Strawberry Summer – Melissa Brayden

Strawberry Summer - Melissa BraydenThrown together in school when Courtney arrives mid semester and sits next to Maggie in History class, these two polar opposites form a strong friendship that deepens into more. But time and life have a way of forcing hard decisions and not all is well in paradise.

Jump forward and Margaret is a successful realtor still living in the small town she grew up in, happy enough but aware of missed opportunities. When she bumps in to Courtney the overwhelming emotion is anger towards the woman who walked away. But as the author perfectly encapsulates, “Just because you’re through with your past, doesn’t mean its through with you.”

This is another excellent romance from Melissa Brayden. The flashback is well done, the then and now always clear and well managed. The story arc is a perfect balance from anger through acceptance and into hope. The setting may be an extremely traditional American small town school and the strawberry farms of SoCal but it is extremely well drawn, evocative and full of sensual description.

Margaret and Courtney are both loveable and we cannot help want to see it all work out, to long for that HEA, through their trials and tribulations, their losses and pain. Margaret, with the perfect family and home life seems like the solid and strong character, while in fact it is Courtney with the domineering father and broken home who shows the strength both to leave when she can no longer bear the pain and come back to fight again.

Melissa BraydenIn addition we have some excellent secondary characters, Margaret’s parents and older brother are adorable, and her friends are well drawn characters who each have their own journey and growing to do as the timeline unfolds. The friendship between Maggie and Travis is fun, and Mel’s growth from school bitch to good buddy is a great example of personal growth.

Ms Brayden always writes excellent traditional romances, full of beautiful women and witty dialogue, but this is my favourite to date. I felt it was more mature and had more depth. The tragedy is real, the angst well done without being over the top, and the character development palpable in both the main characters and their friends. While perhaps the then and now could have been more mixed, to intersperse the young adult angst with the more witty adult Ms Brayden is the master of, it felt more personal, with deeper emotions, and turned another good romance into a great one. I have no doubt this will be a favourite with many many romance readers, highly recommended.

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(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2017
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes(April 18, 2017)
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