Title: A Summer Like No Other
(Broken Dreams: Em & Nick #1)
(Broken Dreams: Em & Nick #1)
Author: Elodie Nowodazkij
Publication Date: July 30th, 2015
Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romancea Rafflecopter giveaway
Elodie Nowodazkij was raised in a tiny village in France, where she could always be found a book in hand. At nineteen, she moved to the US, where she learned she’d never lose her French accent. Now she lives in Maryland with her husband, their dog and their cat.
3 “Best friend's sister romance” STARS
I’ve always been a fan of any variation of the “best friend to lovers” trope. In the Broken Dreams series there's a good combination of that because Emily is not only Nick’s best friend’s little sister, but Em is also one of the people he trusts the most. Em & Nick’s relationship is not only linked to Robert (Em’s brother), but they have history together. They’d been there for each other since they were kids and have shared a lot of good moments in the past.
When we meet Em and Nick in the first book they already have feelings for each other. Em has been in love with her brother’s BFF for what seems like a long time, and Nick has been thinking about her in not only friendly ways, if you know what I mean.
Stuck in the city for the summer, Em and Nick spend most of their time in the studio where they practice dancing and, without their friends or any distraction around, they focus their energy on each other. Of course that leads to them admiting to their feelings and moving to the next stage in their relationship. But neither of them is ready to commit to a serious relationship, so they agree to have a fling for the summer. Once it’s over, so is their relationship. You can see how this is so not going to work when the two people involved already have feelings for each other, right? Either way, they go for it.
The first book in the series is a novella that follows this summer agreement – and it seems like it wasn’t originally planned. From what I understand, the author started writing “Always Second Best” before she thought of writing “A Summer Like no Other”, but later on she saw the need to show the readers the events of the summer.
Honestly, I’m glad she did because reading ASB without ASLNO would’ve been too confusing. We needed to see Em and Nick choosing to take the next step in their relationship during the summer and seeing where it led in order to understand why they were feeling that way in the beginning of ASB.
ASLNO also helped clarify the situation involving Em and Nick’s family problems.
Nick spent all of the first book and most of the second book trying to establish some balance in his relationship with his father, a man who was willing to blackmail his own son (and practically act like his pimp) in exchange for business transactions.
Em had an even bigger plot. She’d been adopted, and although she had a family who loved her, she wanted to meet her birth parents. During her search, Em learned a lot of secrets about her biological mother, her adoptive father and even Nick’s father involvement in her adoption. Though we didn’t get a conclusion to that mystery in the end of the first book, I can’t see how it would’ve worked if the author hadn’t decided to write the novella.
The first book also helped show the relationship between Em and her grandmother, who was an important person in Em’s life and in the decisions she came to make later on.
So, overall, I believe writing ASLNO was the best decision the author made.
Moving on to the second book, ASB picked up from where ASLNO left off – a few months after the summer that ended with Nick & Em putting an end to their relationship even though both had fallen in love.
Unlike the first one that focused a lot more on the romance, ASB spent a lot of time on Nick and Em’s personal battles – mainly because the two of them were separated and trying to figure out their own lives.
Nick’s dad was still the same jerk who was so desperate to impose his lifestyle and understanding of what was the right path that he didn’t realize that he was making all the worse decisions and hurting his family. Nick’s mom wasn’t much better. In her defense, she evolved as a character, a human being and a parent throughout the second book, but it took her a while to get there. Meanwhile, Nick was thrown in the middle of this messy family, trying to find his voice and strength to finally stand up to himself. It was interesting to watch him go from the boy who was being blackmailed and pushed this and that way to the boy who finally told his father “no more!”.
On her side, Em was spending all her time with her grandmother in her restaurant or in the studio practicing. The school had a big event coming and she wanted to get the leading role. Since Em struggled to show emotion in her performances, she wanted to get her technique perfect. She was so focused on the dance that she even left the whole “hunting her birth mother” plan for a while.
The moments Em spent with her grandmother were always a great way to show her emotions and get a better understanding of her as a person. I really appreciated them and how they helped move the story forward. Those moments also turned out to be extremely important toward the end when Em chose to evaluate her passion for dancing and what she really wanted out of life.
Later on, Em restarted her search for her birth mother and that led to some surprising and some not so surprising, but still interesting developments. No spoilers!
Throughout all of this, Nick made sure Em understood he was there for her – and that was one of my favorite things about him. No matter what was going on in his personal life; no matter how distant Em acted; no matter how much he wanted to be more than friends, Nick never forgot to support and be there for Em. And there were more than a few times Em needed him. He was a really supportive person, and that’s always a good trait to have in a love interest.
Romance lovers should not worry because even if things didn’t end well in the first book for the couple, and it took them long enough to find their way back to each other in the second, Em and Nick finally admit to their feelings and decide to make it work.
So, even though I had a few problems with these books and some of the author's choices, overall this was a good series that focused not only on the romance but also on the character's personal battles.