Review: A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr

  • Pub. Date: June 2010
  • Publisher: Mira
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback, 408pp
  • ISBN-13: 9780778328704

I tend not to like romances set in the greater Sacramento area. I just really don't like Sacramento. It's  a quirk I have, so any romances set there are automatically engaged in an uphill battle with me. But Robyn Carr's latest wasn't, in the strictest sense, a romance at all. A Summer in Sonoma is more of a women's fiction book, as it focuses on a large ensemble cast of characters and their various relationships. Which, again, runs counter to my personal preferences.

    The focal relationship is one that begins with an attempted rape. Cassie, an ER nurse, is assaulted in a parking lot. She is rescued in the nick of time by a big, burly biker named Walt who breaks through a side window to free her from the would be rapist. Cassie and Walt form a tentative, unique friendship that Cassie, at least, is determined to keep strictly platonic because she just can't see herself dating someone who looks like he does.

    I'm really not a fan of the class difference romance. At all. Any heroine stressing so much over appearances and the perceived value of a person based on their occupation irritates the hell out of me (see my rant on Victoria Dahl's Lead Me On for the full, detailed objections to this convention). It comes across as shallow, bitchy, and not all the kind of person I'd like to be involved with--even through the pages of a novel.

    The only other character who tops Cassie on the bitchy superficiality is Marty, who is probably the least likable person I've ever read about in a romance/women's fic book who was not an actual villain. Man. Bitch doesn't begin to cover it. Really. She nearly ruins her marriage over stuff that would irritate the most sane of women. But her communication methods make Kate Gosselin seem tame.

    I don't mind secondary characters in a romance novel. I do mind when those characters receive equal time to the 'main' couple of the story. I like to wallow in my characters, learning all about them, connecting with them. Having so many relationships in such high states of crisis was just too much for what could have been a much more rewarding story. It's unfortunate that this book hit so many of my personal pet peeves.

    My Grade: C+

    FTC Disclaimer: Digital galley received through Netgalley

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