Book Reviews

Summer Ride by Susan Laine at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Gay / Contemporary / Students/Teachers/Professors / New Adult / Romance
Reviewed by Serena Yates on 30-March-2018

Book Blurb

High school best friends Toby Billings and Jim Maverick went their separate ways after graduation. Five years later, they meet by chance. Toby needs a ride, and Jim offers to give him one.


During a journey across several states, with stops at roadside diners, state parks, and cheap motels, small talk turns to serious discussions of lives that didn’t turn out the way either of them dreamed. Their choices are catching up to them, and neither is on an innocent summer vacation. Renewing their friendship will mean painful admissions and secrets coming to light. Yet they discover they have more in common now than they ever guessed, and going their separate ways at the trip’s end won’t be easy.


After aimlessly wandering the country, all roads lead back home. But first they must decide what home means.


Book Review

A chance encounter that is as unexpected as it turns out to be serendipitous is at the center of this charming trip across several US states – but is really just as much a journey down memory lane that becomes an exploration of a future. Neither Toby nor Jim expected to ever see each other again after high school graduation in their Oregon hometown, and neither have achieved what they set out to do. Now that they have met though, all of that may change… This story is full of discoveries, a renewed friendship that turns out to be quite different from what they shared before, and wonderful scenes typical for a road trip. The tale is also filled with an underlying sense of hope that things might get better – despite a ton of secrets between Toby and Jim – and the combination gave me exactly what I was looking for after reading the blurb.

Toby is a graduate engineering student in Boston, has decided to “go west” for reasons that only slowly emerge, and is about to take the next bus when he runs into Jim. It disrupts what he had vaguely planned, but not in a bad way. The offer to become Jim’s map reader is tempting, but Toby’s curiosity about why they drifted apart is as much part of the decision as the promise of a more luxurious way to travel than Toby is able to afford right now. Then there is the fact that Jim has grown into a very attractive man, not that Toby will say anything about that anytime soon.

Jim has just finished his second year of law school in Boston and needs a break but keeps the rationale close to his chest. His purple SUV made me smile, but it allows him to follow his need to travel while he figures out his next steps. He is tense and clearly stressed and in dire need of a friend to open up to so he can get some perspective. He is also immediately attracted to Toby but won’t admit it out loud, a sign of the fear of rejection he still carries deep inside him.

Both young men have enough issues to fill a whole novel, including domineering fathers, but neither of them quite knows what to do about them. So they take to the road, confront their past and each other, and have a few fights. But they also find out how widening your horizons in the geographical sense can have an effect on your mental and emotional well-being. The problems they have only emerge slowly, between lots of shared memories, and I enjoyed the sense of discovery between them once they settle the basics. The emerging realization of what they might want to do about their situation and the feelings they share was well done, and the suspense around “will they or won’t they” figure it out kept me captivated.

If you like romances between former best friends getting a second chance at love, if you want to watch two young men battle with their past, their principles, each other, and how to define their future, and if you’re looking for a read that is captivating on more than one level, then you will probably like this novella.





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novella, 112 pages/36670 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 30-March-2018
Price $4.99 ebook
Buy Link