ARC-Review: SWEET KISS OF SUMMER by Sophie Gunn

Nina Stokes’s life is far from picture perfect. For years the small-town artist has waited for the day she’d be able to fulfill her late brother’s wishes and hand over his rambling house to its new owner. Yet when a sexy stranger arrives on her doorstep, key in hand, Nina realizes she’s not ready to let go of the house and all its memories-not until she gets some answers to what really happened to her brother.

Mick Rivers may be a hard-as-nails soldier, but throwing a woman out of her house isn’t his style. Neither is dredging up memories of the past –a past he is struggling to remember. He desperately needs to sell the house, but he finds the brown-eyed beauty with the open heart and warm smile impossible to resist. So instead of moving on, Mick moves in. As sweet summer days lead to sizzling summer nights, Mick must finally face his fears. But can he tell Nina the secrets haunting his heart, without breaking hers?

Author: Sophie Gunn
Series: The Enemy Club, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Year of release: 2011, July 26 (says Amazon, however author’s website says August 4)
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received an ARC from the author for review

First line:
Dearest Nina,
You don’t recognize this handwriting because a beautiful army nurse named Sally is writing this letter for me.

Memorable Scene:
– the scene in the barn/garage, saving Sylvie the cat > lots of humor in that scene which made me smile incessantly but also felt bad for poor Mick
– All the scenes where the 4 Enemy Club ladies get together > They are all such different personalities and yet they are there for each other in good and bad times, their scenes together are awesome

Nina Stokes is an artist and former yoga instructor. She’s the eternal optimist and may seem a bit naïve but she’s also resolute and passionate when she sets her mind to something. She’s warmhearted, accommodating and caring. Her friends think she’s a pushover because she’s not on guard with people and she’s been duped by a con=artist before.

Mick Rivers is an ex-soldier and has a hard time adjusting to non-army life. He also suffers from memory loss and posttraumatic stress-like symptoms after nearly dying on the battlefield. Mick is a straightforward kind of man and having to approach Nina with lies and keeping stuff from her doesn’t sit well with him. But his sense of duty, his loyalty and his honesty are at war because of several reasons. He has a dry sense of humor, is instinctive and loyal to the bone.

Well, chapter 1, a letter from Nina’s brother to her, definitely grabbed my attention and I settled in for another lovely and emotional contemporary romance from Sophie Gunn that I was going to enjoy as much as I did HOW SWEET IT IS.

The cast of secondary characters isn’t very big and those who form it also add something to either the plot or the characterization of the main characters so I thought that was neatly done. I like to have secondary characters in the romance novels I read but don’t like to be bombarded with walk-ons so for me Sophie Gunn did a good job here.

I understand that there wouldn’t be much of a plot if Mick just told Nina why he needed the money from the house or if he’d just ask her for the item Walt asked him to retrieve in his last letter, but these were 2 little things that kept making me frown throughout the book until they were uncovered. Once these two things were revealed though, I had nothing to frown about and I loved that the plot took a direction I wasn’t expecting at all.

Though both books I’ve read in this series are very different from each other they have some themes in common. Like HOW SWEET IT IS, this second book also deals with people trying to do the right thing, a member from the Enemy Club keeping something from the heroine and there’s money involved. I love how these themes connect the books and yet they are kept fresh and unique in their storylines, romances and characterization.

I really like Sophie Gunn’s writing and how she sets up her characters’ back-stories by giving little enticing tidbits at a time that in the end come together to form a full picture of the people they are and their past. The romance in SWEET KISS OF SUMMER is not the main focus of the story and it’s set up slowly and subtly. However there’s no denying that there *is* a romance and a HEA so no complaints from me.

What I love about these books in the Enemy Club series is the combination and contrast of humorous lightness and the heavy emotional stuff that lies just below the surface and give the characters so much depth and likeability at the same time.

SWEET KISS OF SUMMER is contemporary romance that’s not only sweet and funny and but also emotionally gripping and unpredictable. If you like small-town set, sweet contemporary romance I’d definitely recommend this series and if you haven’t read book 1 I’d recommend starting there, but to be honest you could also dive into book 2 first as they are excellent standalones.

Favorite Quotes:
The man pulled his T-shirt over his head in a swift, one-armed movement. She ducked low, tried to swallow, pulled the brim of her sun hat low to cover her blush and her ridiculous smile. -The most beautiful man I’ve ever laid eyes on is stripping my driveway. God, I love this town.-

Two thousand six hundred and forty-eight miles in five days in a wasted hunk of metal he had won on a dare, and Mick Rivers felt every one of those miles in his ass.

She was so close, it was all he could do to not sniff her. She smelled like cat treats, M&Ms and wine –a strangely sexy combination.

“(…) But I can’t trust a woman who doesn’t drink coffee. A woman who doesn’t drink coffee is like a woman who doesn’t have sex. It’s not natural.” He lowered his voice seductively. “I make very good coffee.”

(Nina to Bobby) “Back in the day, your idea of romancing a woman was buying a fifth of rotgut whiskey and a few dozen condoms.”

“I will never understand women, “ Mick said.
“That’s our plan, Mick. We have to keep you menfolk on your toes.”


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