Where, oh where was the editor?
***Do not read further if you haven’t read the first two books****
The Summer Garden continues the story of Tatiana and Alexander after Alexander’s escape from Soviet Russia and they begin a new life in the United States. Scarred both emotionally and physically from the tortures of prison camp, Alexander is dark and moody and keeps it bottled inside, as Tatiana hopes her love is enough to get them through it. Living in the Cold War Climate of post WWII doesn’t help matters as they can’t speak to people about their background in Soviet Russia, nor can Alexander explain the tattoos from Gulag. They move about from place to place exploring the US and taking odd jobs, finally settling in the Arizona desert where Tatiana had wisely purchased those 97 acres.
Alexander starts work for a custom homebuilder and eventually starts a successful business of his own, but Tatiana’s career as a nurse along with another man’s bored wife raises mutual jealousy between the two and threatens to destroy everything they’ve built. Years later, Alexander’s past and the grudge held against him by the Soviets threaten the next generation and send Alexander on a life and death rescue mission into North Vietnam. Interspersed throughout the book Simons continues her flashbacks, this time into Tatiana’s childhood and her relationships with her siblings (yawn).
That all sounds well and good and I have to admit I was looking forward to going beyond the HEA from the end of Tatiana and Alexander and reading “the rest of the story” and seeing our lovers grow old together, but I have to admit that this book has a serious case of TMI (too much information). The first section as they dealt with Alexander’s scarred psyche and settling into life in the US (let alone getting past the questioning of members of the House Un-American Activities Committee) was very compelling, as was the third section as Alexander returns to active duty in the 1960’s for a personal mission behind the DMZ.
As in the first two books, despite a compelling story of two star-crossed lovers, there are some serious flaws and I have to wonder what kind of clout Simons has to get this stuff by an editor. The flashbacks to Tania’s childhood had no impact on the story or the make-up of her character that I could ascertain, and while I understand that the author was using the sexual relationship between the two to reinforce the struggles in their early days back in the US – eventually it was all too much, let alone all that blow by blow excruciating detail. Less is more.
**Spoiler warning** And last, as much as I complain about authors cutting a story short and not giving us a bit of a glimpse at what life was like after the HEA, Simons has to go on and on and on and on for almost 50 pages of how many kids, grandkids, who married who and who graduated from which college and got which prestigious job ad infinitum. TMI. **End of Spoilers**
Honestly this behemoth of a book could have been cut in half and the story would have still had plenty of punch for a satisfactory conclusion to the trilogy. I’m only recommending this for die hard fans of the first two who have to know what happened next but for most of you, let the ending of the second book be enough. 3/5 stars.