Book Review: The Light in Summer by Mary McNear

Posted July 6, 2017 by meezcarrie in contemporary, Mary McNear, romance / 5 Comments

about the book

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mary McNear brings you home to Butternut Lake and a novel filled with irresistible characters who you will want to call your friends.

It’s summertime on Butternut Lake, where the heat of noon is soothed by the cool breezes of the evening, where the pace grows slower, and sometimes, just sometimes, the summer light makes everything clearer…

For the lovely Billy Harper, Butternut Lake is the place she feels most at home, even though lately she feels the only one listening to her is Murphy…her faithful Labrador Retriever. Her teenage son, Luke, has gone from precious to precocious practically overnight. Her friends are wrapped up in their own lives, and Luke’s father, Wesley, disappeared before his son was even born. No wonder she prefers to spend time with a good book, especially ones where everything ends in perfection.

But Billy is about to learn that anything is possible during the heady days of summer. Coming to terms with her past—the death of her father, the arrival of Cal Cooper, a complicated man with a definite interest in Billy, even the return of Wesley, will force her to have a little bit of faith in herself and others…and realize that happiness doesn’t always mean perfection.

“Butternut Lake is so beautifully rendered, you’ll wish it was real.”—Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author  

“This triumphant story had me reading until the wee hours of the morning.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber on The Space Between Sisters

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SERIES: Butternut Lake #5
GENRE: Contemporary Women’s Fiction/Romance
PUBLISHER: William Morrow Paperbacks
RELEASE DATE: June 20, 2017
PAGES: 384

Other Books In This Series

“…I’ll tell you one thing about this storyline. It won’t be boring.”

Let me say upfront: Y’all are going to love the heroine, Billy. For starters, she is a librarian and a true book lover. The kind who sniffs books and has reread all Jane Austen’s novels until her copies fell apart. The kind that associates people with the books they check out. The kind who knows the fear of being somewhere without a book.

“I have that fear, too. It’s why I keep at least three books in my shoulder bag at all times. In case I finish one and don’t like another. I also keep a book in the glove compartment, and a couple more of them in the trunk. Just for good measure. Because you never know when you’re going to need a book.”

And Mara, the character Billy says those words too, will warm the sentimental side of every grownup bookworm who still remembers stalking the aisles of the local library as a child.

Another reason I love Billy is the fact that she carries on conversations with her sweet dog Murphy, both internally and aloud. Her dialogues with Murphy are spot on in that McNear gives Murphy such personality through these conversations. Even though, of course, he never says a word. But anyone who’s been owned by a dog knows that he doesn’t have to speak to convey how he feels.

I really enjoy Mary McNear’s writing style. It’s light and breezy, witty and warm, but there’s depth between the lines. The characters are people you would want as friends (even the somewhat quirky library patrons), and the setting of Butternut Lake makes me want to book a vacation. And I’m saying that as someone who doesn’t do camping or lakeside anything. McNear’s stories set here have made me fall in love with a place I would never willingly visit in real life.  And isn’t that the beauty of fiction? To be safely adventurous, to enjoy a lake without the heat or mosquitoes, to be a librarian without having to go back to school. To fall in love all over again. To make new friends while keeping the old.

Bottom Line: When Billy’s story (and her son Luke’s) intersect with Cal’s own story, there may not be any neatly resolved storylines in their fictional lives but for readers there is a contented satisfaction. Grief, disillusionment, parenting woes, and relationship navigating – all are presented with authenticity, emotion, and heart. The romance is swoonilicious, yes, but it’s really just icing on the cake. The Light in Summer works well as a standalone, but it will make you want to go back and read the first four books to discover the stories of the other characters mentioned.

(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)

Reviewer’s Note: Readers may want to be aware that there is some profanity in this book as well as implications of intimate scenes (closed door) and some heavy-duty making out that would probably not be considered ‘clean read’ appropriate 🙂

My Rating: 4 stars / Love it!

KissingBook Level: 4 / Keep that fan & fainting couch handy!

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about the author

Photo by Amelia Kennedy

Mary McNear, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Butternut Lake series, writes in a local doughnut shop, where she sips Diet Pepsi, observes the hubbub of neighborhood life, and tries to resist the constant temptation of freshly made doughnuts. Mary bases her novels on a lifetime of summers spent in a small town on a lake in the northern Midwest.


What about you? What’s something you love to experience or someplace you love to go in fiction that you’d probably never willingly do/go to in real life?


5 responses to “Book Review: The Light in Summer by Mary McNear

  1. Martha T.

    Go up in a hot air balloon. I am afraid of heights and can’t imagine going up in a floating basket!

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