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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sunny Days for Sam by Jennifer Shirk

Sunny Days for Sam by Jennifer Shirk
Publisher: Avalon books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (186 pgs)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Sunnyva 'Sunny' Fletcher is a firm believer in fairy tales. With the recent debt she's acquired, the hope of something magical happening in her life is the only thing keeping her going. She needs a job fast. So when Sunny learns the sexy new vacationer in town is looking for a nanny, she starts to believe she just may have a fairy godmother after all!

Internet guru Sam Calloway is only in town for the summer and needs a nanny for his two small children. However, the beautiful and inexperienced Sunny is not exactly the kind of caregiver Sam has in mind. It doesn't take long for Sunny's tenderhearted and bubble-blowing ways to soon have the children -- and Sam -- enamored with her. She's a dream come true. But after what Sam's been through, he's stopped believing in fairy tales long ago.

Sunny manages to work her way into Sam's closed-off heart, but at the end of the summer, will the workaholic dad go back to his life in New York City, or will he decide his days are much sunnier here with Sunny?

If a reader loved the film, Enchanted, then this story should appeal because Sunny’s character is as chipper, optimistic and loving as a person could wish without being mired in over-sugary or tooth-ache inducing sweetness. Sunny Days for Sam is the kind of book that's perfect for a rainy day or when life hands you a platter of sour grapes. It’s uplifting, happy and truly romantic.

There's a delightful cast of characters who bring this story to life. Credit goes to the author for some wonderful passages of descriptive prose and the creation of vibrant secondary characters. Kim, Sunny’s best friend, comes to mind. She’s key in prodding Sunny to action, to think about consequences or supporting her when the heroine is having her heart broken. She’s pragmatic, feisty and means well. Other important secondary people are the hero’s kids, Emma and Cole. They are the catalyst for much of what happens in the book. These children are not props; they’re vibrant, provoking and adorable. I loved their dialogue, and how real they seemed to be. The best name in the whole book is, Flea. The author certainly had me perplexed as to his role. What a tease! Flea was a fun character and I enjoyed his contribution to the conflict. A real surprise was the grandmother. I was getting into the groove of not liking her and thinking the same things the hero thought. A friendly warning, Ms. Shirk is devious.

The conflict deals with personality clashes, assumptions and battered emotions. It has internal angst, disbelief and a lack of trust combined with two people who are so different yet so incredibly right for the other. There’s misdirection, miscommunication and misunderstandings. In short, it’s a story about people who experience what humans do in real life. And like the real thing, happy endings do happen, but sometimes the couple has to go through a lot to get there.

Like, meeting the bad guy, who isn’t bad in a criminal sense. He’s more like a sullen, bully of a child in a man’s body doing stupid things and eventually gets stood up to. I’m not going to say who is involved in the eventual face-off but it certainly contributed the right amount of drama and emotional impact that made this story stand out.

All of this revolves around, Sunny, a down on her luck lady with dreams and hope. She makes the best of things whenever she can and doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Readers are going to get a kick out of how the hero and his children meet her for the first time. It’s one of the reasons why I referred to the move Enchanted in the first place. Unlike the movie, Sunny is very aware of the world, its pitfalls and the slimy snakes that populate it. Even with that knowledge, she refuses to let it poison her disposition. That steadfast positiveness actually takes strength of character to accomplish and Sunny has it in spades.

The role of the grouch goes to the hero, Sam. He doesn’t intend to be. He doesn’t even see it. His kids, as young as they are, are totally aware and try in their own way to make him hear them. But adults get mired in work and their own emotional pain so they get lost with no way of knowing that they are. How do you get a man so set in his ways to wake up? How do you approach him without incurring his wrath? There are no easy answers, same as real life. Sunny and the kids stumble about a bit until one fateful day, Sunny acts out of character. It shocked Sam. It made the kids cheer. And that is when the next phase of the romance began.

Equally heartfelt, completely engrossing and very emotional, the story of two people falling in love even when they’ve convinced themselves that they shouldn’t or couldn’t, is so well written, it was a breeze to read. I enjoyed getting to know Sam and Sunny. I liked their interactive dialogue as well as their internal monologues.

It’s true that some readers may think everything gets smoothed out too easily or conveniently and I can see how that opinion might be formed. But I preferred the book as written. There are days when I can’t handle harsh words or harrowing escapes and threats; where all I need and crave is a story that can take me to a different, softer place. There I can find enjoyment, entertainment and a reason to smile. I found all that in more in Sunny Days for Sam. The title is also a very clever play on words.

Pick up your own copy of Sunny Days for Sam for a sweet and refreshing change of pace. This book has characters that will touch your heart and a love story that is delightful. The eventual courtship of Sam and Sunny is filled with tender moments, wonderful laughter and wistful sighs. It’s a definite pleaser.


Robin Delany said...

It sounds like a fantastic book. Thanks for reviewing it. I love reads that pick you up when you are down.

Cynthia Selwyn said...

Jennifer Shirk writes wonderful, warm and witty books. This one included!