Title: Last Kiss of Summer by Marina Adair
Destiny Bay Series Book One
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: C
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
He’s one bad apple she just can’t resist . . .
Kennedy Sinclair never dreamed she’d own a pie shop and an orchard in a small town like Destiny Bay. But nestled between the mountains and the Pacific Ocean, it’s the perfect place to cross something off her “Life’s short so eat the icing first” list and start her life over from scratch. Her shop, Sweetie Pies, is famous for its hot, flaky apple turnovers and sinfully delicious deep dish pie. For Kennedy though, nothing is more enticing than the tall, strapping slice of temptation who keeps coming back for more.
Luke Callahan is determined to make his hard cider business a success. With his beloved father’s cider recipe and the opportunity of a lifetime in his grasp, he’ll stop at nothing to get this deal done. There’s just one catch: he needs Kennedy’s apples. At first, he thinks it’ll be as easy as pie to charm those apples right off her trees. But Kennedy isn’t falling for his tender charms or his wicked ways. When the negotiations start heating up, so do the feelings they have for each other. And it takes just one kiss to seal the deal . . .
The first installment in Marina Adair’s Destiny Bay series,Last Kiss of Summer is a story of new beginnings for lead protagonist Kennedy Sinclair.
Thanks to her beloved grandmother Edna, Kennedy finds the fresh start she is looking for in the delightfully charming town of Destiny Bay following her heartbreaking split from her cheating ex. Taking a big chance that could either give her the break she desperately needs or wipe out her life savings if it fails, she buys Sweeties Pies sight unseen from Edna’s old friend Fiona “Fi” Callahan and Fi’s niece Paula. Although she initially has a few reservations about the possibly too good to be true deal, Kennedy puts her misgivings aside in order to finally find a place that feels like home. Turns out her fears are well-founded but it is Paula’s son Luke who becomes the biggest thorn in Kennedy’s side as he resorts to underhanded means to destroy her business in order to get his hands on the apples he needs to expand his hard cider business. Although the two share a smoldering hot attraction, Kennedy and Luke continually lock horns over the apples and although they eventually seem to reach a truce, will Luke’s betrayal end their chance for happiness?
Kennedy still carries the scars from her mother’s abandonment and she craves nothing more than a well-ordered and predictable life. Hurt by her ex-boyfriend’s infidelity and dismayed to have to start over yet again, she is surprisingly optimistic about her new business and she throws herself wholeheartedly into the venture. Quickly realizing she should have asked a few more questions about the bakery’s finances, she comes up with a brilliant plan to keep Sweetie Pies in business. Despite Fi’s resistance to change, Kennedy is quick to reassure the former owner that she only wants what is best for the shop. However, the biggest challenge Kennedy must overcome is Luke’s concerted effort to keep her from the three acres of apples that were included in her purchase of the shop. Undeterred, she creatively works around the challenges he puts in her way but she woefully underestimates how far Luke will go to ensure he gets the apples that are vital to her business.
Luke is extremely loyal to his mom and his friend and business partner Bradley Hawk. Trying to assuage his guilt over leaving the family business years earlier, he will do whatever it takes to expand their business and while he has a valid reason to do so, he is merciless as tries to destroy Kennedy in order to keep the apples he needs for an upcoming business deal. Luke is more than willing to fight dirty and his maneuvering is incredibly sly, devious and underhanded as he tries to undercut her every chance he gets. He charms Kennedy in order to get an edge and although he knows exactly what is at stake for her, Luke is unrelenting as he undermines her efforts to succeed time and again. His final act of betrayal is so incredibly reprehensible and deceitful that it is virtually unforgivable. But what really makes the act so vile is his continued dishonesty and his infuriating reaction as Luke tries to console her when his scheme works and Kennedy loses a valuable business deal due to his duplicity. This act of sabotage is positively heartbreaking and completely unnecessary since he has other means to accomplish his goals.
Although well-written with a lovable heroine, Last Kiss of Summer is a bit of a disappointing beginning to Marina Adair’s Destiny Bay series. The romance between Luke and Kennedy never quite feels quite right due to Luke’s single-minded pursuit of his dreams even though he knows achieving his goals will financially and emotionally destroy her. In spite Luke’s calculating and destructive machinations, Kennedy remains refreshingly kindhearted and compassionate and she never does anything that would deliberately hurt anyone else. Luke is eventually ashamed of how his behavior, but this realization comes far too late to redeem him into a likable character who is worthy of Kennedy’s forgiveness or love.
Despite this rather lackluster first installment in the Destiny Bay series, the tantalizing glimpses of Kennedy’s new friend, Ali and Luke’s close friend Bradley Hawk will leave readers eagerly awaiting their story which is slated for release in 2017.