Summer Romance

Annabel Monaghan's warm-hearted third novel for adults, Summer Romance, explores one woman's quest to reclaim her life after cataclysmic grief, and the risks she takes in opening her heart again.

Professional organizer Ali Morris has operated on autopilot, slopping around in sweats, since her mom died and her husband, Pete, moved out. But when Pete finally tells her he wants a divorce, something in Ali wakes up. Digging through her wardrobe for pants with actual hardware, she heads to the dog park and immediately meets Ethan, a handsome lawyer. But their seemingly no-strings-attached summer romance will have far-reaching consequences, both for Ali's love life and her dormant sense of self.

Monaghan (Nora Goes Off Script; Same Time Next Summer) creates a breezy narrative that combines witty asides (including Ali's one-sided conversations with her mother) with the nuts-and-bolts struggles of single parenting, including a frantic search for a lost soccer jersey and deep existential loneliness. Ali can organize other people's closets or spice cabinets, but facing her own insecurities and taking charge of her future proves harder. The contrast between Ali's decision to build an adult life in the town where she grew up and Ethan's choice to establish himself elsewhere helps ramp up the tension of their relationship. As Ali begins to fully inhabit her days (and her non-sweatpants wardrobe) again, she must decide if it's worth extending that summer fling into an uncertain--but attractive--future.

Bittersweet and often wryly funny, Summer Romance is an appealing mix of starry-eyed romantic moments, quirky local characters, and reflections on moving forward after loss. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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