man that loves you and you love in return.

Sarah Glover's words are beautiful and the way they flow together is magic. I really can't wait for her debut novel!


I just need to point out that it took me HOURS to write this review. And really, when I say "hours" - I mean I started writing it when I got home from work yesterday evening (around 6pm) and then had to stop not even half way through so I could go to bed (after midnight).  I finished it today, after working on it for who knows how much longer. I had my kindle next to me, flipping through the stories to refresh my memory in case I missed something. I might have wound up reading most of them all over again. Don't judge me ... or my rambling reviews ;)

I encourage you to pick up this anthology. It's for a great cause (Save the Tatas) and has some amazing talent showcased in it. Heck, while you're at it, pick up Heat Wave as well. It's fantastic also.


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