Title ~ Saugatuck Summer
Author ~ Amelia C. Gomley
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 19th May 2014
Genre~ M/M Romance
One summer can change everything.
Hi, I’m Topher Carlisle: twenty-one, pretty, and fabulous. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. But let’s get real. Walking the fake-it-til-you-make-it road to independence and self-respect isn’t easy. Especially since my mom’s a deadbeat alcoholic, and most of my family expects me to turn out just as worthless. Oh, and I’m close to losing my college swimming scholarship, so let’s add “dropout” to the list.
My BFF has invited me to stay at her beach house on the shore of Lake Michigan. That’ll give me one summer to make money and figure out what I want to do with my life. So of course I decide to have an affair with my BFF’s married, closeted dad. Because that always works out.
Now I’m homeless, friendless, jobless. Worthless. Just like my family expects, right? Except there’s this great guy, Jace, who sees it differently. He’s got it all together in ways I can only dream of—he’s hot, creative, insightful, understanding. He seems to think I don’t give myself enough credit. And if I don’t watch out, I may start to believe him.
Can a book kill you, turn you inside out and make you grieve deeply over a cute guy and his lost youth, and make you simultaneously smile with him and jump for joy when you see his burning desire to just live, make his music and be happy? Saugatuck Summer made me feel this way, it took me on a roller coaster ride of deep misery, overwhelming emotions and the blossoming hope that even the most lost souls can find their true love and a happily ever after.
When you first meet the exotic looking twenty-one year old Christopher Carlisle he seems to be pretty, confident, defiant, loud, proud and fabulous (these are his own words) and you actually think that nothing on earth can ever hurt him. He is comfortable identifying and presenting himself mostly as male, but he definitely floats somewhere in the middle of the gender spectrum and he doesn’t mind showing it, swinging from mildly flaming to downright campy. Openly gay, not giving a shit about what anyone thinks and going his own way, coming across as independent and full of self confidence.
After reading a few pages though you realise that Topher’s world is quite different from that. His mother is a deadbeat alcoholic and the rest of his family label him as self absorbed, screwed-up worthless gay trash. Abused and neglected he somehow managed to survive his worthless mother and his shitty upbringing, even when it has taken hours of therapy and tons of pharmaceuticals to get him to the point where he was able to go on with his life.
Out of money he is close to losing his college swimming scholarship, so when his best friend Morgan invites him to stay at her beach house on the shores of Lake Michigan he takes a chance. It gives him one summer to make money and figure out what to do with his fucked up life. Oh, I loved Mo, she’s such a tough girl, she’s Topher’s lifeline every time he’s on the verge of drowning in his self-doubts.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever go through with it. I’m just too much of a perfectionist, I guess. I’d rather be nothing than be middle-of-the-road.”
She hugged me tightly. “You’re not middle-of-the-road, Topher. You’re fast lane, all the way. You just, you know, need to find the right car.”
Mo has a job counselling at a summer camp in Traverse City and can’t stay with Topher all the time so he is grateful that her father keeps him company. If only Brendan wasn’t so hot and kind and sensitive and if only Topher wasn’t so attracted to the man who persuades him to finally unburden his heart. Then there’s Jace, wonderful, creative, insightful and understanding, who seems to think Topher doesn’t give himself enough credit. But just because he is who he is everything he does has to be wrong or dirty by default, right? Or can one summer change everything?
Oh Jace… gorgeous, dark-haired, sassy, Jace, covered with hot tattoos and even hotter piercings. He’s the only one who sees him in a way Topher never has seen himself. He’s exactly what Topher has always needed in his life. It seems like his soul, the depths of his being, is stripped bare in front of Jace,
“I don’t know your story, and I’m not going to ask for any more than you want to give. But I know, I can just tell from the way you act, that people have tried to take things from you, tried to take you from you. They tried to take away something amazing, something that deserves more, something that wants to shine. I see it. I see the part they never managed to steal, no matter how hard they tried…Your soul,” he whispered, answering the unspoken inquiry.
The chemistry between those two… Holy mother of HAWT! They just cannot keep their hands of each other and believe me when I tell you it is HOT! There’s one scene at a bath house… holy hell Amelia, you got me there!
The sex is intense, tender and passionate, the emotion between these two is electric, the intensity and rawness of it is definitely cold shower worthy. But the passion between them is so much more than just the sex… and the love they have for each other truly touched me and left me speechless. I fell utterly and totally head over heels for Jace and Topher.
Amelia Gormley’s writing style is powerful, gripping, and so emotional. You don’t feel like watching from the side-lines, you’re living within the story. You suffer with Topher, you laugh and smile with him, you hug (or slap) him and make it all better. The skill to write like this is a true gift and I’m simply in awe.
What I’d especially like to mention is the wonderful way the book combines and makes connections between the lyrics of the talented musician Casey Stratton. Every chapter is introduced with the lyrics of one of his songs. Marvellously done! Especially his song Cloudbusting which seems to have been just written just for Topher.
Overall, Saugatuck Summer is one brilliantly written book, about learning to put a shitty past behind, it’s about accepting oneself and not giving up hope. It’s about making peace with one’s family, getting rid of guilt and embracing life in all it’s glorious colours. And…that was so emotional to watch… it’s about making dreams come true, finding the perfect guy and building a future with him. It’s a true coming of age story. Highly recommended! I really look forward to reading the next instalment of the Saugatuck universe. Scratch that! I can’t fucking wait!
Btw, Topher was first mentioned in The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, Amelia’s Love Has No Boundaries freebie for the Goodread’s M/M Romance Group’s Don’t Read in the Closet event last year. That short story isn’t necessary to read Saugatuck Summer, but for those of you who enjoyed Matt and Chris from The Field of Someone Else’s Dreams, be aware that Amelia will be continuing the Saugatuck universe and giving them their own novel in the near future, so go ahead and check that out!
I want to finish my review with one my of favourite quotes. Did I mention that Jace is my newest book-boyfriend crush? Oh girls and boys… what a guy!
“I don’t need you to be perfect. I don’t need you to never make mistakes. I just need you to let me give you as much of myself as I can, and to trust that I will try as hard as possible never to hurt you intentionally. Can you do that? Can you just let me love you?”
Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else
Her self-published novel-in-three-parts, Impulse (Inertia, Book One; Acceleration, Book Two; and Velocity, Book Three) can be found at most major online book retailers, and be sure to check Riptide for her latest releases, including her Highland historical, The Laird’s Forbidden Lover, the The Professor’s Rule series of erotic novelettes (co-written with Heidi Belleau), and Strain. Stay tuned for her upcoming Riptide releases, which include the final two books in The Professor’s Rule (coming the first week of March) and Saugatuck Summer, coming in May.
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