"A quintessential love story set on a romantic island...definitely not to be missed." -- RT Book Reviews
Just a summer fling?
Morgan Merrifield sacrificed her teaching career to try to save her family's bed-and-breakfast and care for her younger sister. She can't let herself get distracted by Ryan Butler. After all, the rugged ex-Special Forces soldier is only in Seashell Bay for the summer. But her longtime crush soon flares into real desire-and with one irresistible kiss, she's swept away.
Ryan values his freedom. As much as he wants Morgan, he's not ready to settle down with anyone, much less in sleepy Seashell Bay. But his code of honor doesn't allow him to leave a woman in distress-and she's in desperate need of help to fix the inn. It only takes one day working under the same roof and Ryan is already hoping for a lifetime of hot summer nights . . .
Sykes (a pseudonym for spouses Vanessa Kelly and Randall Sykes) follows Meet Me at the Beach with this well-wrought smalltown romance. Ryan Butler has decided to come back to Seashell Bay, Maine, after taking a break from working for a private military contracting company. While looking for a house to rent, he trades handyman work for room and board in order to stay at the Golden Sunset, a bed-and-breakfast owned by Morgan Merrifield. Ryan and Morgan can't deny the sexual attraction between them, but she knows he'll leave at the end of the summer, and she doesn't plan on getting involved with a man only to have her heart broken. The friendship and tight-knit bonds among the islanders provide a sense of community as they band together to help Morgan save the Golden Sunset from financial ruin and to bring Ryan and Morgan together for good. Well-developed characters and a realistic plot give depth to this sweet contemporary.
The authors create two very complex characters in Morgan and Ryan. Morgan is dealing with grief over the loss of her father and the aftermath of dealing with the financial situation he left behind. Ryan has reached a crossroads in his career and doesn't know what he's looking for, or even why he's look in Seashell Bay, but he finds himself on the ferry headed home anyway.
The authors do a wonderful job of creating an image of Seashell Bay, and the relationship between Morgan and Ryan from the very first page, painting a picture of Ryan's perception of Seashell Bay through his descriptions of the ferry and the island and his feelings of life closing in on him. But, ever the protector and the rescuer, his initial reunion with Morgan sets the stage for their relationship during his time on the island
"Hold up!" a voice cried from down the pier. "Please, guys, I really need to make this boat."
Ryan recognized that feminine voice even before he saw Morgan Merrifield running full tilt boogie down the concrete platform of the ferry terminal. Her pretty face flushed and her blond hair flopping forward into her eyes, she lugged an overstuffed L.L. Bean bag in her right hand and pulled a wheeled cart with her left. Instinct made him jump up and rush down to the boat's lower deck to help her.
Quote courtesy of VK Sykes and Forever Romance/Grand Central Publishing
Those two paragraphs really epitomize how Morgan and Ryan relate to each other in this story. Morgan is a hot mess through a good part of the story, never able to truly get ahead of the demons and struggles that are nipping at her heels, yet Ryan is always there to lend her a hand, brainstorm an idea, and be a friend. I don't think that HE realized it was more for much of the book. Ryan knew the attraction was there - it had always been there - but I truly believe he didn't realize his feelings went deeper until he was faced with not being able to experience them anymore. A previous long-distance relationship has soured him for long-term commitment and certainly long-distance commitment, a fact that factors in to the continued dynamic of his and Morgan's relationship being temporary - she is as committed to the island as he is to leaving it.
The authors character development is delightful. We get to check in with Aidan and Lily from Meet Me at the Beach and other residents of Seashell Bay, and get to know Morgan's sister Sabrina. My biggest challenge with the dynamic of the relationship between Morgan and Sabrina is that early on we were told that Sabrina was "challenged", having been diagnosed with a learning disability. But outside of what is clearly some anxiety issues, it appears more that Sabrina is immature because her family has put her in that box and she has stayed there. Many times Sabrina demonstrates her ability to make mature decisions and act accordingly. Her feelings were often "tiptoed around" when I felt that Morgan should have rather treated her like the adult that she was, giving her the respect of telling her the reality of what was going on, and what Morgan was feeling, instead of sheltering her from whatever bad news there might be. I wish there had been a bit different way in which the relationship between Morgan and Sabrina was developed but overall, the character development is wonderful and complex and the book weaves a delightful story of two people fighting their feelings that neither believes can result in a long-term relationship. The reader doesn't know until the very end whether these two will be able to find their way forward together and it made me turn the pages faster and faster to see whether Morgan and Ryan get the happily ever after they deserved.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
is a nice return to the little island off mid-coast Maine
The second title in V.K. Sykes’ Seashell Island series, Summer at the Shore, is a nice return to the little island off mid-coast Maine, and brings us appearances from some of the characters from the earlier book. You don’t have to read the first to enjoy or understand this second book, but for me, the first book brought the setting and scenery to life with a richness that was not as vivid in this book.
Morgan and her sister Sabrina are trying to make a go of the family inn: most of the weight falls to Morgan, as Sabrina has some anxieties and learning issues that limit her ability to function on her own, or to be of substantive help in the management end of things. The inn is desperately in need of repairs, and with money and income incredibly tight, and knowledge of extensive maintenance limited, these repairs are being pushed off.
Ryan is returning home to regroup: ex-military and then a contractor, he wants something that will give his life purpose, and it will be nice to be among friends. So back to the island he goes, planning on time alone to think and decide on his next direction. He never expected to get involved with Morgan: she’s the sort of girl you don’t play about with, and he’s not interested in a relationship. But, she needs help, and is offering a room if he’ll help out. More importantly, he doesn’t make Sabrina anxious, as he knows her from growing up on the island.
These two really have zero obstacles but themselves in this story: both are so consumed with their own interior monologues and ‘what if’s” that their dance around the attraction is more like the first dance ever: everyone standing a safe distance away – watching. They are so well-suited: both take their responsibilities and hopes for the future of their little island seriously, they are well-liked and respected in town, and the townsfolk will wax poetic about their own ‘should do’ lists. It takes a while for them to see their attraction, even longer to take that chance, and even more time before they realize it is something special. While Morgan is far more daring and upfront about her desires, intentions and feelings: Ryan takes a bit more time to get it…but when he does..
Oh the smiles. This is a well-matched couple who, when they finally become confident in their own relationship just sparkle for everyone to see. And, despite the flurry of obstacles and choices, one comes clear to them both. A wonderful summer read, alone or with the first in the series.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. Was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This series just got so much better with this book. I loved Ryan Butler and Morgan Merrifield. The chemistry between them was off the charts and I loved their banter and their discussions just made this romance feel real and true. I truly enjoyed the first book "Meet Me at the Beach" but this book made me laugh and cry...even when I read the last page and knew what was going to happen. V. K. Sykes made the story so real I fell apart right along with the characters.
I'm pretty sure I know who the next book will be about but I am so looking forward to reading Sabrina Merrifield's HEA. She was such a great secondary character and her inability to deal with certain things touched my heart. I know who I'd like her to end up with but I'll keep that to myself and see where the author takes the residents of Seashell Bay.
I received this book from the author for and honest review.