Title: Summer Stock
Author: Vanessa North
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: 239 Pages
At a Glance: Summer Stock is a perfect feel-good summer romance.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Tabloid scandals have driven TV star Ryan Hertzog to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, where he’s hiding out doing summer stock at his cousin’s seaside theater. When a hookup with local handyman Trey Donovan results in Ryan being photographed butt naked, he vows to keep his pants on and his hands off Trey. How was he supposed to know Trey would turn out to be the summer stock set builder?
Trey isn’t looking for a relationship; he’s still recovering from the emotional fallout of an abusive marriage. But Ryan’s laughter draws him in again and again, and he’s not about to say no to fooling around.
As the summer heats up, the paparazzi catch Ryan in increasingly compromising situations. Ryan might be too much drama for a summer fling—and Trey might be just an intermission from Ryan’s Hollywood life. But if they take their cues from Shakespeare, all’s well that ends well.
Review: “There is no script. You don’t get to rehearse being in love.” – Vanessa North
I loved that line, spoken in the book by Ryan’s best friend, Ali, so, so much. Because it’s so incredibly true, right? And, it’s especially true of the main characters, Ryan and Trey, in Vanessa North’s fantastic new book, Summer Stock. The path to love is not without its struggles for these guys. There is no script. They definitely don’t always do or say the perfect thing. But, they are genuine and so easy to fall in love with.
Ryan Hertzog, known in Hollywood as Bryan Hart, has come back to the place he grew up to do Shakespeare by the Sea at his cousin Caro’s theater. Things had recently been getting a bit out of control in Hollywood—his best friend even winding up in rehab—and Ryan and his agent felt like a getaway to North Carolina to do some summer stock was the perfect way for Ryan to get his head on straight and decide where he wanted his career to go. Or, if it was even salvageable. He doesn’t expect to travel all the way across the country and have the paparazzi still be such a prominent pain in his ass, though. And he definitely doesn’t plan on meeting a sexy contractor his very first night back in town. A sexy contractor who he can’t get out of his head.
Trey Donovan has been building sets for Shakespeare by the Sea for the past five years, and is as excited as anyone on the first day to hear that season’s plays announced, and see what’s in store for the summer. But this year, the butterflies in his stomach triple as soon as he realizes that his one-night-stand that ended in disaster is sitting in the office with Caro and her partner Mason. Despite how things ended that night, however, Trey and Ryan are both pleased to see each other again. I loved, loved this paragraph:
Trey’s breath caught in his throat when Ryan turned to greet him. He had thought that maybe he’d embellished in hindsight, that his hookup couldn’t have been that handsome, but there was no denying that Ryan was the most beautiful person he’d seen in his life. And, the way he was looking at Trey now, with surprise and warmth and a hint of shyness—it struck Trey down to his bones. How was it possible this was the same guy who’d scurried out of his house so fast he’d forgotten his pants?
And this, when Trey is watching rehearsal and talking to Caro about their hookup, killed me:
Trey slumped back in his seat. “He ran out of my house in such a hurry he forgot his pants. I don’t think he found my performance as impressive as I find his Marc Antony.”
Ha! So good.
In fact, I thought everything about these guys, and this book, was so good. I loooove how sexy they find each other and how playful they are. Their chemistry is incredible, and seems effortless. They just…fit. Each bringing to the table something the other needed. Ryan had a rough childhood and has had trouble finding his footing in Hollywood, leaving himself open to self-doubt and feeling like he’s not worthy of respect and love. He’s constantly working for everyone’s approval, and trying to be good enough. Trey helps him see the strong, competent, good man he already is. Trey is dealing with PTSD from horrible domestic violence suffered at the hands of his ex-husband, and Ryan gives him the levity and understanding he needs to keep working through it. I love so much that even after knowing about what happened to Trey, Ryan doesn’t look at him and see a victim. He just sees Trey. And, Trey needs that so badly.
The story’s supporting cast is also completely fabulous. Caro is wonderful, and Ryan’s biggest cheerleader and protector. Mason is such an important and transformative person in Ryan’s life. Trey’s sister Kim is fantastic. And, Ali and West both play huge roles and I ended up really loving them. Especially Ali, who was such an important part of Ryan’s life. I loved where Vanessa North took her character.
North’s style, as always, is smooth and enjoyable, and the writing is smart, current, and engrossing, pulling so many emotions out of the reader. This was truly a fantastic book. I loved every bit of it, and absolutely, whole-heartedly recommend it. Summer Stock is a perfect feel-good summer romance.
You can buy Summer Stock here: