A Stardance Summer by Emily March
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When Liliana goes to her parents for emotional support and they shut her down, she decides a life shake-up is in order. She joins the all women's group the Tornado Alleycats and takes off on a camping trip with them. Except, she doesn’t get to fully escape as the owner of the camp turns out to be Mark "Brick" Callahan, her brother's high school best friend and her lifelong crush.
Brick can't believe his best friend's skinny sister turned out so hot but after being burned hard by his high school sweetheart, he's turned into a three date max man. However, the summer is long and his and Liliana's chemistry can't be denied.
Thirteenth in the Eternity Springs series, A Stardance Summer, is full of past couples as the series centers around the Callahan family. As a newcomer to the series it was pretty overwhelming and as the Callahan family is full of lost children, adoptive members, and spouses, relationships and whose who was a bit confusing. On the other side of the coin, if you are a longtime reader of the series, you'd probably enjoy the whole big messy loving family appearances and interactions. I also felt this had a bit of a women's fiction vibe to it as the romance between our leads didn't exactly feel like the focus so much as their individual personal struggles.
Our heroine Liliana was a fun plucky character. She grew up in her brother's shadow a bit and seemed to follow what her parents wanted for her life more than her own desires. When she uncovers something illegal at work and then gets framed for a DUI, it was the eye opener she needed to take charge of her own life. I liked following her journey as she went from unsure to solid in her own convictions. She was also very sympathetic with her wallflower crush on big brother's best friend.
Brick and his many names, was harder for me to connect with. He had the overused burned once, forever and ever shy syndrome that more often than not comes off a bit immature and dragged out. I never felt like I truly got to know him. I think my main problem stemmed from him and Liliana not really having much romantic or emotional relationship bonding and scenes. We see most of their relationship from Liliana's past recollections of crushing on him and what we do get in the present is colored by Brick's constant stonewalling any thoughts of love or future with Liliana because of his past highschool girlfriend. I was disappointed in the lack of scenes of the two just being together and seeing them grow closer.
There was a lot happening in this book with a huge cast of characters. It seemed like some minor storyline was introduced, lasted for a couple pages, and then disappeared quickly. Liliana's work drama could have easily carried the drama but instead it's brought up in the beginning and then completely ignored until the very end, kind of a big deal for her character to just be ignored. There was also a pretty big character action reveal at the very end that felt out of nowhere and the wrap up with Liliana’s parents was extremely pat. The actress drama could have been completely cut out as the only thing it added was to seemingly throw a superfluous sneer at Hollywood types. There was also a slight twinge of sexist comments and tone that I wish would disappear from women's fiction and romance. Liliana talks about wanting to have a one night stand to be a "wild girl" and words like slutty and ho (after thinking she slept with someone the hero calls her a ho, does apologize right away but the thinking and sentiment are there) are thrown around. After getting into a fight with the actress, Liliana also derogatorily says, "she fought like a girl." Somewhat small but in what are supposed to be books for women, could we not?
If you're a reader of the series, you'll probably enjoy the large cast of past characters interactions and appearances and if you're looking for a clean (a kiss scene or two and the sex scene is completely fade to black) more leaning women's fiction, the writing is clean and crisp here.
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