Aug 1 2014 10:00am

First Look: Susan Donovan’s The Sweetest Summer (August 5, 2014)

The Sweetest Summer by Susan DonovanSusan Donovan
The Sweetest Summer (Bayberry Island #2)
Signet Select / August 5, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

A mermaid statue could be the cause of heartbreak or everlasting romance for a practical-minded police chief and his first love—in the second of the delicious Bayberry Island trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Susan Donovan...

Every instinct told Police Chief Clancy Flynn that his island’s claim to fame was nothing but a silly tourist attraction. But now and then, he couldn’t help but wonder if his lifetime of bad romances—starting with the pretty tourist who broke his fourteen-year-old heart—could be traced back to a childhood prank involving that very statue....

Then one day the pretty tourist comes barreling back into Bayberry—all grown-up and on the run with her niece. Though Evelyn McGuinness is wanted for kidnapping, she tries to persuade Clancy that there’s more to the story. Now the by-the-book police chief must make the toughest decision of his life: to take Evelyn into custody—or into his arms....

There is just something about first love, isn’t there? If this is one of your favorite story arcs, then you will find plenty to enjoy in Susan Donovan’s The Sweetest Summer—along with a pretty unique backdrop—the magic of mermaids.

Each year Bayberry Island, located between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, is the site for the Mermaid Festival, known as the Mardi Gras of New England. Some might say, and Clancy Flynn is one of them, that this festival has taken the commercialism of love to new heights.

Unluckily for him, this whole business is a family enterprise. Clancy’s great, great grandfather, Rutherford Flynn, was saved by what he believed was a mermaid. He was then nursed back to health by an innkeeper’s daughter, who he believed was that same mermaid. To pay homage to his wife, he built her a mermaid statue. You can guess what happened next. It was only a matter of time before myths and lore swirled around the statue’s presence. Supposedly if you take the mermaid’s hand and kiss it and ask for true love with an open heart, your wish will be granted. But if you ask her to send you true love with someone in mind, your wish won’t come true.

Since the festival is Bayberry’s only claim to fame and its only source of income, Clancy does his part to keep the cogs running smoothly. Although he is one of the more visual faces of the festival, Clancy is not a believer – at least in the statue’s goodness. He does wonder if his actions as a fourteen- year-old teenage have had a negative impact on his love life. But then he sort of asked for it:

“Great mermaid, I come to you to ask for my first piece of ass. Please make sure her ta-tas are as nice as yours.” Clancy tweaked a strand of the mermaid’s long hair in the general nipple area.

Not satisfied with that bit of disrespect, he goes even further:

“Oh, chick of the sea, babe of the waves! We can be real with each other, right? You and I know you’re a total made-up lie—just a way for people to make a buck around her. You’ve got nothing to do with love, and all these freaks in costumes who come to celebrate you every summer with their open hearts and open wallets are complete dumbasses!”

Whew! Talk about foolhardiness. It is one thing not to believe, but it is another to blatantly invite bad karma. He might as well pulled on Superman’s cape.

That summer Clancy met a girl, Evelyn McGuiness, and he fell hard. Of course she had to leave after the festival was over but she promised to write. She never did, and from then on Clancy has been unlucky at love. But now Evelyn is back on the island and all the feelings that he had as a young boy are alive and well. Could it be that he will get a second chance at love?

He would like to think that he determines his own future, but he can’t seem to forget his dreams where the mermaid speaks to him.

“Enough, Clancy Flynn. It is time for you to see that I am not your enemy…”

“There is only love. And now you are ready for it…”

“You are a son of the island, part of a story far bigger than you realize. You now face the most important decision of your life, Clancy. Soften your gaze. Calm your mind. Follow your heart, and the choice will be clear.

It is going to take more than talk to pair up Evelyn and Clancy, but the mermaid and the Bayberry Island Mermaid Society are up for the challenge.

Fans of the first book in the series, Sea of Love, won’t want to miss newest book in the series. And if you haven’t read the first book, don’t worry, The Sweetest Summer can easily be read as a stand-alone.


Learn more about or order a copy of The Sweetest Summer by Susan Donovan, available August 5, 2014:

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Leigh Davis, blogger

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