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Review of "A Stardance Summer" by Emily March

TitleA Stardance Summer
Author: Emily March
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Series: Eternity Springs #13
Price: $5.98 (Paperback) $7.99 (e-book) $17.13 (Audible)
Rating: No Stars

Disclaimer: I wrote this review as a part of a Blog Tour, but have since pulled out of it for obvious reasons.  I am not editing the content of the review, so any mentions of the Blog Tour remain.


I want to start this review by saying that this is not the type of book I usually read and had I known this, I would not have signed up for this Blog Tour.  While it does not appear as if this is being marketed as a "Christian Romance" that is exactly what this is.  As a New York-born, California-living Atheist with degrees from two liberal universities, I am not exactly the target demographic for this book (or for this author, for that matter).  Despite feeling duped by the marketing, I made the effort to read the entire thing.  Honestly, had I stopped at any point before reaching the end, I would have a more favorable opinon of it.  Unfortunately, I did finish it, so now, you, my dear readers, get to sit through a review of a book so revolting that it would probably get the Donald Trump seal of approval (that is, of course, if I thought Trump could read, which I am not convinced he can).

From the Publisher:

Lili Howe took a leap of faith when she decided to join the Tornado Alleycats, her elderly landlady’s all-female glamour-camping club. Lili’s always given everything to her career, putting herself on track to become her CPA firm’s youngest partner. But now that Lili’s carefully planned future is shattered, she’s willing to let summer work its magic on her―at all costs.

There’s never a dull moment at Stardance Ranch, the Colorado resort Brick Callahan built from the ground up. Still, a late night skinny-dipping session involving a bunch of “glamping” grannies. . .with his best friend’s kid sister Lili among them? He couldn’t have made up such story if he tried. The undeniable mutual attraction between Brick and gorgeous, spirited Lili is a reminder that life is full of surprises. But when Brick’s ex-girlfriend suddenly shows up, he’s faced with a desperate choice: Do right by a woman he once loved or take a chance on Lili. . .and do everything he can to win her heart?

* * * * * *

Before I get to why I find A Sundance Summer to be so abhorrent that I felt the need to associate it with the likes of Donald Trump, I have to say that there was one thing that I did like about it -- Lili's friend/substitute Grandmother, Patsy.  Patsy is awesome.  She constantly pushes Lili to go for what she wants and is 100% supportive of her decision to go after Brick.  Had A Stardance Summer been about the relationship between these two women, I would have enjoyed it so much more.  This could have been Thelma and Louise for the 21st Century!  It could have been called Patsy and Lili's Great Adventure. I totally would have loved that book.  

Sadly, that is not what I got.  What I got was a preachy pile of flaming dog shit that someone left on my front doorstep.  There is one character, Celeste, who actually talks like an Evangelical Motivational Speaker.   If this was supposed to be some sort of tongue in cheek thing, where we're supposed to know that this character is cheesy, I wouldn't have been bothered by it.  Instead, she is treated like some wise old woman, who gives out the best advice.  Her advice, however, is odd.  It is all about how there are two types of angels, ones that are like what your read about in religious texts and other that are simply other people who come into our lives to put us on the right path.  She talks about how some people are born to be angels, but they need to "grow" their wings.  I'm not quite sure what that even means.  As Zuzu (and Clarence) told us:

This isn't the only Christian posturing that this book does -- there is a scene, close to the end of the book, in which Lili, thinking back over everything that happened to her, comes to the conclusion that she had to suffer through some truly awful things in order to reach that point in her life.  That is some toxic, Calvinist predetermination bullshit.  The idea that bad things have to happen for you to get to the good things is absolutely abhorant.  What's worse is that because those bad things led her to good things, she needs to forgive the people that nearly ruined her life.  Nope.  Sorry.  Life does not work that way -- not for the types of things that were done to Lili.  For those things, people get sent to jail.  There's no passing Go, and there sure as hell no $200.

The worst part of this stinking pile of dog shit isn't even the Christian tint that tainted it.  No, this wouldn't be a good book even without that in there.  First, there is the fact that this series has a complicated backstory that is confusing to someone who has never read it before.  The most confusing thing is trying to figure out Brick's personal history.  Lili knows him from when they were kids and his name was Mark Christopher, but the rest of the characters know him as Mark "Brick" Callahan.  It took far too long for me to realize that Brick and Mark were one and the same person and it wasn't until Lili calls him Mark did I figure it out at all.  I kept wondering if maybe the author changed his name after writing the prologue and had forgotten to fix it afterwards.

The worst part of A Stardance Summer is the toxic relationship between Lili and her family.  I am absolutely certain that Lili's parents are the textbook example of Narcissitic Personality Disorder.  Both of her parents act as if Lili is not good enough nor worthy enough for their love.  They refuse to help her when she finds herself in a shit-ton of trouble and very obviously do not believe that she is completely innocent.  At times, Lili mentions that her parents put ridiculous pressure on her to do well in school/life and were disappointed in her when she did not live up to their standards.  It was also obvious that they preferred her brother, Derek, because he did.  This treatment colors Lili's interactions with her brother and is the reason she keeps important information from him for the majority of the book.

What truly pissed me off about that part of the story was how they excused their treatment of Lili and their complete lack of empathy regarding her situation.   

That is not how a family works.  You cannot completely check out of your kids' lives because you've got something going on in yours.  Families are supposed to stick together.  They're supposed to help each other when they're needed.  My family might be crazy, but I know that if I needed them, they would be there for me, no questions asked.  Unfortunately, Lili's family has been operating like this forever and so Lili seems not to understand how much they have wronged her.  She definitely shouldn't have forgiven them for the way they treated her -- at least not as easily as she does here.  There should have been A LOT more groveling than was done.  Also, she should not have been made to feel as if she was the bad guy.  You do not get to do what they did to their child and then make that child out to be the villain of the piece.

I cannot in good conscience recommend this book to anyone.  I have no doubt that there are people, who will enjoy it -- there are 12 other books in this series, after all.  I do have to hand it to Ms. March.  She gets the dubious distinction of having written the first book to be reviewed on My Little Book Corner and receive ZERO STARS despite not being categorized as a DNF.


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