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  • Sweet romance and many family secrets.

    Shannon Greenland, ‘The Summer my Live Began’. The complete series. As a Hidden Gems ARC reader I received a free copy of both books and promised an honest review of these books. Here it is. Rating: 4 (of 5 stars). Book one: ‘Em’ Main character: - Elizabeth Margaret ‘Em’ Byner (18). She’s a talented, intelligent and ambitious high school student. So her Boston society parents and grandma expect from her that she will study at a top university for medicine or law. But secretly she loves cooking. When she graduates from high school she gets an invitation from her unknown aunt Matilda ‘Tilly’ for a summer vacation visit. Her aunt owns a B&B (The Pepper House) near the beach of Anna Island (North Carolina). Em wants to escape the control of her very ambitious, formal parents and after some negotiation she gets permission to stay with her aunt for a month. Then the author, Shannon Greenland, explains how this month with her aunt changes her live. A plot with some very unexpected turns, a credible explanation of the feelings between Em and her unknown family, the start of a sweet romance and the description of the developments in her cooking skills result in a very interesting story, for me a pleasure to read. Book two: ‘Gwenny’. Main character: - Gwyneth ‘Gwenny’ Byner (18). Em’s sister (2 years younger). Gwenny is the ‘black sheep’ in the family. Especially after her older, brilliant sister left home to pursue her dreams. Parties, drugs and school problems bring her parents to interfere and limit the damage. The relationship between Gwenny and her parents complicates more and more. The society sensitive parents keep a distance, seem uninterested in her feelings and concentrate on their own important jobs; Gwen wants their love and interest. When Gwen visits her sister Em on Anna Island during a summer vacation she meets Levi, a rock star, who visits his best friend Cade, Gwenny’s new brother-in-law. Both, Gwen and Levi, have problems with accidents in their past. They feel a physical and emotional connection, but the sad accidents cause problems in their relationship. The author, Shannon Greenland, describes with a lot of feeling how they - with many complications - learn to live with their past and thus find the trust that they can have a happy future together. Perhaps the end is a bit too sweet to be credible, but - all in all - for me the book was a pleasure to read.

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