First Line: "Dawn parked in front of her childhood home in Needham but couldn't make herself get out of the car."
Summary: Dawn Dixon never expected to spend her honeymoon without her groom and with her mother. But that is exactly what she finds herself doing. After breaking their engagement just two months before the wedding, Kevin offered their hotel reservations to Dawn saying they were already paid for and no refund was possible. So, Dawn took him up on the offer and decided to invite her mom, Marnie Dixon, to come along. Dawn's father passed away less than a year ago, so she figures her mom could use some time away.
The two of them are doing their best to rest and heal. But when Marnie buys an old, run-down ice cream shop, Dawn thinks her mom is crazy. Or maybe in denial. After the initial shock and frustration wear off, Dawn agrees to stay just for the summer and help her mom get the shop cleaned up. In order to do that though, Dawn will need to take a leave of absence from her job in Boston. Dawn has been working her way up the ladder of an accounting firm and is poised to make partner. Staying in Cape Cod will most likely mean giving up the partnership. Will spending the summer helping her mom be worth the loss of the partnership? Dawn can't imagine it will, but it feels like the right thing to do. As the two of them begin working on the overwhelming clean up and restoration, Dawn learns that there is more to life than climbing ladders.
My thoughts: The Sweet Life was such a great read! I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. The book jacket lists it as Contemporary Romance. I'm not sure that I would classify it that way. There is some romance, but it is actually pretty minor. It is mostly about a mother and daughter who have very different personalities learning to work together and appreciate one another.
Dawn Dixon is the type of woman who plans everything and follows the plan. She has a hard time working off of her plan because that might mean she will not reach her goals. She is known as a hard worker and has earned the name Teflon Dawn.
Marnie Dixon, on the other hand, likes to be spontaneous and decide what strikes her fancy in the moment. She is very creative and can sometimes be impulsive. Dawn has a hard time trusting her to do what she says she will do.
There are some great supporting characters as well. Lincoln Hayes, a local who volunteers on a daily basis to various charitable causes. He gives his afternoons to helping Dawn and Marnie get the creamery ready for opening day. Leo the Cowboy, a five-year-old who loves ice cream and is always a willing taster. Nanette, owner of the t-shirt shop across the street. If there is anything you need to know about anyone, Nanette is your gal. Mrs. Nickerson-Eldredge, descendent of the original founders of the town. It is her job to reinforce the historical standards of the town.
Dawn and Marnie develop a rhythm to their days. Basically they stay out of one another's way. But, as they are working independently, they are also growing and changing and healing. Some of the themes in the book are grief, fear, disappointment, determining what is really important in life, patience, friendship, the role of faith and stepping out of your comfort zone. Even though Dawn and Marnie have been through some very difficult situations, there is a thread of hope that runs through the entire story.
Thankfully, this is the first book of a planned series because I was not quite ready to leave Dawn, Marnie and the rest of the cast quite yet. I will be eagerly awaiting the next book.
"Chatham was a walkable town. Quaint, tree-lined, utterly charming."
"It was the only way to really know a place - to walk it."
"'Living one day at a time brings a wonderful freedom. Most people live in the past or the future."