Summer Rental: A Novel

Summer Rental: A Novel

by Mary Kay Andrews

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Sometimes, when you need a change in your life, the tide just happens to pull you in the right direction....Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she's made over the past decade of her life. Julia—whose caustic wit covers up her wounds—has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can't hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life. And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina's Outer Banks is just what each of them needs.

Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he's hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he's ever cared about. Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity. Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs? Five people questioning everything they ever thought they knew about life. Five people on a journey that will uncover their secrets and point them on the path to forgiveness. Five people who each need a sea change, and one month that might just give it to them.

"Mary Kay Andrews spins a beach blanket sizzler around three lifelong friends...This warm weather treat has a lot going for it, not least the sunny forecast that summer love can blossom into a four-season commitment." —Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250067289
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 05/05/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 512
Sales rank: 43,518
Product dimensions: 4.25(w) x 6.74(h) x 1.07(d)

About the Author

Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of The Fixer Upper, Deep Dish, Blue Christmas, Savannah Breeze, Hissy Fit, Little Bitty Lies, and Savannah Blues. A former journalist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


Atlanta, Georgia

Date of Birth:

July 27, 1954

Place of Birth:

Tampa, Florida


B.A. in newspaper journalism, University of Georgia, 1976

Read an Excerpt



It was not an auspicious beginning for a vacation, let alone for a new life. The rain chased her all the way down the East Coast, slashing at the windshield, pounding her car from every angle. Between the backwash from a continuous stream of eighteen-wheelers blowing past her at eighty miles an hour (in contrast to her own sedate fifty-five mph) and violent gusts of wind from the storm, it was all she could do to stay on the roadway.

It was her own fault, Ellis decided. She should have stuck to her original plan. She should have gotten up at a sensible hour, at least waiting until daylight to start the drive from Philadelphia to North Carolina. Instead, on some insane impulse, she’d simply locked up the town house and driven off shortly after midnight.

It was a most un-Ellis-like decision. But then, her old life, back there in Philly, was gone. And somewhere, on that long drive south, she had subconsciously decided that the seeds of a new life must be waiting, at the beach. In August.

Ellis took a deep breath and rolled her shoulders, first forward, and then backwards, trying to work out the kinks from six hours of driving. She reached for the commuter mug of coffee in the Accord’s cup holder and took a long sip, hoping it would clear the fatigue fog.

An hour later, she saw the sign: Nags Head, 132 miles. She smiled. The rain had slowed to a light drizzle. She should arrive at the house, which was called Ebbtide, by around seven.

Her smile faded. What had she been thinking? Check-in was at 2 P.M., according to the renter’s agreement she’d signed.

She composed a mental e-mail to herself: To: From: Subject: Failure to plan = plan to fail.

But the memo would have to wait. The highway rose and she found herself on a long, gently arching bridge. One more damned bridge. Surely it was the last. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge had nearly done her in. She felt her jaw clench tightly. Her fingertips clamped the steering wheel, and her heart raced. A bead of sweat trickled down her back.

Nags Head was on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She’d studied her guidebooks, maps, and AAA Triptik for weeks now. She knew the island’s geography, even its topography, intimately. But she’d refused to allow herself to focus on the bridge issue. Because the fact was, as the girls knew all too well, bridges—even wimpy little bridges like the Sam Varnedoe that separated Whitemarsh and Wilmington islands back home in Savannah—scared the living bejeezus out of Ellis Sullivan.

She kept her eyes straight ahead, not daring to look right or left at the water flowing under the bridge. When she’d finally crossed the bridge, her hands were clammy, her T-shirt sweat-soaked.

Now she was on the Outer Banks proper. Signs for the little towns flashed by: Corolla, Duck, Southern Shores, Kitty Hawk, Avalon Beach. The sun rose, and she was somehow shocked at how densely developed the beachfront was here. She’d expected to see clumps of sea oats silhouetted against sparkling blue water; sailboats bobbing at anchor; great, gray shingled houses staring moodily out to sea; the occasional lighthouse. The reality was that, so far, what she’d seen of the storied Outer Banks could just as well have been the Jersey shore, Myrtle Beach, Fort Lauderdale, or any other East Coast tourist resort—meaning miles and miles of hotels and motels, restaurants, and strip shopping centers lining both sides of the road, and a shoreline packed with cheek-to-jowl condo complexes and huge, pastel-painted beach houses.

She followed Route 12 south, and when the GPS computerized voice instructed her to turn left and then right, she knew she was getting close. Virginia Dare Trail was the beach road. Here, at least, there was a little bit of elbow room between the houses. Once or twice she actually caught a glimpse of sand dunes and sea oat plumes. Finally, the well-modulated woman’s voice announced cheerily, “Arrive at destination, on left.”

Ellis slowed the car and stared. A long crushed-shell drive led through a weedy patch of sand. There was a mailbox at the curb, with a sun-bleached cedar sign in the cutout shape of a whale. EBBTIDE was painted on the sign in faded white letters. The driveway ended at what looked like a two-story garage. The wood-shingled structure was a weathered grayish-brownish affair. Through a set of open wooden garage doors, she spotted a beat-up tan Bronco with a red surfboard strapped to the rooftop rack.

To the side of the garage, a rambling three-story wood-frame house arose from a set of wooden stairs. Stretched across the front of the house was a long, open porch. A row of rocking chairs marched across the porch, and a gaudy striped beach towel was draped carelessly across a railing. From the sandy side yard, a wooden walkway led up and over a towering sand dune.

On an impulse, she pulled the car into the next driveway. Here, there was no house at all, only the charred remains of a concrete-block foundation, along with some blackened timbers. A black-and-orange NO TRESPASSING sign was posted on a block wall. Ellis put the Accord in park and got out of the car, her cramped legs and back screaming in protest. The air was already hot and muggy. She did a couple of deep knee bends, scanning the yard next door for any signs of life. Had the earlier renters already checked out? Or did the Bronco in the garage belong to somebody who was still enjoying a last hour or two on the beach before it was time to head home?

She strolled over to the mailbox and peered up at the house. Their house, at least for the month of August. Ellis intended to make every hour of this month count.

“Ebbtide,” she said aloud, satisfied that the exterior of the house, at least, seemed to match the photo she’d spotted in the Vacation Rentals by Owner listing. Of course, that photo had also shown an inviting green lawn dotted with billowing blue hydrangeas and a hot-pink bicycle built for two with a charming wicker basket leaning up against a rose-covered picket fence. None of these were in evidence now. In fact, the only thing in evidence in what passed for a yard, besides a bumper crop of weeds, was a busted-up Styrofoam cooler full of empty malt liquor cans and a sodden heap of yellowing newspapers, still in their plastic wrappers.

She glanced down at her watch. She had half a day to kill until check-in. Being Ellis, she’d already planned to arrive hours before the others. The extra time would give her a chance to go to the grocery store, prepare their first night’s dinner, get the house situated. Linens were not included in the house rental, so she’d brought enough sheets and towels for everybody, just in case. And yes, she would have first crack at choosing her bedroom, but since she had done all the legwork finding the house and planning this trip, would anybody really mind?

Well, maybe Willa would mind. She was only older than the others by twenty months, but really, she could be so pushy and bossy. It would be just like Willa to accuse Ellis of hogging the best bedroom. Which she had no intention of doing. She just didn’t want a bedroom facing the street and a lot of noise. She was a light sleeper—and she had a lot of thinking to do. And anyway, as the only single woman in the group, she was used to her own space. Too used to it, she thought wryly.

She was dying to see Ebbtide up close. She glanced up and down the road. There was no sign of traffic. Just another sleepy summer morning at the beach. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to walk up the driveway of the burnt-out house to see what she could see. Technically, she knew, it was trespassing. But it wasn’t like she was looting the place. What was left to loot?

Quickly, before she lost her nerve, Ellis trotted up the crushed oyster-shell drive. Another wooden boardwalk and a set of stairs leading up and over the sand dune, just like the one at Ebbtide, seemed to have survived the fire that had taken this house. She trod the steps quickly, not wanting to be seen from the road.

There was a shed-roofed deck at the top of the dunes. At one time it would have been an amazing place to sit and sip a cocktail and enjoy the ocean breezes. But not now. Some of the decking had rotted out, and the railings missed pickets in several places. A couple of broken plastic lawn chairs lay sprawled on their side, but it was the view that captured Ellis’s attention. From here she could see the Nags Head she’d imagined. The dunes, covered with sea oats, beach plums, and shrubs whose names she didn’t know, sloped down to meet a wide, white beach. The tide was out, and the Atlantic Ocean sparkled gray-blue below. Here and there, people walked along the shore, stooping to pick up shells.

“Perfect!” Ellis exclaimed. Just then, she heard the slap of a wooden screen door. Turning, she saw movement from the second-floor apartment over the garage at Ebbtide. That apartment had a small wooden deck wrapping around the sides and back of it. As she watched, a man walked out onto the deck. She could see him clearly—good Lord—he was in his underwear.

The man was barefoot, deeply tanned, with unkempt sun-bleached brownish hair. A pair of baggy white boxer briefs hung low on his slim hips. He turned, faced the water, yawned and stretched. And then, while Ellis watched, slack-jawed with amazement and disgust, he quite casually proceeded to pee off the edge of the deck.

He took his own good time about it too. Ellis was rooted to the spot where she stood, her face crimson with embarrassment. When he was finally finished, he stretched and turned. And that’s when he spotted her, a lone figure in hot pink capris and a white T-shirt, her long dark hair blowing in the breeze coming off the beach.

The man gave her a nonchalant smile. His teeth were white and even, and from here she could see the golden stubble of a days-old beard. He waved casually. “Hey,” he called. “How ya doin’?”

Ellis managed a strangled “Hey.” And then she fled down the stairs as fast as her flip-flop-shod feet would take her.


Copyright © 2011 by Whodunnit, Inc

Customer Reviews

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Summer Rental 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 466 reviews.
theReader278 More than 1 year ago
I loved reading this wonderful book! It is a story that keeps you entertained for hours.
SerendipityGA More than 1 year ago
got an advanced copy and this is on par for Ms. Andrews. Delightful read, and to those rating this book on the price should be ashamed of yourselves. This book is 12.99 and before e-books comae along you would have to wait almost a year to get a cheaper softback or pay almost 20$ for a hardback. You guys stop being whiners and stop hurting the author's book rating by your childishness.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The three BFFs for over two decades rent a summer house in Nags Head on the North Carolina Outer Banks. Now in their thirties each has major decisions to make that they need their two buddies to be there for them. Ellis Sullivan drives down from Philadelphia where she just lost her job at BancAtlantic that meant her life to her. Maryn Shackleford flees her abusive spouse Don in New Jersey before he finally buries her; deciding to hide in Nag's Head where her parents once took her seemingly a lifetime ago. Ty Bazemore owns the Ebbtide beach house he has rented to the thirty-something trio under his alter ego Mr. Culpepper; his first encounter with Ellis is a disaster at a time he is distracted about losing the house. The other BFFs Julia and Dorie arrive; Julia the model was living with Booker the photographer, but he took a DC job and wants more from their relationship. Dorie hides in shock that her beloved husband Stephen betrayed her. All five converge in a summer month of change at Ebbtide. This is an entertaining character study of three females each at a major fork in their respective lives. Although Maryn brings suspense to the mix as an abused wife on the run from her husband, she changes the relational dynamics of the other trio too much. Filled with pathos, humor and romance, fans will enjoy the three musketeers seeking their groove in the Outer Banks. Harriet Klausner
James Link More than 1 year ago
As a local from the Outer Banks, NC. I looked forward to reading this book. A disappointment, however the references to local restaurants were right on. Needed more zing.
BookwormInWI More than 1 year ago
I used to love Mary Kay Andrews books, but "Summer Rental" is by far one of the most boring books I have ever read. On top of the predictable story lines are the editor's mistakes with typos ("think" instead of "thing", etc.) and story line errors (Maryn/Madison finds the money in the laptop bag is not in the standard bank wraps and she hides the money in the bottom of her duffel bag yet the money somehow appears in the back of the armoire and is in the standard bank wraps?) At this point, I'm moving on to other authors.
Casey Parker More than 1 year ago
I adore Mary Kay Andrew's books! I also believe the prices are fair. Besides if you can afford a nook, then you should have no qualms over a price! I'm frugal myself but do think most of the prices I have seen are more than fair.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Harriet klausner and her cliff note book report ruins another book. This poster needs to learn how to write a review without revealing the entire book. Please bn, do something to this egotistical poster.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the story to be very boring. I stuck it out to page 122 and then just decided to throw in the towel and pick up something else that I might actually enjoy. I am disappointed that I paid this price for a nook book and didn't even enjoy it. Perhaps my review can save someone else the time and money.
IndyLucy More than 1 year ago
I'm a regular Andrews reader and have been looking forward to this book, but by page 114 I was still waiting for some momentum and the characters were all still plodding, except for the little tension provided by runaway Maryn. I miss the smiles I got from previous Andrews stories and the cute, quirky characters. I've not totally given up on this yet and checked reader reviews to see if I could find motivation. On the other hand, I've got other new books luring me away every time I open the Nook.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay book that is extremely predictable. Not one twist or turn in the story that you couldn't see coming miles away.
bookmajor More than 1 year ago
I was looking forward to a fun beach read but this was one dimensional and boring. The ending was unrealistic and simple.
SouthernSass More than 1 year ago
This book was a great read - typical of MK Andrews books. I couldn't put the nook down. There is still that southern twang that makes her books so irresistable. Though not set in Savannah, it has enough references to remind you that you're still in the South. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book. Nice to read especially on the beach.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first Mary Kay Andrews book. I thought it was a very cute book, the characters were well written, the book had a good flow and kept moving. It was a fast read for me and I will likely buy another book by Andrews in the future.
Texgal47 More than 1 year ago
Not one of Mary Kay Andrew's best books. I liked the storyline but why are all the women so gorgeous? Why did the main charachter get so mad at her landlord/boyfriend about not telling the truth about being the real landlord? And my big question: How can a woman who is escaping an abusive/crooked husband and leave her beloved dog behind? Some serious issues like handling guns taken too lightly.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Any girls wanna rent abook
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book by mary kay andrews i loved this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great girlfriend story! I loved reading it and didn't want it to be over! Great read!
onlyme More than 1 year ago
Easy reading....just what you want for summer!!!!!
mem186 More than 1 year ago
This is my first Mary Kay Andrews book and I really enjoyed this beach read - I love when I can read a book and feel like I am there, and this is what happened with this book! The storyline kept the pages turning and the characters were fun to get to know!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stop posting trival texts this is supposed to be for book reviews respect others who want to reaf reviews
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
A wonderfully inviting story that captures the perfect summer vacation with just the girlfriends. After reading this book, I wanted to call my closest girl friends and book a month away! As the three best friends were in different points in their lives, it was nice to see each friend work through their own personal tragedies and come to more or less a nice and neat conclusion. Another character joins these three in their beach house and ends up mixing things up a bit. My one little complaint about the book lies in the fourth character - Maryn. I loved how she was introduced and you weren't sure where she was going to fit into the story. But as the reader gets into the second half, I felt as though she was lost in the shuffle. She was lost to the wayside, until she becomes the focal point as the book concludes. As always, I will not reveal this ending as it is worth the read, but maybe if she had a larger role throughout the book, I wouldn't have felt so sideswiped when the book starts to finish. The arc of the three best friends was touching, emotional, and felt very real. I saw the personalities of my best friends and how we can see each other's situations as so much better than our own. I know I covet where my friends are in their lives and maybe some of them covet where I am yet- maybe not! I wanted to be a part of their group because I felt as though they were real people with real issues and situations that the everyday woman could find herself in, whether that be a job change, relationship status change or a move for a significant other. These women were going through things each woman could relate to - no matter the time of their lives. A read that my mom has already loved and thoroughly enjoy. I am passing it along to my friends who need the perfect summer read, even if fall may be beginning.
KER40 More than 1 year ago
Read this book on vacation. A quick read, not great but not bad.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Some one meet me at the perfect love song res one ill be waiting
bookaholicmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a pansy for a good, summer beach read. I thought this book sounded like it would be a good read to add to my summer reading list. I was not disappointed.I read Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews many years ago. I found it very funny and entertaining. When I saw Summer Rental, I knew it would be a book I would want to read.Three friends, Ellis, Julia and Dorie decide to catch up with each other and rent an old beach house on North Carolina's Outer Banks for a month. When they arrive they find the house is not in the greatest of shape but stick it out there anyway. Ty Bazemore is the hunky guy who lives above the beach house garage. Ty seems to be attracted to Ellis from the get go. All of the characters are at turning points in their lives. Nothing that a month on the beach can't help sort out.Dorie meets a mysterious woman named Maryn at the local diner who needs a place to stay. She invites Maryn to rent the extra room they have in the beach house. Maryn is not warm and fluffy at all and seems to be hiding a huge secret. She keeps to herself which makes the women even more curious about her.There is mystery, romance, and friendship along with a bit of suspense and comedy in this book. The story comes together well even though each character seems to be having their own personal crisis. Mary Kay Andrews has a way of writing a book that will make you feel the sand between your toes even when you are not at the beach. Her characters can be serious one minute and hilarious the next. By the time I finished this book I had laughed, cried and at times, was on the edge of my seat. Some would say this book is predictable but I think predictable has it's place in the world. It made for a very satisfying read. This book was like comfort food for me. Pick it up and go on vacation without ever leaving your home!