Making a fresh start in a new part of the country is challenging, but fate and good fortune lead young single mother Josie Waterhill and her six-year-old daughter to a cozy Midwestern town right on the river. There, Josie can raise Zoe away from the violence of the life she once knew, and make a new home in the historic tea house where they’ve been invited to stay.
The tea house seems too good to be true, until Josie’s elderly landlord Myra welcomes more guests—journalist Carter O’Brien and his giant rescue dog, Buttercup. Carter is charming, compassionate…and way too curious. Carter’s interest in Josie deepens and he inadvertently stirs up trouble when he uncovers things that Josie would rather not have known. Ready or not, Josie has to let go of her painful past so she can create a glorious future.
Title: Summer by the River
Author: Debbie Burns
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Published: March 2, 2021
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
My Rating: 4 stars
Summer by the River easily captured my imagination as we are invited into the world that Josie has created for herself out of chaos and fear. Told in some places through flashback, Josie’s backstory is one of danger and secrets she’s kept, secrets that will steal her sense of safety, with the need to keep on the move trusting no one for long. When she arrives in Galena, Illinois she’s just about out of energy to go any further with her young daughter, Zoe. Thankfully, she’ll find a refuge and a helpful friend in Myra. Settling down in Galena, helping Myra with her tea parties in her beautiful home and garden seems a safe thing to do, for now. But that’s about to change with the arrival of Carter, who has issues of his own.
Carter is a journalist searching for answers to a family mystery of years gone by and hopes that Myra can shed some light on his grandfather’s disappearance so many years ago. As Carter arrives with his lovable dog, animal lover Zoe is immediately in love with Carter’s rescue dog – Mom, well, she’s far more cautious for she cannot trust that this man will not oust her secrets and while answering his own questions.
Summer by the River is a discovery journey for all the people involved in so many ways. It’s also a story that doesn’t fit into just one genre for you’ll find touches of mystery, suspense, romance, and women’s fiction within these pages artfully blended into a look into a world filled with secrets that are about to be revealed. No spoilers, but I did enjoy my time in this world with characters who felt realistic for the situations they were in. Touches of humor, danger, and hope were woven throughout giving the feeling of stepping into the lives of these characters and hoping for a well-deserved happy ending for them all.
*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*
Available in paperback, audio, or for your favorite e-reader, mine is the Kindle