THE SUMMER GUESTS by Mary Alice Monroe {Review}


Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: June 11, 2019
Source: Review copy from Edelweiss
Rating: ★★★½


From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life.

Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.


THE SUMMER GUESTS is the first book I’ve read by Mary Alice Monroe. I know she’s well known for her Beach House series, but I wanted to jump in with a summery standalone novel.

As a Category 5 hurricane is barreling toward the coast of Florida and South Carolina, a mix of different people from the equestrian community, as well as their horses and several rescue dogs, evacuate to the safely of Grace and Charles Phillips’ farm in North Carolina. As they ride out the storm together, each faces personal and interpersonal conflicts that must be resolved for them to move forward.

I enjoyed how the cast of characters represented a range of age groups, from the early 30s to 60s. The characters were strong, though some of their stories felt rushed given the large number of them. The details of horses, horse riding, and the equestrian community were well researched. Maybe a bit too horse-heavy for me, though someone into that scene would appreciate it more.

I adored the descriptions of Grace and Charles’ Freehold Farm, set in the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina. It was the perfect, magical place to take shelter from an impending storm. The amazing location was probably my favorite character. THE SUMMER GUESTS is a lovely warm-weather read, though I wish the focus had been on a couple of main characters versus having to keep track of so many.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.


About MARY ALICE MONROE:

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.