A new novel by Mary Alice Monroe is always a big deal. This year the novel is THE SUMMER GUESTS. As I scanned for information about the story, hard I expected to see it taking place along the coast of South Carolina where most of her other novels are set. Yes, this one actually begins on Isle of Palm on the coast of South Carolina, but it quickly moves away from the coast and up into the gorgeous mountains of North Carolina. Why? EVACUATION! A monster hurricane has just rolled off the coast of Africa and is headed that way.
When I began reading the prologue the hair actually stood up on the back of my neck. I kid you not. Those of you who have known the horrors of a hurricane coming straight for you know what I’m talking about. Residents in Florida and along the Southern Eastern coast need to leave their home; evacuate, now. That’s where this story begins. A couple years ago we had hurricane Irma come so close to our home that it scared the bejesus out of all of us. I know what the day by day waiting is like. I know what it’s like to hear the hour by hour reporting as the storm gets ready to blow through your community. So, my heart was already pounding.
Mary Alice Monroe is now famous for bringing us the very best in environmental fiction. I have learned so much about endangered species that live in my own backyard and nearby. I love her writing and I love how involved she is with protecting the animals and wildlife. This time her main concern is the equestrian world of horses and handlers. I fell hard for this novel. I just think it’s super. Her best yet!
Cara Rutledge just did not think the tropical wave the newscasters were talking about would come to amount to much. After all, she’d been through plenty of storms through the years. You don’t live on Isle of Palm and not feel scathed. But she was preparing to take her young daughter to visit friends in the mountains in North Carolina. Surely, it would just be fine. So, she turned her back on the storm and went her way.
In Palm Beach, Florida, Hannah McLain was flitting between her boyfriend Angel’s creepy dog Max, and trying to shove all Angel’s Olympic medals in a suitcase per his instructions. Hannah is a make-up artist and Angel is a famous equestrian.
In Kiawah, South Carolina, Moira Stevens is packed and ready to evacuate to her parent’s horse farm Freehold Farm in the mountains of North Carolina. Her husband Thom was away on business. Their marriage could easily be in trouble.
In Wellington, Florida, Elise Klug and her mother are struggling to get their prize horses into their trailers and ready to begin the long drive to the mountains. Elise’s mother is a no-nonsense German woman who is determined that her daughter become an award-winning equestrian whether she wants it or not.
Each chapter begins with a weather update that will keep you on the edge of your seat. My neck is getting tight just contemplating it all. It adds to the tension.
So, the question arrises: what would you take with you if you had to evacuate your home not knowing if you would ever return?
All these people are thrown together with a couple dogs and some very important horses. They are in close quarters for a week. They are forced to confront issues, come to terms with important life-changing events, and question love and devotion. Tempers bristle and even the animals question the many changes.
“Mary Alice Monroe is a passionate conservationist who uses novels to bring public awareness to the plight of the world’s endangered, undervalued, and sometimes obscure creatures. ” This is why I love Mary Alice Monroe.
Let’s just say that these people will leave this mountain different than when they arrived. All good.
” But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them when they leave.”
My review copy arrived via Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster publishers in exchange for an honest review. Well, folks, I absolutely LOVE it. I believe it’s her best novel yet. And that’s saying a lot!
Copperfish Books loves Mary Alice Monroe. We will have copies of THE SUMMER GUESTS. We’ll be offering a 20% discount. You do not want to miss this one!