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In Black Farley’s (Season’s Shadows, 2019, etc.) novel, the head of a literary agency swaps places with a writing teacher for a summer, and both find love and intrigue.

Until she was 16, Benita Sotolongo spent her summers in New York state’s Adirondack Mountains at Hidden Havens, a 19th-century tavern and inn. Now the successful owner of the Soto Literary Agency in Miami, Benita has made plans to return to New York once more to temporarily trade places with popular writing teacher Maren Scott. Maren will screen a massive amount of new manuscripts at Soto as Benita takes over Maren’s popular summer school writing seminar—much to the chagrin of its students. The new settings offer new opportunities for both women; Benita reconnects with old flame Troy Bradshaw while inspiring her doubtful students to start a collaborative novel called Secret Trust, which follows an 18-year-old boy who wins the lottery. Maren, meanwhile, finds herself entangled with Soto’s interim CEO, Kendrick Harrington, while untangling an unsettling mystery involving forged manuscripts. Black Farley’s book is a lighthearted romp, offering a modern, less-serious spin on a campus novel. Its short chapters bounce back and forth between the Adirondacks and Miami, with numerous interjections from Benita’s students’ novel. Benita and Maren both find romance in their new circumstances, and their relationships are sweet and inoffensive, with nothing controversial or excessively steamy beyond occasional innuendo. The dialogue is often flirtatious, and the gossip between characters is downright infectious; the occasional small talk, though, can meander a bit, causing brief lulls in the action. Readers will be charmed by the author’s descriptions of the Adirondacks and by Benita’s beloved Hidden Havens, with its rich history and its feeling of midsummer whimsy.

A fun tale of two women’s summertime adventures, featuring compelling dialogue.

Publisher: BookBaby
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2020