Danny promised his dying father he would take care of the family, but a promise looks much different when someone is twelve than it does at sixteen. When his sister leaves for college, he realizes he’s trapped in his father’s dream. He runs the family restaurant with his mother and tucks his own dreams away, until he falls in love with Aryn, a girl in his chorus class.
In volume two, Aryn is forced to take business trips with her dad, leaving her sitting alone in hotel rooms all summer, and Danny covering her shifts. As the summer draws to an end she meets a man from Sound Bytes, the largest label around.
Pretentious is a series of NA novellas that follow Danny and Aryn in their attempt to create a band and follow their dreams, while honoring Danny’s commitment to take care of his mother, a nurturing Italian woman everyone calls Mama, and his sister, Becky. It’s a story about family, commitment, love and the confusion of betrayal.
If you haven’t read part 1 of this fun series, then you should. This one can stand alone, but will make more sense with the additional information. (You can read my review Here).
Summer Shade picks up where Alfredo’s left off. Not quite turning the page, but close.
Danny and Aryn have become a recognized couple, and the growing pains of their relationship are touching reminders that not every match made in heaven is perfect every day. There will be days when you have ups, and there will be days when you have downs. Summer Shade does a wonderful job examining both sides of this coin.
Once again Jena makes quick work of establishing where everyone is, and bringing their individual settings to life. While the description mentions trips – plural – there is one that this installment focuses on almost exclusively. As such, there’s a very little outside of the new setting that needs to be established, so the actual world building doesn’t factor heavily into this story.
The character development continues, and from my perspective, does an honest job of deconstructing a teen’s crush-to-love relationship shift. It also does a good job at highlighting the good, and not-so-good, parts of a long distance relationship. Despite the difficulties, Jena does a wonderful job keeping both “casts” alive. Too many times, I’ve seen authors have a story split like this, and either one set of characters becomes an after thought, or they become stagnant. That does not happen here, and the troubles help highlight the very humanness of the characters.
Once again, the story is a tightly woven, rich tapestry of emotions, personality, events, and places that is well paced and made the short read feel much longer. The only question it really left me asking when I emerged from the story was: “How does she manage to pack so much into such a short space?”
Definitely another 5 out of 5 star effort from Jena!
If you enjoyed the review, and were intrigued, you can get your own copy of Summer Shade on Amazon. And, don’t forget to check out Jena’s other books, because they are all as well written as this one.
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