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Book CoverHolly‘s review of Summer At the Lake by Linda Barrett
Contemporary Romance released by Harlequin SuperRomance 12 May 09

I’ve read countless romance novels that feature abuse victims – almost always the heroine – but I think this is the first where the victim is a young girl. This was definitely hard to read at times because of the content, but I thought it was a good story.

Kristin’s 11-year-old daughter Ashley was snatched outside a movie theatre and raped by some unknown man. 6 weeks later they borrow a friend’s lakeside cottage to take some time away to heal. Ashley hasn’t spoken since the attack and Kristin is afraid the bright, beautiful girl her daughter was becoming is gone forever.

I had kind of a love/hate relationship with Kristin. I understood – as much as a person can without experiencing something so horrific – her need to protect Ashley and the joy she felt at each small step she took on her way to recovery. I can’t imagine the pain and suffering she felt knowing her daughter had suffered the most horrific thing a woman can suffer. The guilt alone would be crushing. So her actions were understandable to a point. But something about her rubbed me the wrong way.

I think it was her constant negativity. She didn’t think her daughter would ever heal, or that the cops would ever find the man who did this. As I said above, I understood her feelings, but her constant negativity started dragging me down. So I figured it had to be affecting Rick and Ashley too. Her actions at the end especially bothered me. It wasn’t very logical for her to act the way she did and I didn’t like it.

I did like the other elements of the story. Watching Ashley heal with Rick and his dog’s help was heartbreaking. Her pain and fear came across very well. Rick was a great character and really pivotal in bringing about Ashley’s recovery. He was dealing with issues of his own. Trauma from a hostage situation gone bad that resulted in the death of a child. As much as I sympathized with him, it was obvious that he just needed to work through his grief and guilt and then he’d go back to work. His thoughts and fears that he’d never be able to return to hit were completely overshadowed by his actions and the way he was with Ashley and Kristin.

Parts of this novel were very emotionally compelling. I tried putting myself in Kristin’s place to see if I’d feel the way she did, and I just couldn’t do it. I don’t think anyone can that hasn’t experienced what she did. So despite my frustration with her during parts of this story, I was able to push past that and enjoy the rest of the story.

holly.jpgGrade: B

Kristin McCarthy hears him before she sees him. The melody of his saxophone glides across the summer night. The music’s healing effect on her daughter has Kristin seeking the person who can play so beautifully. Too bad Rick Cooper is a cop. With all she and her daughter have experienced, police don’t rank high on their get-to-know-you list.Still, Rick could be one of the good guys. Something about him challenges all Kristin’s assumptions. And their time together sparks her hopes for a future beyond this lakeside retreat. But before she can bring those dreams to life, Rick has to prove he’s the man she and her daughter can trust…forever.
Read an excerpt.