Monday, June 2, 2014

Review: Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin
Book One of the Rules of Summer series
Publisher: Poppy
Publication Date: June 4, 2013
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review copy sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

There are two sides to every summer.

When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the bus in East Hampton, it's as if she's entered another universe, one populated by impossibly beautiful people wearing pressed khakis and driving expensive cars. She's signed on to be a summer errand girl for the Rules -- a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion. Upon arrival, she's warned by other staff members to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done.

Stifled by her friends and her family's country club scene, seventeen-year-old Isabel Rule, the youngest of the family, embarks on a breathless romance with a guy whom her parents would never approve of. It's the summer for taking chances, and Isabel is bringing Rory along for the ride. But will Rory's own summer romance jeopardize her friendship with Isabel? And, after long-hidden family secrets surface, will the Rules' picture-perfect world ever be the same?

What I Liked:

I have a secret to tell you all: I LOVE books like these, when the two protagonists come from two very different social backgrounds, and fall in love. I don't read too many of them (heck, I don't really like contemporary novels), but I LOVE contemporary romance novels like that. I believe All In by Marta Brown features this type of story and romance, though I have not read that one yet (I own a copy though).

I was pleasantly surprised when I finished this book and realized that I really enjoyed it! As I said before, I love books with a "poor" girl and super rich boy (or vice versa), and this book actually features both types of relationships. Rory, the summer errand girl, falls for Connor Rule, one of the sons of the family. Isabel Rule, one of the daughters, falls for Mike, a farmer's son. 

This book is told from both Rory and Isabel's perspective, but both are in third person. In the beginning, I vastly preferred Rory's perspective. Rory is level-headed, intelligent, thoughtful, with a slow-burn temper. She and I are very similar, and I have a lot of respect for her. Her character development is subtle, but I love what Philbin does with Rory. As her story progresses, Rory gets braver and braver when it comes to what she wants, and in the end, she stands up for herself.

Isabel is different. In the beginning, Isabel seems shallow and self-centered, although she also seems frustrated with her life. She's the typical partying, troublesome, spoiled rich girl, who got kicked out of school and is always getting what she wants. She meets Mike when she almost drowns, and he pulls her out of the water. She can't stop thinking about him, he can't stop thinking about her, and a summer fling begins. Except for Isabel, and Mike, it's so much more.

Isabel grows up quite a bit in this book. She learns who really are her friends, and finds that she can trust and rely on the "help" (Rory) more than she can on her socialite friends. When Isabel falls in love with Mike, she's unsure of what she's doing, because he doesn't bow to her every command. Mike is mysterious, a wild card, and Isabel isn't used to this. Isabel is spoiled and rich, but she learns how to be more "human" in this book, due to her relationship with Mike, and her budding friendship with Rory.

That's something that I really liked about this book - besides the character development, the demonstration of real relationships is abundant in this book. Rory and Connor fall in love, and even though it takes them longer to get together, and the spotlight isn't on them, their relationship is beautifully crafted. The romance in this book is more focused on Mike and Isabel, and I liked their relationship as well. Friendship is important too - Rory and Isabel become good friends, despite their social differences.

I really enjoyed the romances, as I mentioned (though I wanted more Connor and Rory). I definitely like how this book is part of a SERIES series, and not a companion series. I cannot wait to see how Isabel figures out her love life - I'm excited, just from reading book two's summary. My review of book two will be posted later this week!

What I Did Not Like:

Me labeling this book as a "contemporary romance" novel isn't completely fair - romance isn't all that is on Rory's mind. Isabel, maybe, but not Rory. However, that's just it - I wanted to see more romance and chemistry and whatnot from Rory and Connor. I was a tad bit disappointed by how little scenes there were between Connor and Rory alone - I wanted more! Perhaps in the next book, right?

Would I Recommend It:

If you're looking for a good, fun, summer contemporary romance novel, then look no further! This book came out last year, but I think it's fresh and awesome. And the second book (which comes out this month) is NOT a companion novel, but it's an actual sequel! That's pretty rare these days, when it comes to contemporary romance novels. If you like contemporary romance novels, definitely check out this series!


4 stars. This is a great summer romance read! I can honestly say I don't read too many summer contemporary romance novels, but I liked this one well enough! I'll be reviewing book two, Since Last Summer, here on the blog on Thursday!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!


  1. I'm not sure if I'm in the right mood to read contemporary romance, but sounds like this one is one of those that I should add to the list for whenever I'm feeling more up to it next!
    Great review, Alyssa! I hope you'll like the sequel and get more Rory and Connor in it too!

    1. Girl, I thought the same. For me, it wasn't too bad, considering my romance circumstances, but for you, I'd be more cautious.

      Hopefully, Rory and Connor are more present in the next book, in terms of chemistry ;)

  2. I see more positive than negative and I am always on the hunt for a cute summer romance, anytime of year. I will have to look this one up.

    1. Yup, I couldn't find too many negatives. This one is a good one, and there is a sequel that comes out this month, so yay for that!

  3. I haven't seen this one before. I do love romance of any type and this one sounds like a great read for the summer. Great review :)

    1. Awesome! You might like it. - if you get the chance to read it, I hope you love it, Liza!


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