Friday, 13 July 2018

Emma's Review: The Summer Getaway by Tilly Tennant

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Ashley Moon is all set for a dream holiday with her daughter in the glittering French Riviera. But nothing can prepare her for the shock of discovering who’s staying in the villa next door… 

Ashley got much more than a suntan on her first ever foreign holiday; one whirlwind romance and nine months later she had a daughter, Molly.

Too heartbroken and proud to ever contact the father, Ashley made a decision to go it alone and raise her daughter herself. Fifteen hard and lonely years later, she finally has the chance to take Molly on her first ever holiday; a gorgeous, all-expenses-paid trip to the charming French resort of St. Raphael.

It is the perfect setting for a week of quality time together; they plan to cycle through the sun-drenched vineyards, lounge by the glistening pool and practise their French on friendly locals. And just when Ashley thought things couldn’t get any better, comes the news of a handsome new occupant in the villa next door.

But fate has other plans for Ashley. One look into her neighbour’s dark hazel eyes is all it takes to give her the shock of her life. Standing in front of her is Haydon, Molly’s long-lost father and the holiday fling she thought she’d never see again.

As the temperature on the Cote D’Azure steadily rises and Ashley and Haydon begin to spend more and more time together, will Ashley find the courage to tell him who she is – and more importantly, who Molly is?

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Many thanks to Bookouture via NetGalley for my copy of The Summer Getaway to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

The Summer Getaway as mentioned in the title of Tilly Tennant's new book proves to be anything other than relaxing and calming for our main female character Ashley Moon. She certainly gets a lot more than she bargained for when she first accepts the offer from her step father of a week away in France to cerebrate his aunt's one hundredth birthday. The cover suggests this story may well be another one of those fun, girly, holiday, romance reads that are to be found on bookshelves in shops at this time of year but that's not the case and there is a far more pressing issue at hand. What happens if on your first foreign holiday you leave with a lot more than you arrived with and your life is changed forever?

If she had known all that was in store would she have taken up the opportunity? The Summer Getaway is told from two perspectives that of Ashley and that of Haydon and that's one thing that was good about this book. Rarely do we get to hear from the male viewpoint so here it was a refreshing change and to be honest it was vitally needed otherwise the story would have become very one sided.

Each chapter moves between Ashley and Haydon and it soon becomes apparent that the stars are aligning after a 16  year gap for things to finally come out in the open. The truth needs to be told given the situation the characters find themselves in. But can Ashley finally built the courage to pour out her deepest secret? For Ashley that one drunken night spent with Haydon in Ibiza resulted in the focus of her life, her daughter Molly. The only problem is that was the only time she met Haydon as the number he gave her to hopefully contact him was incorrect. Ashley has done her best to raise Molly single handedly accepting when really needed the help of her mother Sue and stepdad Maurice. She feels under constant pressure to give Molly everything although the funds needed for her entrance into a prestigious music school just aren't there.

Ashley for me throughout the entire book was a very stubborn character, for the most part she wanted to do things her own way and that's the same when she unexpectedly meets Haydon once again. From the outset, given they all only had a week away, she should have told Haydon about Molly and not allowed in my opinion such a tangled mess to develop. Others may criticise her mother for always nagging her and constantly putting pressure on her and berating her for so many missed opportunities to tell Haydon the truth, I didn't feel like this at all. I thought Sue was right to keep getting on at her daughter and I don't think she was looking at it from the financial point of view  rather looking upon it as a chance for Molly to connect with the father she never knew. Plus I don't think it was fair to on Haydon to be in such close proximity to his daughter not knowing they were related. Ashley proved to be a frustrating character and for once I think I liked the male character far more. Even Maurice was preferable to some of the female characters. He was warm, wise, kind and loving and not in a seedy way. I think he had genuine affection for Ashley and Molly and wanted the best possible outcome for them in order to guarantee happiness in the future.

Haydon is divorced from his wife Janine who is now moving on with Kevin. When the father of one of his music students asks would he like to stay in his villa in France he jumps at the chance to take away his daughter Ella viewing it as an opportunity to further strengthen their bond given the changes that are on the horizon with Janine and Kevin. Coincidentally the villa they are staying in is right next to the home of Violette - Maurice's aunt. So sooner rather than later it was obvious Ashley and Haydon would meet once again. I'm glad their meeting wasn't delayed or drawn out but what was, was Ashley building up the courage to tell Haydon the truth. This formed the basis of the story with the author providing so many opportunities for Ashley to blurt out the truth only for things to get in the way. It got to the point where I myself wanted to be a character in the book so I could stride in and say excuse me there is something Ashley needs to tell you. At this stage to be honest it became a bit repetitive, just when you think Ashley is on the brink of finally getting things out there something trivial occurs and she bottles it. I wanted to shake her and almost give her a slap to bring her back to reality to just get on with things. Given the connection between the pair had been re-established fate was saying the time was now.

On the other hand one could say how could Haydon not have noticed the obvious and joined the dots regarding ages etc? But I think he was so caught up in keeping Ella happy and as he was worried about his future with her that his clarity was clouded. The little sub plot with stall holder Audrey was perhaps the weakest element of the book, it didn't need to be here at all and was very implausible that someone could really develop feelings for someone having met them for a few minutes and knowing they were going to be around for a week. I know it was put in place as a distraction for Haydon and for him to wrestle with his feelings once he saw Ashley again but the book would have been fine without its inclusion.

As the week progresses there were plenty of tense situations when the truth was just there ready to pop out but the author held off and as we reached the celebration of Violette's birthday that's when things kicked off. These were the best scenes of the book and given so much time had been given to the setting up of the entire plot I wanted more of the birthday to feature. I thought the first half of the book was too long and dragged out and I would have preferred more focus on all that came in the end allowing for perhaps a little bit more of a fall out and allowing each character to really express how they felt about the situation. It all just happened to quick as I do think acceptance and understanding takes time.

Overall The Summer Getaway was a nice, easy read that had such beautiful descriptions of its setting that did make you feel as if you were there on holiday observing all the trials and tribulations and between Ashley and Haydon. The reader does know very much from the beginning what the outcome be and it was enjoyable to journey with them as they reach that point of disclosure and deal with the resulting fallout in order to move on in the future. This wasn't my favourite read from Tilly Tennant but it is ideal if you have a few hours to sit and enjoy the sun as this book will keep you entertained.

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