Managing the Value Lodge in her hometown was not what Anna Gordon had in mind when she set out in the hospitality industry. But it’s a safe choice for a young woman starting out her career.
Then, out of the blue, she gets the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance to reinvent herself and reinvigorate her career by moving to New York City. She applies for a management position at a stylish new hotel, The Rothsberg. But the city is full of surprises – not the least of which is discovering that Sean O’Neil, a once-upon-a-time crush, has applied for the very same position.
This sweetly romantic tale of dreams come true takes you through the storied streets of New York City – and into the depths of the human heart.
One thing that is clear from the first few pages of this novel is that Anna Gordon isn’t particularly fond of her job. I would almost say she hates it. Having to deal with irresponsible co-workers, and employers who never see the need for change, Anna dreads going to work each morning. Melody Carlson paints such vivid pictures of Anna’s true feelings towards her job, and how lackluster it is that it made me shudder to think about ever being in her shoes. But luckily for Anna, a chance to manage a boutique hotel comes her way - and she goes for it. A new city, new job, new friends, and the possibility to live her dream managing a boutique hotel are just too exciting to pass up. But life changes always bring risks, and Anna soon discovers if her quick decision was the right one.
Once Upon a Summertime is a shorter read than most, and I blazed through it pretty quickly. Character wise, it was lovely that Anna had a really nice relationship with her Grandma and a genuine desire support her. At times I found Anna a bit overly critical to the people around her, and a tad sensitive and over-defensive. However, Anna is an admirable worker. She dutifully shows herself to be a model employee, always going above and beyond the call of duty. Even when working at the Value Lodge, a place she detested, Anna tries her best to make things better, encouraging her co-workers while giving them some much-needed constructive feedback. It's clear her heat is in customer service, and she truly wants her customers to be happy and satisfied. Sean came off as a genuine, down-to-earth guy with a kind soul, who also has a strong drive for success.
One thing I felt was missing from the story since it's a Christian novel, was a stronger faith presence. Other than a few phrases here and there hinting about God, there wasn’t much to distinguish the story from a mainstream novel. When I read a secular novel (I’m a sucker for John Grisham’s legal thrillers – he truly is a master storyteller!), no matter how well the story is written, I always miss the faith aspect. Showing a character’s reliance upon God for strength and how God provides for His children can bring so much more texture to a story.
All in all, it was a light, easy read, and I learned a bit more about all that goes into managing a hotel – enough to say I wouldn’t be switching jobs anytime soon! ;)
Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.