Title: An Island Summer
Author: Jenny Hale
Publication date: June 6, 2022
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
One Sentence Summary: When Meghan fails to achieve her dreams of becoming a chef in NYC, she and her best friend Tess decide to spend the summer at Meghan’s late grandfather’s house in the Outer Banks, where a case of mistaken identity sets them on the trail of a fascinating mystery and a sweet romance.
An Island Summer is everything I love about Hale’s books: sweet and heartwarming with incredible relationships and sweet, mature romances set against incredible Southern locales that just come to life. In this case, Meghan and her best friend Tess are headed to the Outer Banks for the summer so Meghan can take possession of her late grandfather’s beach house and figure out her next steps after failing in NYC. She doesn’t count on being mistaken for a 1950s actress, nor does she expect the romance of a lifetime. An Island Summer unfolds layer by layer, offering a bit of mystery, a dose of romance, and a whole lot of incredible relationships that just warms the heart.
With her best friend Tess and faithful dog Charlie in tow, Meghan bids NYC goodbye and returns to her late Pappy’s beach house on Hatteras Island. After her former boss deemed her unworthy of ever becoming a chef, Meghan decided it was time to head back to the Outer Banks to figure things out and find her calm. But their island summer becomes complicated when Meghan is mistaken for a 1950s actress by an elderly man who is sinking further into dementia. But, when Meghan and Tess start to make some interesting discoveries in Pappy’s house, Meghan begins to think there might be some truth in an old man’s delusions. Complicating things further, the man’s grandson, Toby, is far too attractive, and far too interested in pushing her away.
After enjoying a couple of Hale’s other books, I was quick to jump on An Island Summer. Her books have never failed to fill me with a warm hope and make me smile. This was absolutely true of An Island Summer. It’s sweet and heartwarming and an incredible women’s fiction novel with a beautiful romance woven through. I adored the friendship between Meghan and Tess, and really enjoyed Meghan’s journey to figuring out her next steps to finding herself and what she wants. This was such a fun, quick read, but it really packed in a fascinating story, blending women’s fiction, romance, and even some mystery in.
Meghan has always dreamed of cooking, of becoming a chef, of sharing her Pappy’s recipes with the world. But that door seemingly slams closed when her former boss at a NYC restaurant refuses to give her a chance. So she quits, and Tess quits with her, to go spend a summer on Hatteras Island. Meghan felt so serious, yet also so compassionate throughout the entire novel. She’s definitely the sort of woman who wants to be able to stand on her own two feet, but she’s a little lost. I really felt her turmoil, her questioning of herself and her abilities. I also loved how she followed her heart and what she always felt was right. Her relationship with Rupert, Toby’s grandfather, was just so sweet and I wanted so much more of them. Meghan was so incredible with him and, really, with every character in this book. There’s a sweet gentleness to her, but she’s also determined.
I loved Meghan and Tess’s friendship. It did make Tess seem one-dimensional, but, whenever she was on page, Tess’s pure joy and enjoyment of life felt contagious. She’s so much more free spirited than Meghan, but has the same heart of gold. I loved how she just wanted to support Meghan and be the best friend she could possibly be. She also had some absolutely wonderful lines, and I seriously found myself missing her when the book ended. She’s sometimes a bit of a pushy cheerleader, but had so much heart in everything she did it was impossible to not forgive her. Whenever I think of Tess, I just think of happiness. Their friendship was incredible and just one of the sweetest things about the book.
The romance between Meghan and Toby is pretty light, not being a main focus of the book. It felt more like it was subtly woven in so the main focus could be on the mystery of how Meghan and Rupert might be connected and Meghan’s journey to figuring herself out. But it progressed and every little motion, every little word, meant so much. I felt some of it was easily missed, but, when seen, really spoke volumes. The reader never gets Toby’s perspective, but what Meghan sees and relates just felt so loaded. It was sweet and heartwarming, and I really liked how Meghan never jumped on anything negative someone said about Toby to create needless drama. Instead, Meghan and her relationship with Toby felt mature.
Finally, there’s the relationship between Meghan and Rupert. This really felt like the focal point of the story as the mystery of how they might be connected unravels throughout the entire story. I really enjoyed the mystery and watching Meghan piece things together, even if I felt impatient with her once or twice when it felt like she’d forgotten some piece of information for the sake of creating more mystery within the story. But everything about it was so much fun and I loved the slow peeling back of layers, of figuring out the line between story and facts. Rupert never really knows who Meghan is, but Meghan clearly adores him. I loved the carefully crafted balance of Meghan truly caring about Rupert and his well-being and her need and desire to get more information out of him in order to unravel the mystery. They were just so adorable together and I wanted more stories from Rupert so badly.
With a summery, beachy backdrop, An Island Summer could not have been more perfect. Hatteras Island as a backdrop for all of the relationships Meghan has was delightfully perfect and I felt like I was there. It creates a small community that just overflows with that summer feel. I loved how the weather played a part, with the humidity pressing down on them, which helped make me really feel like I was there. Hatteras Island sounds like such an incredible place and everyone seemed so friendly and welcoming. Reading this made me feel like I was there, enjoying a wonderful beach vacation myself. I loved that they spent so much time on the beach, and it was just so cute and so much fun to watch Meghan and Tess play with Charlie. He’s one lucky dog to get to live on the beach, prancing in the water and running through the sand. I loved just how carefree and happy he was, and he was just a wonderful companion to Meghan and Tess.
An Island Summer is a story of friendship, love, and finding oneself. There’s also a mystery at the heart of it that was so much fun to work through. It’s not terribly complex, but is heartwarming, and I loved how it drew all the characters closer together. The story of Meghan figuring herself out was a lot of fun, and I really enjoyed all the nudges Tess gave her. Meghan really lost her belief in herself, so it was great to watch her get it back. The only thing I wish? That there were some recipes in this book! So many of Meghan’s dishes sounded so good.
Sweet and heartwarming, An Island Summer makes for a perfect summer read. It’s sun drenched with incredible character relationships, a sweet romance, and so many feel-good elements. I loved everything about this book and was so sad when it came to an end. It’s quick and never stops moving, but there are so many peaceful moments, and I could believe that this story was actually unfolding.
How many cups of tea will you need?
Get your copy (The Lily Cafe is NOT an Amazon affiliate)
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.
Pin this! (mostly a reminder to myself, but also an invitation to you!)
Head over to the Bookshelf to check out my reviews of books from the Big 5 and self-published, indie, and small press books.
This blog is my home base, but you can also find me on:
3 thoughts on “Book Review: An Island Summer by Jenny Hale”
This sounds like such a lovely story and I adore the setting. Excellent review!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you! It is a lovely book, and such a perfect summer read. The Outer Banks was so much fun to read about!
LikeLiked by 1 person