Rachel Van Dyken’s Cruel Summer Series, a light and entertaining read, is the perfect companion to have with you as you go about your day. This may sound quirky but I actually tend to classify my reading needs not by genre, but more like my workouts; light and heavy. Light books are those that you can read in small blocks, in other words, they are easy to fit into the busyness of life because you can pick them up and put them down easily in a day. Heavy books are those that once you open them they want to take over your existence; like read-through-the-night-even-though-you-have-work-to-do-the-next-day type of book. I love to constantly be reading so having light books intermixed between heavy books helps me remain a functioning member of my household!
Rachel consistently writes light stories with the perfect mix of heat and fun as seen in Summer Heat, the first book in a new contemporary NA series. Set at a summer camp for performers, we are introduced to Marlon and Ray, counselors with very different upbringings and a tumultuous history together. Their unexpected reunion as camp staff starts tearing away at the boxes they have both stuffed lingering hurt, insecurities, and feelings from a time when their youthful friendship was subjected to the harsh cruelties of high school and social disparities. It becomes evident that there are no walls strong enough to subdue the smoldering connection they have tried for years to ignore, especially when Dirty Dancing is chosen as the camper’s summer ending production.
Summer Seduction is the second installment of Marlon and Ray’s love/hate relationship that plays out through their preparation as director and instructor for the performance camp’s final production that will see industry agents in attendance. Future careers can be made or broken for both campers and staff based on their performance, but it’s even more important for Ray as she tries to shed the guilt and unworthiness she carries from when she was young. Marlon pushes her to tap into the bottled emotions she has never released in her performances to restore her own self-esteem as well as their relationship. But, those emotions become a two edged sword when it seems that the only one to truly see her heart is ripped away.
Summer Nights is Marlon and Ray’s big finale. When even fate can’t seem to keep them away their budding passion is transposed into their performance of Baby and Johnny, roles they are forced by sickness to assume. Ray’s parents and past threaten to derail all that they have been working to rebuild if not for Marlon’s “nobody puts Baby in a corner” moment.
The Cruel Summer Series will leave you looking for the air conditioner to cool down from the heat and elated that the power of love can heal and restore even the worst heartaches. Rachel’s skillful intertwining of the classic movie Dirty Dancing with the genuine characters and steamy attraction between Marlon and Ray produces a great NA summer series!