The Summer Guests

The Summer Guests


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From the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series comes a heartwarming and evocative novel about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life.

Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. A perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. They bring with them only the few treasured possessions they can fit in their vehicles. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

With Mary Alice Monroe’s “usual resplendent storytelling” (Patti Callahan Henry, New York Times bestselling author), The Summer Guests is a poignant and compelling story of self-discovery, love, and redemption.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501193620
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 06/11/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 381
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at and at

Read an Excerpt

The Summer Guests

  • August 15, 2018, 7:15 a.m.

    Isle of Palms, South Carolina

    Tropical Storm Noelle intensifies into a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean

    Cara Rutledge rubbed her arms and looked out over the Atlantic Ocean. The mercurial sea rolled in and out in its metronome fashion, reflecting the blue-gray color of the sky. The beach was nearly empty, the vast expanse of sand scarred only by her footprints. All seemed calm. Even the golden panicles of the sea oats hung still in the pensive air. Yet she sensed a heightened tension coiling under the calm façade of the water, like some great beast rippling, lying in wait to pounce.

    Cara shivered, though it wasn’t cold. She was a tall, slender woman accustomed to daily walks along the beach with her daughter, Hope. She’d spent her childhood on this beach, and had returned as an adult to make the quaint beach house, Primrose Cottage, her home. From May until October she was on the Island Turtle Team, like her mother before her. After a lifetime living beside the ocean, she felt attuned to the moods of her old friend. And today, something felt off.

    The sun was shining, but thin streaks of clouds stretched from the sea toward land, eerie fingers reaching out from the incoming storm.

    Cara inhaled the salty air and placed her hand against her chest. There was an unusual heaviness in the air. A moistness that tasted of rain. She was no stranger to summer storms, or the havoc they could wreak. She also knew that she was unusually skittish when it came to storms. Cara had lived through too many hurricanes not to be on guard. And yet, she didn’t want to panic. There was a wave out in the Atlantic the meteorologists were keeping an eye on, but it was August, the height of the hurricane season. There were a lot of storms that lost steam or changed direction long before they neared landfall.

    She was leaving the island this afternoon to visit the mountains of North Carolina with David Wyatt and his family. It would be a welcome change of pace with the lush green foliage, cooler air, and hiking. She might even get some horseback riding in. She exhaled slowly. Yes, she thought with relief. She was working herself up over nothing. Whatever storm was coming would likely blow in and out by the time she returned. And, she thought with a hint of a smile on her face, she was bringing along with her the one thing she treasured most in the world—her daughter, Hope.

    Cara turned her back on the ocean and, swinging her arms, began her trek across the beach toward home.

  • Customer Reviews

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    The Summer Guests 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
    Anonymous 3 days ago
    I have enjoyed reading books by Mary Alice Monroe in the past and this book is another of her books that I enjoyed reading. The story has a lot of moving parts... a hurricane, mother/daughter issues, romance and the problems that brings, the beauty of horses and dressage... it all eventually comes together. It took me several chapters to sort out all the characters and their issues. I found several characters that I liked and a few that I didn't care for. I think this is a great summer read - maybe not if you're riding out a hurricane.
    SardisYS 4 days ago
    Great character studies and relationship stories in this new adult romance. This will keep you involved in all aspects of the plot line. Great read.
    Queenbethanny 5 days ago
    A heartwarming story of lifelong friends coming together to help each other and their equestrian community out during an upcoming hurricane. It was a joy to watch these friends find their own paths during these short few days. My only criticism is that the couple who went to her beach house to board it up semed unnecessary and the story would have been fine without that side plot.
    Amanda_Earnhardt 6 days ago
    Because a perilous hurricane is brewing off the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, Grace and Charles Phillips invite their daughter and several friends from interesting and varied backgrounds to their farm in Tryon, North Carolina. These people also bring their dogs and horses along with their private unresolved issues. Friendships, romances, marriages, careers, parental-child relationships and personal self-reflection are all put to the test during this stressful but transcendent week. The Summer Guests is a captivating departure by Mary Alice Monroe (MAM) from her beach themed novels. I enjoyed reading about the competitive sport of equestrian jumping and dressage. As always, MAM does a superb job of character development along with compelling and informative storylines. Readers will definitely want a copy of The Summer Guests for their library!
    Anonymous 9 days ago
    The Summer Guests was a nice summer read, great to take on a trip. The concept of a group of people converging in one home during a hurricane evacuation was very intriguing and had a lot of potential. While I could tell the author did a lot of research about horses and the equestrian community, the book as a whole felt somewhat snobby and elitist. I hesitate to recommend it because I found myself annoyed most of the time with the characters. I will give it 3 stars for the horses :) Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy!
    PennieM 9 days ago
    This is my first book by this author but definitely not the last. We are invited into the fold as a hurricane is barreling towards the coast of Florida/Georgia/South Carolina and the Phillips let their daughter invite her friends with their horses to shelter at their farm. They bring their horses, their dogs, and all their personal problems and wow do they have some problems. There is a lot going on and it is a hoot. A week with all these people together can bring on more troubles than a hurricane but can also lead to inflection and reflection and this was just an all round good read! I deem this a great summer read and perfect vacation read. **Received this ARC for review from the publisher via NetGalley**
    Sheremy2627 10 days ago
    The impending hurricane has everyone fleeing inland. Grace Phillips opens her horse farm to an eclectic group of guests and the stories that unfold are as unpredictable as the storm that drove them together. These individuals work together to care for the horses and other animals in their care. The storm draws near and the undercurrents bring change to many of the guests emotions and relationships. When the storm clears no one is the same. Mary Alice Monroe explores themes of mother daughter relationships, living up to the expectations of others, and rekindling old friendships in this lovely book. Thank you NetGalley for this advance Reader Copy
    Becka 10 days ago
    Thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I am new to Mary Alice Monroe’s books, so I went into this reading with no expectations. As I read, I found myself becoming somewhat confused by the large number of characters. Because there were so many, I feel like the opportunity to develop the characters and make them real was lost. I’m sure that someone who is a horse lover would appreciate the great detail and volume of horse-related text, but having no background in horse ownership, I found myself skimming over much. I will likely try another book by the author to see whether her non-horse topics are a better match for me.
    bookluvr35SL 10 days ago
    When a monster hurricane begins heading right for the east coast, Grace & Charles Phillips open up their farm in the foothills of NC to several of their closest friends who live right in the path of the storm. Having all of those different people (and personalities) in one place is the recipe for either disaster or the strengthening of current friendships and building of new ones. I love this author's books. I love that they all take place in the Carolina's since that is where I am from. I also love her way of making the characters seem so real.... like someone you might actually know and be friends with in the real world. This book has all the characteristics of the perfect beach read.
    Twink 11 days ago
    3.5 Looking for a summer beach read? Look no further than Mary Alice Monroe's new novel - The Summer Guests! A hurricane is set to strike the Florida and North Carolina coasts. Grace Phillips lives inland and has offered a number of her diverse group of friends to take refuge at her inland farm. The one thing they have in common? Horses. The weather mirrors the lives of the large character cast. As the hurricane threatens, the lives of the characters are facing stormy times. When the storm hits, lives change and as the storm eases up, new paths are set for almost everyone over the course of ten days. (And a lot happens!) All types of relationships are explored - friendship, mother/daughter, romantic, working - and horses. I am completely in the dark about equine matters and I learned quite a bit from Monroe's descriptions and settings. Again, much of the equine situations mirror what's going on in the lives of the group. It is a diverse group and readers will gravitate towards some players (I really liked Moira and her mother Grace - maybe we'll see them in a future book?). And dislike others. With so many characters, the narrative changed often and I felt like I didn't really get to 'know' them as much as I would have liked. The Summer Guests takes inspiration from Munroe's own life and experiences through an evacuation, her knowledge of the horse community and of course, the Southern settings. This was a first read of Mary Alice Monroe for me. The Summer Guests engaged me, the story was entertaining and it just seemed right for beach reading.
    nwilder3 14 days ago
    Be sure to pack "The Summer Guests" in your beach bag before heading off on your vacation! For Mary Alice Monroe’s loyal readers, be aware that the setting of her latest novel relocates from the barrier island beaches of South Carolina to the safety of the North Carolina’s horse country near Tryon, NC, as a category 4+ hurricane threatens the coast. While the cast of characters includes several new ones who evacuated to the equestrian community in Tryon, a favorite heroine from the Beach House series, Cara Rutledge and her family join the others as they decide what to take with them and how to secure their homes full of cherished possessions. The Summer Guests is as fast-paced as the hurricane racing up the Atlantic Coast, and the reader experiences the characters’ tension as they make their decisions about what to pack and what to leave behind. Instead of protecting the sea turtles and porpoises as in the Beach House novels, these new characters must evacuate with their beloved dogs and prized horses as well as rescue dogs and horses that would perish if left behind to weather the hurricane. Taken from MAM’s own evacuation experience during Hurricane Irma, the Tryon International Equestrian Center opened their stalls to both Grand Prix and rescue horses. A cadre of women bonded together to delegate chores and responsibilities, prepare food and lodging for the evacuees, all the while dealing with strong personality clashes and bitter family feuds as the storm rages outdoors. The calm after the brutal storm reminds the evacuees and their hosts what is truly important to them: Family and friends and beloved pets and animals are irreplaceable. It’s no surprise that The Summer Guests is on the Southern Living list of 25 Perfect Reads for Summer. When thinking about what to pack for your beach vacation, be sure to bring a copy of The Summer Guests.
    LadyDewDrop 14 days ago
    Every time I read a book that Mary Alice Monroe writes I learn something. In The Summer Guests, living through a possible hurricane and a group of horses was the subject. To me, Mary Alice was the teacher and I was the student. I was enthralled with the characters who become friends when they, along with their horses come together in a home in the country to escape a hurricane. I didn't want to put this book down and know you won't either. Donna Rothe
    Diece 14 days ago
    MAM has done it again! With every book, I love her writing more. The story of Grace and Charles Phillips inviting their closest friends to stay with them in the NC mountains during the coming hurricane Noelle is wonderful. Not only do they shelter their closest friends, but also rescue dogs and their friends' horses. Each person comes with their own person baggage and with the storm coming, tensions and insecurities rise. As the storm comes to a head many resolutions are made and the guests prepare for departure. This story takes us from Florida evacuations to seeing Cara and her fiancé' and how their relationship turns out, to the NC mountains where the group rides out the storm. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It is a wonderful read!
    Fredreeca2001 15 days ago
    There is a hurricane headed toward Florida. A mandatory evacuation is in effect. People are loading up their valuables and heading to high ground. Charles and Grace have opened their farm to family and their very eclectic friends and ALL their animals. Hannah and Javier, Gerda and Elise, Moira, Cara all arrive at the farm with horses and dogs. This creates a unique environment. It opens their eyes to what they need to change in their lives and what strength is needed to overcome many of life’s obstacles. Each person takes something new away from this experience and all of it is life changing. There are lots of characters in this read but each are unique and have their own set of worries and difficulties. Mary Alice Monroe always has the best characters. They are so relatable and real! I also enjoyed the horses and learning about dressage. No one does animals, nature and people like MAM! This is not my favorite Mary Alice Monroe book but it is still wonderful. I love that MAM changes her stories. She does not keep the same “beach reads”. She expands her horizons. And this novel fast paced and unique! I received this novel from Gallery Books for a honest review.
    JennieMP 15 days ago
    I love Mary Alice Monroe and nothing says summer to me like one of her books. I have read the Beach House series twice so I loved that Cara Rutledge appeared again in this book. I found the equestrian theme interesting even though it was a departure from my typical beach favorites. As always, Mary Alice Monroe adeptly weaves together characters that we can connect with along with beautiful settings. Her characters are ever-evolving and growing. I loved this book and am hopeful that there will be a follow-up in the future.
    Dedee1 15 days ago
    A new setting and cast of characters except for a small appearance of Cara Rutledge of Primrose Cottage, Isle of Palms, SC. Like Mary Alice Monroe 's (aka MAM) other books, it works well as a stand alone book. There are vivid descriptions of the western North Carolina mountain region and the world of horse training, riding and competitions. You can feel the cool wet breezes, see the colorful sky and hear the horses hooves in her recounts. It is obvious a great deal of time and research has been spent in this realm . The terminology, use of colloquial language with expletives is different from MAM's other works, however, it fitting for these characters. A variety of relationships are abound- mother-daughter, couples- both married and not, singles and even includes 'Casanova ' type fellow. It takes a while to 'get to know' these people and some of their risque' behaviors but they are complex and believable. They each have issues they are battling within , all the while loving their horses and waiting out a hurricane that may effect their lives and properties hundreds of miles away. While the book has an ending, it is left open to sequels. A different kind of book for MAM, but quite enjoyable and especially so if you are fascinated with the horse world. Not to slight our four legged furry friends, they also play a role in waiting out the storm. Enjoy! Many many thanks to Mary Alice Monroe and her great team Angela May et al. for the ARC. Looking forward to reading more of the challenges that await ''The Summer Guests'' as they return to their own domain or meet again in the mountains! I received this book as an advanced copy for an honest opinion of the book. The opinions expressed are my own.
    DJTP 15 days ago
    The Summer Guests by Mary Alice Monroe. A enjoyable storyline and dialogue. A visit from Cara from the Beach House series. Mary Alice Monroe never disappoints a reader. I look forward to reading more of her books.
    Patsy-S 15 days ago
    When you read a Mary Alice Monroe novel you know there will be strong characters (especially the females) with a turbulent mother daughter relationship thrown in, beautiful scenery, and some environment knowledge acquired. Summer Guests is no exception. This novel takes place in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina instead of our expected South Carolina coast. We do get to see an old familiar friend Cara as she is also in the mountains but she soon leaves to check on the beach house since a hurricane is approaching the east coast. A varied group of evacuees descends on a horse farm in the North Carolina Mountains. Some are bringing their horses to safety but they all have some ties to horse world. I enjoyed seeing the world surrounding horses and the interaction between human and horse. I also love when a book features dogs especially rescue dogs. I highly recommend getting this to read especially if you need a good read while vacationing. I always enjoy being drawn into the character lives and leaving knowing a little more informed about other living creatures. You feel for the non-human characters as much as the human ones.
    JB55SC 15 days ago
    Mary Alice Monroe and her amazing ability to create a world of brilliant characters and life stories, does it again. The Summer Guests takes you on a journey of friendship, love, trust and courage. For anyone who has lived through the worry of a pending storm, you will immediately be drawn into the fears faced by a hurricane on the move across the east coast. You will meet Grace and Gerta, long time friends who are brought together again by the upcoming storm. The story centers around their love of horses and how this love heals their hearts and the hearts of those around them. It is beautifully written and when the story ends, you will find yourself wanting more. This is a perfect read for the summer- one you do not want to miss.
    SaschaDarlington 15 days ago
    4 1/2 stars I have been a Mary Alice Monroe reader for years, ever since I found one of her books at the library that, though fiction, dealt with ecology and the natural aspects of the beach ecosystem. This nature child was hooked. The Summer Guests also interweaves natural aspects but its primary focus is on the people, horses, and dogs evacuating when a high intensity hurricane is predicted to hit along the southeast coast. As such, The Summer Guests is probably more episodic than the typical Mary Alice Monroe novel as it moves between the POVs of at least a half-dozen people. Typically this head jumping can be disconcerting, but only once did I find it irritating. What usually occurs in a novel like this with many central characters is that you have a bad guy/girl. There isn’t in The Summer Guests. The bad girl is hurricane Noelle, which wreaks havoc. While some of the characters are prickly, they are very human. And, almost every character changes by the end, having a revelation that prods them onto a new life course or frame of mind. I found The Summer Guests to be an engrossing read. I loved learning about the relationships between riders and horses, and I enjoyed the dramas and fun between the characters. Besides nature, the novel also delved into another of my favorite things: the magical. Even more fun is when a magical event happens to probably the most pragmatic person in the novel and provides a jumping point for her character change. Likewise, I loved that Grace’s daughter, Moira, has an open connection to animals, meaning that she can communicate with them on another level. I just love this stuff! By the end of The Summer Guests, I was satisfied, although I would like very much to know what happens as this ensemble of characters moves on and return to their own worlds, if they achieve their dreams and goals or simply find a more fulfilling way of life. I highly recommend The Summer Guests for nature lovers, horse lovers, Mary Alice Monroe fans, and readers who like women’s fiction that involves all of those things. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
    Janknit 15 days ago
    Mary Alice Monroe has brought us another outstanding story in her new book, The Summer Guests. We are taken from the coasts of Florida and South Carolina to a farm in the Mountains of North Carolina in the midst of Hurricane Noelle. We are brought right into an evacuation effort of horses and rescue dogs as well. This is a different twist for MAM as many of her previous books are set on the coast of South Carolina. Personally, I was introduced to a whole new world in the equestrian world. I found it very interesting to learn about the personality of horses and how they interact with people. There was much to be learned from this story and understanding of what people go through during natural disasters that we may not even be aware of. It helps us see that good things can come out of bad and these situations can help us realize what's important in life. I enjoyed this book immensely and didn't want it to end. Because of MAM's exquisite talend for describing her characters and settings, I felt like I knew the characters and that I was right there with them. A favorite quote that I have from the book is this: "The horse has made a powerful impact on the evolution of the human world. If history taught her anything...if the horse taught her anything, it was that holding tight to the reins, using spurs and forcing one's will on the horse would only get you one place--nowhere".
    Barbara27 15 days ago
    The Summer Guest, by Mary Alice Monroe, brings together an eclectic group of equestrian friends and strangers who suddenly reevaluate their own priorities in life. Suddenly their very existence seems "up in the air", out of control, just like the approaching hurricane. Yet, fate intervenes. Like the storm approaching. life takes unexpected twist and turns. New friendships are made, new bonds are formed, After a storm, the sun shines. Out. of disaster, life brings unexpected new opportunities.
    CrazyMama 16 days ago
    Once again, Mary Alice Monroe takes readers on a memorable summer vacation. In this story, we find ourselves in a new setting, the mountains of Tryon, NC. As a hurricane threatens the east coast, evacuees begin to seek higher ground. Gracious hosts Grace and Charles Phillips invite an eclectic mix of friends to take refuge at their horse farm in North Carolina. As these friends begin their separate journeys, the reader learns just enough of their stories to be intrigued. One by one, two by two, each guest arrives, adding their diverse personalities to the house party – Hannah McClain and her handsome jockey boyfriend, Javier Angel de la Cruz; Moira, the Phillips’s daughter; horse breeder Gerta Klug and her daughter Elise, an Olympic hopeful; and an old friend to many readers, Cara Rutledge. As the storm heightens, so does the plot and we begin to see the characters’ truer selves emerge. Interwoven into this storm are stories of love, forgiveness, perseverance and a touch of mysticism. The realism of the characters allows the reader to see their faults and flaws and makes you love them more for it. After the literal storm and emotional storms have passed, our characters prepare to leave the farm, transformed by their mutual experiences. I honestly felt disappointment at the book’s end, not because of the storyline but because I knew these Summer Guests had to depart.
    ReadsWithGranddaughters 16 days ago
    Hurricane Noelle is the backdrop of multiple interpretations and facets of a storm. Changes, adjustments, relationships, lives, love, attitudes, tolerance, fortitude, hope, survival, anticipation, and pulling together are some of what these families and friends of Grace and Charles Phillips face together. Their graciousness in welcoming others to their horse farm in the North Carolina mountains was a relief to those in danger of loss, not knowing whether they will have a home to go back to once Noelle passes. Horses and rescue dogs also venture there with their owners. As important as their owners, the horses play a big part in the dynamics, as they are in a strange place away from familiarity and home. I always love the writings of this author who writes with her love of nature and all forms of life. [I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley and Gallery Books and my opinion is my own.]
    paulalala09 16 days ago
    I liked The Summer Guests but not as much as I have other books by Mary Alice Monroe. Nine chapters in and I was not too thrilled with the book but attribute it to there being so many characters to decipher (Charles and Grace; Moira; Elisa, Angel, Greta and Karl; Cara and David). I did like that the turmoil and devastation of a hurricane mirrors the same for the characters-all in some form of upheaval and change brewing. The building hurricane force also mirrors the building changes in the characters’ lives: abandoned homes for safety-abandoned positions/relationships for personal well-being. The addition of Cara and David from previous novels was a nice touch allowing for closure in their relationship. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.