So "The Summerhouse" series by Jude Deveraux is pretty popular. I have the first and second book in my collection, but I honestly have not read the first two books in a really long time. I just purchased the third book last weekend and thought this would be a good time to revisit the series. I have to say that it was good to re-read since I had forgotten how problematic some of the dialogue was and I didn't really care for one of the characters. A lot of reviewers that the main set-up was too unbelievable (it really is) and I have to say that the writing unfortunately falters due to splitting things between three characters. I know that in the second book Deveraux made sure her characters all went back to the same timeline so that helped make the book more cohesive. I have to re-read the second book eventually because I recall that one left me more dissatisfied than the first book did and I cannot recall why.
"The Summerhouse" has three women about to turn 40 reunite to celebrate their birthdays. I do know the synopsis mentions three best friends. These women are not best friends. The entire premise is they met when they were in the DMV years ago (when they were all 21) in New York. Due to the guy who worked at the DMV being a gross human being, he made sure he kept the three young women there so they ended up befriending each other. Cue now speaking for 19 years until one of the women contacts the other two on the advice on her therapist. The three women are Leslie Hendrick (currently married, not so happily) Madison Appleby (divorced) and Ellie Abbott (also divorced).
We find out through fits and starts what happened to the three women since they first met each other 19 years ago. Leslie out of the three women seems to have a good life except she thinks her husband is having an affair and her two kids treat her like a doormat. Ellie was left bitter and angry after a judge sided with her ex in the divorce and she is left having to support him for the rest of her life. Madison gave up her chance to be a model in New York to come home to take care of her ex-boyfriend (eventually ex-husband) who ends up leaving her.
Out of the three women I really liked Madison's story the best. I honestly liked Ellie's the least. Leslie I can't say much about since Deveraux honestly just ignores her for most of the book until the very end. It didn't even make sense what went on in her whole plot except I have to say her husband sucks even harder because apparently it's too hard to just have a conversation with people.
The secondary characters are not really developed outside of Madison and Ellie's stories. We get to see Madison's terrible ex, but also a love interest that really worked for me while I was reading. Ellie's ex-husband is just talked about, you don't get to see them interact. We also randomly have Ellie going off when she gets the chance to go back in time and the whole murder mystery she gets involved with should have been in another book.
The writing was so-so. As I said, I love time travel romance stories. I used to devour those things was a teenager. That said, the premise of this one with the three women doesn't work. I don't know why Deveraux didn't just change it so that they all stayed in touch during the 19 years and or went to school together, I don't know. I think that was the sticking point a lot of reviewers couldn't get past. The flow was not great from chapter to chapter since we kept jumping around to all three characters. Deveraux devotes the most amount of time to Madison's story I think just by my off the head calculation. The least amount of time is spent on Leslie's story. And Ellie comes in the middle.
The setting of Maine, New York and a ranch that Ellie goes to. None of them felt very real to me while I was reading. Meaning, that Deveraux doesn't incorporate the locations much into the writing. The women just meet up in Maine (and it doesn't even make sense why that's the place they meet up since they all met initially in New York City) and then they have a lot of conversations catching up with each other about what has gone on in their lives.
The ending was okay. I honestly liked Madison's story-line resolution the most. Out of the three women I thought she got the rawest deal. I didn't care about Ellie's since it got so dumb with the whole murder sub-plot. And I felt like Leslie should have listened to her mother more in this book and just left her husband and smacked some sense into her children.