Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Review: That Certain Summer by Irene Hannon

That Certain Summer by Irene Hannon
Publisher: Revell
Publish Date: June 2013
Paperback, 304 pages
Fiction, Christian, Women's Fiction
 ISBN: 9780800722494

My Review:
While I love Irene Hannon's romantic suspense novels, when I heard she was releasing a women's fiction/general fiction/romantic element novel I had to read it.  Over the years Ms. Hannon has become one of my favorite go-to Christian authors so I will read anything she puts out.  While romantic suspense is one of my favorite genres, I enjoyed her departure (which is not really a departure, she just published mostly romantic suspense of late) to the general fiction genre.  As Ms. Hannon mentions in her afterword for That Certain Summer her focus has always been characters and the characters truly shine in That Certain Summer.

Character Development:
I loved getting to know Karen and Val sisters who have never been really close, but this summer they are thrown together as their Mom is recovering from a stroke and Karen can't do everything in her life and take care of her Mom too.  Val is a teacher so she's off for the summer and heads home to take care of her Mom and some other things on her mind.  Both characters have quite a bit of growth in very different ways and it's very enjoyable to read about.  In addition to Karen and Val who are the central characters, there is also David and Scott who have had difficulties of their own, again very different. One is returning home to Washington, Missouri and the other is trying to make a new start.  Ms. Hannon makes the intersection with the sisters seamless and believable.  It's truly a novel of trusting the Lord and knowing He will place what you need in your life when you need it, at least according to His timing.  Some people would call it coincidence but as both sisters learn it's simply Divine providence.  Two more minor characters are Kristen, Karen's daughter and Steve who's life has also been tragically altered.  While they are much more minor, they offer another realistic look into characters and add the addition of teenagers to the book, without bogging the story down.  I also love the pastor in this book!  He is like a few pastors I have had, very down-to-earth, loving and understanding with a slight injection of humor as well.

While the focus of the book is on the characters the plot is very enjoyable as well.  Karen is battling with body image and living up to her sister.  Val has a secret that has burdened her for years.  Scott has been injured in an accident and trying to figure out what to do in life and how to get through his circumstances.  And David just wants a good life for him and his young daughter.  How the four intersect builds the novel plot and makes the book hard to put down.  Since you become so involved with the characters, you can't help turning page after page to find out what will happen next and whether each character will be able to work through their own problems. 

Christianity and That Certain Summer:
The Christian-element of the book is there throughout but not in a preachy way.   Honestly if more people had experiences with pastor's like the one in this book (and I have had several so he is realistic) then I think Christianity would not be put down as much.  The love of Jesus shines through several of the characters and then the others as they find it themselves.  Again not a preachy book, it dwells on the love of Jesus, not judging for past mistakes.  It also does not paint the picture that when you are Christian everything goes perfect which is great, because it is oh so true.  I think anyone could read this book, not just those who love Christian fiction.

Final Thoughts:
That Certain Summer is a perfect feel-good beach read.  Though no character has an easy go of it, you go into the book knowing things will work out. From the wonderful character development to the very enjoyable plot, I rank this as a wonderful start to my summer reading season. 

My Rating: 4.5/5.0

“Available June 2013 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.”

About the Book:

With her trademark compelling characters and heartwarming hope, celebrated author Irene Hannon offers her readers an inspiring true-to-life tale of complex family relationships, transgressions revealed and forgiven and the complicated process of finding love.
Karen and Val are family - yet they're anything but close. Karen has carried the burden of responsibility for her aging mother ever since her sister left town years ago to pursue a career in theater. But Val had darker reasons for leaving town – and had a secret to keep – so coming home has never been an option . . . until their mother suffers a stroke.

Reunited in their hometown, Karen and Val must grapple with their past mistakes, their own relationship and their issues with a mother who is far from ideal. When a physical therapist raising his daughter alone and a handsome but hurting musician enter the picture, the summer takes on a whole new dimension. As their lives intersect and entwine, can each sister learn how to forgive, how to let go and how to move on? And strengthened by the healing power of faith, might they also find the courage to love?

About the Author (from 

Irene Hannon is the author of more than 35 novels, including the bestselling Heroes of Quantico and Guardians of Justice series. Her books have been honored with two coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, a Carol Award, a HOLT Medallion, a Daphne du Maurier Award and two Reviewers' Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. Booklist also included one of her novels in its "Top 10 Inspirational Fiction" list for 2011. She lives in Saint Louis, Missouri.

For more information about her and her books, Irene invites you to visit her website at


***I received this book from the publisher for an honest review.  I was not compensated in any other way except receiving the book for free.  ***