Claire Cook once again ventures into the genre of the “living is easy” summer beach read with her latest book, Summer Blowout. Bella Shaughnessy’s fascination with makeup, particularly lipsticks with names such as Kiss My Lips or Catfight, is the daughter of loving but divorced Irish parents. Her father, Lucky, was married three times, but still holds a place in his heart for Bella’s mother. He has a mania for all things Italian ever since their honeymoon in Tuscany. His sociable persona and outlandish mannerisms are part of his charm and what endears Lucky to the family and clientele alike. Set in the Marshbury area around Boston, the Salon de Lucio is the main salon next to the family home. The other salons, including Salon de Paolo, have apartments above them, and Bella Shaughnessey lives in the one above de Paolo.
Bella’s life revolves around the family business of beauty salons, where she works as a talented makeup artist and hair stylist. The Shaughnessy family mans the small family chain of beauty salons with Bella’s four half-brothers and –sisters and in-laws, both current and past. While they sound like a happy, loving family, we quickly realize the conflicts that exist are what make this story percolate. Central is Bella’s marriage, which dissolves when her husband runs off with her half-sister. Bella is rightfully bitter and cautious and swears off relationships until she encounters a young, captivating entrepreneur named Sean Ryan. With a business idea, he introduces a way for Bella to use her talents to her advantage and on her own with no family connection.
On her own, Bella thinks she can be happy with no man or attachments. However, enter purely by accident, one small fuzz-ball of a pup that Bella falls for and finds it is a love is worth taking a chance on. This is where Cannoli enters to steal Bella’s heart and, oftentimes, the story. Bella and Cannoli become inseparable, much to the chagrin of many of the family members. But Bella finds it easy to confide in and entrust her heart to this tiny dog.
As Bella’s new business venture grows, so does Bella’s interest in Sean Ryan. However, with Cannoli in her life, Bella is content and doesn’t want any more entanglements or relationships. Fighting to not let desire take over, Bella keeps her distance in this business relationship with Sean until things come to a point on a crazy family wedding weekend in Atlanta that will change Bella’s life forever.
Readers who enjoyed the shoes in Beth Harbison’s Shoe Addicts Anonymous or designer clothes in Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada will quickly become caught up in Summer Blowout. Cook’s story revolves around the world of makeup artists and hairstylists. Fans of her other books, including Life’s A Beach and Must Love Dogs, will find Claire Cook continues to entertain with this latest romantic riotous romp. Fans won’t be disappointed if they are looking for a carefree, amusing summer read.