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There are two sides to every summer.
When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the train 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 ...
There are two sides to every summer.
When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the train 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?
"Rules of Summer is a delicious read about two girls from very different worlds sharing one unforgettable summer."—Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, authors of Spoiled and Messy
"Friendship, first love, and an unforgettable setting — Rules of Summer is the perfect summer read. Read it at the beach (or if you just want to feel like you're at the beach). I loved it!"—Morgan Matson, author of Second Chance Summer and Amy & Roger's Epic Detour
She really should have just told someone. Just dropped it casually into conversation the last day of school, when people were talking about their summer plans. Oh, really? You're going to tennis camp? You're spending a month at Wildwood? You got that internship in New York that you applied for six months ago?
Well, that's great.
I'll be spending this summer in the Hamptons.
Rory looked up from her notebook and out the train window. She hadn't expected so many potato fields. Brown furrows lined with lush green potato plants passed by in a blur, and here and there, at the edge of the fields, a cedar shingle house stood watch. But these houses didn't look like old, decrepit farmhouses. They looked like newly built mansions. There definitely weren't mansions on the chicken and dairy farms in Stillwater, New Jersey, at least as far as she knew. And there wasn't this radiant sunlight, either, she thought, looking up at the cobalt-blue sky. It probably had to do with the ocean to the south and the bay to the north, but she'd never seen light like this before. She wished she'd known how pretty it was here when she was trying to sell her mom on the idea. But it probably wouldn't have worked.
"Errand girl?" her mom had asked when Rory had finally told her the plan. "What the hell is that?"
Her mom had stood next to her, opening a bottle of wine. Lana McShane was never home from work more than a few minutes before she had a bottle of Charles Shaw Chardonnay out of the fridge and on the counter, and a corkscrew in her manicured hand. Rory watched her mom twist in the corkscrew, then put the bottle between her knees and pull. Thwock, went the cork. Lana was barely a hundred pounds soaking wet, but she'd never met a wine bottle that she couldn't handle.
"I guess it means I'll be running errands," Rory said, slicing through a fat yellow onion. "Whatever they need. They weren't specific over e-mail."
"Are they going to pay you?"
"I'll be staying with them for free. In their mansion on the beach. They don't need to pay me."
Her mom shook her red hair and took a long sip.
"I don't know why you always need a glass of wine ten minutes after you get home," Rory said.
"It relaxes me. You try cutting hair for nine hours." She placed the glass down on the counter. "What about Mario? Does he know?"
"It's a pizza place. I think he'll find someone else." Rory tipped the onions into the pan and watched them sizzle. "And I have some money saved up from this past year. So you don't have to worry."
"It's not the money. It's you." Rory could hear her mom digging in her purse for her cigarettes. "You're the smartest kid in your class. If you wanted to study abroad, I'd understand. If you wanted to get a job in the city, fine. But to go off and live with some family you don't even know? So you can pick up after them like your aunt?"
"Fee's been working for them my whole life," Rory pointed out. "If they were awful, she would have left a long time ago."
"But ... what are you going to do out there?" her mom continued, still digging. "Those aren't your people. You think they're going to let you in? That you're going to join their clubs and go to their parties? Oh, here they are."
Rory turned to see her mom pull a Merit out of the pack and light it with her favorite lighter, the one that said LAS VEGAS in cheery blue script.
"You're going to be a glorified servant," her mom said, taking a drag on the Merit. "Is that what you want?" She blew out the smoke and narrowed her green eyes, the ones Rory wished she'd inherited.
"I don't care about being a servant. The whole point is to get out of here," Rory said. "Widen my horizons. Don't you want me to get out of here? Ever?"
"Just say it," her mom said, taking her glass. "The whole point is to get away from me."
From you and your boyfriend, Rory thought as she turned back to the stove. Bryan, who yelled when he talked on the phone. Bryan, whose Xbox had taken up permanent residence in their living room. Bryan, who couldn't make rent at his own place, so naturally would be moving in with them, like her mom's last two disasters in tight jeans. Rory picked up the spatula and pried a burning onion slice from the pan.
"Let me know when it's ready," her mom said. Then she'd strolled out of the kitchen on her cowboy boots, trailing smoke and the smell of Paris eau de cologne. That had been the end of the discussion.
Rory checked her watch as the train rattled past a vegetable stand. She thought of Sophie and Trish, probably sunning themselves at the lake right now, taking advantage of the last free weekday before they started their jobs on Monday. Every summer she'd meet them after her shift at Mario's, and they'd hang out at the mall or in front of the frozen-yogurt place, and talk about their days. Now she was more than a hundred miles away. The farthest she'd ever been from home was New York City, and the last time had been three years ago. She'd gone in with her mom for her fourteenth birthday and seen Mamma Mia! Or at least, half of Mamma Mia!—they'd had to leave early because her mom was almost positive that Martin or Tommy or Gordon or whomever she was dating at the time was cheating on her and she wanted to catch him in the act. To nobody's shock, she did.
"East Hampton," the conductor announced over the PA. "East Hampton, next."
The train was still moving, but passengers leaped out of their seats to grab their bags off the luggage rack. Quickly, she reached into her purse and flipped open the cracked Estée Lauder compact she'd had since ninth grade. After six hours of traveling, her wavy dark brown hair had gone frizzy from the humid June afternoon, and her kohl eyeliner had bled into a raccoonlike mask around her hazel eyes. She thought about trying to fix things but decided it was a lost cause. She'd never been pretty enough—in her opinion—to care too much about looking perfect, unlike her mom, who'd been beautiful enough to be preoccupied by it for her entire life. Still, she slipped on a plastic headband and ran the last dregs of some Wet n Wild Bronze Berry gloss over her full lips. It didn't hurt to clean up a little. Rich people liked that. Actually, her aunt never used the word rich. Polished was the word she always used about the Rules. They're a very polished family.
The train finally screeched to a full stop. She grabbed her duffel bag, her book bag, and her favorite vintage black leather motorcycle jacket off the luggage rack and moved toward the doors. When she stepped out on the platform, the air smelled like the ocean. Squinting in the bright sunlight, she made her way past the white station house and over to the small parking lot, where a line of SUVs and convertibles waited to pick people up. Rory glanced at the people streaming over to the cars. The men wore polo shirts and khaki shorts and loafers with no socks. The women wore toothpick-thin jeans and delicate silk cardigans and flat sandals with just a sliver of beaded leather between the toes. Rory looked down at her own outfit. Her light denim miniskirt, sleeveless yellow T-shirt, and platform slides had looked stylish that morning, but now she wasn't so sure.
She turned to see a guy with short brownish-blond hair and a tanned, chiseled face coming toward her in the crowd. His mirrored sunglasses gave him the air of someone paid to be athletic. Or maybe it was the matching white T-shirt and shorts.
"Hey, I'm Steve," he said. "The tennis pro for the Rules. Fee asked me to come get you."
For a moment, she felt her usual panic at coming face-to-face with a cute, athletic guy in his twenties and then willed it away. "Oh, hi," she said. "Nice to meet you."
"Here, let me take that," he said, taking her duffel and throwing it onto his shoulder. "We're over here."
Rory watched Steve walk ahead of her. Even from behind, he was good-looking, with a long, narrow back and sun-browned calves. But she put his looks out of her mind. When it came to good-looking guys, she knew her role: best buddy. It was so much easier that way, listening to their problems, making them laugh, giving them advice. And above all, staying away from drama. Because, with guys, there was always drama. And who needed more drama when she had so much of it at home already?
Steve aimed the remote at a shiny silver Mercedes convertible parked in the last spot, and the trunk popped up. "Careful, the seats might be a little hot," he said.
Rory got inside and shut the heavy door. A man walking by stared at the car with visible envy.
Steve opened the door and folded himself behind the wheel. "All right, let's get on our way," he said, turning the key in the ignition. The engine purred, quiet but strong. "Nice car, huh? The Rules just got it last week."
"Nice is an understatement," Rory said.
Steve laughed. "I know what you mean," he said as he backed out of the space. "Definitely makes my Jetta seem a little lame. So how was the trip? Not too many stops?"
"It was fine," Rory said.
"That's good. Sometimes the jitney can be faster."
"Why do they call it the jitney?" she asked.
"Because people here don't like to say the word bus," he said with a grin.
Rory chuckled. "Got it," she said. Steve seemed funny, despite his tennis-god looks.
"So where are you from in New Jersey?" Steve asked, flipping on his turn signal.
"Sussex County. A town called Stillwater."
"Stillwater?" he asked.
"It's near the Pennsylvania border. It's really pretty, lots of farms and lakes. Very country. Where are you from? Out here?"
"Hampton Bays," he said, glancing at her. "Which is not really the Hamptons. Or at least, the exclusive Hamptons," Steve said, using his fingers to make quotation marks. "It's out near Westhampton, back toward the city. Went to high school out here, then went down to Florida for college. And then, after I quit playing on tour, I came back here. It's great. Lots of tennis lovers. Including Lucy and Larry."
"Lucy and Larry?" she asked.
"The Rules," he said. "They're awesome. Really down-to-earth."
They began driving along a quaint-looking main street lined with shops and cafés. American flags hung over some of the store windows, and baskets of impatiens dripped color from the tops of lampposts. A group of towheaded kids walked down the sidewalk eating ice-cream cones. It could have been any main street in any East Coast town, but there was an unmistakable sheen of money over all of it. Almost every store awning dripped luxury: James Perse. Intermix. Ralph Lauren. Tiffany. "Wow," she said, looking out the window. "This place is so ... upscale."
"Yeah, it's gotten that way," Steve said. "It didn't used to be. There's just so much money here now."
Rory gazed at the pretty storefronts and forest-green benches. There wasn't a scrap of litter anywhere. It's like Martha Stewart designed a town, she thought. High.
"So how many kids do the Rules have?" she asked.
"Four," Steve said. "Two boys, two girls. And their youngest is about your age. You're seventeen, right?"
"Right," she said.
"So's Isabel. You'll have a lot of fun with her. She's like the queen of the Hamptons."
Fee had never mentioned Isabel, which was strange, only because adults usually thought that any two people the same age would instantly become best friends. But maybe Fee knew that anyone qualified to be called the queen of the Hamptons probably wouldn't have too much in common with someone like her. Rory had friends, but nobody would ever call her the social director of Stillwater. They turned onto a quiet street lined with stately homes and trees that formed a canopy overhead with their branches. "Lily Pond Lane," Rory said, glancing at the sign. "That's a pretty name."
"This is a famous street," Steve said. "It's where all the millionaires built their summer homes a hundred years ago. Including Lucy Rule's great-grandfather."
"So the home's been in her family that long?"
"Yep," Steve said. As they drove down the street, the homes began to be hidden by tall manicured hedges. "And now she owns it. Her dad willed it to her when he died."
"And what about Mr. Rule?" Rory asked. "Is he also ..."
"Old money?" Steve asked.
Rory had never heard that term before, but she nodded.
He turned left into a break in the hedges and pulled up to a pair of tall iron gates. "Technically, yes. But his father was found to be bankrupt after he died. So he had to go into business for himself. He works in commercial real estate." Steve lowered his window. "New money, old money—it's starting to become the same thing out here," he said with an ironic smile. He typed a code into a small security box just outside the window. With a soft clang, the gates swung open.
There was the crunch of gravel under the tires as they rounded a bend, past a stand of elm trees, and suddenly they were driving alongside the longest, widest front lawn she'd ever seen. The grass was perfectly trimmed, emerald green, and as large and flat as a football field. And perched on a slight hill at the far end of the lawn, as unreal and ephemeral-looking as something in a dream, was a sprawling shingle home.
"Over there's the tennis court," Steve said, pointing to the other side of the lawn. "And the changing cabanas, and the gym."
Through another group of trees she could see the bluish-green tennis court. A hopper full of balls stood on spiderlike legs.
"And in back, behind the house, is the pool and the beach," he added.
As they neared the house, she could see more details. The shingles had once been brown but had now faded to an elegant silvery gray. The third-floor windows were arched, with dormers, and three crumbling brick chimneys rose up from the roof. But the front door, the portico, and all the windows were covered in bright white paint, giving the house a crisp, new look despite its feeling of age.
"This is just the weekend house?" Rory asked.
"That's right," Steve said. "Most of the year, they live in the city. But their apartment in town isn't nearly this big."
She thought of her own house—a boxy bilevel with a slate roof and peeling yellowish-green paint. All her friends lived in the same kind of house, too. Could someone even call that a house after seeing this one? And did anyone need to live in a house this big?
Steve drove past the front of the house, where the gravel drive wound around an oval garden of boxwoods, and veered left toward a five-car garage. The row of cars parked outside ranged from a dusty black VW Jetta—Steve's car, Rory noted—to a gleaming black Porsche convertible. He slid the car between a silver Prius and the Porsche, then turned off the ignition. "We're here," he said. "Great," she said brightly.
He turned to look at her. "Don't be intimidated. They're really cool. You'll see."
He got out of the car, and she realized that her heart was pounding. Just before she got out, she remembered her black leather jacket lying on the floor near her feet. She picked it up, but already it felt useless and outdated, like an old party dress.
She followed Steve past a garden of pink roses and toward a side entrance. Below her she could hear the muted sound of waves. She'd almost forgotten that this house was on the beach.
Suddenly, the back door swung open, and the short, solid frame of Aunt Fee leaped onto the paving stones, her pale arms in the air. "There you are!" she cried. "My god, you're taller than I am!"
"Hi, Fee!" Rory said, giving in to her aunt's unforgiving hug. "It's been a while."
"That's because your mother has a very odd definition of family," she said, squeezing Rory's ribs.
Rory had always found it hard to believe that Fee and her mom were sisters. Lana was delicate and slender, while Fee, older by a few years, was compact and sturdy, with cheerful brown eyes that disappeared into squints when she smiled. The only thing the sisters shared was red hair, but Fee's was streaked with gray.
"I'm so excited to be here," Rory said, pulling away from Fee's hug. "I can hear the ocean."
"I'll take you down there in a bit." Fee plucked at the front of her forest-green polo shirt. That and a pair of pressed khaki pants seemed to comprise her uniform. "Steve, I'll take her bag."
Excerpted from Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin. Copyright © 2014 Joanna Philbin. Excerpted by permission of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted June 13, 2013
Rules of Summer is a similar but much better read than The Au Pairs by Melissa de la Cruz. Both books are similar in the sense that an average, if not poor, girl ends up working for a rich family, this one living in the Hamptons. What is also similar is that there is a switching POV however this one is only between two girls, Rory, the girl staying at the house for the summer in exchange for being the errand girl, and Isabel Rule, the girl from the rich family that Rory is working for. At the beginning, I felt there would be a bit of cattiness coming from Isabel, however Isabel was a pleasant surprise. She just came back from a full year at a high school in California (her parents sent her there because of her rebelliousness) and now she hates her old life, from the fake friends who are snobs to anyone who isn't rich, the Goergica, the exclusive club that makes these rich people's heads grow bigger, to her family that is trying to find any excuse to point out how big of a screw up she is. I do know the synopsis hints at a big mystery.. well it more like says it "long-hidden family secrets" isn't much of a hint, however that never really becomes a big part of the novel.. only towards the end is the secret revealed and you go like "ohh.. yea the synopsis did mention there is a secret or something." This doesn't mean that the book wasn't good, but if you are going into it for that, I say to change your expectations. Now for Rory.. I really tried loving her as a female protagonist but I just couldn't get past the "tolerable enough" state. She gets love struck immediately by Isabel's brother and somehow her world started revolving around him. I hate girls who act like that and can not relate to them at all. In all honesty I didn't enjoy the romance that went on in both Isabel and Rory's lives.. what I did enjoy is their growing friendship and following through their arc and seeing how two girls from two different worlds were able to become friends. I cant promise you depth or substance.. this book is a fluffy rummer read. I personally enjoyed the first half more than the second because the full on love fest didn't sit well with me. when two people say "I love you" to each other when they've only been seeing each other for a month.... that makes me roll my eyes.. hard. One thing I must point out is that this is apparently a series (well.. goodreads says it is) so I am not sure what I feel about that. The ending did feel a tiiiiiny bit open ended, in the sense that their journey promises more, but I didn't expect that. I am looking forward to the sequel and hoping that is when we see more depth and complexity from the characters and the plot. All in all Rules of Summer is perfect for a beach read and fans of summer/contemporary reads!
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Posted July 23, 2013
Picking up this author for the first time, I was hoping that I enjoy this book. I liked the book but some areas failed for me.
Plot: This plot for me moved slow and seemed a bit cliched at some parts. The plot played out exactly how I thought it would and of course didn’t really have any emphasis on a life changing moment. There was drama, boys, and money involved in every aspect.
Love: It was instant which turned me off completely. Not to mention that of course they would fall in the love. The rich boy and the poor girl from the city. I was hoping that there would be meaningful moments but instead of living in the moment their constants thoughts were on money and what would happen afterward.
Working: I found it weird how easily this girl got every comfortable living with other people she is supposed to be working for. She acted like she lived there. There were certain moments where my stomach churned at the thought of her loosing what she went there in the first place.
Overall, I don’t think this book lived up to my expectations. The ending felt rushed, like the author was trying to make up for the plot int he beginning. For me, this book had lots of buildup but not enough action. Rules Of Summer is okay.
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Posted July 2, 2013
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This book is by far my favorite summer read! Rory is a lot like me but I'm not as lucky! I can't wait to read
Since last summer.(the sequel)
Posted June 3, 2014
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***
Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin
Book One of the Rules of Summer series
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!
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