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Learn what happens in the book and whether it’s worth reading. This Every Summer After summary and review details Carley Fortune’s coming-of-age story Every Summer After — one of the most widely beloved Summer romance books that captures the nostalgia of young love and the hope of second chances. You’ll get all your questions answered here, so let’s get literary!

Every summer after by Carley Fortune in front of a bookshelf.
  • New York Times bestseller
  • Named one of the Hottest Reads of Summer 2022 by Today, Parade, PopSugar, USA Today, SheReads, BuzzFeed, BookBub, Bustle, and more

This post was written by my spicy romance living freelance writer and edited by me; however, I also devoured this book and shared her sentiments about it.

Every Summer After Summary

  • Tropes: first love, second chance romance, small town romance 
  • Spice Level: 2 out of 5
  • Trigger Warnings: cheating, death of a parent, terminal illness, moderately graphic sex
  • Age Rating: 18+ based on moderately graphic sex scenes

Every Summer After is Carley Fortune’s debut novel, and it tells the story of Persephone Fraser (Percy) as she spends summers at her family’s lake cottage in Barry’s Bay, Canada.  The story alternates between the present day and Summers in the past, covering the Summers of Percy’s high school years.

The story begins in the present time when Percy receives a phone call from an old friend from Barry’s Bay, Charlie Florek.  He tells her that his mother, Sue, has passed away and, although the two have not seen one another in many years, he feels she should be aware.  

Percy does not bat an eye and immediately makes her way from her city life in Toronto up to the lakeshore of her childhood.  

Percy’s family has long since sold their lake cottage, so Percy gets a room at the local motel and mentally prepares herself to see the person she is most hesitant to see: Sam Florek, Charlie’s brother.  The Florek boys lived year-round in the cottage near the one Percy and her family Summered in, and she and Sam have a very long history.  Percy has not spoken to him in years, but given that Sam’s mother, Sue, was like a second mother to her, she wouldn’t miss her funeral.

The flashbacks in this book begin with 13-year-old Percy meeting Sam, who is the same age.  Charlie, two years Sam’s senior, is having friends over while their mother is busy with work at their family’s restaurant, the Tavern.

Charlie drops Sam off at Percy’s cottage so he can head back to his own and enjoy time with his friends, and they become inseparable.  They spend long days on their docks, swimming and rafting.  When the sun becomes too hot, they watch Percy’s beloved horror movies in Sam’s basement.  

But, other than Thanksgiving break, the two seldom see one another during the school year, given that Percy heads back to Toronto. The end of summer break is the hardest part of the year for both Percy and Sam.

Back in the present day, Percy makes her way to the Tavern, where she herself worked for many of her Summers.  It is closed due to Sue’s death, but Sam is inside preparing for the funeral luncheon the following day.  

Sam cannot believe his eyes when he sees Percy, and Percy is mostly struck by how much of a man Sam has become.  Gone is the nerdy skinny kid she grew up with and before her is Sam Florek, M.D., who has become the cardiologist he always wanted to be, ever since his father died young of a heart attack.  He is tall, filled out, tan, muscular, and yes — a successful man.  

The two catch up over ice cream and end up back at the restaurant. They are having a drink together when a woman appears and is introduced to Percy as Sam’s girlfriend, Taylor.  Percy’s heart falls a little.

The flashbacks highlight the tales of teenage Summers at a lake and all the drama that accompanies it. For example, Percy brings her friend, Delilah, from school to the cottage for a week, and her flirtatious mannerisms with both Florek boys do not sit too well with Percy.  Also, Sam’s brother Charlie, ever the ladies’ man and nearly always shirtless, spends a decent amount of time spouting off inviting one-liners to Percy, but Percy’s loyalty and heart lie with Sam.  

The childhood friends grow closer and as the Summers pass and, as they mature, both Percy and Sam begin to realize that their feelings for one another may carry more weight.  Each expresses feelings of jealousy about the other’s love life and, in a tense moment when Percy brings her high school boyfriend to the cottage, Sam sees them kissing and storms out of the house.

As Percy and Sam near the end of high school, they finally take their relationship to the next level and decide to be an official couple.  Percy attends Sam’s high school graduation, but the blissful day turns sour when Sam tells Percy he cannot spend their last Summer after their senior year together, as he is starting college early.  Crushed, Percy returns to Barry’s Bay that Summer without him.

Back in the present day, Sam and Percy spend some time on the lake together, and it is clear that they miss each other and their feelings for one another are very much alive.  However, it’s clear that something bad happened between them, which led to them not speaking for over a decade.  

The morning of the funeral, the two have a heated sexual encounter in Sam’s pickup truck.  Afterward, Sam reminds Percy that he broke her heart, and Percy painfully agrees.

Every Summer After Ending (With Spoilers)

Please note there are spoilers in this section.

In the last flashback of the book, twelve years earlier, Sam becomes increasingly more distant while doing his college program, so Percy turns to Charlie for comfort and friendship.  

Charlie’s feelings for Percy seem to be growing and, in the absence of Sam, his flirtatious banter is starting to make quite an impression on Percy.  One evening, after attending a drive-in movie together, the two have sex in a moment of both passion and weakness.  Percy immediately regrets it and knows that her heart lies with Sam and that this was the biggest mistake of her life.

In the present day, Sam explains that, due to his ongoing and undeniable feelings for Percy, he has broken up with Taylor.

Percy and Sam have sex for the first time and, afterward, Percy decides she finally has to come clean to Sam about what happened with Charlie all those years ago.  She confesses to Sam that the reason she rejected his marriage proposal twelve years ago was because she slept with Charlie.  This comes out of her mouth at the exact same time Sam tells her she still loves her.  

As they two talk, Sam reveals that Charlie had already told him about his and Percy’s sexual escapade all those years ago.  That is what broke Sam’s heart and caused him not to contact Percy in all these years. Seeing her now, however, makes him realize that his love for her has never faded or wavered, and he forgives her.  

In the Epilogue, Percy, Sam, and Charlie are on their family’s boat spreading Sue’s ashes.  Afterward, they head up to the Florek house, where a party will be held in Sue’s honor.  Percy reveals that she plans to propose to Sam in the Florek’s basement after the party winds down.

Every Summer After Book Review

Every Summer After is such a nostalgic story of love and, to be honest, it is the best debut novel I have ever read! 

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune is an absolutely stunning debut novel.  I hung onto every word in this book and finished it in three days.  From the pacing to the character development and the physical descriptions of people and places, it was all so beautifully on point.  

One thing I truly loved about this book was the setting.  I love a good beach book, but lakes hold an extra special place in my heart.  Having relatives with lakefront properties, both as a child and currently as an adult, I spend a decent amount of time at a local lake, so I felt that I could picture and sometimes even smell the scenes that Fortune described.  

There is just something about a rickety dock, a slamming screen door at a summer cottage, and the hum of a motorboat that is so special to me, and I felt this was portrayed perfectly in the novel.

I also think Fortune did a tremendous job at portraying young first love.  These characters were so well developed.  The sentences they spoke were sometimes beyond their years, but they were spoken with honesty, passion, and vulnerability.  The tension, love, lust, and friendship were all palpable.  Some of their interactions even had me remembering my own first relationships and the coming-of-age/loss-of-innocence paradigm they created.

Kudos to Fortune on her talent to create this beauty, which is sure to be one romance novel that will be enjoyed by many for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened between Sam and Percy in Every Summer After?

Percy and Sam lost touch for twelve years after Percy slept with Sam’s brother and rejected Sam’s marriage proposal.  They finally reunite at the funeral for Sam’s and Charlie’s mother.

Does Every Summer After have a happy ending?

Yes, Every Summer After has a happy ending. Sam and Percy end up together.

Is Every Summer After steamy?

Yes. Every Summer After is an adult romance novel with a few moderately steamy scenes.

Is Every Summer After worth reading?

Yes. Every Summer After is a beloved betseller worth reading for fans of contemporary first love and/or second chance romance novels.

Conclusion

Every Summer After is a stellar debut novel that quickly became a bestseller beloved by fans of contemporary first-love and second-chance romance novels. If you already read it and loved it, then check out more of Carley Fortune’s books.

If you already read it, share your thoughts in the comments below.

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