Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Review & Giveaway: "Summer Guest" by Sylvia Melvin

Stories based on real life situations always add a degree of authenticity to a writer's work. The setting of Sylvia Melvin's Summer Guest is based on her parents' Canadian fishing lodge. Nature is so realistically portrayed that it feels like a three dimensional character - "morning mist caressed the placid lake" to "a tender glow from an exiting sun fell on the western horizon." The beautiful imagery weaves a spell transporting the reader to a relaxing summer by the lake.

Yet amid the natural splendor lies heartache for 24-year-old Amy Lawrence. Due to a downturn in tourism caused by rising gas prices, her family is forced to put their fishing lodge up for sale. The financial crisis has caused Amy's mother to suffer a mental collapse severe enough to require hospitalization. But with her father and cook Thelma, Amy - back home after a broken engagement - is determined to keep the lodge functioning. 

She certainly doesn't anticipate falling in love with a vacationing guest. A disabled veteran of the Iraq war, Matt Monroe is left with a pronounced limp, yet it's his antagonizing banter that engages Amy in verbal combat. Just as they begin to break down each other's defenses, a flirty blonde named Sonja arrives with her parents for a stay at the lodge. Sonja sets her sights on Matt, and Amy must decide if she is willing to compete for his attention.

For foodies, there are an abundance of mouth-watering passages thanks to the marvelous dishes coming out of Thelma's kitchen - "steaming fresh vegetables and tender meat, oozing with succulent juices" to "[fish] fillets turned a crispy brown" to "a huge golden-brown turkey roasting in the oven." The home-like atmosphere extends throughout the book from "the swishing sound of hot, sudsy water oozing out of Amy's mop" to "transform[ing] the bed into a resting place of blue linen and soft, navy blankets." The day-to-day chores of the lodge add a layer of detail that provides readers with a sense of comforting familiarity. 

The only minor flaw is the overly catty dialogue uttered by Sonja. Her jibes at Amy come off as scripted and unnatural. For example when Matt rejects her advances she exclaims, "Men find me irresistible. Why don't you?" It's hard to imagine any woman making a similar declaration no matter her degree of projected overconfidence.

Overall, two wounded souls find each other in the middle of a dark lake, but it is the "lights from the lodge [that] beckon them home."

Summer Guest by Sylvia Melvin is available for $10.00 at

A complimentary review copy was provided by Sylvia Melvin.

Enter to win a FREE copy of Summer Guest.

(1) Leave a comment below along with your email address & (2) become a (public) Google follower of this blog (widget found on our blog's right sidebar).

A winner will be chosen on April 15, 2010.

Congratulations to our winner!: Pam


  1. I really enjoy Sylvia's books. Her memories of her growing up in canada are very interesting.

  2. I am a follower and would love to win this book.


  3. I love the way the author describes the scenary....from your quotes I can already picture it as if I was there. The tie in of current events/issues (rising gas costs, businesses closing down) is an interesting twist too....they're specific enough for readers now, but general enough that future readers will still be able to relate. Thanks for sharing!

    (not an entry)

  4. I'm a new follower and I think this sounds like a great read!

    melacan at hotmail dot com