Few writers can entice me to read a short story. Shannon Stacey is one of those few.
She expertly translates her trademark believable—and likeable—characters and fresh, contemporary writing style in the short story/novella form. I’ve read and enjoyed her previous shorts Holiday Sparks (highly recommended) and Mistletoe & Margaritas (fun!), and enjoyed them quite a bit. Despite their being short (duh), they actually were complete stories with well-developed characters. Her latest, Slow Summer Kisses, is no exception.
Slow Summer Kisses features Anna (the Yankees fan), a recently-downsized financial executive who’s taken up residence at her grandparents’ New Hampshire lake cabin while she looks for a new job that will keep her on the same rocketous career trajectory. Her next door neighbor, Cameron (the Red Sox fan), is a bit lot surly and rather reclusive, and definitely not very appreciative of Anna disrupting his tranquility on the lakeshore. The two were childhood friends who grew apart after Anna’s family quit visiting the lake, so there’s some history between the two (yay!). Obviously, the two reconnect, but there’s some healthy conflict between the two very differing lifestyles and goals.
Can Anna slow down enough to appreciate Cameron’s laid back ways?
Can Cameron cope with Anna’s city girl pace?
It’s Shannon Stacey, so we know the answer, but the journey is oh-so-sweet.
Like Stacey’s Kowalski novels, Slow Summer Kisses is fresh and current. Anna’s situation, having to recalibrate after a job loss is extremely relatable. She’s been very successful in her career, but (as we all know) the economy sucks. So, while she’s got the skills to excel at any firm, finding a new job eludes her, and she’s lost without her professional life.
All in all, her time at Askaskwi Lake was turning out to be a lot more relaxing than she’d first anticipated, except when she stopped in front of the refrigerator and analyzed what was going on in her life. Each day that passed without a job offer seemed to add a dark chunk to the black raincloud hovering over her. She’d already had to drop the bar a little, sending out a second and then third round of resumés to companies that hadn’t been on her original A-list. Even though she tried to hide it, she was starting to get a little twitchy about it. She wasn’t ready to be left behind by the career she’d dedicated almost her entire life to.
Cameron was on the fast track to burnout, and had a wakeup call following the death of his father, resuling from a lifetime of stress.
Losing his dad to a heart attack had been a giant caution flag waving in front of his face. Then there were his own demons—insomnia, blood pressure, funks that weren’t quite depression but were getting close. He’d talked to his wife about downsizing. He wanted to leave his fancy law firm and maybe do some family law. They could buy a smaller house in a more rural neighborhood. She’d gotten angry and went shoe shopping.
He’d walked away.
Because Shannon Stacey is so fantastic at creating real, believable characters, the conflict between the two also feels real. He’s chosen to get out of the fast line, she’s racing to get back on it. Also, they have the little issue of their baseball fandom (serious business, y’all).
“What the hell is that you’re wearing?”
She looked down at her shirt with a confused expression. As if she didn’t know. “My shirt? It’s pretty old, so I usually only wear it for sleeping now, but my stepdad bought it for me years ago.”
“It’s a Yankees T-shirt.” He could barely get the words out.
“That’s because we’re Yankees fans.” She snapped open her chair and set it next to his as if that was still okay. “We never watched sports when I was little—the games I listened to with you was about it—but then Mom married Kent and we moved to Connecticut. He loved baseball and he taught me to love it, too.”
“You’re a Yankees fan.”
“I kissed a Yankees fan.”
“Yup. Really well, too.”
It was too late for mouthwash, so he did the next best thing and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. “Get off my dock.”
Yes, I admit it—I have a huge soft spot for anything sports-themed. But Anna and Cameron’s friendly barbs about baseball just sealed the deal for me. (Though I actually detest both of those teams, for the record—Go Mariners!)
Even though Slow Summer Kisses is short, the story of Anna and Cameron figuring out their relationship doesn’t feel short-changed. They have a bit of a history, Cameron is friends with Anna’s grandparents, they’re both smart and confident (a Shanon Stacey trademark)—it all makes sense and I was able to buy into their haiving a shot at a future together.
If you’re looking for an evening’s reading full of charm, fun and relateable character you’re going to root for, Shannon Stacey’s Slow Summer Kisses is just the ticket.
Slow Summer Kisses will be available in ebook form only on June 4th (you can preorder now) as a standalone short/novella, or in a bundle with two other stories from popular Carina authors (one’s a steampunk by Cindy Spencer Pape, the other’s a romantic suspense by Adrienne Giordano). At 25,000 words, you’re getting quite a bit of story in Slow Summer Kisses for three bucks for the single story and if you’re curious about the other authors, the $6.79 price tag for the collection is a pretty good deal.
I received a review copy of this book from Carina Press via NetGalley. I received no compensation or other goodies in exchange for this honest review.