"Under a Summer Sky"

"She's anticipating a quiet summer surrounded by beauty. She never expected a fresh chance at love.

"High school art teacher Nicole Anderson is looking forward to a relaxing summer in Savannah, house-sitting and managing an art gallery for a family friend. The house is luxurious in a way that only old money could make it, and the gallery promises interesting days in a gorgeous setting. Yet it isn't long before her ideal summer turns into more than she bargained for: a snooty gallery employee who's determined to force her out, a displaced adolescent roosting in the attic, and two of her childhood friends—who also happen to be brothers
vying for her attention." (back cover)

"Under a Summer Sky: A Savannah Romance" is the third book in the "Follow Your Heart" series by Melody Carlson, author of over two hundred books, including novellas, young adult titles, and contemporary romance novels. This book is a quick, easy read about an almost-thirty, disenchanted high school art teacher, Nicole Anderson, who spontaneously leaves her hometown of Seattle the day after school gets out to fly to Savannah and spend the summer house-sitting and working in an art gallery of an old family friend. The town is picturesque and rich with history, but more than its mansion-studded streets, Nicole must navigate the many dynamics of the people she lives and works with, including the two brothers she hasn't seen since childhood, Alex and Ryan, and the rude gallery employee, Amyra.

For whatever reason, when I picked up "Under a Summer Sky", I decided to read it with the same expectation as I used to watch chick flicks, as a predictable "feel good" story without much real conflict or notable characters, and truthfully I was better able to simply enjoy reading this book even if it was average in my opinion. I did find the plot very predictable, and there were some situations that seemed somewhat contrived and others where I felt individuals were out of character. But the handful of main characters added some interest and were fairly well developed through their conversations and interactions with each other; Nicole befriends Alex's daughter, Bernie, who is struggling with her parents' divorce, and the adult/preteen relationship is portrayed thoughtfully, while the tension between Nicole and Amyra adds some conflict and likewise Nicole's attitude when dealing with the difficult employee is commendable, if perhaps a bit unrealistically self-controlled). More generally, the descriptions of the city, landscape, architecture, and art create an idyllic backdrop to the story, and the thread of ghosts and haunted houses woven throughout adds a fun and at times comical touch. (On a final note, as a disclaimer only, this book is not "Christian" fiction; there are a few references to providence and prayer, but otherwise it reads as a secular novel, and also contains what I would consider mature themes, such as alcohol/underage drinking.)

Overall, "Under a Summer Sky" is a cute story, perfect for a lazy summer Saturday afternoonor a winter vacation to the South! :)

Disclaimer: This book was received for free from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review.

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