Annalise has been head over heels for Jake, her best friend's older brother, since she was fifteen years old, and while many years have passed since the summers she and Kelly sat on the beach watching Jake and his friends surf, when she sees him again, those feelings haven't changed. So when Jake asks the aspiring fashion designer to put her fashion sense to use and make him over so he can land a date with the incredibly attractive Scarlett, a woman Annalise could never compete with, she's thrilled to spend time with him, though she knows the situation will break her heart.
Jake's never been one for long-term relationships. The son of a famous musician known more for his womanizing and partying, Jake knows from experience that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and while he may not be as callous as his father was, he also knows it's not in his blood to love someone for the long run. If there was ever a woman he wanted to do that for, though, it's Annalise. But she's off limits, his little sister's best friend, too good for him by a long shot. Only he can't seem to get her out of his mind.
The Verdict: The Summer of Jake is your classic story about the good girl who harbors unrequited love for the seemingly out-of-her-league and off-limits boy whose warped self-image but ultimately good heart has kept him out of the relationship game. But the ways the characters are developed and the plot unfolds makes it stand out.
Annalise, though still crushing on Jake after all these years, is not your typical invisible admirer. Sure, she wishes he was hers, but she hasn't spent the years pining uselessly over him. She's pursued her passion — fashion design — and struck out on her own, with a few failed relationships along the way. And while she may be starry eyed when Jake approaches her for help with his next dating conquest, she remembers herself and bargains to get her designs showcased in his shop. Their interactions are really cute, with lots of smart banter and good-natured teasing, and she manages to keep her heart from showing for the most part.
Jake was a little frustrating, though, because the basis for his belief that he wasn't relationship material was pretty thin or perhaps not developed well enough to be all that convincing. One previous girlfriend, apparently the only one with whom he'd ventured into long-term territory, had refused to take the next step with him because, according to her, he was too laid back and interested in having fun rather than building stability. And then there were the many times people had told him he was so much like his dad, but those mentions seemed rather vague. He, of course, took them to mean that he wouldn't be able to settle down and remain faithful to one woman, but for all we know, those people could have been complimenting him on his karaoke skills or his hair or his enthusiasm for his profession. If he'd had a string of failed relationships behind him, a penchant for drugs, or a tendency to let everyone around him down, his reluctance to pursue something permanent would have been more believable.
I did, however, enjoy the way both characters seemed to lay it all on the table instead of internalizing everything in the way that most books have it. Annalise kept her feelings to herself for as long as she could, but when the moment of truth came, she held nothing back. Jake wasn't quite so forthcoming with his words, but his actions made it clear that he held Annalise in different light than most women, and when he finally came to his senses and decided to just go for it, he put his whole heart on the line.
The Summer of Jake is a sweet romance with none of the overdone angst I expected — and the best cat ever. It's absolutely perfect for readers who are tired of characters who sabotage things to hide their feelings and prefer a slow build with plenty of chemistry over the usual fall-into-bed-too-soon mess that other romance novels serve up.
***FicCentral received this book from Entangled Publishing (via NetGalley) for free in exchange for an honest review. Even so, we're far too opinionated to let a freebie influence our thoughts or the contents of the reviews we post here.