A swoony contemporary YA romance by fan-favorite author Kasie West about a girl who finds that a summer spent at a family resort isn't as bad as she imagined . . . and that falling in love is filled with heartache, laughter, and surprises!
Avery has always used music as an escape. But after her best friend betrays her, even her perfectly curated playlists can't help her forget what happened. To make matters worse, her parents have dragged her and her social-media-obsessed sister to a remote family camp for two months of "fun." Just when Avery is ready to give up on the summer altogether, she meets Brooks--mysterious, frustratingly charming Brooks--who just happens to be on staff--which means he's off-limits.
What starts as a disaster turns into. . . something else. As the outside world falls away, Avery embarks on a journey of self-discovery. And when Brooks offers her the chance of a lifetime, she must figure out how far is she willing to go to find out what she wants and who she wants to be.
Fan favorite Kasie West is back with another unforgettable summer romance that reminds us falling in love is full of wonder, heartache, and--most of all--surprises.
A Cute Summer Read
Thank you NetGalley, and Caitlin at RHCB for the e-arc for review!
“Sometimes staying in the box we’ve made for ourselves is so easy. It’s comfortable and familiar in there. And a lot of times, the people around us want us to stay in there, too, because that’s how they’ve always known us: in that box.”
Sunkissed follows Avery Young as she spends her summer before senior year at an activity camp with her family, flirts with a (very cute) off-limits staff member, and makes it her summer goal to get out of her comfort zone.
West has a way with cute teen romance. Her novels always leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. I think my reading experience of Sunkissed, however, might be a little coloured because, y'all, I LOVED Kasie's last book, Moment of Truth. I'm a sucker for romance with history behind it (whether it be childhood rivals, falling-for-your-best-friend, secret pen-pals, boy-next-door...) so it has been a long while since I've read a YA romance that just... happens.
Avery meets Brooks, the lead guitarist of the dinner band who performs every night at camp, and they arrange a deal: Avery will help Brooks with lyrics for his music, and he will help her find new experiences. Seems pretty straight forward, and it was. It was cute. The tension and conflicts were quickly resolved, the stakes never felt too high, and the pair just sort of fell together over the summer. The quick pace of the novel made the relationship feel a bit fast, but I think an entire summer in reality is a fair amount of time for a romance to bloom.
Still, everything just felt a little surface level to me. And don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with that. I've read many YA novels that are pure fluff, no stakes, and sometimes, it works. I think I just expected something a little deeper from West after Moment of Truth (which, if you haven't read it, READ IT!!)
Personally, I would have liked to see a bit more inner dialogue from Avery, to really show her struggling with coming out of her shell, meeting new people, trying new things. We got a taste of it, and then the story shifted almost entirely to the music contest plot, and we lost all the other exciting things Avery could have tried. And I know that stage-fright was a massive hurdle to overcome, but with the laser focus on the band (and her budding romance), everything else that I was enjoying about the novel sort of fell away.
The characters were cute. I would have liked to see Avery spend some time with some of the other people at camp, whether it be some other staff, her sister, or her parents. Most of the chapters we did get with her family were sped through for the sake of pacing, but I think there were moments we could have lingered a bit more on, particularly in regards to Avery and her dad.
Still, West always manages to paint a pretty picture. I loved the atmosphere of the camp. It made me nostalgic for summer and sun and lake-views and everything that was so wonderful about those glorious months off from school. Sunkissed is probably a great novel to get you out of reading slump, and is the perfect length to boost your number on your Goodreads challenge. Not my favourite from West (from whom, obviously, I will STILL read ANYTHING), but about as inoffensive and breezy as you can get!