Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Review -- That Certain Summer by Mary Verdick

Title of Document: Book Review
Book Title: That Certain Summer
Author: Mary Verdick
ISBN: 978-1-4250-4744-7
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Genre and Target Market: fiction; romance; mystery
Publication Date: 2011
Book Length in Pages: 164

Once again, my beloved work in the field of writing and publishing has allowed me the opportunity to review a second novel by an author whose first creation I deeply enjoyed and respected. It is always great to anticipate a new release by a talented writer and even better when the story does not disappoint. This satisfaction certainly came to pass as I read through the pages of That Certain Summer by Mary Verdick. As she accomplished with genuine emotion and compassion in her first offering, As Long As He Needs Me, Verdick returns with another novel that captures the vulnerability that comes with love, betrayal, and the need to find meaning in one’s life.

That Certain Summer introduces Verdick’s readers to Sally Grimes, a young woman who seems to land the career opportunity of a lifetime when invited to write the biography of famous actress Diane Fenwick. Sally moves to Connecticut to live with the subject of her writing and soon falls in love with the handyman Ricardo, who tends to the estate just next door. Over the next several weeks, Sally begins to suspect that people are not as they first seem when items are disturbed in their home, illegal activity appears to be taking place on the docks near the estate, and the stories of those who have become closest to her just don’t match up. Sally finds herself unable to trust anyone and wonders if even her very life may be in danger.

The focal point of That Certain Summer is the patient and sometimes na├»ve desire we all have to think the best about the people we love. Sally idealized Diane Fenwick as glamorous and sophisticated and wanted to believe that Ricardo felt real passion for her and meant every sweet word he spoke, but the evidence was not supporting what she desperately wanted to be real. Haven’t we all been in a position in which someone for whom we cared deeply let us down in a way that challenged our very strength? This aspect of Verdick’s work makes the characters and story personal to every reader, even if we aren’t living on a New England beach next to a reclusive millionaire.

Verdick also demonstrates her strength in using language and careful plot development that builds suspense and never becomes predictable or far-fetched in its twists and turns. There are several moments of true fear throughout That Certain Summer, with both the subtle details and the violence slowly escalating to create a thrilling conclusion to the novel. I suspect that readers will be shocked, as I was, at the revelations that are not unfolded until the last pages of the book. Once these mysteries were known, I enjoyed going back through the text to discover the little clues that Verdick had been offering all along.

I already counted myself a fan of Mary Verdick’s work following the release of As Long As He Needs Me, and that determination has been reinforced by this new book. Verdick is an author who obviously has a passion for the craft of storytelling and, through her work, for making readers examine their confidence in self and others. She offers us men and women who are real in both their endearing qualities and their flaws and gives them a great story to tell. If you ready to be taken in by a novel filled with emotion and intrigue, That Certain Summer is one that I recommend highly.

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