The Summer Guests

The Summer Guests


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This “authentic, generous, and heartfelt” (Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times bestselling author) novel from the New York Times bestselling author of the Beach House series is about the bonds and new beginnings that are born from disasters and how, even during the worst of circumstances—or perhaps because of them—we discover what is most important in life.

Late August is a beautiful time on the Southern coast—the peach trees are ripe, the ocean is warm, and the sweet tea is icy. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the rocking chairs on the porch. But beneath the calm surface bubbles a threat: it’s also peak hurricane season.

When a hurricane threatens the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the farm of their friends Grace and Charles Phillips in North Carolina: the Phillips’s daughter Moira and her rescue dogs, famed equestrian Javier Angel de la Cruz, makeup artist Hannah McLain, horse breeder Gerda Klug and her daughter Elise, and island resident Cara Rutledge. Strangers to all but the Phillips, they must ride out the storm together.

During the course of one of the most challenging weeks of their lives, relationships are put to the test as the evacuees are forced to confront the unresolved issues they have with themselves and with each other. But as the storm passes, they realize that what really matters isn’t what they brought with them to the mountains. Rather, it’s what they’ll take with them once they leave.

“Fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Wendy Wax will enjoy the picturesque setting and heartwarmingly intertwined character arcs” (Booklist) and “Monroe writes gorgeously, with authority and tenderness, about the natural world and its power to inspire, transport, and to heal” (Susan Wiggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501193620
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 06/11/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 5,929
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, including the Beach House series: The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, Beach House for Rent, and Beach House Reunion. She is a 2018 Inductee into the South Carolina Academy of Authors’ Hall of Fame, and her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, the International Book Award for Green Fiction, and the 2017 Southern Book Prize for Fiction. Her bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at and at

Read an Excerpt

The Summer Guests

  • August 15, 2018, 7:15 a.m.

    Isle of Palms, South Carolina

    Tropical Storm Noelle intensifies into a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean

    Cara Rutledge rubbed her arms and looked out over the Atlantic Ocean. The mercurial sea rolled in and out in its metronome fashion, reflecting the blue-gray color of the sky. The beach was nearly empty, the vast expanse of sand scarred only by her footprints. All seemed calm. Even the golden panicles of the sea oats hung still in the pensive air. Yet she sensed a heightened tension coiling under the calm façade of the water, like some great beast rippling, lying in wait to pounce.

    Cara shivered, though it wasn’t cold. She was a tall, slender woman accustomed to daily walks along the beach with her daughter, Hope. She’d spent her childhood on this beach, and had returned as an adult to make the quaint beach house, Primrose Cottage, her home. From May until October she was on the Island Turtle Team, like her mother before her. After a lifetime living beside the ocean, she felt attuned to the moods of her old friend. And today, something felt off.

    The sun was shining, but thin streaks of clouds stretched from the sea toward land, eerie fingers reaching out from the incoming storm.

    Cara inhaled the salty air and placed her hand against her chest. There was an unusual heaviness in the air. A moistness that tasted of rain. She was no stranger to summer storms, or the havoc they could wreak. She also knew that she was unusually skittish when it came to storms. Cara had lived through too many hurricanes not to be on guard. And yet, she didn’t want to panic. There was a wave out in the Atlantic the meteorologists were keeping an eye on, but it was August, the height of the hurricane season. There were a lot of storms that lost steam or changed direction long before they neared landfall.

    She was leaving the island this afternoon to visit the mountains of North Carolina with David Wyatt and his family. It would be a welcome change of pace with the lush green foliage, cooler air, and hiking. She might even get some horseback riding in. She exhaled slowly. Yes, she thought with relief. She was working herself up over nothing. Whatever storm was coming would likely blow in and out by the time she returned. And, she thought with a hint of a smile on her face, she was bringing along with her the one thing she treasured most in the world—her daughter, Hope.

    Cara turned her back on the ocean and, swinging her arms, began her trek across the beach toward home.

  • Customer Reviews

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    The Summer Guests 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
    8179805 22 days ago
    A hurricane is barreling towards the east coast of the US. Lifelong friends evacuate to the safety of the NC mountain home of Charles and Grace Phillips, bringing their valuable horses with them. This diverse group seeking a safe haven include, world renowned equestrians, both past and present, rescue dogs, rescue horses, best friends, lovers and strangers, young and old. As the literal hurricane’s outer bands reach the mountains, the figurative hurricanes are swirling around as well. Mary Alice Monroe shows, through her writing, that life questions are not reserved just for the young. Once again , Mary Alice Monroe has penned a novel that will keep the reader interested and yearning for more.
    Anonymous 4 months ago
    l like everything l have ever read by this author. Looking forward to her next book.
    beachandbookgirl 5 months ago
    This was another great story by Mary Alice Monroe. There were two different settings, one in the eye of a hurricane with Cara and David and the other on a horse farm in North Carolina where the other main characters stayed out of the storm. The dynamics between the mothers/daughters, wife/husband, friends from a long time ago and the horses all made for a fantastic story.
    Renwarsreads 5 months ago
    This book was different from the usual beach house reads. A bunch of coastal dwellers are preparing for a hurricane and during their evacuation meeting new people and new possibilities. This story revolves around horses instead of turtles, and their owners, riders and trainers. I've loved reading about the turtles laying their eggs and the hatching process in the other books, so this was a little unexpected for me.
    Buecherwurm161 5 months ago
    A Perfect Summer Read. I was a First Read Winner of this book, and could not wait to get started on this story since it seemed the perfect summer read. I did enjoy the book very much, but if it just had a tad less info about horses and all things equestrian, something the Author clearly researched very thoroughly, and instead embellished these interesting characters and there struggle, I would have loved it even more. The storyline was relevant since there seems to be a hurricane a lot more frequently than in the past, and I am all for rescues, no matter what animal. Overall very entertaining and a great read that I had a hard time putting down, I certainly know more about horses than I did before and I want to be friends with all these women.
    Lakelady-reader 6 months ago
    Mary Alice Monroe never disappoints. The Summer Guests is a perfect read for anyone that has experienced a major US hurricane, specifically along the Southeastern coast. M.A. Monroe deftly combines horse competition, animal rescue and storm evacuation into the perfect summer read. The Summer Guests chronicles the events over a ten day period prior, during and after a major hurricane hits the coasts of Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. Champion horses are evacuated to the hills of North Carolina for safety, along with their owners, riders, grooms, etc. This book incorporates romance, family discord, dressage horsemanship, and harrowing evacuation attempts to save beloved coastal homes. Ms. Monroe’s characters are well developed and relatable. Definitely add this book to your beach bag this summer. You won’t be disappointed.
    PageJunkie 6 months ago
    People tend to mention Mary Alice Monroe books as summer reads. I disagree. Stories with settings, characters, and relationships as beautifully drawn as those in The Summer Guests are a pleasure to read any time. Horse lovers will be attracted to the setting and Monroe’s writing of the unique bond between a horse and its owner. The rest of us will be drawn into the complex relationships and the voice of the story that makes you feel the urgency of each person as they rush to get their horses, dogs, and themselves out of Florida and to the beautiful mountains of North Carolina as a hurricane approaches. This is my first book by this author, and I now feel compelled to read her other books. This is as good as Southern Fiction gets. Thank you to NetGalley and Gallery Books for an Advanced Readers Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
    Anonymous 6 months ago
    The Summer Guests is Mary Alice Monroe’s latest standalone novel and will be a welcome addition to your beach bag this summer. When a hurricane threatens the coast from Florida to South Carolina, an eclectic group of evacuees flees for the horse farm of Grace and Charles Phillips in Tryon, North Carolina. In addition to these people, there are quite a few rescue dogs and horses making the trip as well. The Summer Guests is a novel that invites the reader to consider both the endings and new beginnings that are born from natural disasters and how the bonds of friendship and family can be tested during those times. While this reviewer might have hoped for some of the character stories to be fleshed out further, Monroe fans will be pleased with her newest intimate, heartwarming, character-driven tale.
    Anonymous 6 months ago
    I was disappointed in this book and felt that Cara was only in it to get fans of the Beach House series to buy it. I couldn't see any other point to Cara's very predictable storyline. I had a hard time connecting with the other characters i did learn more about the horse world but found it hard to really connect with the characters.
    Anonymous 6 months ago
    I have to admit that I had a hard time getting into this book. But once I did, I enjoyed it. Many Alice Monroe was able to weave a story of close friends and family coming to terms with their issues during a hurricane evacuation. Until I read this, I really didn’t know much about the horse world.
    Anonymous 7 months ago
    I have enjoyed reading books by Mary Alice Monroe in the past and this book is another of her books that I enjoyed reading. The story has a lot of moving parts... a hurricane, mother/daughter issues, romance and the problems that brings, the beauty of horses and dressage... it all eventually comes together. It took me several chapters to sort out all the characters and their issues. I found several characters that I liked and a few that I didn't care for. I think this is a great summer read - maybe not if you're riding out a hurricane.
    SardisYS 7 months ago
    Great character studies and relationship stories in this new adult romance. This will keep you involved in all aspects of the plot line. Great read.
    Queenbethanny 7 months ago
    A heartwarming story of lifelong friends coming together to help each other and their equestrian community out during an upcoming hurricane. It was a joy to watch these friends find their own paths during these short few days. My only criticism is that the couple who went to her beach house to board it up semed unnecessary and the story would have been fine without that side plot.
    Amanda_Earnhardt 7 months ago
    Because a perilous hurricane is brewing off the coasts of Florida and South Carolina, Grace and Charles Phillips invite their daughter and several friends from interesting and varied backgrounds to their farm in Tryon, North Carolina. These people also bring their dogs and horses along with their private unresolved issues. Friendships, romances, marriages, careers, parental-child relationships and personal self-reflection are all put to the test during this stressful but transcendent week. The Summer Guests is a captivating departure by Mary Alice Monroe (MAM) from her beach themed novels. I enjoyed reading about the competitive sport of equestrian jumping and dressage. As always, MAM does a superb job of character development along with compelling and informative storylines. Readers will definitely want a copy of The Summer Guests for their library!
    Anonymous 7 months ago
    The Summer Guests was a nice summer read, great to take on a trip. The concept of a group of people converging in one home during a hurricane evacuation was very intriguing and had a lot of potential. While I could tell the author did a lot of research about horses and the equestrian community, the book as a whole felt somewhat snobby and elitist. I hesitate to recommend it because I found myself annoyed most of the time with the characters. I will give it 3 stars for the horses :) Thank you to NetGalley for the advanced copy!
    PennieM 7 months ago
    This is my first book by this author but definitely not the last. We are invited into the fold as a hurricane is barreling towards the coast of Florida/Georgia/South Carolina and the Phillips let their daughter invite her friends with their horses to shelter at their farm. They bring their horses, their dogs, and all their personal problems and wow do they have some problems. There is a lot going on and it is a hoot. A week with all these people together can bring on more troubles than a hurricane but can also lead to inflection and reflection and this was just an all round good read! I deem this a great summer read and perfect vacation read. **Received this ARC for review from the publisher via NetGalley**
    Sheremy2627 8 months ago
    The impending hurricane has everyone fleeing inland. Grace Phillips opens her horse farm to an eclectic group of guests and the stories that unfold are as unpredictable as the storm that drove them together. These individuals work together to care for the horses and other animals in their care. The storm draws near and the undercurrents bring change to many of the guests emotions and relationships. When the storm clears no one is the same. Mary Alice Monroe explores themes of mother daughter relationships, living up to the expectations of others, and rekindling old friendships in this lovely book. Thank you NetGalley for this advance Reader Copy
    Becka 8 months ago
    Thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I am new to Mary Alice Monroe’s books, so I went into this reading with no expectations. As I read, I found myself becoming somewhat confused by the large number of characters. Because there were so many, I feel like the opportunity to develop the characters and make them real was lost. I’m sure that someone who is a horse lover would appreciate the great detail and volume of horse-related text, but having no background in horse ownership, I found myself skimming over much. I will likely try another book by the author to see whether her non-horse topics are a better match for me.
    bookluvr35SL 8 months ago
    When a monster hurricane begins heading right for the east coast, Grace & Charles Phillips open up their farm in the foothills of NC to several of their closest friends who live right in the path of the storm. Having all of those different people (and personalities) in one place is the recipe for either disaster or the strengthening of current friendships and building of new ones. I love this author's books. I love that they all take place in the Carolina's since that is where I am from. I also love her way of making the characters seem so real.... like someone you might actually know and be friends with in the real world. This book has all the characteristics of the perfect beach read.
    Twink 8 months ago
    3.5 Looking for a summer beach read? Look no further than Mary Alice Monroe's new novel - The Summer Guests! A hurricane is set to strike the Florida and North Carolina coasts. Grace Phillips lives inland and has offered a number of her diverse group of friends to take refuge at her inland farm. The one thing they have in common? Horses. The weather mirrors the lives of the large character cast. As the hurricane threatens, the lives of the characters are facing stormy times. When the storm hits, lives change and as the storm eases up, new paths are set for almost everyone over the course of ten days. (And a lot happens!) All types of relationships are explored - friendship, mother/daughter, romantic, working - and horses. I am completely in the dark about equine matters and I learned quite a bit from Monroe's descriptions and settings. Again, much of the equine situations mirror what's going on in the lives of the group. It is a diverse group and readers will gravitate towards some players (I really liked Moira and her mother Grace - maybe we'll see them in a future book?). And dislike others. With so many characters, the narrative changed often and I felt like I didn't really get to 'know' them as much as I would have liked. The Summer Guests takes inspiration from Munroe's own life and experiences through an evacuation, her knowledge of the horse community and of course, the Southern settings. This was a first read of Mary Alice Monroe for me. The Summer Guests engaged me, the story was entertaining and it just seemed right for beach reading.
    nwilder3 8 months ago
    Be sure to pack "The Summer Guests" in your beach bag before heading off on your vacation! For Mary Alice Monroe’s loyal readers, be aware that the setting of her latest novel relocates from the barrier island beaches of South Carolina to the safety of the North Carolina’s horse country near Tryon, NC, as a category 4+ hurricane threatens the coast. While the cast of characters includes several new ones who evacuated to the equestrian community in Tryon, a favorite heroine from the Beach House series, Cara Rutledge and her family join the others as they decide what to take with them and how to secure their homes full of cherished possessions. The Summer Guests is as fast-paced as the hurricane racing up the Atlantic Coast, and the reader experiences the characters’ tension as they make their decisions about what to pack and what to leave behind. Instead of protecting the sea turtles and porpoises as in the Beach House novels, these new characters must evacuate with their beloved dogs and prized horses as well as rescue dogs and horses that would perish if left behind to weather the hurricane. Taken from MAM’s own evacuation experience during Hurricane Irma, the Tryon International Equestrian Center opened their stalls to both Grand Prix and rescue horses. A cadre of women bonded together to delegate chores and responsibilities, prepare food and lodging for the evacuees, all the while dealing with strong personality clashes and bitter family feuds as the storm rages outdoors. The calm after the brutal storm reminds the evacuees and their hosts what is truly important to them: Family and friends and beloved pets and animals are irreplaceable. It’s no surprise that The Summer Guests is on the Southern Living list of 25 Perfect Reads for Summer. When thinking about what to pack for your beach vacation, be sure to bring a copy of The Summer Guests.
    LadyDewDrop 8 months ago
    Every time I read a book that Mary Alice Monroe writes I learn something. In The Summer Guests, living through a possible hurricane and a group of horses was the subject. To me, Mary Alice was the teacher and I was the student. I was enthralled with the characters who become friends when they, along with their horses come together in a home in the country to escape a hurricane. I didn't want to put this book down and know you won't either. Donna Rothe
    Diece 8 months ago
    MAM has done it again! With every book, I love her writing more. The story of Grace and Charles Phillips inviting their closest friends to stay with them in the NC mountains during the coming hurricane Noelle is wonderful. Not only do they shelter their closest friends, but also rescue dogs and their friends' horses. Each person comes with their own person baggage and with the storm coming, tensions and insecurities rise. As the storm comes to a head many resolutions are made and the guests prepare for departure. This story takes us from Florida evacuations to seeing Cara and her fiancé' and how their relationship turns out, to the NC mountains where the group rides out the storm. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book. It is a wonderful read!
    Fredreeca2001 8 months ago
    There is a hurricane headed toward Florida. A mandatory evacuation is in effect. People are loading up their valuables and heading to high ground. Charles and Grace have opened their farm to family and their very eclectic friends and ALL their animals. Hannah and Javier, Gerda and Elise, Moira, Cara all arrive at the farm with horses and dogs. This creates a unique environment. It opens their eyes to what they need to change in their lives and what strength is needed to overcome many of life’s obstacles. Each person takes something new away from this experience and all of it is life changing. There are lots of characters in this read but each are unique and have their own set of worries and difficulties. Mary Alice Monroe always has the best characters. They are so relatable and real! I also enjoyed the horses and learning about dressage. No one does animals, nature and people like MAM! This is not my favorite Mary Alice Monroe book but it is still wonderful. I love that MAM changes her stories. She does not keep the same “beach reads”. She expands her horizons. And this novel fast paced and unique! I received this novel from Gallery Books for a honest review.
    JennieMP 8 months ago
    I love Mary Alice Monroe and nothing says summer to me like one of her books. I have read the Beach House series twice so I loved that Cara Rutledge appeared again in this book. I found the equestrian theme interesting even though it was a departure from my typical beach favorites. As always, Mary Alice Monroe adeptly weaves together characters that we can connect with along with beautiful settings. Her characters are ever-evolving and growing. I loved this book and am hopeful that there will be a follow-up in the future.