See more of my reviews at Once Upon a Prologue
I'm developing a bad habit of poking at books until I find issues with them, and so I'm writing this review with mixed emotions. I liked Nantucket Blue, and found everything in it I was hoping for: a fun summer romance, moments with meaning and heart, and great, memorable characters - all of which ensures I'll read more from Leila Howland. But I also found several sticking points that took my enjoyment down a few notches.
It'll be easier to talk about the good first, and there was plenty of good in Nantucket Blue. I was really pleasantly surprised with how Howland describes Nantucket and the area, the attitudes, the sights - I've never been there but I felt like I WAS there, leaving my footprints in the sand, riding a bicycle around with Cricket. I felt the summer sun, imagined just what the inns, shops, and cottages looked like. MAJOR points to Leila Howland for so gorgeously describing Nantucket!
I also feel like Leila Howland created some awesome characters that all felt true to life. Cricket was identifiable, Zack was adorable, and George and Liz were larger than life. These are the best sort of characters, because they feel like folks you know, from the indomitable Clayton family (doesn't every town have one of them?) to golden boy Jay. Love them or hate them (and I'll get to all that in a minute) these characters were memorable, which is pretty awesome, and made Nantucket Blue stand out in my mind.
However, just as much as the characters were probably one of the strongest of my "likes" in Nantucket Blue, they were also one of my strongest "dislikes." Even though I admired Cricket in a lot of ways, her internal monologues were really tasteless and awkward at times, and I'm rather hoping some of that gets edited out in the final pass from galley to finished copy, because Cricket is extremely focused on appearance. (In one example, she makes several unkind observations about a co-worker's weight, and I think it bothered me because she kept mentioning it.) Though I DO have to give Cricket MAJOR points for being a take-charge kinda girl, and for making things happen, instead of whining about her problems. So I LIKED her, but there were times she definitely made bad choices and ticked me off, and was generally a teenager. She grows a bit over the course of Nantucket Blue, but there's PLENTY of room left for more growth, which is true to life.
I'm of mixed emotions about the situation that brings Cricket to Nantucket. Originally she was meant to go with the Clayton's, but after a personal tragedy, Jules uninvited her. Obviously this was Jules's transparent way of pushing away Cricket, and Crickets ends up hurt and confused, but going to Nantucket anyway. My heart went out to her, and I kept trying to give Jules a pass for the situation, but my GOODNESS she was unnecessarily harsh at times to Cricket. So Jules doesn't get any points, because by the time she tried to make things right, it was too late for me to like her.
Now, the romance. The romance was really well done. There are two romantic interests in Nantucket Blue for Cricket, but I don't think it's really presented as a love triangle. Simply put, one boy is awesome, and the other can go take a hike. It took Cricket WAY longer than I would have liked to realize which was which, and to make her choice (which I could have made FOR HER, buuuuuut where is the fun in that?) But even that felt realistic, because the romance with the swoony, awesome boy was so genuine, and sweet, and just really refreshing. We really got to SEE and be shown Cricket and The Boy falling for one another, and I adored it.
My other complaint is how rushed the ending felt. I was reading my ARC and there were just a few pages left, and so much left unresolved. Again, this may be something that is smoothed out some in the finished copy, or maybe there is a sequel planned, but the ending of Nantucket Blue felt so frantic, but with so much left open. That was really my only issue with the pacing - it was great throughout the rest of Howland's novel!
Final Thoughts: Gorgeous cover, and a lushly described setting that made me want to book a plane to Nantucket for the rest of the summer! The characters are both a strength and a weakness that ends up almost balancing out one another, but there are also some pacing errors near the end and some cringe-worthy thoughts in the MC's internal monologue. Ultimately Nantucket Blue is a book I enjoyed, and got what I was hoping for out of, but didn't really LOVE.