Sep 17th, 2012
I first met Sophie Gunn in a bookstore. Yes, I know, that is where all good rrdeeas meet new authors. In this case, I was initially a reluctant party participant. The cover of her first novel How Sweet It Is was bold and bright, reminiscent of a 50s diner. It caught my eye every time I wandered through the shelves. Several times I read the back cover only to put it back on the shelf as just another small town romance. Enter the closing of several Borders stores in my area. My resistance was worn down by bright shiny 50% off signs. Ms. Gunn's book finally made it off the shelf, into my basket, and ultimately my TBR pile. In need of something light, it made its way to the top more quickly than expected. I have to say, the back cover copy lied. This was not the sweet small town romance it advertized. This was the first book about the Enemies Club. I've got to say, had the cover copy mentioned the Enemies Club, it probably would have made it into my basket a whole lot sooner. The Enemies Club is comprised of four high school classmates (the good girl, the flighty one, the successful one, and the popular one) enemies in the way of typical high school. Ten years later they have reunited as friends with a caveat: as the Enemies Club they vowed to always tell each other the truth and nothing but the truth, no matter what. In many ways the conventions of high school have followed them forward. However, they are able to create a friendship in spite of their previous differences. Every woman wants friends like these. Totally enamored of the Enemies, I went in search of more information. Thanks to all mighty Google, I was quickly able to find the author website. I was delighted to find there are books planned for each of the Enemies. The second Sweet Kiss of Summer (SKOS) is in stores now. SKOS is about Nina and Mick. Nina is a free spirit with lots of trust and faith in people; she's the flighty one. Mick is an Army veteran who served in Afghanistan with Nina's brother Walt. In the course of their service, just before Walt died Walt wills Mick his house. Two years later Mick shows up to claim his inheritance and fulfill Walt's last wishes. Only problem is that Nina is living in Walt's house. After spending two years trying to track Mick down Nina believes she's fulfilled the terms of Walt's bequest and is ready to move on. As with all good romance, this is not quite so easy. In a similar vein to the first book, SKOS is not the standard sweet small town romance lauded by the back cover. This book is complex and multi-layered and deals with serious issues including family, PTSD, how one returns from war, and how best to honor those who served. The story is well crafted and moves along at a nice pace. The characters are well developed and go nicely with a sunny afternoon and crisp glass of wine. If there is one flaw, I have to say I wanted more of the Enemies. Nina tries to solve the problems of her brother and Mick by herself instead of relying on her friends for help. As we all know, friends make things much easier. Yes, there are some nice Enemies meetings, but I really wanted these women to be much more active in their support of Nina. I'm hopeful the remaining two books focus more on the complex relationships of these women instead of relegating it to a side plot. There is much more to be learned about these women and their unusual friendship and I can only hope they are allowed to take center stage where they belong.
Oct 15th, 2012
When life hands you lemons inetasd of peaches, what should you do? Share a drink with your friends and laugh it up! Ever an optimist, Nina, a pretty brown-eyed artiste', has had her share of bad luck. Her parents died when she was just a young girl. Her aunt took care of her and her brother Walt, until they were old enough to forge on their own. Her brother Walt, a troublemaker in his teens, enlists into the army and is unfortunately killed. He had the presence of mind on his deathbed to write his sister a missive detailing his last wishes. Last wishes that dictated that his house was to be bestowed to a man named Mick Rivers. Nina lives in Walt's house, and she calls it home. The house provides the only memories she has left of her brother, and now she has to give it to a stranger? No way, Jose'! Or is there more to his wish that she doesn't know about? More problems lurk in her friendly town. Graffiti artists have been defacing the side wall of a store. The storeowner, Mr. Garcia, enlists Nina to paint a mural on the side of his building, thinking it will keep the vandals away. Nina's dilemma is she wants to paint a memorial to her brother. However, inspiration is not forthcoming. This is Nina's current life, problems and decisions! With the help of her girl friends, the enemy club, maybe she can find a solution to her problems. Enter Mick Rivers, stage right. Mick Rivers feels like a schmuck in fact, a big schmuck! His war friend, Walt, wants him to have his house. Just like Walt, always the reckless one. On the other hand, maybe Walt's last thought isn't so rash. Still Mick's sister, Bella, is dying from cancer and needs funds badly to pay for her treatments. Mick's duty is to his family, and he is determined to do things right. Only it sucks to have to take a house away from Walt's sister. He plans on getting the house as quick as possible, getting the money and helping his sister, but fate steps in faster than you can say Jiminy Cricket. Can't life be all peaches and cream? SWEET KISS OF SUMMER is chick lit at its best! Secrets as big as the Grand Canyon fill the pages of Sophie Gunn's new novel. This is a poignant war story filled with hard-to-resist characters, stalwart friends, scandal, shenanigans along with a refreshingly mischievous romance. Life suddenly takes a U-turn in Nina Stokes life one sunny day, when a car shows up in her drive with a handsome male stranger named Mick Rivers, who is there to take Nina's house, actually her brother's house, away from her. Mick is the soldier that her brother Walt described in his letter to Nina as he lay dying in a hospital bed. Included are haunting passages of gritty war scenes that author Gunn neatly weaves into the story. Be prepared to have Kleenex nearby as I was drawn to tears several times throughout the story. This story deeply touched my heart! SWEET KISS OF SUMMER is simply divine, like drinking a strawberry margarita on a hot summer day.