I looked forward to reading The Summer Getaway by Susan Mallery, having enjoyed her work in the past and it did not disappoint. In the Summer Getaway, Mallery delivered a tale filled with family drama, angst, humour and romance.
Title: The Summer Getaway
"The perfect escape for readers wanting to get away."—Booklist I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.
Author(s): Susan Mallery
Published by Hqn on March 15, 2022
Genre(s): Women's Fiction
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
One woman takes the vacation of a lifetime in this poignant and heartwarming story about the threads that hold a family together from #1
New York Times
bestselling author Susan Mallery.
Single mom Robyn Caldwell needs a new plan for her future. She has always put her family first. Now, with her kids grown, she yearns for a change. But what can she do when her daughter has become the most demanding bride ever, her son won’t even consider college, her best friend is on the brink of marital disaster and her ex is making a monumentally bad decision that could ruin everything?
Take a vacation, of course. Press reset. When her great-aunt Lillian invites her to Santa Barbara for the summer, Robyn hops on the first plane to sunny California.
But it’s hard to get away when you’re the heart of the family. One by one, everyone she loves follows her across the country. Somehow, their baggage doesn’t feel as heavy in the sun-drenched, mishmash mansion. The more time Robyn spends with free-spirited Lillian, the more possibilities she sees—for dreams, love, family. She can have everything she ever wanted, if only she can muster the courage to take a chance on herself.
"The perfect escape for readers wanting to get away."—Booklist
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.
The Summer Getaway introduces Robyn Caldwell a divorcee and mother of two young adults. She is at the point in her life where the need for more comes knocking. Her daughter is planning her wedding, her son is moving out temporarily and her current relationship has taken a nose dive. Looking for perspective on the path she should take concerning her future, she travelled to Santa Barbara to visit her great aunt Lillian, the one person who always kept her grounded. Lillian learns that while her great aunt was a source of comfort for her, she was the same for others. Everyone she attempts to get away from flocked to her like steel to magnet.
I had an interesting time with this story. The characters featured will make you either want to cheer them on, scream at them, shake some sense into them or feel indifferent towards them. I knew I would like Robyn from the moment of her introduction. She was such a personable character. No wonder everyone looked to her for solace, whenever situations in their lives goes sideways.
Now when Robyn went to visit her aunt romance was the last thing she expected to find. Mason Bishop stands to inherit the house her aunt resides in, while Robyn will get the contents. Sparks flew when they met and slowly built to a raging inferno. I enjoyed their romance and it was good to see Robyn finding a man who appreciated her. Mason, a retired army veteran was an awesome individual. He had a calming and likeable personality, which made him perfect for Robyn.
The story delivered some interesting and dramatic moments, most of which were centered around Robyn’s philandering ex-husband, Cord and her entitled daughter, Harlowe. The depth of character development in The Summer Getaway was precisely what I expected from Mallery. The characters grew and learn from their mistakes. Even the obnoxious ones. I believe Robyn’s friend got off too easy for her stupidity. After all the warnings Robyn gave her she went and did the unthinkable and then she came running to Robyn looking for solace. It shows Robyn’s kindheartedness.
With a strong and interesting storyline, The Summer Getaway will appeal to readers of Women’s Fiction.
Q&A with Susan Mallery
Q: Tell us about your latest book, who is the main character(s) and what can we expect when we pick it up?
A: The Summer Getaway, which will be out on March 15, is the story of Robyn Caldwell, a mom who has one too many things on her plate—her daughter’s wedding demands, her son’s refusal to grow up, her best friend’s self-destructive behavior, and her ex-husband’s wildly inappropriate new girlfriend: their daughter’s soon-to-be sister-in-law. She’s been focusing on everyone else’s problems so much that she forgot to make a plan for her own future. She needs a minute. So Robyn hops on a plane to visit her beloved great-aunt Lillian in sunny Santa Barbara, to give herself time and space to figure out what she wants the rest of her life to look like. But she’s the heart of her family, and those family ties draw everyone she loves to follow her across the country, one by one. I adore Robyn, a smart, nurturing mom who has given so much that she forgot about herself. I think a lot of us women are like that, and I think readers will be thrilled to go along on Robyn’s journey of self-discovery.
Q: Give us an out of context quote from your book to warm our hearts:
A: Harlow’s gaze turned knowing. “You’re protecting him. Not because you’re still in love with him, but because he’s my father. This is about me, not him.” She smiled. “You’re a good mom. I hope when I have kids I’m just like you.”
Q: Which of your characters would you want to share a campfire with, and why?
A: Oh, Robyn, for sure. First of all, because she’s the kind of woman I love to have as a friend—great sense of humor, good conversationalist, loving, loyal, smart. And secondly, because the woman knows how to cook. (That said, I would choose a fireside table at a nice restaurant. I don’t get the appeal of eating outside.)
Q: Where do you get your ideas for your books, characters, series?
A: Ideas come from everywhere – conversations, articles. Songs are a great source of inspiration for me. I’m convinced that there’s a book in every country music song, but you might be surprised at the idea that comes from a song. For me, it’s not about the lyrics or the story of the song, as much as it is about the emotions. So yes, ideas are everywhere, but the idea is merely a spark. The tough part is fanning that spark into flames, into a full-length women’s fiction novel. I’ve had a lot of ideas that weren’t good enough to sustain a book. I either have to reassign it as a subplot, or let it go. (That is so hard sometimes!) The spark that led to The Summer Getaway is something no one would ever, ever guess. I had an idea to write a story about a woman who has fallen in love with an oil painting and goes in search of the artist, sure that they will share a deep connection. Instead, she discovers that the painting means nothing to him. He paints the same scene over and over again because it sells. But there’s no artist in The Summer Getaway. No contemporary oil painting. While brainstorming the book, the idea morphed beyond recognition from that initial spark. Inspiration is a funny, ineffable thing. You don’t know where it will lead. All you can do is loosen the reins on your mind and let it run. I couldn’t be happier with the end result. The Summer Getaway is a heartfelt, emotion-filled story of one woman’s triumph over self-doubt. Robyn is nurturing and fiercely loyal, and I love her. I might still write about that artist. . .
Q: Do you interconnect series and locations or is it one and done with series?
A: Sometimes series are connected to other series, sometimes not. The Summer Getaway is a standalone novel, not part of a series. But when it comes to series, the Fool’s Gold series segued into the Happily Inc series. The Blackberry Island series segued into the Mischief Bay series—and then I returned to Blackberry Island with Sisters by Choice. A teenager in the Bakery Sisters series ended up as the hero of one of the Fool’s Gold books, Finding Perfect. (That was a reader’s suggestion, by the way.)
Q: How do you keep track of your characters when a series is longer…do you keep what I have heard referred to as a “Bible”?
A: I do have a series bible that my assistant creates. The Fool’s Gold bible is about 300 pages long. Every character is in it, with whatever specific details have appeared on the page—age, height, hair and eye color, where they went to college, what kind of car they drive. . . And because animals are so important in my books, even the animals are included in the bible.
Q: Did you love books as a child, what age did you begin to read and devour books, and what is the first book that you remember that made a difference in your writing (as a child or later)?
A: Oh yes, I was a voracious reader for as long as I can remember. Every Saturday, my dad took me to the library, and the rule was that I was allowed to check out as many books as I could carry. We would go home, and I’d read them all that day, and then spend the week re-reading the ones I loved. When a librarian told me how many more books I could carry if I used a tote bag, she changed my life! I didn’t start writing until I was in college (studying accounting). In addition to my full course load, I took an evening class titled How to Write a Romance Novel. By week six of the eight-week course, I knew I wanted to write books. My goal, still, is to make each book better than the last, so I continue to study the craft of writing. I don’t remember the first book that made a difference in my writing, so I’ll tell you about a book that did so more recently—Save the Cat! It’s a book on screenwriting. Although I don’t have aspirations of writing screenplays, I like to study screenwriting because I find the story structure helpful. Save the Cat! talked about the importance of high stakes in a way that made me think differently when plotting my books. In my books, the stakes aren’t actual life and death, but they’re deeply emotional stories, and the stakes need to feel like emotional life and death to the characters and to the reader.
Q: Can you remember one or more early books that influenced you? What were they? Did you remain interested in the same type of stories over the decades or did your interests change?
A: When I was a teenager, I discovered my best friend’s mom’s stash of romance novels. She let me borrow them whenever I wanted. I still remember the feeling that came over me when reading that first one—that moment of catching my breath when the hero’s and heroine’s eyes met in the mirror—and that early reading experience continues to influence me today.
Q: Do you read the same genre you write or branch out to relax?
A: I still love reading women’s fiction and romance. I like stories that bring me deep inside characters’ heads and hearts, and I love happy endings.
Q: Do you write under another name or in other genres? If so…please share!
A: No, I only write under Susan Mallery. Early in my career, I wrote a few historicals as Susan Macias.
Q: How many books have you written?
A: 176 and counting… (including a few that haven’t been published yet—The Boardwalk Bookshop will be out in May, Home Sweet Christmas in October, and The Sister Effect next year, assuming the title doesn’t change.) And I’m working on more.
Q: Is writing easy or difficult…or should I ask what parts are easy and what parts are difficult?
A: The beginning of a book usually goes relatively slowly for me as I get to know the characters. But once I’m in the groove, the actual writing goes pretty fast and smoothly for me. I do a lot of plot work before I ever sit down to write, and that works for me. The more challenging part for me, after all these books, is to come up with ideas that I haven’t already written about, but that still give readers the experience they want from one of my stories. Variety makes it more interesting and fun for me, too.
Q: Tell us about what you are reading at the moment or anticipate reading in the future? Any new books you are looking forward to?
A: Christina Dodd has a new one coming out this summer that I can’t wait to read—Point Last Seen. She’s a master of romantic suspense, and I find myself holding my breath as I read. I’m currently reading First Comes Baby by one of my favorite romance authors and one of my favorite people, Christine Rimmer.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: