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Summer Magic by Rochelle Alers
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-012-3
*****
Rochelle Alers' Summer Magic has one foot in the past and the other in the present. It is a delightful story that takes the best elements of an adolescent summer romance and places them into a full-bodied adult novel.

For the first time since her divorce two years ago, educator Caryn Edwards has a summer to herself. It is a luxury she has been looking forward to for quite sometime. Her well-meaning family kept her close since her divorce from a man who abused her emotionally and physically.

Caryn has decided that she needs time alone to gain much needed perspective and closure if she is to heal. She refuses her family's annual invitation to spend her summer in Atlanta to spend the summer in a Marble Island, North Carolina, beachfront home owned by her friends Marcia and Terrence Crawford. Caryn's got her summer mapped out. She's going to spend the summer reading, swimming, writing in her journal, listening to music, baking her own bread and knitting or crocheting "a wearable garment."

There's no room for self-pity in her plan. There's also no room in her plan for architect-urban planner Logan Prescott. Logan is a friend of the Crawfords who has shown up at the house on Watermelon Patch Lane. He's there to lick his wounds and escape the notoriety of his well publicized breakup with a prominent North Carolina socialite. ,p> It seems Logan came home early and found his fiancée in bed with his best friend. While Logan was shocked to see his erstwhile bride and best man together, they were so busy they didn't even know he was there. No one knows the real reason for his broken engagement.

Caryn had no idea the Crawfords were running a special needs camp for the love weary. She is not happy to share her summer and her space with "Mister-I-almost-got-hitched" Logan Prescott. For Logan's part, "all he wanted was to share the house, a platonic relationship with Caryn Edwards and nothing else..."

The locals assume they are married and Logan and Caryn do nothing to dispel the misconception since it discourages relationships that might infringe on the other's privacy or their individual healing. Logan and Caryn eventually settle into an uneasy peace, despite their emotional baggage and growing attraction to each other.

"There was something about Caryn Edwards that said that if they did have a summer affair she would be as mature about it as he was certain he would be. They would enjoy each other's company, and when it ended it would end smoothly without guilt or emotional entanglements. Maybe he would let down his guard..."

It's oh so adult. Fortunately, the summer magic weaves its spell on the housemates.

Rochelle Alers story is enhanced by her characterization. Caryn is developed from her very candid journal entries. We learn about Logan through his interaction with his parents and and a chance meeting with two old college friends. He is also fleshed out through his disclosures to Caryn during their conversations.

The pacing is excellent. It parallels the summer experience. It starts off slow and easy at the beginning and becomes anxious and frantic as the realization that the idyll is coming to a close. Alers manages a surprise or two in what could have been a very predictable plot.

Summer Magic is a superb counterbalance to Rochelle Alers' Hideaway series. (The second generation of the Cole-Diaz family saga is due later this year.) I hope Alers will have time to do more of the stand alone stories I've come to enjoy.

The summer reading season is approaching. Summer Magic is a wonderful way to begin. Rochelle Alers' grown-up story of a summer romance manages to convey the essence of a childhood summer romance – intense and impermanent. It's worth a look.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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