Pub. Date: May 3, 2016
Source: e-ARC via netgalley (Thank you, Ballantine Books!)
Summary: Sparks fly as fiery Casey Reddick and brooding Hollywood actor Tate Landers clash in the Virginia summer heat.
A chef who puts her career first and her love life second, Casey doesn’t see what every girl in town is swooning over. She made up her mind the moment she met Tate—he’s gorgeous, but stuck-up, nothing like his ex-brother-in-law, Devlin who’s playing the Wickham to Tate’s Darcy in local production of Pride & Prejudice. Casey makes the perfect Elizabeth Bennett—how could she be star-struck when she’s heard Devlin’s damning stories about Tate? As they rehearse together, however, Casey finds herself attracted to Tate—he’s much more down-to-earth than she expected and any physical contact between the two of them literally gives her a tingling, electric shock.
As opening night draws near, Casey has some difficult decisions to make. Whom should she believe? The seemingly sincere, slighted Devlin or Tate, whose rough, arrogant exterior may only be skin deep. She’s come to love that jolt she gets when they touch—but will she get burned?
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Retelling
There was a naked man on Casey’s back porch. And so begins The Girl from Summer Hill – needless to say after reading that opening line I was instantly hooked! Casey’s a small town girl, living in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. A highly successful chef, she’s enlisted in providing lunch for the town’s production of Pride & Prejudice. As auditions begin, it’s a shock to everyone when Hollywood heartthrob Tate Landers arrives – and takes the lead role! An even bigger shock: that naked man on Casey’s back porch? Turns out the guest house Casey’s renting is part of an estate that belongs to Tate.
While the rest of town swoons over Tate, Casey isn’t impressed. Her few interactions with him convinced her that he’s rude and obnoxious – exactly how you’d imagine a leading actor to be. As if their initial run-in wasn’t bad enough, things take a turn for the worst when Casey finds herself not only in the play, but cast as Elizabeth – the love interest to Tate’s Darcy. As the spend more and more time together in rehearsals, Casey begins to see another side of Tate – but how can she believe him when his sweet former brother-in-law shares such awful stories?
Although I’m very familiar with Jude Deveraux’s books, I never imagined I’d one day dive headfirst into one! She always seemed to be an author who wrote for an older audience, those who love bodice rippers. Imagine my surprise when, not only was I immediately intrigued by this premise, but that once I started reading I couldn’t stop!
I’ve mentioned on the blog a few times about this weird quirk I have. I love reading reimaginings and retellings of Jane Austen novels…but I have never read an actual Jane Austen novel. Ever. By now I really ought to just take the plunge – I’ve loved every single retelling; I’m positive I’ll love the original books! What I thought was especially well done in The Girl from Summer Hill was how Jude incorporated scenes from the original story by way of the town’s play. Watching the characters act out the parts of Darcy, Jane, Elizabeth, and Wickham and then have that against the juxtaposition of their daily lives was really fun to watch.
The romance that blossoms between Tate and Casey totally made this book for me. Casey’s stubborn and hard-headed and Tate’s brooding over constantly being typecast in dramas when what he really wants to do is show his comedic side. There’s a scene involving his little niece and a peacock that was EXCELLENT and wickedly funny. Getting to know these characters was such a treat and seeing them finally have that aha moment was perfect.
There was one minor issue I had with this book however: throughout the novel, Jude constantly uses the phrase “bawl out.” It was used with such frequency that it stood out every single time the phrase appeared. A quick Google search tells me it’s an older and rare phrase similar to yell at, chew out, etc which I got from the context in which it was used, but I was entirely unfamiliar with that particular saying. According to my e-reader, the phrase was used 10 times in this book – an awful lot for such an unusual usage.
Ms. Deveraux, my sincerest apologies. The Girl from Summer Hill was such an unexpected delight – so readable and ridiculously funny, with a romance that had me swooning all afternoon! This book is the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon (and will be an excellent beach read in another month or two!) I’m extremely excited that this is the first in a new series – I cannot wait to get back to these characters! I have a feeling I know who the sequel will focus on and if I’m right, I kind of need that book now.