FRIENDSHIP, SUMMER BREEZES, & SECRETS — A REVIEW

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Charlotte and Nicole were once the best of friends, spending summers together in Nicole’s coastal island house off of Maine. But many years, and many secrets, have kept the women apart. A successful travel writer, single Charlotte lives on the road, while Nicole, a food blogger, keeps house in Philadelphia with her surgeon-husband, Julian. When Nicole is commissioned to write a book about island food, she invites her old friend Charlotte back to Quinnipeague, for a final summer, to help. Outgoing and passionate, Charlotte has a gift for talking to people and making friends, and Nicole could use her expertise for interviews with locals. Missing a genuine connection, Charlotte agrees.

When Charlotte agrees to join her best friend Nicole for a summer on Quinnipeague, the island in Maine that was their favorite vacation spot for years, she is filled with trepidation.  For she hasn’t seen Nicole for ten years, and the underlying betrayal that has increased her feeling of distance from her friend is not enough to keep her away.  But Nicole, a blogger with a huge following, wants to write the cookbook and needs Charlotte’s help with the interviews.  Nicole has her own secret, one she has kept for four years.  Will she be able to share it with Charlotte?  Will she feel as though she is betraying her husband Julian?

Will the friendship bonds help them traverse the distance between them?  What will the summer bring?

Herbs and other island productions will be the centerpiece of the book, along with Nicole’s menus and presentations.

On the island lies Cecily’s Garden, as well.  A mystical presence, the woman’s herbs have a huge following of their own.  Will her mysterious son Leo allow them to photograph the gardens?  How will Charlotte connect with Leo and why does she keep coming back to him?  What is his secret and how will it impact the budding relationship?

I loved how the author showcased the foods, the herbs, and the island ambience…so much so that I could literally feel myself transported there.  I could definitely smell the Sweet Salt Air.  The revelation of the secrets was well-paced,  and even though part of Charlotte’s secret came out fairly soon to the reader, the rest of it was unexpected.  And the consequences of that one act of betrayal would have an unexpected outcome.

My feeling of connection to the characters alternated, as sometimes I was annoyed beyond words with Nicole and her little-girl voice and attitudes.  Charlotte had her negative qualities, too, but in the end, she was the one I could most relate to.  4.5 stars.