Author: Carley Fortune
Genres: Fiction, Romance
Pub. Date: May 2022
I was really feeling in the mood for a romance and oh my goodness, I devoured this one. Every Summer After has been making the circuit on social media this year and I was particularly excited about it being a Canadian author and novel. I love Canadian lit, but a lot of it is really heavy and often weird. I found this to be one of the most accessible Canadian contemporaries and I loved the setting in Toronto and rural Ontario. It is surprising how much more realistic and relatable a book can seem just from a familiar setting (even though I’ve never even lived in Ontario).
Every Summer After is a second chance, friends to lovers romance between Persephone (Percy) and Sam, beginning when they meet at age 13. Percy’s parents purchase a lakeside cottage in the sleepy town of Barry’s Bay and she quickly becomes fast friends with her next door neighbour Sam, spending every summer with him until they start university. Because it’s a second chance romance, it’s a dual timeline – split between when Percy and Sam first meet, and their reunion a decade later for Sam’s mom’s funeral. I find dual timeline stories can be very hit or miss, but I thought this one was actually really well done. Both timelines were compelling and I found myself equally invested in both (a rare occurrence).
Second chance romance isn’t one of my favourite tropes. I always find it a bit unbelievable and sad that 2 people could still be madly in love after 10 years without being able to resolve their differences. I don’t buy into the idea that there’s only one person for someone and while I do believe in soulmates, I think they are made through the shared experience of growing and loving together rather than by fate. Knowing the reason why Sam and Percy’s relationship ends the first time around, I could buy into the premise for this second chance romance. I would definitely need time and space from the other person if this happened in my relationship, though I also think I would never have been able to reconcile.
However, as a friends to lovers romance, I adored this story! Booktok is obsessed with enemies to lovers, and they can be fun, but friends to lovers will always take the number one spot in my heart! Friends to lovers stories are so much more believable to me, both because I value emotional connection with people, and I think it’s so easy to fall in love with someone you already like and who already takes up valuable real estate in your life.
Percy and Sam’s love story was so beautiful and believable to me. It had a very natural progression, with both of them connecting on so many levels before starting a physical relationship. I found Sam to be somewhat frustrating, though I understood his trepidation in getting too serious, too fast. Likewise, I could understand why Percy was upset with him, though I couldn’t excuse the big ugly thing that happens.
But it’s so easy to fall in love at 13 years old and it does become an all-consuming thing to teenagers. Percy and Sam were both so young and trying to make incredibly grown up decisions that they frankly didn’t have the maturity for, so I could forgive both of them for their mistakes. I still fell in love with them – they are good people, even though they are flawed and make errors in judgement, just like anyone else.
I do want to say that this book had too much cheating and almost-cheating for me to really be able to overlook it. The author tries to explain away some of the cheating (the characters hadn’t made a formal commitment; they just broke up; etc) so I guess it really depends on your own personal definition and code when it comes to cheating. I felt that the way the characters bent the rules in some cases to still be hurtful and unfair and I want to acknowledge that you can emotionally cheat on your partner, which for some people is more hurtful than a classic affair. I personally have zero tolerance for cheating, so it was hard for me to overlook it.
So overall I’m a bit uncomfortable with giving this 4 stars, but I can’t deny I was transfixed by the story. All of these characters felt intensely real to me. I wouldn’t call it a fluffy romance novel because there is a lot of depth here. I haven’t read a lot of other second chance romance novels, but the ones I have read didn’t feature characters with the same kind of history as Sam and Percy, which is why I didn’t really like them. Sam and Percy definitely had a lot of history and I’m glad the author dedicates the time to taking us through that history. The reason for their estrangement is very believable and because they were so young at the time and such good friends before that, I could believe the draw between the two of them to want to reconcile, even 10 years later.
So while I don’t condone everything in this book, I can’t deny I still really liked it! Carley Fortune has another book coming out this year, which I will probably read, but from the synopsis, it’s sounds very similar to this one. It’s another second chance romance, but without the history between the characters that Sam and Percy have, so I’m a bit on the fence about it. Either way, I’m glad I read this one! I might be a teensy bit in love with Sam Florek now…