Title: Cherokee Summer
Author: Susan Antony
Review: The opening of Cherokee Summer introduces us to Ace McAllister, a young girl who is living in a casino because of her father's job but is also dealing with what seems like an emotionally unstable mother who drinks quite a lot. We then jump to perspective of John Spears, who is a native American boy trying to save money for his education, but an alcoholic mother means he was raised by his grandmother after his father's death. The first time Ace and John meet it isn't a good experience as her boyfriend Cameron is horrible especially to her autistic brother Zack, but he takes a liking to John. Both teens have very hard lives filled with pressures but very little escape.
When Ace unexpectedly becomes friends with John's twin sister Stella Rae, Ace has to spend more time with John and while she isn't happy about this in the beginning, she soon realises that they have a lot more in common than they first thought. However, John really liked Ace, but the cultural difference might be an issue in pursuing a relationship as well as the fact Ace is only there for the summer, plus her family seems to be falling apart and she's the only one even trying to hold it together. John seems to also have his own demons when it comes to dining which makes everything harder especially with Jasmine and her friends piling on the peer pressure.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel, we see the relationship between John and Ace develop further with both even going as far as admitting they might be falling in love with the other which I loved despite Cameron’s forced attempts at gaining Ace’s affection. However, we do see the cultural differences getting between them as John’s grandmother won’t accept Ace because she is white, and Ace knows her family have prejudices against Natives and won’t accept John. But when she does get caught coming home after a night out with John, she forces her father to keep her secret as she is keeping his secret.
There is so much that happens into the second half of Cherokee Summer that I can’t talk about it without giving away so many spoilers. All I can say is despite the slow start this turned out to be one of the best contemporary romance novels I have read in years. This is something very different to a lot of contemporary romance novels that are out at the moment and I highly recommend if you haven’t read Cherokee Summer then definitely give it a go, I loved it.
Cherokee Summer by Susan Antony
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Length: Full length (332 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Mistflower
When Ace leaves home to spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina the last thing she expects to find is a boyfriend until she meets Cherokee Tribe member John Spears. As Ace and John’s friendship blossoms, they find their life experiences mirror each other and they fall in love. Despite hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies, the star-crossed lovers remain committed to their mutual belief that the universe has drawn them together. However, when Ace sends John a strange text and then suddenly disappears, the two must rely on their trust in each other to save both their lives and their love.
I have so much I want to say about Cherokee Summer that I’m overwhelmed as to where to begin and wish I could just say “just read it”. Similar to Nike’s motto “Just do it”.
Holy Mackerel, this book packed a punch. If a reader likes to be blown away with an unexpected surprise within a book then this story delivered, at least it did for me. There certainly was a plot thread that was unpredictable. I’m not at all sure how realistic it was given their ages but it left a “wow” impression on me.
I grew up watching Western movies and Western TV shows therefore I’ve always had the fantasy of falling in love with a forbidden Native American tribe member only for us to live our happily ever after.
I got to live my fantasy through Ace, the heroine, and John the hero. The author did a great job making their love seem real, like it was meant to be, and heartwarming.
There was depth to this story with multiple layers with intertwining characters. I was fully invested with everything that was going with each character. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. It was one of those, “it’s late and I’ll just finish the paragraph. No, wait, there’s only 3 pages left in the chapter. I’ll just finish the chapter.” Then I’d look so see how short the next chapter was. I had a hard time putting the book down.
There was drama in Ace’s family that she was dealing with and John was dealing with his own family drama and then together as a couple they had “hurdles thrown by well-meaning family members and jealous frenemies”. Those “frenemies” added to the suspense throughout the book.
The only thing that kept me from rating this a Best Book was the ages of the hero and heroine. I had to mentally block the fact that they were eighteen out of my head. Nowhere was I prepared to learn that. I just couldn’t accept that. I’m forty seven years old and I have an eighteen year old son. I would have been more comfortable with the entire book if they were juniors in college. Perhaps on the reservation on internships. All I’m saying is the age didn’t work for me. Nowhere did it say it was a young adult romance. If it did I woundn’t have chosen to read it. That is my personal hiccup.
In conclusion, Cherokee Summer was outstanding in the grand scheme of things. I was entertained, heart warmed and found a new author that I’d like to read more books from.
4.5 out of 5 stars. Soul mates and impossible love collide in CHEROKEE SUMMER. Ace and her family spend the summer in Cherokee, North Carolina where John and his family, native Cherokees, live. After a chance meeting that initially gets off on the wrong foot, these two find each other inexplicably drawn to one another, despite cultural differences that threaten to keep them apart. Ace’s family is in shambles. She lives with her alcoholic mother, autistic younger brother, and cheating father. Her father’s inability to keep it in his pants only seems to fuel her mother’s drinking. John has his own issues with an alcoholic mother and a family and community that are determined to keep him on the reservation after graduation, just as he’s determined to leave for college. Ace and John find a refuge from their lives in each other’s company, sharing painful commonalities while exploring their differences. But more than just a jealous ex-girlfriend and family responsibilities stand in the way, and it all comes to a gripping climax.
The story starts off as a basic contemporary romance with our two main characters meeting before their attraction grows, obstacles are thrown in the way, but then the plot goes sideways and ramps up to an action-packed conclusion that sets it apart from other books in the genre. This is the first book I’ve read by this author, but it won’t be my last. The storytelling was intriguing, and even with a slow start, I was drawn to the characters, the setting, and the conflict. Since my kids are part Native American on their dad’s side, I was particularly drawn to the way the author portrayed modern Cherokees with the push and pull of tradition in the 21st century.
Told from both Ace’s and John’s points of view, there are solid differentiators between the two, keeping me from ever being confused about whose viewpoint I was reading. Ace’s devotion to her family makes her instantly endearing and I was able to sympathize with her belief that it was up to her to fix her family. John’s heritage and loyalty are in conflict with his life’s goals, making him a fascinating character.The supporting cast were more than caricatures, even the jealous ex-girlfriend had more depth than I was expecting. John’s twin sister, his grandmother, and even his alcoholic mother were more than fluff and helped define him a way that standard methods of characterization never could.
What I Enjoyed About CHEROKEE SUMMER
1. Reality. The author honestly portrays the devastating effects of alcoholism on families.
2. Native Culture. I thought this was particularly well done and an accurate depiction of what teens torn between two worlds struggle with.
3. Family Ties. While Ace lost the parenting lottery, she steps up to protect her younger brother at all cost. John’s loyalty to his family and way of life, even as he’s pulling away, endeared him to me.
4. John. Deep, damaged, sweet, and loyal. He’s a great protagonist and BBF.
5. Ace. From her awesome name to her flaws, she’s complex and intriguing and I loved seeing the world through her eyes.
A sweet young adult contemporary with an action-filled finale.