She's Got a Way by Maggie McGinnis
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Gabi O'Brien has spent nearly her entire life at Briarwood Academy, an elite all-girls private school. She grew up there, went away to college, and then returned as a "housemother"-- living in a dorm with a group of girls who need Gabi 24/7. But when four of Gabi's girls get into major trouble, the only thing standing between them and expulsion is a four-week stay at Camp Echo. Camp Echo used to be a boy's camp for foster and needy kids, but was recently bought by Briarwood. Upon arrival, Gabi and her girls find only two employees left: its founder, the elderly Oliver, and its young handyman, Luke. The two are charged with a to-do list a mile long from Briarwood to get the camp in shape and have no interest in the plight of a group of snobby rich girls. Gabi, meanwhile, wasn't planning to spend her summer playing camp counselor and immediately finds herself in over her head, trying to care for her charges in the middle of the wilderness. Further, she realizes she's immediately attracted to Luke. The two are both fiercely independent individuals held back by their pasts. Can they get over these pasts and work together to save the four wayward girls, who desperately need them?
This novel contains the typical romance silliness with a somewhat crazy plot, but it's fun and enjoyable. It came at the perfect point in my reading schedule, where I needed a break from thrillers and intense fiction where all the characters hate each other. Some of it should be silly, but really Gabi and Luke (and the four girls) are endearing. There are certainly moments where Gabi's indecisiveness, fear, and bickering with Luke grow old; you find yourself needing her to just grow up a bit and control her own destiny a bit more. Still, the book is fun, even poking fun at romance novels with it's tongue-in-check rom/com allusions.
Luke and Gabi's building romance is enjoyable to watch, with added drama thrown in from their four teenage charges. As I said, Gabi can be a bit frustrating, but you can't help but feel for her plight (would you want to be trapped with four angry teens in the woods?), and Luke is rather charming. The novel does an excellent job of speaking to how the past can strongly influence one person's character, as well capturing the angst that comes with class differences (think Briarwood versus foster care). It gives the romance an added depth and surprising heart.
All in all, a fun, quick read. 3.5 stars.
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