Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews

August 22, 2012

Plot summary (from the publisher): Sometimes, when you need a change in your life, the tide just happens to pull you in the right direction….

Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she’s made over the past decade of her life. Julia—whose caustic wit covers up her wounds—has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can’t hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life. And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina’s Outer Banks is just what each of them needs.

Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he’s hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he’s ever cared about.

Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity. Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs?

Five people questioning everything they ever thought they knew about life. Five people on a journey that will uncover their secrets and point them on the path to forgiveness. Five people who each need a sea change, and one month in a summer rental that might just give it to them.

Warning: Spoilers below!


  • I liked that Dorie and her siblings were named after famous writers. As soon as her sister was identified as Will (Cather) and her brother as (Ogden) Nash, I KNEW that Dorie stood for Eudora (Welty). This was just a small touch, but was one of the few memorable things about the book.
  • I’m glad that Maryn/Madison didn’t suddenly join the clique and become another BFF forever. That would have been very unlikely and too much to take in an already overly saccharine book.


  • The Maryn/Madison storyline didn’t seem to fit with the rest of the book. The other women’s stories were more lighthearted and banal, but Maryn’s was rather sinister. Neither the plot nor the character seemed to belong here, and both stuck out rather badly.
  • The moment Ty was introduced, it was clear that he was destined to be linked with one of the women. After all, he was the only male within miles, and apparently you can’t have a group of women gathering together without at least one of them having man problems. Plus, the author didn’t spend all that time describing him if all he was going to do was change the pool heat pumps once in a while.
  • I thought it was unrealistic for Ellis to give up a promising job and financial security to take a chance on Ty, whom she had known for all of, what, two weeks at that point? Yeah, right. Practical, pragmatic Ellis wouldn’t change her stripes so quickly.
  • The writing wasn’t that great and the author often repeated similar words and phrases within the same sentence, such as “She fingered the curtain by running the material through her fingers.” Well, duh. That’s what fingered means, right???
  • I thought Julia’s “problem” was kind of dumb. Yeah, I can see a 25-year-old not wanting to tell her boyfriend about complications from a previous miscarriage that might render her unable to have any children. But this woman was 35 and still acting immature. Come on.
  • I’m sooooo sure that Dorie just happened to meet a man who became so smitten with her that he didn’t care she was four months pregnant with another man’s child. People like that don’t exist outside of these sappy romance novels.
  • The book was waaay too long with far too many boring parts interspersed with the few interesting scenes it contained. I’d say a good 100 pages or more could have been excised without significant loss of meaning.


This was my first Mary Kay Andrews book, and will likely be my last. I didn’t see anything in it that I can’t find in countless other chick lit novels, so I guess I’ll just stick to Jennifer Weiner and Curtis Sittenfeld when I want to indulge in this genre. I give Summer Rental is 2 stars out of 5.

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