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12 / 30 books. 40% done!

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Saturday, May 09, 2020

Summery Friendship/Secrets Novel Gets a Meh From Me

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Six years ago, three strangers flew to Italy to enjoy a surprise vacation on the stunning Amalfi Coast.  Each of the women expected to soak in the picture-perfect scenery, dine on delectable cuisine, and relax on the sparkling beach.  None of them foresaw meeting the others at a ramshackle villa and becoming instant, lifelong friends.  What Kim, Colette, and Annie experienced in Italy—from friendship to romance to the start of a successful business—changed their lives.

Now, Kim is bringing them back to Italy for the grand re-opening of the villa that started it all.  A well-known wellness guru, she's had the place renovated and turned into a health spa.  She can't wait for her old friends to join celebrities, investors, and other influencers at what will certainly be the most glamorous event of the season.  It soon becomes apparent, however, that someone is out to sabotage Kim by exposing a ruinous secret she thought no one knew about.  She's not the only one worried about what could happen in Italy.  Annie has her own secret to hide.  She's also got her own reasons for needing to be at Kim's fancy party—and it's not to pat Kim on the back for a job well done.  Then there's Colette, who fell madly in love with a local while in Italy and subsequently had her heart dashed into a million pieces.  Although she's been happily married to another man for five years, she can't help but wonder what happened to the one that got away.  Luca will no doubt be at Kim's party.  What will happen when she sees him again?  

When the three women reunite on the Amalfi Coast, shocking secrets will out, old resentments will flare, and, once again, the friends' lives will be forever changed by what happens in Italy ...

Old-friends-coming-back-together-to-deal-with-past-secrets-that-are-threatening-to-come-to-light is one of my favorite mystery/thriller tropes.  I figured I'd dig it in a contemporary romance/women's novel as well.  Unfortunately, The Summer Villa by Melissa Hill didn't pull me in like such thrillers usually do.  The story started slowly and took its time getting to the juicy parts.  As much as I loved the book's sparkling setting, I found the characters, the prose, and the plot pretty meh.  All of the starring women irritated me with their immaturity—even their adult selves were childish and petty.  Even though I saw the plot twists coming, I did want to know what was going to happen in the story, so I finished it.  In the end, though, The Summer Villa was just an average read for me.  Nothing special.

(Readalikes:  Reminds me of other summer friendship novels, but no specific titles are coming to mind.  You?)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives) and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  I received an e-ARC of The Summer Villa from the generous folks at HarperCollins.  Thank you!


  1. I love the cover of this book. Wish it had of been better for you.

    1. Me, too! The cover is lovely and it reflects what I liked most about this book - the glorious Amalfi Coast setting.

  2. This sounds a bit similar to Ruth Ware's The Lying Game, but maybe not as serious. This could make the perfect beach read!

    1. Yeah, I can see some similarities, but THE LYING GAME is much, much darker. Unfortunately, there are no murders in this one - that would have livened up the plot considerably! Ha ha.

  3. That's too bad. With that cover and premise it should have been better.

    1. The premise is a good one, with lots of room for creativity and freshness. This one just felt kind of stale to me. Sometimes that doesn't matter for me if the characters are really intriguing or the prose super engaging, but that doesn't happen in this one.

  4. I am sorry that this one wasn't more enjoyable. It is hard to really love a book with a slow start, irritating characters, and predictable plot twists. I hope your next read is better!

  5. I was not a fan of this one either. I have to like the characters at some point for this kind of book but I never did. I had hopes based off the setting and the cover but I agree - definitely meh

  6. I liked it enough, but I agree the characters were hard to like. They all had some baggage, although not the kind of baggage where the reader might relate to them. Nice review Susan.


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