**We were gifted an e-copy of this book in return for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are our own**
After reading One Summer In Rome back in 2018 Samantha Tonge quickly became one of my favourite authors and I have spent the intervening years making my way through her back list. Now fast forward two years and Samantha has just released her latest novel, The Summer Island Swap, and today I’m thrilled to be hosting the stop on it’s publication blog tour. Thanks to Aria Fiction for inviting me to join this tour.
About The Book
Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…
After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.
But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.
So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape.Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret
Sarah has spent her whole adult life working hard to build a safe home for her younger sister away from their troubled childhood, but now Amy wants to give her something back. With money from a recent lottery win burning a hole in her pocket Amy decides to treat the siblings to a once in a lifetime trip to the Virgin Islands.
Sarah dreams of luxury, sipping cocktails next to the pool, big comfy beds and it’s much needed especially as her tyrant boss decided to sack her from her just before their holiday. Amy is an eco warrior who loves everything nature and animals and a month long luxury holiday wouldn’t be her first choice, but she’s willing to do anything for her sister to repay her for everything she has done for her……. or is she?
On a whim Amy changes their holiday plans hoping to surprise Sarah and boy does she get a surprise! Instead of a month of relaxation she finds they are signed up as conservation volunteers; living in huts, taking cold showers and eating fish soup for breakfast. It’s literally Sarah’s worst nightmare and her instincts tell her to jump straight on the next plane home, but she decides to suck it up and knuckle down for her sister’s sake. It has nothing of course to do with the tall, dark, mysterious Rick who runs the family conservation project!
Without a doubt this is my favourite of Samantha’s books to date! The characters are wonderfully written, flaws and all, making them not only realistic but so easy for me as a reader to become invested in their stories. There is a variety of characters hailing from different countries and walks of life and it was really interesting to see the interactions and bonds the sisters made with their campmates as the book progressed. I especially enjoyed the friendship and camaraderie between Sarah and Jonas, another unwilling volunteer. It was also wonderful to see the inclusion of queer characters, something I absolutely love to discover in books.
At first glance you would be mistaken for thinking this book is a romance, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the budding relationship between Sarah and Rick is actually more of a side plot with the real focus being on the family relationships. As I have already mentioned Sarah and Amy didn’t have a pleasant childhood and there are triggers in this book for death, bullying and abuse; all of which were an integral part of the story in order for the reader to understand the siblings motivations. It was fantastic to witness the character growth both girls underwent throughout the story, letting go of the past and focusing on what is important for the future – it gave me all those warm fuzzy feels you want from a book!
The island backdrop really made this book though, with it’s wonderful scenery and eclectic wildlife I could easily close my eyes and imagine myself there beside the volunteers thanks to Tonge’s descriptive writing. I especially loved Chatty the monkey who was without a doubt the star of the book, bringing some humour and joy into the the lives of the characters and readers alike.
The Summer Island Swap is the perfect heartwarming read that left me questioning what’s important in my own life and in a really reflective mood when I finished reading. I absolutely loved every second of this book and read it in only a day, I just couldn’t put it down! If you aren’t already a fan of Samantha Tonge’s books I recommend you give this one a go and if you already love her writing this one is a sure fire winner! I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next!
About The Author
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee.
Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award.
In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award and in 2020 won The Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award at the same awards ceremony.
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