Saffron Oliver is the reigning It girl. She’s been acting since the age of 15 and she’s currently coming off the success of a major film franchise. She’s gorgeous, smart, and rich. The fact she’s an out lesbian has added to her allure. Everyone either wants to be her or be with her. But at 32, she’s burnt out. She’s tired of being hounded by the paparazzi, she’s tired of her manipulative agent, and she’s tired of always having to keep up her perfect persona. With the next installment of her blockbuster film franchise set to start shooting, she tells her agent she’s taking a break. No ifs, ands, or buts. She escapes to the seaside village of Sandy Cove to spend a month living with no schedule, no publicity, and no drama. Most importantly, she needs to figure out if acting is what she wants to do with the rest of her life.
Kirsty McBride is confident and charming. Sandy Cove has been her home since birth, and she owns the local wine shop. She’s got a very comfortable life. She has friends, a caring family, and she finally seems to have put her divorce behind her. She’s been single for quite some time, and with her 50th birthday approaching, she can’t help but wish she had a special woman to share her life with.
When Ginger Oliver walks into Kirsty’s shop, the two women strike up a fast friendship. Kirsty does event planning on the side, and with Ginger recently divorced they decide to throw her a divorce party to celebrate the next phase in her life. Even better, Ginger’s little sister will be in town to help.
When Kirsty finds out that Ginger’s little sister is THE Saffron Oliver, their first encounter does not go smoothly. Through Ginger, Saffron thinks Kirsty is just trying to take advantage of her wealth and fame. Once they get to know each other, they recognize that their mutual attraction is stronger than their differences.
Saffron soon realizes that Kirsty just might be the woman she’s been longing for. Kirsty feels the same way but doesn’t see how they can pursue a relationship. Afterall, Saffron is an international celebrity, and Kirsty is a much older small town nobody.
Saffron understands she can’t have it all. Is she ready to blow up her career to take a chance on love or will she head back to London to do what’s expected of her?
Saffron and Kirsty are lovely. They’re each wonderfully realized with subtle quirks that make them unique yet relatable. I never doubted they were perfect for each other despite their less than stellar first meeting. I must say, the 17-year difference in their ages made their pairing delicious.
Kirsty is interesting because even though she is content with her life she wants more, but she’s quick to tell everyone she doesn’t. It’s like if she doesn’t say it, it won’t be true, and she can continue living with the status quo. She certainly doesn’t think that someone like Saffron Oliver could be interested in her, so she tries hard not to let herself be attracted to the superstar. But once she gets to know the real Saffron, she can’t control what her heart feels. There’s a vulnerability to Kirsty that I appreciated. She wants a happily ever after, but the pragmatist in her works overtime telling her that Saffron isn’t it. Who wants a broken heart for their 50th birthday?
Saffron is immediately likable. She’s determined to spend her month in Sandy Cove living without the privilege and trappings her very public persona affords her. At times it’s amusing because she’s not used to doing things as simple as carrying cash or shopping for groceries. There’s definitely a sincerity in her search for what will make her happy. She’s spent half her life living her parents’ dream, and she’s miserable. Figuring out what to do about it is the problem. Her friendship with Kirsty helps bring her clarity. She’s never had people in her life who don’t come with their own agendas. Kirsty represents a normalcy Saffron has never known and she thrives on it. Once she realizes she has feelings for Kirsty, she’s single minded. I adored watching Saffron pursue the older woman. Her feelings for Kirsty are authentic, and once Saffron realizes she’s in love she’s able to proactively sort out the rest of her life.
The Writing Style
One Golden Summer is told in third person from both Saffron and Kirsty’s points of view. It was delightful to see their relationship through two such different personalities – one influenced by celebrity and one influenced by age.
The dialogue is witty and crisp. It’s fantastic when the women are flirting. That same humor is even more effective during those awkward moments when Saffron and Kirsty are trying to figure out what they mean to each other. And then there’s that point when everything goes to hell in a handbasket – such harsh words! The authors outdid themselves in bringing these two women to life.
I’ve always been curious about books co-written by two authors. I think it would be a difficult task, something that’d clearly be reflected in the flow of the book. I don’t know how it’s done. Do the authors decide one will take the even chapters while the other takes the odd? Do they choose whose point of view they want to write and split things up that way? I thought I’d notice something wonky, but in this case the narrative is as smooth as a baby’s bum. (Although, having read all of Lydon’s books there were one or two bits of business where I thought, “I see you, Clare.”)
Lydon and Markinson do a fantastic job bringing the small town of Sandy Cove to life. They don’t take up a lot of page time with lengthy descriptions of the environment or the people. It’s all organic. We get to see everything through Kirsty and Saffron’s eyes. For Kirsty, Sandy Cove is familiar. From her point of view the reader sees characteristics of the town that make her feel at home and safe. Sandy Cove couldn’t be more different than London or California, so it was lovely seeing things as simple as an ice cream stand or dinner with Kirsty’s parents make such a huge impact on Saffron. Throughout the book, there are wonderful little details that make the town feel authentic.
None for me.
I so enjoyed One Golden Summer. I’m always up for a good celebrity or age gap romance so getting both wrapped up in one story made me do a little happy dance. There’s something about British writers. They always feel wittier and smarter than me. (Not a difficult task though.) I could’ve easily stayed in Sandy Cove for another day or two observing what was in store for Saffron and Kirsty. Those two and everything else about that small town on the Kent coast made me smile. Instead, I’m sitting at my desk, listening to one of my favorite British pop singers, thinking of unique ways to say how much I liked this book. In my limited British slang, all I can say is One Golden Summer is the dog’s bollocks.
Excerpt from One Golden Summer by Clare Lydon and TB Markinson
Kirsty got up, too. “Let me give you a hand.”
As if responding to that request, Saffron held out her hand.
Without thought, Kirsty took it. A zap of desire rocketed up her arm. She paused. What the hell was she doing? She knew oysters were an aphrodisiac, but one taste and she was holding Saffron’s hand?
“I see those oysters have worked their magic!”
She must not shout at her mother.
Kirsty shivered, then dropped Saffron’s hand as quickly as she’d taken it, bundling her away from the table and the spectators.
What was happening? She was acting like she was a teenager. She was 49, for goodness sake.
“Everything okay?” Saffron’s cheeks were pink. She wouldn’t look Kirsty in the eye.
Kirsty gave her a look. “Let’s just get to the bar.”
They stood in the queue, Kirsty searching her brain for something to say, but she couldn’t think of anything. Not a single, solitary word. All she could think was, “We held hands!” Like she was 12.
Saffron turned her head to face a woman standing six feet away, her phone poised. Saffron held up a hand. “Sorry, no photos today, thanks. I’m just here enjoying the festival, the same as you.”
Kirsty stared at her. Then she leaned in. “She wasn’t taking a photo of you,” she whispered, pointing at the life-size plastic fisherman Saffron was standing next to. Standing on the other side of it was the woman’s toddler son and her partner, both giving the woman cheesy grins.
Saffron’s cheeks coloured even darker as she turned away. “Can we pretend that never happened?” she whispered to Kirsty.
Kirsty shook her head. “Oh no, I’m logging that.” She paused. “Remember when you said I could tell you if you were being a tit?” She quirked an eyebrow. “Stop being a tit.”
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