From the desk of Katie Patchell:
Dear readers, what I am about to say will have you thanking your lucky stars: if this was a space for spoiler-filled reviews, I would have written a word count of thousands. Fortunately for us all, this shall be as abridged and spoiler-free as possible; a tricky task, as Tiffany Odekirk’s 2022 debut, Summerhaven, keeps one guessing about the heroine’s journey to a happy ending until the very last pages.
At twelve years old, Hannah Kent of nowhere-special gave Oliver “Ollie” Jennings of Summerhaven her hand and cheek to kiss as a sign of their future marriage pledge. Little did she know that these golden
days at Summerhaven wouldn’t last. After the death of her beloved mother over five years later, Hannah yearns for the happy, carefree days of long months spent at Summerhaven….until the morning that an invitation is left on her doorstep. A few months visiting with her mother’s best friend, in a place that just so happens to still be the home of the man she loves–what could be better? Unfortunately, Hannah knows she’ll also have to face her childhood nemesis, Damon, Ollie’s prankster older brother. On her arrival, only one brother is waiting on the steps to greet her: the wrong one.
“Damon stepped forward, and his watch key and seal–visible reminders of his status and self-importance–clanked together. He bowed. “Miss Kent.”
“My lord,” I returned with a shallow curtsy. The corners of his mouth curled into a smile.
“I see someone has managed to make a lady of the wild girl I once knew,” Damon said, and before stepping back in line with his mother, he met my eye and added, “A pity.”
My eyebrows pulled together in surprise.
“Do try not to scowl, Miss Kent. It will crease your lovely brows.” (Loc 204)
A Dangerous Proposition
As the days pass, it soon becomes apparent to Hannah that the man she thought she loved has no interest in her beyond that of a friend. Instead, Ollie has his eyes on beauty and wealth in the form of, well, any young eligible woman, it seems. Shattered, Hannah does all she can to hide her heartbreak. Damon sees through her mask and offers an interesting proposal. What if, Damon offers, he begins to pursue Hannah? Knowing that Ollie has always tried to take what Damon has, Damon persuades Hannah to his scheme. What could possibly go wrong?
As the unwanted brother becomes the wanted friend, Hannah learns that her memories of those happy seasons at Summerhaven might not be the full truth. The entire truth is more complicated, and with each minute spent with the intriguing Damon, a happy ending might be a thousand times more difficult to achieve.
“There was something between Damon and me. What exactly, I did not know, but he was not the villain I had made him out to be.” (Loc 1519)
First Stop: The Writing
Tiffany Odekirk’s story is simply exquisite. Never once did I not feel as if I was visiting Summerhaven, sitting at the dinner table to eat slimy frog legs or galloping on horseback with Hannah and Damon, face against the wind. Every sight, touch, sound, and smell are vividly painted so that I felt as if Summerhaven and its denizens truly lived. I can’t promise that I won’t be looking for familiar portraits along the walls of old English mansions, the next time I visit.
“The realization was sudden and sure, like a flash of lightning and the first fall of rain. I gripped the rough material of his shirt, and he pulled me closer. The heat of his body warmed me despite the coldness of the room. I wished to never dance with another man again. Never hold or touch or whisper to anyone but him.” (Loc 2187)
The Journey, Not the Destination
It’s probably easy to guess by the synopsis who Hannah chooses to be her life partner, but you won’t hear it from me! Suffice it to say that, however predictable the result, the path that led to the romantic conclusion left me breathless. I put off mundane and pressing tasks for hours to devour this book, and I feel no guilt. The couple’s tale of charged glances, witty banter, and partnership against mutual difficulties was flawless.
More Than a Trope?
In the past five years or so, I’ve seen many Regencies and general fiction centered on (and named for) a location. Each one had a lead who was obsessed–sometimes, murderously obsessed–with their spot of God’s green earth, which is typically a shadowy, magnificent mansion of some sort. After seeing this trope again and again, it’s hard to muster much sympathy or interest. So, it’s a testament to Odekirk’s simply magical novel that I experienced this story of one woman’s gripping love for an estate without a speck of boredom or grumpiness about this now-tiresome trope.
Blissfully unpredictable and heartbreakingly romantic, Summerhaven is a gem in this year’s already glittering historical line-up. Its echoes of Jullianne Donaldson’s Edenbrooke will appeal to long-standing fans, but its twists and turns of humor, drama, and passion are sure to draw in fans who see this novel for what it also is—a debut strong enough to stand entirely on its own merits.
5 out of 5 Stars
- Summerhaven: A Regency Romance, by Tiffany Odekirk
- Covenant Communications (February 14, 2022)
- Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (274) pages
- ISBN: 978-1524421465
- Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Romance, Inspirational Fiction
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Covenant Communications © 2022; text Katie Patchell © 2022, austenprose.com.
Hello Dear Readers,
What intrigues you about the plot and characters in this novel?
If you enjoy historical romance with witty dialogue, engaging plots, and endearing characters, Austenprose highly recommends Summerhaven.
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Laurel Ann Nattress, editor