One S'more Summer is Smooth and Full of Magical Prose (Review: One S'more Summer by Beth Merlin)

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One S'more Summer (The Campfire Series, #1) by Beth Merlin | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

There's something positively charming about Beth Merlin's prose. One S'more Summer, the beginning of her debut The Campfire Series, is proof of that. When people are quick to refer to a writer's prose as something reminiscent of another writer's, I get a bit skeptical. The buzz is that Beth Merlin is perfect for fans of Emily Giffin or Sophie Kinsella and in so many ways, I see that. There's that quality of classic, easy to read chick-lit to One S'more Summer. Yet, I find, when I compare the three, the way her story develops is done far more gracefully--a feat for a debut author.

You should know that I binge-read the two books that, thus far, make up The Campfire Series. Another thing you should note is that, despite my 3.5 rating of the book, I certainly enjoyed it. It was the perfect book to get into and face a reading slump head-on. There's something sweet about the way Beth Merlin tells the story of Gigi Goldstein. You have these familiar archetypes and plotlines, but the way she navigates them is smart and heartfelt. She makes these themes some-thing of her own and most of all, she makes you love (and feel deeply) for Gigi as she is set on a path all her own. 

The general vibe of the book is smooth. Let me rephrase that: Gigi's life is a bit bumpy at the moment but Merlin's prose is something of both magic (without literal magic) and true-to-life.

Many of us know what it is like to live in the past or to be in love with someone you shouldn't be. Many of us know what it's like to be transported--in our minds--to these past memories and emotions. This is what makes Gigi a character to root for and someone you really come to care for. Because Gigi is flawed and utterly human, she is more than her past and future and whatever else is in between. She is the perfectly imperfect leading lady. Kind, smart, driven in many ways but still quite hesitant in reaching out for what she really wants in life.

I think what I liked most about her journey as a character in One S'more Summer is that gradually she seeks more and more knowledge about herself. I liked that she is down on her luck because--as they say--things can only go up from here on out. It adds a depth to the plotlines and self-discovery and her relationships. The second thing I enjoyed was the nostalgia of it all. 

For Gigi, so many things circle back to her youth and the beloved camp where a lot of her life, and connections, were developed. We all have that one place that was just *something* to us. It's easy to see why she'd go out there, after losing her job and struggling with her feelings towards the man she loves--who just so happens to be marrying her best-friend. 

Having the novel told in present vs. flashbacks, tying the camp into the central plots, was all done beautifully. You don't have that sense of confusion when we hop to a different time and that's all because of Merlin's grace of pen. There's so many good things to be said about it, but I'll let readers figure that one out on their own. 

I definitely appreciated the up's and downs of life and friendships that we see in this. As for romantic relationships, I adored her scenes with Perry. I think that the way they are connected to one another allows that perfectly light banter to come into play. There's tension and things are complicated at best, but that's what makes their scenes so enjoyable and what makes readers want to push the two of them together and be all, "BE ENDGAME!" 

While the novel had its slower moments (which, in fact, is probably not on the novel or author itself but instead on me) here and there, I found that the way various plotlines were concluded was very, very satisfying. I also liked that it gave us a bit to lean on, too, before we're given the second book--it leaves readers with just a faint taste of what may, or may not, come next. 

And I, for one, am excited to see the next chapter of Gigi's life. I have questions! Mostly, I just want our girl to have everything that she could possibly want from this life. Overall, One S'more Summer is the perfect antidote to the chilly, winter months and a definite pick-me-up for the romantic in all of us. Beth Merlin is the author to look for in her genre.

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