Saugatuck Summer by Amelia C. Gormley
Series: Saugatuck, Book 1
Published by: Riptide Publishing on May 17, 2014
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)
Topher Carlisle is looking forward to this summer. He’s staying with his best friend, Mo, at her family’s beach house on Lake Michigan. Well, he’s staying at the house more than with Mo, since she’ll be spending most of the summer working at a camp. But it’s a free place to stay with easy access to getting in the daily swims he needs to keep in form to hold onto his swimming scholarship when he gets back to school. And he might even be able to make some money to bridge the difference between his scholarship and his full expenses.
Topher also thinks there might be a chance he could meet a guy or two at the beach. And he’s not there long before he sees a total hottie. There’s just one problem–he’s Mo’s straight, married father, Brendan. So Topher shakes that one off and tells himself he needs to get over it since Brendan will be staying at the house with him all summer.
And Topher finds a much-needed distraction in Jace, an artist from Chicago who is more than willing to be Topher’s birthday one-night stand. But Topher lets Jace into a place where no one else is allowed to tread, and that just might come back to haunt him later.
As the summer goes on, everything starts to fall apart. Issues surface between Topher and Brendan. His night with Jace led to some unexpected results. And there’s some family drama that Topher hoped he could stay out of that demands his attention. And none of this is good for someone like Topher who is nursing some long-standing issues as a result of emotional and sexual abuse in his childhood. Can he accept that it’s okay to put those things in the past and move on? Is it possible for Topher to recognize the patterns he’s stuck in so he can break out of them? And can he maybe, actually, find love?
I’m often a bit nervous when it comes to first-person narration. I find that it can be difficult for many authors to sustain a character voice for the entire length of a novel. And then there’s the whole issue of only being able to show what the narrator sees, thinks, and feels. But when a good storyteller does first-person well, I find myself hooked from beginning to end. And this author has managed to construct a well-written narrative that never lost me at any point.
Topher’s story is a complex one. There’s not only a large cast of characters in his life during the summer of the story, but there’s also the issues that haunt him from his past. And every one of those–the people and the issues–seem like they want to pull him in a different direction. There’s definitely a great deal of tension throughout this story, though it never veers too far into the angst camp.
The only reason this doesn’t pull a higher rating from me is pacing. It’s not a tremendous problem–the writing is great, so I never felt myself wandering–but the story could probably have been shored up just a bit to add to the tension and drama. Still give this a solid recommendation, though.