It Happens in the Hamptons by: Holly Peterson

I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway, and it was a nice treat. The book released in May, and so I made an extra effort to read it during the same month. I haven’t read many ‘beach reads’ but this was definitely one. Beautiful scenery, multiple love interests, a little intrigue and even deceit and then it wraps up in a nice little bow at the end.

We meet Katie Doyle and her son Huck as they are getting ready to move from Oregon to the Hamptons. Katie has been through a rough period of her life lately and when she meets George who offers her an escape, she takes the leap. So her and Huck are moving across the country in the hopes that she can get to know this man better. Once she moves, George gives her plenty of space but is also flirting with being annoyingly absent. In the meantime, Katie establishes herself in the town, making friends, working as a tutor, and getting sucked into George’s social set. Things get a little more complicated as Katie starts to fall for Luke, who leads a beachside swim camp her son attends. With George frequently absent, Katie forges her own way, and is open to seeing where the crush on Luke leads.

As her feelings deepen, it is revealed that George is the very same man that has been trying to shut down Luke’s camp. Luke has already asked the rich, influential Jake Chase to help save the camp, but when things get personal the grudge takes on a life of it’s own. They team up to take down George. It isn’t until the very end that Katie finds out the truth about the man she was seeing. But things still turn out just the way they were meant to and all is well. (I personally think this is only because Katie wasn’t so focused on George the whole time.)

I was really excited about this book first of all because the cover is beautiful. That water looks delicious and I love the bright bikini and lettering for the title. It’s gorgeous. However, I think maybe this book just isn’t my sort of thing. I’ve read some really good contemporaries, but this just didn’t do it for me. There was a slight element of mystery, but it wasn’t a huge reveal once you knew that George had some enemies. And even the paternity element seemed pretty strange, and like it didn’t matter at all except to tie off all the loose ends. At first I had a hard time getting into it, especially as a bunch of characters felt like they got dumped into my lap. I didn’t know what to do with them or why I should care about them. As I continued reading, this feeling never really went away. I felt like I just kept reading in order to hit my goals, not because I cared about the characters or the plot.

I think that the descriptions in the beginning of the book had a lot to do with it. To establish the setting, there were several paragraphs where the homes, clothing and lifestyles of those who make the Hamptons famous were described. But instead of using descriptive words, there was just a listing of designer names. Those mean nothing to me! The writing would say something about a dress or cover up that was a certain brand, and unless I had personal experience with the brand (which in most cases I don’t) the description provided nothing to me. I understand that some of these people have no financial limits, but I’d like to have known what made these outfits so fabulous other than a brand name associated with them. I kept thinking about what one of my college professors would tell us repeatedly, “SHOW me, don’t TELL me.”

Another thing that occasionally had me feel gross reading this was the insatiable sexuality of some of the characters, particularly the men. Some of them are players, and that’s their character. I could have grasped that by their actions rather than being treated to their inner monologues on what they’d like to do to any random girl on the beach that day. I guess it just bothered me that some of these guys were such sleazes, and that no one seemed to notice or care until towards the end of the book, and their actions started to have consequences.

Despite not caring for the characters on a personal level, once I finished there were several aspects of Katie’s character that I could really appreciated. Namely, her self-assured independence. As a single mother, she had to handle many things on her own. I liked that that part of her didn’t change just because George was interested in her. Even though she moved across the country at his invitation, she was determined to find her own way with her career and paying rent on the cottage he was lending her. She didn’t want to depend on him for her happiness, and I think that made it less devastating for her when his true nature came out. Clever girl! This also extended into her sexuality. She was self-assured enough in herself that she knew her limits with George, especially around her child. This also played a role in her romance with Luke as it developed. I really liked seeing such a self-assured woman navigate a new chapter in her life.

Overall this was a 3 star read for me. Or about a 73 on a grading scale.  It passed, and wasn’t a terrible reading experience but I think there was room for improvement. Also, it just wasn’t my particular taste. But I’m glad for the opportunity to read it and expand my horizons. Now I know this isn’t my thing. I won’t be keeping this book on my shelf, I will donate it so that someone else can enjoy it. As far as recommendations go, I think maybe someone with a greater appreciation for contemporary would like this one. I do think this would a nice fluffy beach read as well, for someone who isn’t looking for anything to deep.


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