Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: The Boys of Summer

The Boys of Summer (Summer #1)
Published By: C.J. Duggan
Publication Date: December 2012
Page Count: 321
Buy it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble
Source: Kindly Provided by Author
Audience: New Adult - Contemporary Romance

It seems my brain must be ready for summer. This is another novel in a string of contemporaries that sets the mood for warmer weather. Typically during the winter I enjoy reading darker mysteries and paranormal romance, but I am finding that reading a few lighter summery books at this time of year is a lot of fun. It helps to break up the monotony of the chilly days and the dark nights. The Boys of Summer is a great novel to curl up with when rain or snow is pelting your roof. It will transport you to the hot summer nights of Australia - it's the perfect mental vacation!

The Boys of Summer was a novel that had me super excited. I have read a lot of contemporary romances lately - both of the YA and New Adult variety - and I'm really enjoying them. This is a newer trend for me. The term romance when associated with novels used to make me cringe and run the other way. These days I am finding that I don't mind the romance as much as I used to as long as the story is compelling and the characters are likable. I still don't think I could read a book that sacrificed plot in the sake of romance, but I have been lucky and many of the books only use the romantic elements as an additional ingredient. 

The Boys of Summer does a nice job with the balance. At it's core, this story is about the coming of age of Tess. She is struggling with finding out who she really is and not allowing her past awkwardness to dictate her future. She's also learning about love and how it changes a person. I really enjoyed watching her grow throughout the novel. There were some moments where her immaturity reared its ugly head; I didn't like her much during those segments, but she eventually figures things out. I was annoyed that she kept proclaiming that she was old enough to be in a relationship with a much older guy, but then she would do these stupid high school things like making out with someone else to get even instead of talking through her issues. I know we all do stupid things when we are teenagers so I tried to keep that in mind, but her bad choices and insecurities often irked me. In the end, her character growth and sense of humor overshadowed my frustrations.

I enjoyed some of the other characters more than Tess. In particular, I was really drawn to Toby and Sean. I loved their banter with one another and Tess. They also are both appealing, but in different ways. It wasn't difficult to see why Tess harbors a crush on Toby for so long. He's one of those quiet, brooding types that draw girls to them like moths to a flame. Sean, on the other hand, is the loud and hilarious sort. He's fun, passionate, and handsome. I'm not sure how any of the female characters kept their hearts safe with these two boys around. I'm really excited to read the next novel which focuses on Sean. I'm hoping all of the Onslow Boys will reappear in that novel.

I loved the Australia setting, but it did pose some significant challenges to my reading. I forgot about Australia's summer being reversed from the United States until Christmas was mentioned. That threw me for a few moments and I had to start wrapping my brain around seasons being in different times of the year. That was only a minor glitch, but the largest hurdle was the vocabulary. There are so many words in this novel that we do not use in the States. I was constantly having to stop reading to look things up. For example, did you know that bitumen means asphalt? Who knew?  I learned a lot about Australian language, but it was time consuming and did disrupt my reading flow. Google and I became BFF's during my time reading this one.

All in all, I would recommend this to fans of New Adult romances. Even though the main character, Tess, is seventeen throughout most of the novel, this is certainly more of a New Adult title because of the situations. It does contain some pretty intimate moments and there is a lot of innuendo. It also took me awhile to be comfortable with a seventeen year old girl being interested in a twenty two year old boy. Five years isn't a huge age difference and I probably wouldn't have even thought about it if Tess had been twenty. 

One Last Gripe: I didn't like that there were moments when Tess seemed a bit too judgmental of Ellie - especially considering some of her own choices throughout the novel

My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved the friendships in this book.

First Sentence: I shouldn't have opened it.

Favorite Character: Toby

Least Favorite Character: Scott

It seemed only natural to nickname them the ‘Onslow Boys’. Every time they swaggered in the front door of the Onslow Hotel after a hard week’s work, their laughter was loud and genuine as they settled onto their bar stools. I peeked through the restaurant partition, a flimsy divider between my world and theirs. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw them, saw him ... Toby Morrison.

Quiet seventeen-year-old Tess doesn’t relish the thought of a summertime job. She wants nothing more than to forget the past haunts of high school and have fun with her best friends before the dreaded Year Twelve begins.

To Tess, summer is when everything happens: riding bikes down to the lake, watching the fireworks at the Onslow Show and water bomb fights at the sweltering Sunday markets.

How did she let her friends talk her into working?

After first-shift disasters, rude, wealthy tourists and a taunting ex-boyfriend, Tess is convinced nothing good can come of working her summer away. However, Tess finds unlikely allies in a group of locals dubbed ‘The Onslow Boys’, who are old enough to drive cars, drink beer and not worry about curfews. Tess’s summer of working expands her world with a series of first times with new friends, forbidden love and heartbreaking chaos.

All with the one boy she has never been able to forget. 

It will be a summer she will always remember. 


  1. Great review! I agree about needing a mental vacation these days. I've seen a lot of books like this getting reviewed lately, so I don't think you're the only one! And that's interesting about the Australian words...I have encountered that with some UK-based novels too.

    1. This was a fun way to escape the chill in the air. I've also always wanted to go to Australia so once I got used to the vocabulary and season difference, it was a lot of fun to read. It also doesn't hurt that there are quite a few cute boys in this one!


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