Reviewed by Meg Massey

Summer in the South tells the story of Ava, a young woman who agrees to spend the summer in her friend Will’s hometown, where she plans to spend the majority of her time working on her first novel. But when Ava enters the small town of Woodburn, Tennessee, she realizes that her summer will be nothing like she had planned.

Ava suddenly finds herself in a world of old money, manners and long-hidden secrets. While staying with Will’s aunts, Fanny and Josephine, she finds herself wrapped up in the mysterious death of Fanny’s first husband, Charlie Woodburn. Ava finds that no one wants to talk about Charlie, and to her surprise, Will dodges her questions just as quickly as the rest of his family. Suddenly (and literally) haunted by the deceased as she attempts to write at night, she feels that she must somehow tell the story of what led to Charlie’s demise.

As Ava immerses herself in researching Charlie’s death, she is introduced to his grandson, Jake, who is Will’s estranged cousin. After discovering the truth about what tore the two of them apart, Ava begins to worry that history will repeat itself. As her attraction to Jake continues to grow, so does Will’s jealousy. But when Ava decides to turn the town’s dramatic past into a novel, will she lose the relationships she’s formed with both men and their families?

Cathy Holton’s novel is rife with suspense until the very last page, as Holton travels back and forth through the tumultuous, secretive history of Woodburn, interweaving the stories of Ava, Josephine, Fanny and the deceased Charlie. What I thought I knew I didn’t, and what I did not know was not revealed until the very stunning ending that makes Summer in the South a true success, and a joy to read until the very last word.

Rating: 4.5/5

Meg lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, Ryan. Marketing professional by day, freelance writer by night, Meg writes about life, entertainment and everything in between on her blog. 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.