Spotlight & Giveaway: For the Love of Summer by Susan Mallery

Posted June 7th, 2024 by in Blog, Spotlight / 30 comments

Today, HJ is pleased to share with you Susan Mallery’s new release: For the Love of Summer




From #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery comes an unforgettable beach read about the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters and finding friendship with the unlikeliest person…

As the owner of Twisted, Seattle’s best salons, Erica knows that the sharpest cuts come from the people we love. She’s terrified that she’s losing her teen daughter, Summer, to her “other” family, especially to her stepmom, Allison.

All it takes to blow up Allison’s happy life is one collect call. From prison. Her beloved husband, Peter, has been arrested, leaving Allison pregnant, broke, scared and alone with a toddler. But when her stepdaughter ferrets out the truth, the teen rushes to the last person Allison wants to ask for help—her husband’s battle-ax ex.

Erica would do anything for Summer, even take in the woman her daughter loves like a second mom. Allison feels intimidated by Erica—a woman who would never let herself become so dependent on a man. But the more time they spend together, the more Allison realizes what Erica truly needs is a friend. Can two women who married the same man move beyond their complicated past and rethink what it means to be family?


Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from For the Love of Summer 

“But it’s orange!”
“I saw.”
“I didn’t know hair could turn that color of orange.”
Erica Sawyer glanced from her laptop to her partially closed office door, her focus on monthly product sales overtaken by the conversation from the hallway. Two women spoke in hushed voices. The calmer of the two was Daryn, a level-six stylist at Twisted. Erica didn’t recognize the other voice.
“Did you ask the client if she’d been using box color at home?”
“I did! Twice!” Tears thickened the unknown woman’s voice. “She lied.”
“It happens.” Daryn sounded more resigned than surprised.
The conversation continued, but the stylists had moved out of earshot.
Erica looked back at the spreadsheet, telling herself Daryn was more than capable of handling whatever disaster had been brought down on them because a newbie had thought she was better than she was. Oh, and because a client had lied. If Daryn got into trouble, then she would go to her supervisor and if she couldn’t help, there was still the salon general manager. There were layers and layers between Erica and the hair drama du jour. Part of running a successful empire meant trusting her staff to take care of business. And that meant staying out of the day-to-day issues.
Three minutes later she swore under her breath as she walked out of her office, apparently unable to be the boss she should be and let it go.
“I’m not going to meddle,” she murmured to herself as she headed for the main salon. “I’m on a fact-finding mission.”
She spotted the client instantly. The bright orange shoulder-length hair was hard to miss, as were the tears. Everything about the body language warned Erica the day was going to take a turn for the complicated.
She continued to the back room, where stylists mixed color. Daryn was already doing a color test on a swatch of orange hair. Next to her was a petite blonde with a blotchy face and tear-filled eyes.
“How bad is it?” Erica asked as she entered.
Daryn shrugged. “Bad. She used box color regularly and lied about it. Plus I think she switched products. See how some of the strands are lighter than the others? She wanted to go blond. Not happening. We just have to get the color close to normal and hope her hair doesn’t turn to spaghetti.”
Erica glanced at the other stylist. “I don’t believe we’ve met. I’m Erica Sawyer.”
The blonde—maybe twenty-five and shaking—swallowed before she spoke. “I’m Poppy. I know who you are.”
“That’s gratifying. What’s your level?”
Stylists were rated on a scale from one to six. Those fresh out of beauty school started as associates, aka assistants. They washed hair, held the foil, swept the floor. Every few days they were al¬lowed to work on a client, supervised. If they were smart, they listened and learned. If they weren’t, they complained about the drudge work, then quit.
Depending on their enthusiasm and talent, they graduated to a level-one stylist in six to nine months and began developing their own client list. If they worked hard, followed the company rules and gave a damn about their career, they could quickly work their way up the food chain. Somewhere between levels two and three, stylists at Twisted were clearing a hundred thou¬sand a year. Once a stylist hit level four, he or she was given an associate of their own.
“I’m a two,” Poppy said, staring at the floor.
“How many color correction classes have you attended?”
Poppy seemed to shrink a little. “I haven’t.” She raised her head and looked at Erica. “She swore she hadn’t colored her hair before.”
“Did it feel like virgin hair? Did you believe her?”
Poppy slumped. “No, so I asked again.”
“And she lied again.”
“I thought it would be okay.” Tears poured down her cheeks. “I’m so sorry, Ms. Sawyer. Please. I’m sorry. I love my job here. I messed up but I can make it right.”
“No, you can’t and that’s the problem.” Erica turned her at¬tention to Daryn. “Can you fix this?”
Daryn grinned. “I’m offended you have to ask.” Her humor faded. “I’m booked all afternoon and this is going to take a while.”
“When’s your next client due?”
Daryn glanced at the large clock on the wall. “Ten min¬utes. It’s an easy color-and-cut. Just roots. We did highlights last time. Her hair’s in a classic bob.” Daryn jerked her head toward Poppy. “She could do it.”
“You’re very trusting.”
“I don’t understand,” Poppy said. “You want me to take Daryn’s client?”
“Right now I want you to stay here. Once we figure this out, you can stop by my office at the end of your shift.”
Erica swung by reception to request notification when Daryn’s client checked in, then she returned to the main salon and walked over to the orange-haired liar.
The woman was in her early forties, pretty enough. Her Botox wasn’t great and whoever had injected her lips had added way too much filler, but her jawline was good.
Erica introduced herself to the woman, who stared at her blankly.
“Oh my God! You’re Erica Sawyer.”
Oh, good. A fan—or at least someone who was starstruck. That would help the situation.
Erica leaned against the counter and shook her head. “Well, we messed up, didn’t we?”
The tears returned as the client stared at herself in the mir¬ror. “I can’t believe what happened. That girl—I didn’t get her name—said she knew what she was doing. Obviously not. I’m surprised you let someone like her work here. I thought Twisted was better than that.”
Erica shifted behind the client and lightly touched her hair. “How long have you been coloring your own hair?”
“What?” The woman flushed. “I would never do that.”
“The problem isn’t the color so much as the minerals some companies use. I could explain the chemistry, but as you can see, box color doesn’t play well with others. When Poppy went to lift what she’d been told was virgin hair, the minerals re¬vealed themselves. You must admit, it’s a spectacular orange.”
She rested her hands on the other woman’s shoulders. “Our biggest worry is your hair falling out.”
“What!” The single word came out as a shriek. Several cli¬ents turned to stare. “No. No! You can’t let that happen.”
The tears flowed hard and fast. “Please, help me. Okay, yes, I’ve been coloring my hair myself for years. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I’m sorry. Just save my hair. Please.”
Erica had little patience for the client. Just tell the truth. If she’d come clean, Poppy would have known she was over her head and could have rescheduled her with a more experienced stylist. End of problem.
“We’re going to get you back to a more normal color,” Erica said, her tone soothing. “I would suggest going a little shorter until the damage grows out. We’ll send you home with some treatments that will strengthen your hair. If you’re careful, in a few months, you’ll be as good as new. Then we can take you from a fabulous brunette to a gorgeous blonde.”
She let her expression harden. “If you color your hair before it’s grown out, it will break and break until you’re left with about an inch all over. Understand?”
The woman nodded. “Yes.”
“Good.” Erica paused. “Color correction is six hundred dol¬lars, triple what you were quoted. Sometimes clients lie to get cheaper service, but I’m sure you’d never do that.”
The woman flushed again. “No, I wouldn’t. I’ll pay what it costs.”
Erica held her gaze in the mirror for another couple of sec¬onds before offering a faint smile. “We’ll stick with the quoted price. Daryn will be here shortly to walk you through the pro¬cess. She’s one of the best. You’re in good hands.”
Erica stopped by reception again and tagged the account so the client would only pay the original price. Hopefully she had enough class to tip Daryn well. She sent her office manager a quick note to let her know Daryn was to be fully paid for the service, then she introduced herself to Daryn’s client and ex¬plained about the crisis.
“If you’d like to reschedule with Daryn, we’ll get you in as soon as we can. If you’re willing to take a chance on Poppy, I think you’ll be happy with her work. It’s totally up to you.” Erica paused. “Either way, I’d like to give you a complimen¬tary hair mask treatment. As a thank-you for understanding.”
The client glanced past Erica toward the salon. She flinched.
“Is it the woman with the hideous orange hair? What hap¬pened?”
Erica smiled. “Trust me, you don’t want to know. So you’ll give Poppy a try?”
“Sure. Thanks. I’m looking forward to the hair mask.”
“The lavender one is my favorite. I’ll make sure you get that one.”
“I’m excited.”
Twenty minutes later Daryn was dealing with orange hair and Poppy was mixing color under another stylist’s supervision. Erica retreated to her office, where she typed up notes on what had happened and sent them to her office manager.
A little after four, Erica heard a tentative knock on her door.
“Come in.”
A very pale and red-eyed Poppy entered. “You wanted to see me?”
Erica pointed to one of the chairs opposite hers. “How did it go with Daryn’s client?”
“Good. She loved the hair mask.” Poppy twisted her hands together. “I thought I could do it, you know. Before. I wasn’t trying to mess up.”
“You knew the client lied. You knew she’d used box color on her hair and that you haven’t been trained on color correction. Did you do a color test before starting?”
Poppy stared at her lap. “No. She was in a hurry and she said it would be fine.”
“And it wasn’t.”
“You broke several salon rules today, Poppy. Is this usual for you?”
“No. I would never…” She wiped away tears. “I love my job. I want to do better. I work hard. I just thought it was okay.”
Erica leaned back in her chair. In the past couple of hours, she’d looked up the young stylist’s employment record at the salon. Poppy was young and eager. She’d done well in her train¬ing and she was well-liked on the floor. Her rebooking rate was excellent and she sold a lot of product. Just as important, she excelled on social media, which brought attention to the salon.
“Do you know why salon policy prohibits talking about your personal life with clients?”
“Because it takes too much time?”
Erica offered a faint smile. “Not exactly. Clients come to Twisted for an experience. There are cheaper places for hair color and a decent cut. Oh, we’re the best—that’s always the goal—but we do more than excellent work. Our mission is to make every client feel important and beautiful. We brighten their day and make them feel good about themselves.”
Poppy looked confused. “Okay.”
“Let’s say you meet a great new guy. Both you and your cli¬ent are so excited for the possibilities.”
Erica leaned forward. “But three months later he dumps you and you’re crushed. Obviously your client cares and commis¬erates with you. So instead of focusing your time together on her experience, everything is about you and while your client leaves happy with her cut and color, she’s not leaving feeling like we were the best part of her day.”
“Because she’s worried about me?”
“Exactly. It’s why we suggest you talk about your client rather than about yourself. It makes things easier.”
“I get that.” Poppy raised her chin. “Are you going to fire me?”
“No. I’m going to demote you to a level one and send you to an intensive color seminar in three weeks. For the next three months, you’ll run every color formula past a senior stylist. If you do as well as I think you should, you’ll return to level two and be on track to be a color specialist. How does that sound?”
Poppy’s eyes widened. She jumped to her feet and circled the desk to hug Erica.
“Thank you so much!” she said, squeezing tight. “I’ll do bet¬ter. I promise.”
Erica stood and smiled at her. “I know you will. We all make mistakes. It’s whether or not we learn from them that makes the difference.”
“I’ll learn so much, you’ll be shocked!”
Poppy practically danced out of her office. Erica watched her go, then sat down. While she wasn’t thrilled with being less than two years from fifty, she had to admit she never wanted to be as young as Poppy again.
Her phone buzzed. She glanced at the screen, smiling when she saw a text from her daughter.

I’m hanging with Jackson and A tonight. Dad’s working late with clients. I’m getting takeout. Want me to get extra to bring home to you?

Erica felt the smile fade as her lips formed a tight line of dis¬approval. Summer wanting to spend time with her stepmother and half brother was a good thing. Her daughter had a big heart and she adored little Jackson. The annoyance of having to hear about Peter’s second family was ever present, but not anything she would ever discuss with her daughter. As far as Summer was concerned, Erica lived in constant anticipation of yet more news about little Jackson and the impending arrival of his sister.

Enjoy yourself, she typed with fabricated graciousness. I’ll get something on my way home. Be back by eight. You’re a new driver and you shouldn’t be out too late.

Oh, Mom. You’re such a worrier. I’ll be home by 8.

The text was followed by several heart emojis.
Erica returned them, then set her phone on her desk and shifted her attention back to her computer. Her daughter was thriving and happy, and a business crisis had been averted. So far it was turning out to be a very good day.

Excerpted from For the Love of Summer @ 2024 by Susan Mallery, Inc, used with permission by MIRA Books.

Excerpt. ©Susan Mallery. Posted by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.

Giveaway: One print copy of THE SUMMER BOOK CLUB, open to US winners.


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and post a comment to this Q: What did you think of the excerpt spotlighted here? Leave a comment with your thoughts on the book…

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Meet the Author:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship, romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

AmazonB&NBAM |BookshopTarget | Walmart |


30 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: For the Love of Summer by Susan Mallery”

  1. Diane Sallans

    I always enjoy Susan’s stories – she has real life situations presented with lovely character interactions.

  2. Crystal

    Book sounds like a great read & page turner, makes me want to read even more
    Look forward to reading this book in print format

  3. Patricia B.

    Erica is a confident, successful, fair, and self-contained woman. She is secure enough in her relationship with her daughter to not worry about sharing her with her ex’s new wife and son…even if not happy about it.

  4. Vanessa

    First off, I LOVE Susan Mallery and her books! It is not just that she is a local to me author and writes about my home though. What I love about this book is the redefinition of family. Or rather a drilling down on the meaning that brings family together despite society programming us to be predisposed to jealosy and bad feelings. Speaking of bad feelings, the start of the exerpt is a lying customer who set themselves up for disaster, I am not in hairdressing but I have had my share of this experience in my industry. At a any rate, I have added the book to my list for my next book haul.

  5. Laurie Gommermann

    I don’t go to hair salons so didn’t relate to the whole coloring incident. I did like how Erica handled her customer and her employee. I have read several of Susan Mallory’s books. I’d like to find out how she handles the situation with her ex, his new wife and her daughter. She seems very levelheaded and understanding.
    I’m interested in how the messy family interdynamics gets resolved. I’d like to know more about Summer. I like the title.

Please leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.