Book Review: The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge

I am very happy to bring to you all my review of The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge.

After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them. 
But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort. 
So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.

I write this review whilst hoping it will bring back the beautiful lockdown weather…fingers crossed!

Sarah is a young woman with a career plan. Working in hospitality, she is keen to make her mark on the hotel business, wanting to work her way up to a luxury resort where she can really have an impact on customers hotel experiences. She is hard working and driven, and she pushes to provide her sister Amy with a roof over her head and the support she needs to succeed in the veterinary world.

When Amy has a small windfall, she is keen to repay Sarah with an all expenses paid trip to the British Virgin Islands. A four week trip, spending her time experiencing luxury whilst researching a top-end hotel is just what Sarah needs. What Sarah actually gets though is really rather different…

Concerned that Sarah will spend their trip with her work head on, Amy instead books a four week trip to a conservation project in the British Virgin Islands. Hard work, compost toilets and wooden shacks for accommodation were not exactly what Sarah had in mind, although hunky Island leader Rick could certainly change her view of the place!

This is a modern twist on the classic ‘fish out of water’ story. Upon arriving at their beautiful destination, Sarah is immediately out of her comfort zone. She is forced into a situation that she ultimately hates, all whilst trying to maintain a facade of happiness to her sister who she refuses to disappoint. As we all know though, it is only when we are uncomfortable or put into new situations that we get to learn about ourselves, and what we really want from life.

I really liked Sarah as a character. I could relate to how protective of her sister she was, even if it did stifle Amy at times. Her drive to succeed comes from a lifetime of put downs, and again, it’s completely relatable. Her entire persona makes sense, and so watching her struggle with her new surroundings sometimes makes difficult reading. Don’t get me wrong, this is a light-hearted novel with some romance thrown in for good measure, but that doesn’t make the characters any less relatable or interesting to follow.

This is really nice, easy to read novel, set in a luscious location (if we can’t go on holiday in real life then we may as well visit far flung places within the pages of novels!). This is a great novel for readers interested in conservation, desert islands and characters who need to work out what they really want from life – if only I could do that from a desert island! Grab yourself a cocktail and settle down with this novel!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thanks to Aria for providing me with a copy of this novel via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

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