Monday, June 20, 2011

Cayman Summer: A Satisfying, If Tidy, End


(Note: While this review will not contain any spoilers for Cayman Summer, it may inadvertently reveal plot surprises from the first two books in the Taken By Storm trilogy. As always, I recommend reading books in a series in order.)

Leesie Hunt and Michael Walden are all wrong for each other. Have been since they met as high schoolers in tiny Tekoa, Washington. Somehow, though, their love has survived. It's persisted through graduation, Leesie's first year at college, Michael's world travels, and everything in between. But now, it faces the toughest test of all. Is it strong enough to withstand the tragedy that's slowly crushing Leesie - her body, her spirit, her faith - into tiny little pieces? Is it strong enough to piece her back together, to bring her back to herself, to Michael? Or will the unlikely romance finally crack under all the pressure?

At the end of Unbroken Connection, the second book in the trilogy that started with Taken By Storm, Leesie lies in a hospital bed, consumed by grief and guilt. She's so shaken up she can hardly breathe. While the car crash Leesie caused battered her body, it stole her brother's life. She stole her brother's life. She's the reason he's dead and she will never, ever forgive herself. With her body bruised, her spirit wrecked, her faith totaled, Leesie finally allows Michael to whisk her off to the Cayman Islands like he's wanted to do all along. It's the perfect place to hide from her pain. Away from her parents' accusing eyes, she can lick her wounds, throw her prudish, Mormon rules out the door and be with Michael 24/7. Murder's as unforgivable as it gets - who cares about a little illicit sex? Not Leesie. Not anymore.

Michael's not sure what to make of the new Leesie. He's got her where he always wanted her (with him in paradise) and how he always wanted her (willing), but the more time he spends with this broken version of Leesie, the more he's realizing a shocking truth: without her staunch faith and crazy rules, she's not the girl he fell in love with, not the girl he wants. He knows she's hurting. He also knows he needs to bring the old Leesie back, no matter what it takes. As he struggles to nurse her back to health, he can't help wondering if it's worth it, if she's worth it, if the love that's sustained them can weather the worst storm it's ever encountered.

Despite an ending that's a little too tidy for my tastes, I found Cayman Summer to be a satisfying conclusion to Angela Morrison's romantic Taken By Storm trilogy. It gets cheesy in places, true, and Leesie's selfish moping gets old pretty quick, but, all in all, I think the novel provides an honest look at what it takes to keep a relationship together against all odds. Like the previous two books, it makes a case for morality, for abstinence, and for the kind of deep, abiding mutual respect that's necessary in a healthy relationship. Leesie's crisis of faith adds an interesting dimension to the story, even if it's solved in a pretty predictable way. Still, I appreciate this series because it deals with Mormonism in a realistic, but faith-affirming way. It depicts LDS teens as the confused, conflicted, yet committed kids they are. I love that honesty and I hope to see a whole lot more of it from this very talented author.

(Readalikes: Taken By Storm and Unbroken Connection by Angela Morrison)

Grade: B

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for mild language (no F-bombs) and frequent sexual innuendo

To the FTC, with love: I received an ARC of Cayman Summer from the always generous Angela Morrison. Thank you!

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review, Susan! I plead guilty to the tidy ending. I doubt a publisher would have let me get away without, but I was writing this on a blog for my die-hard fans, and I indulged them--and myself.

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  2. Angela - Hey, that's your perogative as an author, right? And you can never go wrong with making the die-hard fans happy. As much as I dislike "tidy" endings, I really couldn't see any other way for the story to end, you know? I didn't want it to end so neatly, but I think that's the way it was SUPPOSED to end. Does that make any sense??

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  3. Yeah. I agree. That's why I wrote it that way. My critique partner suggested I change it up when I was revising, but I couldn't.

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