Review: Summer on Firefly Lake by Jen Gilroy + Giveaway

Review: Summer on Firefly Lake by Jen Gilroy + GiveawaySummer on Firefly Lake (Firefly Lake, #2) by Jen Gilroy
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: contemporary romance
Series: Firefly Lake #2
Pages: 368
Published by Forever on July 25th 2017
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

A Firefly Lake Novel
Sometimes love is better the second time around . . .
Mia Gibbs spent her marriage putting her husband's needs before her own. And now, after a painful divorce, she's building a new life for herself and her two daughters back home at Firefly Lake. The last thing she needs is a man to complicate things. But former bad boy turned friend Nick McGuire-and the one kiss they've shared-has turned everything upside down . . .
Attorney Nick McGuire wasn't meant to be a family man. His career has always been his focus and after taking time out to help his mother, he's ready to get back to the city . . . until Mia and her daughters arrive at Firefly Lake. Mia is beautiful and intriguing, and it doesn't take long to realize being "just friends" will never be enough. As the summer nights turn colder, Nick will have to choose between the life he's always wanted . . . and the woman he can't live without.

My Review:

Firefly Lake is clearly a lovely place to live. It also seems to be just down the road from Mary McNear’s Butternut Lake, in spirit if not in miles. And both of these little towns seem to be perfect places to find a second chance at love, and a second chance at being sisters.

The first book in this series, The Cottage at Firefly Lake, focused on Charlie Gibbs, her teetering relationship with her sister Mia, and her rekindled romance with local resident Sean Carmichael It was a lovely story, with happy endings almost all around at the end. It also feels like it leads directly into this second book in the series.

In this Summer on Firefly Lake the focus shifts from Charlie to her older sister Mia, and Mia’s long-ago crush on Sean’s best friend, the former town bad boy Nick McGuire. Except that Nick has changed from the town rebel to a workaholic lawyer with a failed marriage behind him and a strong desire to leave Firefly Lake again as fast as he can.

He just needs to get his mother settled first. And that’s where Mia comes in.

Nick is absolutely certain about what his mother should do. Gabrielle McGuire is widowed, 62, and has just survived a bout of cancer. Nick is sure that her big rambling house is just too much for her. And while he may be right, it’s not what Gabrielle wants and moving to a retirement bungalow is not what she’s ready for. It’s also not the only possible solution – it’s just the only that Nick can see in his rather desperate tunnel vision.

Nick needs someone to help his mother clean out all the old closets and attics and storage rooms and cabinets and cubby holes at Harbor House that are filled with over a century of family junk. Mia, recently divorced and looking for work, is happy to step in and help. Her daughters will be spending the summer with their dad, her house is currently under renovation, and she needs both a place to stay and the money the job will bring her.

And Mia loves Gabrielle almost as much as Nick does. She’d help Gabrielle anyway, so it’s nice to get paid much more than the job is worth for something that would be a labor of love.

It also provides a reason for Nick and Mia to spend time together. They are friends now, but once upon a time she was the town princess and he was the local bad boy, and of course they had the teenage hots for each other. Nothing ever came of it, but those feelings are still there, down deep. But at the moment, each of them is convinced that their friendship is too important to risk, that neither of them has the time or inclination for a relationship, and that the other is only interested in being “just friends”. And they’re both certain that they are too damaged to be capable or worthy of being loved.

But as the summer goes on, many, many issues, not just between Nick and Mia, but also Gabrielle’s health, Sean and Charlie’s impending baby, and most especially Mia’s relationship with her pre-teen and teenage daughters and the mess that her ex has already made of their lives and wants to make again, change the dynamic.

Nick and Mia both agree that all they want is friendship “with benefits”. But the closer they get, the harder it is to keep their hearts behind that line. Even if only one of them is able to admit it.

Escape Rating B: At heart, this feels like a story about lessons. And not just lessons in love.

Nick needs to learn to let go, which may seem a bit contradictory for the hero of a romance, but really isn’t in his case. Nick is holding onto a whole lot of things that he shouldn’t, as well as trying to hold onto something that he simply can’t.

His mother’s health scare reminded him just how fragile life is. He’s not ready to lose her, so he’s trying his level best to wrap her in cotton wool and protect her however he can. But life happens, and bad things happen in it, and there’s no way to protect someone you love from cancer. It takes Nick a lot of the book, along with a lot of help from Mia, to stop arguing with his mother over what he thinks is best and listen to what she really wants.

He also needs to let go of his resentment at and anger with his father. Not because the man doesn’t deserve every scrap of opprobrium Nick has in his heart, but because the negativity is hurting Nick way, way more than it could ever hurt his old man. Mia, on the other hand, needs to learn to stand on her own two feet and advocate for what she wants and what she needs, instead of placating the strongest voice in the room – usually her ex-husband.

Speaking of Jay, he’s a douchecanoe. And saying that is actually kind of an insult to douchecanoes. He’s not evil, he’s just awful. It’s also ironic but so often true that women see their father’s big flaws (and did her late, unlamented father ever have a ton of them) and say that they won’t marry a man like dad. Then they end up marrying a man just like dad, and he’s just as awful and in just the same ways.

Mia couldn’t stand up to her father, and she didn’t stand up to Jay as he cut her down at every turn, tried to erase her personality, was a constant cheater who in the end got one of his many, many side-pieces pregnant and finally divorced Mia to marry her. As I said, Jay is a douchecanoe. And Mia was his doormat, but she isn’t any longer.

Mia is way better off without him, and she knows it. But when he threatens her custody of their daughters, both covertly and overtly, Mia has to steel herself for the challenge. Not just because she can never be with the asshat again, but because seeing her cave in to him when they all know he’s a lying, cheating, selfish scumbag is bad for her daughters.

It’s terrific watching Mia take charge of her life, even if she does dither a bit about the past at times. She finally learns to go after what she wants. And if Nick is too stuck in the past to see what’s right in front of him, she’ll manage. It will hurt, a lot, but she’ll manage. And that’s just the example he needs to kick him where it hurts enough for him to finally see the light.

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

Jen is offering one (1) lucky Grand Prize winner a $25 Amazon Gift Card and a paperback copy of both The Cottage at Firefly Lake (the first book in the series) and Summer on Firefly Lake. Five (5) runner-up winners will receive a paperback copy of Summer on Firefly Lake! This giveaway is open internationally. To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter below:

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Review: The Cottage at Firefly Lake by Jen Gilroy + Giveaway

Review: The Cottage at Firefly Lake by Jen Gilroy + GiveawayThe Cottage at Firefly Lake (Firefly Lake, #1) by Jen Gilroy
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: contemporary romance, women's fiction
Series: Firefly Lake #1
Pages: 368
Published by Forever on January 31st 2017
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository
Goodreads

Some mistakes can never be fixed and some secrets never forgiven . . . but some loves can never be forgotten.
Charlotte Gibbs wants nothing more than to put the past behind her, once and for all. But now that she's back at Firefly Lake to sell her mother's cottage, the overwhelming flood of memories reminds her of what she's been missing. Sun-drenched days. Late-night kisses that still shake her to the core. The gentle breeze off the lake, the scent of pine in the air, and the promise of Sean's touch on her skin . . . True, she got her dream job traveling the world. But at what cost?
Sean Carmichael still doesn't know why Charlie disappeared that summer, but after eighteen years, a divorce, and a teenage son he loves more than anything in the world, he's still not over her. All this time and her body still fits against his like a glove. She walked away once when he needed her the most. How can he convince her to stay now?

My Review:

The Cottage at Firefly Lake is a book about second chances. Not just the second chance at love that forms the backbone of the story, but also a second chance at family, and a second chance at life. Or perhaps that last would be better referred to as a “do over” at life. You be the judge.

Charlotte and Mia Gibbs have returned to Firefly Lake to sell their late mother’s cottage. It’s the place where they spent their summers, and it’s all they have left of their mother. It’s also a place they both love and resent, and now it represents a chance for both of them to get some financial security at the cost of losing their last connection to their mother.

And possibly their last real connection to each other.

Charlotte and Mia were “summer people” in the community, but for Charlie it was much, much more. Charlie didn’t feel like she fit in with her family, with her perfect homemaker mother and her seemingly equally perfect sister Mia. Instead, Charlie wanted adventure, and she spent those childhood summers with her best friend, local boy Sean Carmichael.

Their intense childhood friendship matured into an equally intense teenage love. But Sean was tied to Firefly Lake and the boat crafting and marina business that had been in his family for generations. Charlie was off to college and a career as a foreign correspondent. And even though she didn’t know exactly where she would end up, she knew at 18 that what she wanted was to travel and explore, not tie herself to the tiny Vermont lake town, no matter how much she loved it, or Sean.

But instead of a natural breakup over time and diverging interests, Charlie left Sean suddenly and inexplicably, and neither of them ever got over it. They’ve never gotten past the intensity of that teenage love, even though Charlie has had a terrific and exciting career, and Sean has been married (now divorced) and has a son turning 16.

There’s too much unfinished business between them.

Charlie and Mia need to sell the cottage. Badly. Mia fears that her husband is about to leave her with their two daughters and no career to fall back on. And she’s right. Charlie recently survived an IED attack while on assignment, and her insurance didn’t cover all the resulting medical bills. Her savings are tapped, and she is all too aware that she has no one to rely on in a crisis except her current shaky self.

But the only offer on the table is one that will change Firefly Lake forever, and not in a way that anyone wants. It’s up to Charlie to find a way to make things work – for the town, for her sister, for herself, and most of all, for any possible future she might have with Sean.

If he can get his head out of his ass long enough to finally figure out that he has to meet her halfway – wherever that might be.

Escape Rating B+: It was terrific to read something a bit light and fluffy after yesterday’s much more serious book. The Cottage at Firefly Lake was a great little pick-me-up.

It also felt more than a bit familiar.

Separated by several states, Mary McNear’s Butternut Lake series (start with Up at Butternut Lake) has the same feel as Firefly Lake. It is also a small town with a lake at its center and heart. And it is also a place where people get a second chance at love, and where sisters get a second chance to find each other, particularly in the most recent book in the series, The Space Between Sisters. Anyone who loves Butternut Lake will also enjoy Firefly Lake, and very much vice versa.

Meanwhile, back in Vermont at Firefly Lake, this story is a lovely introduction to the place and to the series. It’s a story with several threads, and they blend together pretty well.

The big story isn’t the romance, it’s the relationship between sisters Charlie and Mia. They’re sisters, and they love each other, but they are also distant and don’t know each other. There’s also a whole lot of sisterly envy going on, as each of them believes that the other has the “perfect life” and each of them believes that the other had a happier, or at least easier, childhood and adolescence with their late parents.

And there’s a whole lot of family history bound up very interestingly in this story. Not just the Gibbs’ family, but also Sean’s family. And let’s just say that the late Dr. Gibbs was a real piece of work, with all of the negative connotations of that phrase. He’s still messing up everyone’s lives, even from the grave.

One of the great things about this story is the way that the romance develops. Even though Sean and Charlie never really got over each other, they also both recognize that they are not the same people they were half a lifetime ago. They don’t exactly take it slow, but they also don’t gloss over the fact that if they want to have a relationship, it has to be in this present and not the past. Nothing about this is easy.

There’s a lot to love at Firefly Lake. I’m looking forward to a return visit in Summer on Firefly Lake, appropriately scheduled for this summer.

CottageAtFireflyLake_LaunchDayBlitz

~~~~~~ TOURWIDE GIVEAWAY ~~~~~~

Jen and Forever are giving away 10 paperback copies of The Cottage at Firefly Lake to lucky participants in this tour!

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