Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Review: A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr

Ugh, today is supposed to be the TBR Day... but guess what? Indeed, I didn't make it ^_^; I'm very bad this year with my challenges. Ah well, as long as I'm reading though, I won't complain too much LOL.

In any case, all my blogging schedule is wonky LOL. I was going to write my July monthly reads post on last Saturday, but ended up only reading and only realized on Sunday that it wasn't happening. Oups. LOL. Definitively this week-end.

A Summer in Sonoma was one of my July reads :) So at least, I'm going to be able to link some of my reviews instead of "Review to come" LOL. By the way, anyone has read the new Kresley Cole yet? What's the verdict? I'm itching to go to the bookstore and buy a book.... I'm in withdrawal I think ^_^:

Enjoy the review!

A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr
published by Mira in June 2010
They've been best friends since seventh grade. But this summer, teetering on the threshold of thirty, four women are going to need each other more than ever.

Cassie has sworn off romance after yet another bad date. Yet deep down, she's still looking for Mr. Forever. A long-haired biker doesn't figure into her plans, so where's the harm in touring the back roads of Sonoma on a Harley with Walt Arneson?

Julie married her high school sweetheart-who can get her pregnant with a mere glance-too young and now wonders how her life became all about leaky faucets and checkbook balances. Maybe love isn't enough to sustain the hottest couple in town.

Marty's firefighter husband has forgotten all about romance, and an old flame begins to look mighty tempting.

Beth, a busy doctor trapped in a body that's betrayed her yet again, is becoming a difficult patient and a secretive friend.

Life can change in an instant... or a summer. And having old friends to lean on can only up the chances of happily ever after.

Genre: Women Fiction
Series: N/A

The Story: A Summer in Sonoma follows the lives of four women who has been friends for a decade and who are at different stages of their lives romantically. The main story would be Cassie's who was nearly raped during a date, but was luckily rescued by Walt Arneson. Walt is and looks like a biker, complete with long hair, sideburns and mustaches. Cassie seeks him out to thank him and they start a friendship, Cassie figuring it'd be safe, especially since Walt is totally not her type.

Cassie's best friend Julie is having her share of problems. Cassie might envy her because Julie has married the love of life, but that doesn't stop Julie from worrying about money. The reality is that they've started their married life broke and they just can't make ends meet, no matter how much Billy works, and the situation just worsens as there's another baby on the way.

The romance in Marty's marriage seems to be gone. She feels like she spends her time cleaning after her husband and finds him disgusting when he stays at home - not showering, not shaving and wearing his ratty favorite shorts. At least, when they were dating, he was helping out. Now, all he does is take care of the lawn and his toys - the boat and the RV. It takes Marty running into her high school's flame and entertaining fantasy of an affair or at least a one-night stand for Marty to realize how fed up she is and move out of the marital bed.

Beth is going through a really tough time. She had breast cancer a few years ago and already lost a breast... and a relationship. Unfortunately for her, the beast is awake again and roaring its head off. This time though, Beth wants none of the drama and decides to handle it on her own...

My Opinion: I was all excited when I found out that Ms Carr had another release this year, other than her Virgin River series. I love and enjoy Ms Carr's writing a lot :) However, with A Summer in Sonoma, Ms Carr marks her return to women fiction with mixed success in my opinion.

To me, A Summer in Sonoma was a hard read. Not because the writing was bad, but because of the issues Ms Carr decided to tackle and how realistic she made them. We all read for different reasons and me, is to have fun, to enjoy. When fiction become too close to reality, it makes me uncomfortable... because I start thinking too much and that's never good ^_^; There were also some decisions the characters took that I didn't agree with, but I'll get to that a bit later.

The storyline I "enjoyed" the most was Julie and Billy's. Their storyline shows readers that sometimes, love is not enough and that getting help is not a bad thing. I liked that Julie and Billy still love each other strongly and they both work for their family to make it. However, it wasn't perfect. See, when the book starts, Julie is pregnant with their fourth child - another accident baby. She's frustrated because they don't have enough money and also worry about people's perception of them as she's having another unplanned pregnancy. She just doesn't want to have the baby, because of the situation... and so when she went to the doctor for her check-up, she asks for the IUD to be removed even though it'd be safer to wait. By having the IUD removed now, she has a 50-50 chance to lose the baby... I can sympathize with Julie's situation - I don't know if I could endure that much pressure and go on as she did, and really, I'm in position to judge... but I just can't help but disagree with her decision and feel it was wrong ^_^; Especially at the end of the book, when she decides to try for another baby after Billy has had his vasectomy (because you know, he only has a few shots left). Yes, their financial situation is a bit better and they are less stressed and happier, but the way she justified it... I don't understand then why having the baby previously would have been bad.

The other storyline that was interesting was Cassie's. After I read this, I told Ames how uncomfortable A Summer in Sonoma made me, because I kind of saw myself in Cassie. She completely dismissed Walt based on his biker appearance and made assumptions about his life. Then, she befriended him and discovered what a great guy he is and started falling for him... At the end, she discovers that he's actually well-off and the reason he didn't tell her before is because he wanted her to accept him for himself and not want to change him. It made me feel shallow, because like Cassie, I would probably have dismissed Walt as a potential love interest based on his appearance. Story-wise, I think Cassie's was the best. I liked how Cassie and Walt got to know each other and started out as friends. Cassie's prejudices and assumptions bothered me a bit from time to time though. In the end, this relationship was very sweet and I'm happy Cassie and Walt both found happiness.

As for the two other storylines, initially, I thought Beth had the most potential of all... However, there was just not enough of her for me to care. Her storyline was very, very brief and we were given only some facts here and there. There's a budding romance between her and her treating doctor, but again, nothing very solid :( As for Marty's, it was just plain uninteresting compared to what the other ladies were going through. Overall, the balance between the four storylines was simply bad. I definitively felt short-changed when it came to Beth and Marty's stories. I find it annoying because it happens very often wit this type of books. Authors choose to have 3 or 4 characters that they'll follow throughout the book, but there's always one or two in that bunch that they won't be able to develop properly... Wouldn't it be better than to reduce the number and focus on the remaining more?

Also, I wished there'd been more interactions between the four ladies. Yes, they did get together and talked... but it felt superficial. There wasn't much dynamics between all four and perhaps the comparison is unfair, but I can't help but think about Ms Roberts' Bride Quartet. The four ladies in there had real complicity... which is something I felt the ladies in A Summer in Sonoma lacked and it definitively would have made the book stronger.

My Grade: C-. A Summer in Sonoma was an interesting journey. The book itself wasn't bad, but it simply wasn't my cup of tea and I was too uncomfortable to enjoy it. In the end, I might just stick to Ms Carr's contemporary romances.


  1. Kresley Cole's book is not due until Aug 24 - I know that because my b-day is the 25th - Happy B-day to Me!! But now you have my attention so I'm off to check stock!!


  2. Holy Crumb - it shows stock at all stores - I'm off tomorrow to buy!! Thanks Nath!!


  3. Oh, I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this book, Nath. The storylines all sounded interesting and I was looking forward to reading your review of this book. The lack of balance between the four stories is the most disappointing part of your assessment for me. I like Carr's writing and expected a bit more cohesion there. Thanks for the thorough review!

  4. Interesting how you see yourself in that character. I think we've all judged someone by how they look at one time or another.

    I think I'll pass on this one. Thanks for the review. :)

  5. Cindy - Seems like the bookstores have been receiving their stock early. I know it's shown up in the bookstores around me since early this week... I just haven't made it there yet... cos I'm not sure whether I want to read it or not.

    Hilcia - They sound interesting, but it's the delivery. Yes, it was very realistic, but I don't know, controversial as well.

    I expected more cohesion as well. I've read Ms Carr's earlier women fiction and did enjoy it... but this one, meh.

    Leslie - I think so as well... but when you read it... it seems so shallow ^_^;