The Boys of Summer by C.J. Duggan
Series: Summer #1
Publish Date: December 17, 2012
It seemed only natural to nickname them the ‘Onslow Boys’. Every time they swaggered in the front door of the Onslow Hotel after a hard week’s work, their laughter was loud and genuine as they settled onto their bar stools. I peeked through the restaurant partition, a flimsy divider between my world and theirs. I couldn’t help but smile whenever I saw them, saw him… Toby Morrison.
Quiet seventeen-year-old Tess doesn’t relish the thought of a summertime job. She wants nothing more than to forget the past haunts of high school and have fun with her best friends before the dreaded Year Twelve begins.
To Tess, summer is when everything happens: riding bikes down to the lake, watching the fireworks at the Onslow Show and water bomb fights at the sweltering Sunday markets.
How did she let her friends talk her into working?
After first-shift disasters, rude, wealthy tourists and a taunting ex-boyfriend, Tess is convinced nothing good can come of working her summer away. However, Tess finds unlikely allies in a group of locals dubbed ‘The Onslow Boys’, who are old enough to drive cars, drink beer and not worry about curfews. Tess’s summer of working expands her world with a series of first times with new friends, forbidden love and heartbreaking chaos.
All with the one boy she has never been able to forget. It will be a summer she will always remember. (Goodreads)
In the beginning of the book, Tess is a little on the awkward side. Having been on the receiving end of a mean joke at a schoolmate’s expense, a mean nickname had followed Tess around for a long time – this had weighed on her self esteem a bit. But Tess is a lovely girl and over time, she came into herself and began to see herself the way others saw her. Best friends Ellie and Adam helped with this, along with those adoring Onslow Boys. As they grew to know her as part of the wait staff at their favorite hangout, then as their friend outside of the Onslow Hotel, their acceptance helped her to gain the confidence to make quick decisions, carry her head high, make snappy verbal comebacks, and assert herself in all sorts of ways. I loved this. What I also loved about Tess was her normalcy in making the mistakes that we all make/made in our years of high school – having disagreements with friends, a few jealous moments here and there, making assumptions that we later realize are stupid, and doing actual dumb things. Things like this make us GROW, you guys, and Tess is an example of a character that experiences the great coming-of-age up and down parts of high school.
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She also experiences LOVE. Early in the book, Tess admits to a crush and what what, this boy happens to be one of the super-swoony Onslow Boys! It’s great, really, because it causes her to fumble a bit when she’s waiting tables, to say dumb things when she speaks around him, things like that. I LOVE THIS PART OF ROMANCE, the awkward and clumsy part. The relationship between Tess and Toby begins as not-a-romance at all, because Toby has a girlfriend in the beginning of the book. This is such a bummer to Tess, but as many of us know, we sometimes have crushes on people that are attached to other people. I loved how Toby handled Tess and his already-girlfriend, though, because he made what I think are respectable decisions and followed through with respectable choices in order to avoid what could have been a pretty nasty love triangle. The romance between these two was so swoony and romantic and reminded me of how I felt when I was falling in love and OH THOSE KISSES! Yes, I realize that I’m an adult, talking about two young people kissing, but this book really delivered on a very romantic, very sweet relationship that I enjoyed reading and cheered for.
One of the best things about this book was the great friendships – I LOVE THEM SO HARD. Best friends Tess and Ellie have a third BFF — Adam. What a glorious thing to see a male best friend that remains friend-status without crossing any lines! I am all for friends-to-lovers stories, but I’m also all for friends that know where the boundaries are when they aren’t romantic, and guys THIS IS ONE OF THOSE STORIES. Adam is one-of-a-kind in terms of friends, so fun, and I think he’s kind of swoony too. (I peaked ahead, I know who he is going to end up with – I so rarely do this, but I LOVED him so much! I’m so excited! I need to read quickly to get to his story.)
I was really excited to see that Author C.J. Duggan is an Australian author – I know that over here in America, Australian authors are SO loved and adored. This has been an Aussie favorite. I just had a blast reading about a summer romance with realistic relationships and characters, and it was so easy for me to visualize their summer unfolding in my head. I’m so excited that I read this book when I needed a great warm-weather read because I feel like I’ve got a great kick-start on my summer reads (yes, in February) and I’m so eager to continue with this series. I’ve fallen kind of hard for these characters already; even though other characters have their own chances in the spotlight in subsequent standalone companion books, they all were developed well from the beginning. This book is likely one that I’ll reread in the future for summer reads or beach reads, perhaps. I recommend C.J. Duggan’s The Boys of Summer from her Summer Series for fans of Young Adult/New Adult Contemporary stories with Romance, fans of summer reads, and fans of Australian authors.
Romance: Slowly developing. No triangle.