Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Challenges: COYER Summer Scavenger Hunt
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Blurb from goodreads:
Sensible thirty-six-year-old Sophie Anderson has always known what to do. She knows her role in life: supportive wife of a successful architect and calm, capable mother of two. But on a warm summer night, as the house grows quiet around her and her children fall asleep, she wonders what’s missing from her life. When her husband echoes that lonely question, announcing that he’s leaving her for another woman, Sophie realizes she has no idea what’s next. Impulsively renting a guest cottage on Nantucket from her friend Susie Swenson, Sophie rounds up her kids, Jonah and Lacey, and leaves Boston for a quiet family vacation, minus one.
Also minus one is Trevor Black, a software entrepreneur who has recently lost his wife. Trevor is the last person to imagine himself, age thirty and on his own, raising a little boy like Leo—smart and sweet, but grappling constantly with his mother’s death, growing more and more closed off. Hoping a quiet summer on the Nantucket coast will help him reconnect with Leo, Trevor rents a guest house on the beautiful island from his friend Ivan Swenson.
Best-laid plans run awry when Sophie and Trevor realize they’ve mistakenly rented the same house. Still, determined to make this a summer their kids will always remember, the two agree to share the Swensons’ Nantucket house. But as the summer unfolds and the families grow close, Sophie and Trevor must ask themselves if the guest cottage is all they want to share.
Inspiring and true to life, The Guest Cottage is Nancy Thayer at her finest, inscribing in graceful, knowing prose matters of the heart and the meaning of family.
I enjoyed this book, didn't love it but liked it, until about 70 pages near the end when several events happened that left me scratching my head. And then there was the epilogue which was so sickly sweet that my teeth hurt. Shudder. I'd have given this book, 3.5, maybe 4 stars, up until the end; instead the end and the epilogue resulted in my lowering the rating (at goodreads, since I don't rate here).
Let me back up. "The Guest Cottage" is a mix of romance and women's fiction. As women's fiction, it worked fine but as a romance it was meh. I thought the romance portion would have worked better with a Happy For Now ending and not a Happily Ever After; that just didn't fit. Also, I should point out, as I know some readers will be bothered, that Sophie is still married when she gets involved with Trevor. She and her husband have talked about a divorce but they haven't started proceedings yet.
The story is told from both Sophie and Trevor's perspectives, though mostly Sophie's. Sophie was hard for me to relate to, she was so...placid. Her husband's news rocks her world for about 5 minutes and then she's like "Oh well, I guess I need to figure out what I'm doing next, la dee da. Oh look, the flowers are lovely." She just didn't have much depth to her. She had the trappings of depth - a distant mother and father, a professional crisis years ago that still affects her, and now her marriage disintegrating. But it was all surface, just a glossy covering like shellac or frosting.
And those events near the end, what the heck? Sophie's mom shows up, and immediately proceeds to act out of character as she's been described. It was nice to see some attempt at characterization and depth but it was a complete left turn. Then Trevor, who admittedly we have seen be impulsive, really jumps the gun, and Sophie is all, "Sure, why not, sounds good. Oh, and let's have apple pie for dessert." That HEA just didn't fit and wasn't believable. Given the way the story had been going, and their individual situations, I really expected a Happy For Now. The HEA was a complete WTF? moment. The ending was simply too neat and tidy.
Sophie, Trevor, their respective children, and most of the other characters are likable enough with the exception of Sophie's husband; he was the cliched nasty (verbally, not physically), emotionally distant husband and father, with even less depth than Sophie. Sophie's friend Angie was hard to like at first but she actually had some complexity to her character, though it took Thayer a while to show it. Leo, Trevor's son, is reeling emotionally from his mother's death and that actually felt real, not just more window dressing. "The Guest Cottage" was pleasant enough, lacking depth but sweet, and Thayer has a good eye for details. But the story is pure fluff, not at all filling. If you want an easy, light, breezy read, this is the book for you.