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Sumer Lovin'

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Divorced, middle-aged Rachel Brinkerhoff, a Jewish matchmaker from New York who hopes to remarry, moved to Toronto for a fresh new start with her business and her love life. But no one told her that female-aversive Toronto was BYOB - Bring Your Own Boy. She partners with an Indian and a Muslim lady who want to help Canadians arrange marriages for their often-recalcitrant children and who secretly wonder over the beautiful matchmaker's datelessness. But then an earthquake shakes up Toronto in more ways than one, and the next thing you know, a public fountain turns into the Fountain of Youth, an army of misfits turn up to stake the world's weirdest Native land claim, and worst of all, a beautiful sensuous woman is stalking Toronto's virgin males and seducing them with horrifying consequences. Can a drop-dead gorgeous, highly neurotic American and her friends save Toronto from certain destruction, or will they have to call in a cure that's worse than the curse?

276 pages, Paperback

First published January 11, 2013

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About the author

Nicole Chardenet

6 books11 followers
Nicole Chardenet graduated from Kent State University back when Duran Duran was still considered cool. She was in the medieval re-creation group The Society for Creative Anachronism, where she learned how to belly dance, flirt outrageously, terrify battle-hardened Vikings and dance around campfires at midnight surrounded by screaming barbarians wearing loincloths and roadkill and very little else. Her writing credits include a technology column with a colleague for a New England alternative newspaper, various freelance pieces, and several SCAdian “filk songs”, the less said about which the better. She currently lives in her Den O' Iniquity with Belladonna the Demon Beast in Toronto, where she now terrifies Canadians rather than Vikings. She's been Pagan for quite awhile now and has been exploring Buddhism for the last two years.

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Displaying 1 - 11 of 11 reviews
Profile Image for Ann Dulhanty.
Author 2 books3 followers
December 15, 2014
This is a lovely, clever story. It's also intelligent. The theme is certainly romantic love in all it's manifestations. The plot winds its way, in a very coherent manner, through various cultural norms related to love and marriage, exploring the positive and the negative. The story incorporates the pitfalls of romance, the sleazier sides of sex and does so both literally and metaphorically. Overall, an intelligent consideration of love, woven together cleverly into a jaunty story. I thought the cultural diversity of Toronto was represented well in the narrative. As a setting, modern day Toronto worked well combined with Sumerian mythology. There is a large cast of characters, but each is distinct and vivid, so much so that I had no problem keeping them straight. There was the potential for plenty of cliche in the action, since the subject matter dealt with dating, but I found all the situations realistic and amusing.

Overall, the narrative was light and smooth, easy to read, funny, and engaging.
Profile Image for Zrinka Jelic.
Author 12 books80 followers
October 4, 2013
3.5 stars actually, but since I like to round things up rather than down, hence 4 stars.

In a nutshell, I liked the story. It revolves around this girl Rachel, a divorced Jewish 40 something who moves from New York to Toronto to escape her crazy militant husband. She forms a partnership with the two ladies from “Love comes after” an arranged marriage agency as their matchmaker. But the truth is she couldn't land a man herself and finds Toronto guys to be computer geeks and not really interested in women. OK, I'll give her that much, to find an eligible bachelor in Toronto a girl must dig and deep. And lower her expectations, like really low.

What worked for me was the fact that Toronto males are depicted I’d say pretty accurately. They are either afraid to approach women or they are just ignorant to women. Many moons ago I too was on a dating scene and thought it must be just me, now I see I was right. And the scary part, in all these years nothing has changed. Many still live with their parents or they move back with their parents after their relationships turn sour. And parents are desperate to dump their middle aged sons on women out there who'd take them off their hands. It's like that joke goes, marriage is adopting an overgrown male whose parents are no longer willing to put up with. They are liabilities, really. So when a gorgeous goddess appears through the crack in the fountain caused by an earthquake and is prowling the streets of Toronto barely dressed always on a lookout for male virgins, guys are ready to flee the city rather than fall her pray. (The fact that she’s killing them in a gruesome way has a bit to do with it) Her appearance causes the waters in the fountain to make people and animals young again. So the whole world rushes to bathe in the fountain. But as we learn the effects are only temporary.

And yes, seems many IT guys are named Dave, I can vouch for that.

There are a few things that bothered me in this book. First one and the biggest is the constant head hopping and going into every characters POV even into spider’s. This needs to be addressed and since the POV changes in this book like Toronto’s weather (in a few occasion in the middle of the paragraph), it would require a major revision if not a rewrite. This was very distracting and I found myself having to go back to find out where and when did we switch to this character’s POV. In any case, there should be no more than two POVs per book. That of a protagonist and antagonist (unless writing romance then you’re allowed to show hero/heroine and occasionally the villain’s POV). You can’t go into every character’s head no matter how briefly they appear in the book. Their emotions should be shown through action/reaction tags. Especially those of the throw away characters, they should not even be named, let alone shown their POV. This also leads to long paragraphs of telling and info dumping. It's the author's need to break the flow of the story to fill us in on the bits of info and details instead let this come naturally in action or dialogue. This may sound as unattainable, and yes it is challenging, but today’s publishing industry demands it. Every submission page lists in their submission guidelines to clean out POV before submitting. There are numerous web pages, blogs and books on self editing.

I missed the connection between all the Daves that are appearing in the book. One of them, I think it was the Beowulf guy, didn't seem to have any connection to the Dave the Virgin guy, though he had a brief working connection to the Dave the tarantula guy.

In a few instances, there are multiple punctuation (!?!,!!!!!!) which screams a novice, and if this book was submitted to an editor this alone would earn an immediate rejection. Also in many instances the dialogue is in ALL CAPS, indicating that the character is yelling or is speaking in an overpowering voice. It is author’s job to show us this not to put it in all caps. Dialogue is broken up with many interjections like um, ah, err, oh, ugh. It’s okay to use it sparingly but in real life we don’t do this that often. There are many Jewish words used without an explanation of what that is. It was funny with the appearance of Canaanites, but the rest of it felt like trying too hard.

Towards the end the book gets to be a bit too much with Toronto turning into a melting pot of demons and gods fighting, yet there’s no national guard or defense present, not even a cop. At least it wasn't mentioned. The Lamashtu turning into a Crimea, though she is depicted as a hybird with a hairy body, a lioness' head with donkey's teeth and ears, long fingers and fingernails, and the feet of a bird with sharp talons. She is often shown standing or kneeling on a donkey, nursing a pig and a dog, and holding snakes. She thus bears some functions and resemblance to the Mesopotamian demon Lilith. So Lilith isn't her mother but in the book she is.

The Pazuzu thing was just over the top. Yes, he was Lamashtu's biggest rival since he protected the babies, unborn, the kids and pregnant women and she was killing them. The way Rachel tried to convince him to go to Africa where children needed most protecting was mostly as a mean to get rid off him, but it was kind of done not very convincing.

One thing that I must point out because it bothered me. It's Jeez ( Americanism; euphemistic shortening of Jesus) not Geez (a Semitic language of ancient Ethiopia, now used only as the liturgical language of the Ethiopian Church.)

And while I did find myself chuckle at some jokes about Americans and Canadians, as well as the rest of the world, I can see how some may find them in bad taste or lame.

All in all, it was okay read but requires some tighter editing.
July 29, 2016
Sumer Lovin’ is a novel for anyone who likes wacky stories about gods and mythology. Second novel for Toronto author, Nicole Chardenet, it is an ode to religious pluralism, weaving Christian, Jewish, and Muslim ideologies with Mesopotamian mythology.

Recently moved from New York, Rachel Brinkerhoff is a 41-year old Jewish woman (with a decidedly southern drawl) in search of love in modern-day Toronto. She launches a match-making business with two immigrant women, Mahliqua and Amita. However, finding potential clients and matches proves to be challenging when Rachel realizes that men in Toronto seem apathetic and generally uninterested in women.

The landscape suddenly changes when a Sumerian demi-goddess named Lamashtu emerges from Eaton Centre Square and shakes up the city. In search of male virgins to fuel her godly powers, Lamashtu shows no mercy, seducing men with her beauty before killing them with her female “charms”.

No one can accuse Chardenet of lacking imagination. An eclectic mix of characters fuel this comic fantasy novel, from an odoriferous child-protecting demon to a gaggle of typical IT nerds named Dave.

While this melting pot of characters is comical, some seem to have no discernible purpose in the story and even disappear without explanation. For example, the protagonist meets a man who could represent a potential love interest, but the author leaves the storyline dangling and never mentions the character again.

Nevertheless, the author manages to weave an outrageous story that leaves the reader wondering “what the heck just happened here?”. Chardenet doesn’t skimp on the humour, offering up a variety of farcical situations and descriptive imagery (“rain fell in sheets, pillowcases and duvets”). While she does overindulge at times in extraneous dialogue simply for comedic effect, her humourous style is what keeps the reader engaged. This being said, that very humour, rife with religious stereotypes, wordplays and ribaldry, will likely be labeled as off-colour and offensive by some. If you have firm spiritual or religious beliefs and don’t like ribald or risqué comedy, this book isn’t for you. But if you’re not easily offended and are looking for a light-hearted read, then this might be it.
Profile Image for Ira Nayman.
Author 51 books16 followers
June 9, 2013
Sumer Lovin’ is another in Nicole Chardenet’s attempts to make Toronto sexy. I’m not sure how successful it is, especially for those of us who live in the city, or have ever been in it for more than a few minutes, or have heard about it in passing in otherwise dull dinner conversation. Still, I applaud her effort.

In Sumer Lovin’, Toronto lies at one end of a magical ley line; when an earthquake hits the city, it opens up portals to other dimensions. Out of these portals come various magical/mythical characters, most of whose goals in this world revolve around sexual hijinks.

Chardenet’s vision of Toronto as a way multicultural city involves characters of a variety of backgrounds and attitudes towards their sexuality. I was especially impressed by the way she took seriously the two central characters who own and operate a company that arranges marriages for people; it would have been easy to make fun of them, but she allowed them to make their case in a dignified way. (Dignified being a relative term in Chardenet’s world.)

Despite the emphasis on sex, Sumer Lovin’ is, at its heart, really about human connection, about the need to make emotional connections with other people. In fact, if Chardenet had stripped it of its mystical elements, she probably would have had a smart, slyly funny literary romance novel.

Sumer Lovin’ isn’t a perfect novel. I thought there was a little too much repeated information in the first few chapters, for instance, which unnecessarily slowed it down and kept us from the good stuff (ie: I’m not telling – read it for yourself!).

Still, Sumer Lovin’ is a wild, fun, sexy ride. And, I absolutely love what Chardenet has done to the city!
Profile Image for Cindy Smith.
Author 11 books197 followers
January 31, 2013
Toronto's males get a hormone shot!, January 31, 2013
Cynthia J. Smith - See all my reviews
This review is from: Sumer Lovin' (Paperback)
I received this book from the author in exchange for a pre-release review. Well, I do not know when I have chuckled so much reading a book. This story is so original and cute! A real page turner!

Mahliqa and Amita, An Indian and a Muslim have decided to open an "arranged marriage" company in Toronto. Rachel, a newly divorced Jew from NYC has just moved to Toronto and is setting up a matchmaking business. They meet and decide to join forces.

Rachel quickly finds that most men in Toronto looking for love are actually foreigners. (The natives seem to be afraid of women.) Also, all IT guys are named Dave. Both men and women think with their lower parts when looking for the "right" someone.

Well cosmic lines vibrate and a goddess emerges from a fountain. Toronto men do indeed notice a naked chick walking down the road! Turns out though, said goddess has a very evil goal...suck the life out of the male virgins so she can get the power to kill all the children.

Next come the ancient warriors who got lost looking for Canaan because they misread the map! A fountain of Youth appears. Everyone is becoming sexually excited!

Then the mother of the goddess from hell comes and it really gets confusing! She calls on another god to take out her daughter!

We have, ancient warriors, goddesses, gerbils, spiders, fen Shui, virgins being sacrificed (albeit male this time.

Who will survive? Will anyone find love in Toronto? The ending is just as cute as the whole book! Very Good Read!
Profile Image for Eden Baylee.
Author 19 books230 followers
August 17, 2014
**Twists and turns in a rollicking tale**

I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun reading fiction. Sumer Lovin’ is a play on words, and like the title, the book titillates and amuses in equal measure.

And it’s set in Toronto, Canada, where I now live.

Toronto is the city everyone loves to hate, except if you’re living here (of course), but familiar landmarks will ground readers to the story. What happens, however, is unimaginable for the conservative “center of the universe.”

Ms. Chardenet, a former American, probably knows Canadian trivia better than most people living in Canada. She certainly knows her Yiddish terms and has fully immersed herself in the cultures of multi-cultural Toronto. No one escapes her acid tongue—Jews, Chinese, Muslims, virgins, and of course, those of her former homeland—the Americans, all get a fair amount of ribbing.

The narrative is fast-paced and intelligent because you can only mess around with history if you KNOW your history, and Ms. Chardenet takes some interesting liberties in a tale that is a fantasy. She touches on race relations, the treatment of the First Nations, Jews vs. Palestinians, and even Adam from the Bible. G*d forbid!

Sumer Lovin’ is a whirling dervish of crazy characters, and you won’t soon forget any of them. Strap on your seat belt before you go on this crazy ride. It’s more fun than a day at the EX!
Profile Image for Kelly Smith Reviews.
256 reviews49 followers
January 11, 2014
Love and lust in Toronto. How strange matters of the heart are in that beautiful, cold, melting-pot of a city!

In Nicole Chardenet's light novel (a little more than 200 ebook pages), we see the Canadian city overtaken by an Underworldly being from ancient Sumeria who appears at a fountain after an unusual earthquake...stark naked. She is a killer, feeding on virgins and babies to give herself power. She was forced away from Adam (yes, THAT Adam) by her mother, so she says.
She meets Dave, the quintessential "perfect" virgin and knows she must sleep with and kill him to gain her full power.

Meanwhile, forty-one-year-old Rachel moved there after she divorced her husband in New York to start her matchmaking service. Though she's Jewish, she partners with two Muslim women to get her business off the ground...and maybe find herself a man while she's at it.

Sumer Lovin' is an excellent novel with sexual, gender and race politics, strong characters and an intriguing backstory. Ms. Chardenet has a cast of characters(including but not limited to a guy who raises gerbils and one obsessed with arachnids) who will entertain you till the very last page.

It will make you laugh, think and cringe, with the author's unique voice and vision. Worth a read? Definitely!

Profile Image for Susan Swiderski.
Author 3 books37 followers
August 16, 2013
Totally inappropriate? Nah, just a little.

If you have a problem with satire that pokes fun at society, religion, sexuality, and men, this might not be the book for you. Over the line? Some might think so, but it's also laugh-out-loud funny in places. Yeah, the author takes some pretty good jabs at the United States, but she doesn't cut Toronto much slack, either. Canadians might get more of the insider jokes, but even as an outsider, I appreciated the absurdity of this clever (and sometimes frantic) story. Was I offended? A couple times, to tell the truth, but not enough to make me put the book down. (This author knows a LOT of words for a certain male appendage.)

This is a wild, zany tale with imagination out the wazoo. You know how a good bowler has the skill to end his delivery with his toe right up to the edge of the foul line without going over? That's what this writer does. And she knocks down enough societal pins to make it more than interesting.

And what a cool title!
Profile Image for Mike.
Author 2 books20 followers
August 2, 2013
Matchmakers, magic, and sex - oh my! This delightful book, set in downtown Toronto, is a story of love and marriage, gods and goddesses, virgins and love goddesses. The description is rich, the action fast paced, and the dialogue lifelike. The author has added quirks to some of the voices too: Mahliqa, a 48 year old Muslim marriage counsellor, sees good omens in things as simple as scratching an eyebrow; Rachel, a 41 year old Jewish matchmaker from New York, has an accent that thickens under stress until she sounds like Sylvester Stallone; Pazuzu, the fierce and ancient flying monster, always roars in FULL CAPS. This story was a good commentary on relationships, as the characters - while saving the world - finally realizing what they were really looking for in a partner, and how to find it by looking below the surface, for the real person within.
Profile Image for Karen Dales.
Author 11 books180 followers
February 11, 2013
Move over Douglas Adams!
Nicole Chardenet has proven, yet again, that she is a brilliant writer. Her humour, twisted into a fast paced urban fanatsy, kept me in stitches! Sumer Lovin' is filled with fantastic characters, extremely well written prose, all wrapped up in a highly original story. If you love urban fantasy and humour, then you MUST get this book. You won't be disappointed.
Profile Image for Anna.
9 reviews1 follower
June 30, 2016
This is a GREAT book. It is a lot better than the mainstream romance - fantasy stuff you find on the bookshelves, is culturally very rich, and has meaningful plots and characters. I enjoyed the cynical attitude in the novel, and could really see Nicole's attitude shining through the words.
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