Sunday, May 26, 2024

REVIEW: Just for the Summer by Abby Jimenez



Justin has a curse, and thanks to a Reddit thread, it's now all over the internet. Every woman he dates goes on to find their soul mate the second they break up. When a woman slides into his DMs with the same problem, they come up with a plan: They'll date each other and break up. Their curses will cancel each other’s out, and they’ll both go on to find the love of their lives. It’s a bonkers idea… and it just might work.

Emma hadn't planned that her next assignment as a traveling nurse would be in Minnesota, but she and her best friend agree that dating Justin is too good of an opportunity to pass up, especially when they get to rent an adorable cottage on a private island on Lake Minnetonka.

It's supposed to be a quick fling, just for the summer. But when Emma's toxic mother shows up and Justin has to assume guardianship of his three siblings, they're suddenly navigating a lot more than they expected–including catching real feelings for each other. What if this time Fate has actually brought the perfect pair together?

Format 432 pages, Paperback
Published April 2, 2024 by Forever
ISBN 9781538704431 (ISBN10: 1538704439)

About the Author

Abby Jimenez is a Food Network winner, New York Times best selling author, and recipient of the 2022 Minnesota Book Award for her novel Life's Too Short. Abby founded Nadia Cakes out of her home kitchen back in 2007. The bakery has since gone on to win numerous Food Network competitions and, like her books, has amassed an international following.

Abby loves a good romance, coffee, doglets, and not leaving the house.

My Thoughts

Much of this story takes place on Lake Minnetonka in Wisconsin.
August Schwerdfeger, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Emma and her best friend Maddy are traveling nurses spending a few weeks to a few months working in one location before moving on to a hospital in another area of the country. They became like sisters after Maddy's mothers fostered Emma when they were teens.

Emma has a lot of baggage she carries from her childhood. She doesn't put down roots, and her suitcase is always packed as if waiting for her mother to return for her. Maddy is the one thing in her life that is consistent and stable. She is no-nonsense, bold, and forthright, and very protective of Emma. 

Enter Justin who has baggage of his own. He posted on Reddit about this pattern of dating women who break up with him and go on to meet their soulmates. His last girlfriend started dating his best friend and roommate Brad, resulting in Brad moving out and leaving him holding the line on the lease. Justin got a new roommate in the form of a rescue dog he named Brad after his ex-roommate.

First of all, the cover is gorgeous! A young man and woman frolicking at the water’s edge with a small dog chasing at their heels, The bright colors of a sunset as the sun dips behind the mountains. One of the nicest covers I’ve seen this year and one of the reasons I decided to dive into another romance (which isn’t normally in my wheelhouse).

You get the feeling that this couple is going to be very compatible and have a fun summer together. Do they really? Is that all that there is between them?

Nearly all of the characters are likable, moral characters. Emma suffers some abandonment issues among other things having been raised by a mother who suffers from mental illness. I found the imagery of Emma getting “small” when she is triggered a little annoying. I understand what the author was trying to relay, and it played better later in the story, but initially it seemed a little overly-dramatic and annoyed me.

This story is character-driven focusing on the internal lives of Emma and Justin as they navigate their “temporary” relationship, its intentional lack of permanency, and the joys of getting to know someone with whom you really mesh.

Who among us hasn't dealt with finding love and then losing it? 
I wish I would have known that the last time he’d looked at me with love in his eyes was the last time. I would have savored it.
The story is told alternating between Emma and Justin allowing you an inside look at the internal battles and bliss of each of them. The manner in which their story is told is sometimes purely entertaining, and at other times it is meant to be enlightening, touching on the damage that can be done to a child when raised by a parent suffering from mental illness– or just plain selfishness– the struggles that we all deal with from time to time. Much of the story is very relatable. We all want to love and be loved, we all have been hurt and suffered battle wounds from past loves, family, friends, or just life in general. But the hope is that you don’t let it beat you down. You stay hopeful, you get back up and you try again. You don’t let life or love get the better of you. And you make sure that you are whole and happy with yourself before looking for love, because you won't find happiness in others. You must first find happiness and contentment and wholeness within yourself, and then find someone who just makes life even better.

Five words: creative, engaging, romantic, contrived, charming

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My final word: Just for the Summer proved to be a fun read with fun characters! Quite a bit of the story was rather predictable, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment. There was enough novelty to keep my interest. This is good for the contemporary romance lover looking for fun rather than spice. I mean, it’s a romance novel, so there is a little spice, but it’s mostly a cute, sweet and fun read. There is a little tension and drama to keep it from being just a fluff novel, but not enough to weigh it down. It’s optimistic, hopeful…endearing. It’s an easy read. It doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t, like great literary fiction. It’s just a fun read!
The love stories sold us the wrong thing.

The best kind of love doesn’t happen on moonlit walks and romantic vacations. It happens in between the folds of everyday life. It’s not grand gestures that show how you feel, it’s all the little secret things you do to make her life better that you never tell her about. Taking the end piece of the bread at breakfast so she can have the last middle piece for her sandwich when you pack her lunch. Making sure her car always has gas so she never has to stop at the pump…It’s watching TV on a rainy Sunday while you’re doing laundry and turning her light off when she’s fallen asleep reading… It isn’t glamorous, it isn’t all butterflies and stars in your eyes. It’s real. This is the kind of love that forever is made of.


There's some light spice, mild language

Cover: A+
Writing Style:  A-
Characters: A-
Storyline/Plot:  A
Interest/Uniqueness:  A

My Rating:

The Cerebral Girl is a middle-aged blogger just digging her way out from under a mountain of books in the deep south of Florida.

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