by Mary Kay Andrews
Publication Date: April 27, 2021
Genre: Fiction, Romance
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Conley Hawkins left her family’s small town newspaper, The Silver Bay Beacon, in the rearview mirror years ago. Now a star reporter for a big-city paper, Conley is exactly where she wants to be and is about to take a fancy new position in Washington, D.C. Or so she thinks.
When the new job goes up in smoke, Conley finds herself right back where she started, working for her sister, who is trying to keep The Silver Bay Beacon afloat—and she doesn’t exactly have warm feelings for Conley. Soon she is given the unenviable task of overseeing the local gossip column, “Hello, Summer.”
Then Conley witnesses an accident that ends in the death of a local congressman—a beloved war hero with a shady past. The more she digs into the story, the more dangerous it gets. As an old heartbreaker causes trouble and a new flame ignites, it soon looks like their sleepy beach town is the most scandalous hotspot of the summer.
Mary Kay Andrews has been really hit or miss for me the last few years, with a couple of very average efforts, and one downright bomb coming across my shelves, but Hissy Fit is one of my favourite reads, so I keep coming back for more.
I found Hello Summer at the library and I expected another meh read, but I find myself in the mood for the quirky characters and the Southern setting she writes in, so I sat down with it thinking I’d set the appropriate expectations.
And found myself a little bit surprised. It’s chock full of the quirky characters, and the North Florida setting is par for the course; it’s definitely not up to Hissy Fit standards, but it’s also a lot better than her other recent efforts I’ve read. There’s a bit of mystery here, a very solid plot, and although the book is labeled “romance”, I think romance readers would be disappointed. There is a romance, but it’s really back-burner stuff – the congressman’s death is always front-and-center.
The story starts slow, and much like her most recent release, The Santa Suit, the character does not come across sympathetically. Fortunately for Hello Summer, it had about 350 pages more to make Conley (the MC) relatable. I was feeling ambivalent about her and the book until the car wreck/death occurred, but from there the story hooked me.
Still, this was not a great book. It might have been a great book, had the characters been better developed, something that might have been possible had there been fewer of them, and better editing overall. I found at least half a dozen inconsistencies spread out in the story that jarred me out of scenes, and what little romance there was felt lukewarm at best.
I went 3.5 stars because the plot was really good. Had this been a first book, I’d even be a little gushy about it. But it’s not even a 10th book and I know Andrews is capable of much better writing; she’s certainly had enough practice.
I have another couple of her recent titles, and this one was good enough that I’ll keep on reading and hoping.