Lessons of a Lowcountry Summer by Rochelle Alers


Paranormal RomanceGeneral FictionLessons of a Lowcountry Summer by Rochelle Alers Lessons of a Lowcountry Summer
Rochelle Alers; Pocket Books 2004

Sometimes life gets so chaotic that a brief escape is necessary. Three people spend their summer on small McKinnon Island just off the South Carolina coast taking the respite they need.

Dr. Hope Sutton, psychologist, has an advice column to help people with relationship issues. She believes she has a good life. She is in a committed relationship and is offered a radio program. Then she learns her partner is not as committed as she thought. She needs to reexamine her life and deal with some medical issues. She decides to spend the summer in the home her grandmother left her on McKinnon Island.

Wife of a bank president and mother of two young teen children, Rebecca Owens feels like she’s lost herself to her family. She informs Lee, her husband, that she is taking the summer off from her family. She needs to get away from her mother-in-law, the memory of Lee’s infidelity, and the demands of being a social hostess for her busy husband. She chooses McKinnon Island as a quiet place to get away and think about her future.

Theo Howell never wanted a family. He has become a famous screen writer with some Oscar nominations and the reputation of a Hollywood playboy. Just before Christmas his mother and her husband were killed in a plane crash. Now he is the legal guardian to his teen aged brothers and sister. He’s 40 years old and doesn’t know anything about kids. But he now learns the problems of being a parent. After the two boys are dropped off by the police from a party that got out of control, Theo knows he has to give the three the attention they need as they grieve for their parents. He wants to get them out of Hollywood for the summer. When he is offered the loan of a house on McKinnon Island, he quickly takes it.

As neighbors, Hope and Rebecca overcome first appearances and become friends. They often have afternoon tea together. Hope’s grandmother lived on McKinnon Island and Hope spent her childhood summers there. She is able to hook Rebecca up with some local artisans who quilt, weave sweet grass baskets, and create other Gullah crafts from the island’s past. McKinnon Island has a rich Gullah history that goes back to the time of slavery on the plantations on the island. Rebecca’s love of history returns as she explores the island and its heritage.

At first Theo isn’t sure he and his housekeeper will be able to cope with three sullen teen agers. Theo promises to teach them to swim, listens to them, and promises himself and them he will be there for them. When Hope rescues his sister, he finds another person who can help him with his brothers and sister. When Rebecca’s children spend a weekend with her on McKinnon Island, all five teens start hanging out together every spare chance they get.

Lessons of a Lowcountry Summer shows that life has more to teach us and keeps surprising us even when we’re adults. Rochelle Alers creates believable characters with their strengths and weaknesses. Rebecca comes off as a snob at first, but is quickly drawn into the rich heritage of the island. Hope starts her summer with self doubts and questions about herself. It takes Rebecca’s and especially Theo’s friendship to once again see herself as a strong woman. Theo learns that his broken childhood doesn’t have to affect his relationship with his siblings or with women.

Alers also uses Lessons of a Lowcountry Summer to highlight the disappearing traditions of the black culture in the Atlantic islands. Hilton Head Islands and others have become vacation playgrounds, forcing out the old residents who had lived there for generations. McKinnon Island could easily be the next target. If so, the Gullah heritage would slowly disappear. Alers is on her soap box about the loss of the culture in Lessons of a Lowcountry Summer. Even so, it’s a good lesson to remember the past and to preserve it even as we move into the future.

There are surprises around many corners. There are sizzling scenes as couples get together or reunite. There is scandal. There is love. There is culture and heritage. And there is the beach, the ocean, and the lazy McKinnon Island atmosphere to keep the reader caught up in Lessons of a Lowcountry Summer.

Notice: Explicit sexual content

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