Note: This ARC was provided by Bold Strokes Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Strawberry Summer is the latest standalone novel from one of my favorite go-to authors, Melissa Brayden, and it's a coming-of-age slash second chance romance set in the small town of Tanner Peak, California. In her junior year of high school, seventeen-year-old Margaret Beringer knows where she is on the social totem pole, but it doesn't bother her much. She's accepted it and moved on. And then Courtney Carrington moves into town. She's the epitome of everything that Margaret is not, and seems to be a shoo-in for the "in" crowd. But Courtney makes it clear that she prefers the company of the girl she's nicknamed "Maggie". Over the summer, their friendship blossoms into much more, but then Courtney leaves, and while she does return, their relationship is tested time and again, until something unthinkable happens and they're cast adrift, wallowing in everything that they've lost. More than five years later, Courtney is back from Chicago, and while the love is still there, it's overwhelmed by hurt and betrayal. Can these two find a way to mend fences and hopefully find love is sweeter the second time around?
As always, Melissa Brayden has given her fans and readers a story worth reading, though I admit to feeling frustrated with the main characters a time or two while reading the book. The story begins with their meeting after years apart and then we learn how they became the friends and then lovers. They were each other's allies during the few months that they were able to spend together, and I have no doubt that these two truly did fall in love. I think my main issue was with how they resolved the issues that led to their parting of ways. They were both still somewhat young, transitioning from teenagers to adults. I think that how Courtney chose to deal with her heartbreak was just...sad, and even prior to that, the fact that she just upped and left, with nary a word to Maggie made me question if Maggie was more into Courtney than it being an equal thing. Now, this being a Melissa Brayden novel, you know you're going to get a happily-ever-after, and I love that, but I do wish that Maggie didn't succumb to Courtney as quickly as she did. Still, I enjoyed Strawberry Summer and give it 4.5 stars out of five stars. ♥
Release Date: 18 April 2017
Date Read: 13 April 2017
Learn more about Melissa Brayden.