Slow Summer Burn (Star Harbor #4) by Elisabeth Barrett
Slow Summer Burn is the final book in the Star Harbor series where each book focuses on the lives of the four Grayson brothers, natives of Star Harbor which is a resort town outside of Boston.
Unfortunately, I have only read the last two books in the series, but each of these books can stand alone.
I do, however, wish I had started at the beginning so I could have a stronger sense of the bond these bothers have with each other and the women in their lives. Also, although I didn’t realize it when I read book 3, a legend about the Siren Lorelei, pirate ship that sank off the coast of Star Harbor during the 1700s, is interwoven throughout the series as main characters find hidden keys that may open a treasure chest rumored to be buried in Star Harbor. The significance of the legend and the search for the treasure is finally revealed in Slow Summer Burn.
This is a great romantic suspense revolving around the mystery of a DEA investigation into who is responsible for financing and transportation of drugs around the area. The protagonist is Val Grayson, seasoned DEA agent, who leads a team to discover the parties involved in this illegal operation. While investigating the main suspect, Congressman Kirkland, Val finds himself falling in love with Cameron, a Bostonian blue blooded socialite who defies all Val’s initial stereotyped impressions about her.
Although the novel is a genre-blending of mystery, suspense, and romance, it leans heavily on Val and Cameron’s love story. Barrett does a great job of helping readers to connect with and relate to both of these characters by having the story told from both of their POVs. Getting their thoughts throughout the book reveals their insecurities and shows that even though are from different socio-economic classes, they have more in common than they think.
When Val and Cameron meet at a social event, the attraction between them is instantaneous.
The chemistry between them is sizzling; however, at first, Val is reluctant to pursue a relationship with Cameron because of her affluent family and their prominent status in the community. He has avoided women like her in the past, but after one dance, he wants her even though deep down he thinks he could never make her happy. He is perceptive enough to see beyond her reserved nature, and her vulnerabilities bring out a possessive side of him that he’s never had before.
Cameron is a wonderful, caring woman. She is not one bit pretentious, and she gets irritated whenever Val tries to box her with his stereotypical assumptions that she will dress, think, and act a certain way based on her social status. For example, he’s shocked when she dresses in jeans for their first date. I loved watching Cameron prove to Val that she’s more than a pretty face. She’s practical, resourceful, and when she pulls out her power tools, Val knows he’s a goner.
Like Val, Cameron feels stifled by her family’s expectations and obligations as she tries to be independent and still make her mother happy. Cameron’s parents reminded me of the Victorian age where one must follow certain protocols deemed appropriate by someone of her breeding and stature.
Growing up in such a repressive, stifling home has kept Cameron from fully embracing her life, with Val she can be herself. I enjoyed watching Cameron “let her down” and give her passions free reign.
Much of the story is about their personal struggles to take risks, find freedom, and discover the meaning of a real love that brings them happiness and makes them feel whole.
Once it seems they may be able to overcome their differences in social class, Val’s job interferes with his desire to be close to Cameron. Her family is very close to Kirkland, the main suspect behind the drug operation that Val’s team investigates. His teammates urge him to use his connections to Val to gather evidence about the suspect, but he refuses to bring her into their mission. His fear is that if her friend is guilty and the truth is revealed, Cameron will believe he’s just been using her to get close to Kirkland.
The action and suspense increase in the latter part of the story as Val’s team searches for the mastermind behind the drug-running operation and tries to save Cameron when her life becomes endangered because of her relationship with Val. There are a few surprises along the way that kept my attention as well. This was a great read!
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
About the Author
Elisabeth Barrett lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and spends her days teaching, editing, writing sexy contemporary romance, and enjoying time with her sometimes-bearded husband and three spirited children. She is constantly perfecting her home-work-writing juggling act, but in her free time she loves to hike open space preserves, grow orchids, bake sweet things her husband won’t eat, and sing in grand choruses.