What do you do when a sexy, older man moves into your family’s summer rental?
Well, apparently, you make a fool of yourself—over and over. Things didn’t exactly get off on the right foot with Noah Cavallari. Our first encounter was embarrassing, to say the least.
But despite that, I found myself waking up every day with a newfound energy. Nothing exciting ever happened on the lake—not until Noah moved into the small boathouse on our property. He’d booked it for the entire summer…and I was still trying to figure out why.
When my mother became ill, I inherited the responsibility of making sure our guests were well taken care of. I should have been in college. Instead, I was living my best life…as a maid.
Dark, handsome, and mysterious, everything about Noah screamed forbidden.
I knew he was just passing through town for the summer.
I knew he was probably too old for me.
Yet, I was drawn to him.
Not to mention, he tried to save my life when he mistakenly thought I was drowning.
I wanted him and made no secret of it.
His own attempts to warn me away soon gave way to late-night moonlight chats by the lake. We were slowly easing into a friendship that was gearing up to explode into something I might not recover from.
Because he’s leaving at the end of the summer.
And I have no idea what I’ll do when August ends.
One thing I consistently say about Penelope Ward’s books is how much more emotionally draining they are than their blurbs might lend you to believe. When August Ends did not disappoint in that. I was brought to the edge of tears – both happy and sad – on more than one occasion while reading. Heather and Noah’s story took me on an emotional rollercoaster, that was frustrating at times, but ultimately incredibly satisfying.
Heather’s awkward naivete and confidence almost immediately enraptured me. She was such an enigma, her youth often showed in her lack of finesse, but then in the next moment the maturity thrust upon her by the things she’d experienced would be at the forefront. Heather was a fascinating character and utterly irresistible. I was impressed by the way she went after what she wanted, and when things didn’t work out how she’d hoped, instead of avoiding everything she held her head high and persevered. She had incredible strength and sensibility beyond the years of her life.
When August Ends was the epitome of a satisfying slow-burn romance, Heather may have tried to make her moves on Noah from the beginning, but after he rejected her advances, they built a solid and meaningful friendship. The attraction they were both so obviously feeling took a backseat to developing trust and companionship, so when they finally took that step into more, it felt vital and real. It was more than lust and attraction; it was the essential next step into their future. As much as I would have loved for their romance to have started on page one, making them – and the readers – wait made the entire experience more poignant.
I loved Noah for the way he was with Heather, especially when he was actively avoiding and rejecting her advances. He could have easily been cruel and squashed her spirit, but he was thoughtful and direct. He left no room for interpretation of what he wanted – or didn’t want in this case – but he wasn’t demeaning, and that said a lot about his character. The more we learned about him, the more obvious it was that the way he handled Heater wasn’t a fluke, he was considerate and kind, even when he believed himself something different. He was exactly the mix of kind and straightforward Heather needed.
When August Ends, for all the levity that was injected into it by way of Heather and Noah’s banter, dealt with some pretty heavy subject matter. I loved that Penelope Ward didn’t use those themes as arbitrary plot devices, but rather just life moments that Heather and Noah lived through and learned from. They were never things that happened to them; they were things that moved them forward. The heavy themes were dealt with thoughtfully and respectfully, and I greatly appreciated that.
Penelope Ward is a New York Times, USA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling author of thirteen novels. With over a million books sold, her titles have placed on the New York Times Bestseller list sixteen times. She is the proud mother of a beautiful 12-year-old girl with autism (the inspiration for the character Callie in Gemini) and a 10-year-old boy. Penelope, her husband, and kids reside in Rhode Island.