Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer Rental Shows Mary Kay Andrews at Her Best

Three now thirty-something childhood friends rent an Outer Banks beach house for a month. The premise could be cliche, the same tired old told-a-million-times story of friends pulled apart, then pushed back together by life gone wrong.

But Ellis, Julia, and Dorie -- the three female friends in Mary Kay Andrews' new novel Summer Rental -- manage to defy the odds. The trio actually reminds me of my own circle of friends, and coincidentally, we are planning a September trip to the beach... for our thirtieth birthdays. That's right -- the big 3-0. We all have birthdays within two months of one another, and we thought it necessary to celebrate this year in a larger-than-normal way.

But back to Summer Rental. Andrews is in rare form in this novel, as she combines the best of both her previous kinds of novels -- the mysteries (under her real name, Kathy Hogan Trocheck) and the chick lit (under the pen name Mary Kay Andrews). Ellis, Julia, and Dorie all have mid-life troubles of one sort or another. One is getting divorced, another recently laid off, and yet another facing important life decisions.

The trip to Nags Head, North Carolina, comes at a pivotal time in all their lives -- and a time when all three desperately need a break. But Andrews turns away from a high school reunion-like theme; these women  have been friends through good times and bad together -- they never lost touch, even though life has taken them different places. So rather than rehashing the last few years, this trip gives them time to reconnect with and rebuild one another.

Oh, and they get involved in a side-plot of an entirely different kind (this would be where the mystery comes in). Enter a fourth woman, the mysterious Maryn. She has fled from something bad -- really bad -- back in New Jersey. Maryn is on the run with no where to turn and no where to hide. Ellis, Julia, and Dorie provide the perfect cover -- at least until her past starts to catch up with her.

Andrews also includes several love angles in the novel. It's crucial that you allow them to develop on their own, so I won't spoil them for you here. Suffice it to to say this novel was satisfying in every way. I listened to the audio version via Audible for iPod, and voice actor Isabel Keating does an excellent job of bringing each individual character to life.

I highly recommend that you read (or listen to) Summer Rental as an end-of-summer treat. Then go back and read her Callahan Garrity mystery series, as well as the southern belle books she's written as Mary Kay Andrews. My favorites are her books set in Savannah and neighboring Tybee Island, a short series starring best friends BeBe Loudermilk and Eloise "Weezie" Foley. (Really, aren't their names enough to make you want to read these books?)  

Mary Kay Andrews' Breeze Inn Cottage on Tybee Island

Savannah Blues was followed by Savannah Breeze, and then the holiday novella Blue Christmas. Andrews knows much about that area, as she owns a beach home on Tybee that is available for rent! She also sells antiques and other "junking" treasures at a booth at Seaside Sisters on Tybee Island. You can learn more about the author on her website and on her blog.


  1. I really enjoyed all of the Callahan Garity books, but I haven't read any of the Mary Kay Andrews books. It sounds like this one would be a good place to start!

  2. This is an interesting book because it is fun to read on vacation at the beach or by the pool, but the story is predictable and weak. The story is somewhat unbelievable and there are side items thrown in, like a small part about sea turtles (why was this put in there? Just to show that the author researched the OBX?) I enjoyed it, but I really wouldn't recommend it. I am surprised it is on the bestsellers list. I would not spend the money on the hardcover version for sure.



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