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Summer Skin

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Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even.

The lesson: don't mess with Unity girls.

The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold . . . and smart enough to keep up with Jess.

A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig - sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they're at their most vulnerable?

It's all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy's stuff. Just your typical love story.

A searingly honest and achingly funny story about love and sex amid the hotbed of university colleges by the award-winning author of Raw Blue.

352 pages, Paperback

First published February 1, 2016

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About the author

Kirsty Eagar

4 books308 followers
Kirsty Eagar grew up on a central Queensland cattle property and spent her school holidays at the beach. After studying economics, she worked on trading desks in Sydney and London before changing careers, wanting a life where she could surf every day. She travelled around Australia for a couple of years, worked a variety of jobs and began writing fiction. Her debut novel, Raw Blue, was published by Penguin in 2009, and won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Young Adult fiction. Saltwater Vampires, her second novel, was shortlisted for the 2011 New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards. Kirsty lives with her husband and two daughters on Sydney’s northern beaches.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 578 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,945 reviews292k followers
March 10, 2016
Wow. This is one of the sexiest romances I've ever read, easily the sexiest New Adult romance I've ever read. And it's so wonderfully feminist too.

It's been four years since Eagar has released a novel and now she comes rushing back onto the playing field with this very different, very feisty novel about revenge and female sexuality. It's a completely different beast from the heart-wrenching Raw Blue - her titles seem to be very telling; the other book was raw and blue, this one is about heat and sweat and (you guessed it) summer skin.

There are so many great female characters in this book, who swear, masturbate, and offer no apologies, but are also very sensitively portrayed. Jess Gordon and her friends are badass, funny and lovable, as they try to navigate the seas of college life - alcohol, hook-ups and assholes - and get revenge on the jocks from the old school, sexist Knights College.

I really want to portray what's so damn great about this book and why it stands out. Yes, it's a steamy romance - but there are a million of those, right? And yes, it's got a great feminist message that shows women enjoying sex and asserting their right to choose - but other books are also doing that these days, right?

Well, firstly, it's still really rare to find a steamy romance with open, unapologetic, feminist values. Like, I can think of Leah Raeder and that's it. But, more than that, Summer Skin is really about breaking down ideas and stereotypes about people.

Eagar does this in two really great ways. She takes a guy who, on the surface, is an arrogant, sexist asshole and completely humanizes him. She gives him back the underlying humanity that is stolen by the ideas we have formed about him. I was surprised at how convincing it was, given that arrogant, sexist characters generally make me want to start breaking things.

And she does something else, which is strangely even rarer. She deconstructs the idea many people have about feminists.

This is really important. Jess Gordon is not the perfect fit for the "strong heroine". Feminism is part of her personality, but it isn't who she is. She isn't always strong and she definitely doesn't have everything figured out.

In Summer Skin, the female characters may be feminists, but they’re also just as confused as everyone else. I like that. Because, you know what? It’s damn hard to grow up as a feminist. It’s hard to decide whether wearing make-up is playing into gender ideals or is simply a form of self-expression. It’s hard to figure out how to not cater yourself towards men, but also balance it with your own desire for men to find you attractive.

There’s this common misconception that feminism is an agenda - this image pops to mind of strong, gun-toting heroines who all belong in this cult of feminist sisterhood and know exactly what they’re doing. But it’s not like that. Feminism is more of a perspective. It’s looking at the world in a different way and trying to avoid behaviours that perpetuate gender inequality. And - sometimes - it's getting it wrong.

Self-proclaimed feminists do not have things figured out. They are weird and insecure too. All those feminists on Tumblr and Youtube with such strong ideas didn't just dream them up overnight. They spent years looking at the world around them and trying to figure out what they believe, where they stand, and how best to live in this emerging society of increased equality. Many of them probably still don't know.

Summer Skin reminds us that everyone is human, from the seemingly douchey jock to the feminists. It's a great book that will probably be overlooked by many. And - just in case you forgot about it while I was getting serious - it's damn HOT.

Dear Non-Aussie publishers,

Please make this book available worldwide.

Thank you.

Update: It's available from Book Depository!

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Profile Image for destini.
239 reviews504 followers
March 17, 2016
"No one wounds me with impunity."

.: RATING: 3.5 STARS :.

Well. This was different. Good different. This isn't one of those backhanded differents where you're over someone house and they ask you how their quinoa, zucchini, onion-stuffed pumpkin entree is and you're just there like "uhh, it's um–" *attempts to choke it down* "–it's different". *spits food into napkin and hides it into purse*

((just to finish the story-- 'someone's house' was actually parent's house. quinoa-stuffed concoction not as bad as sounds))
. . . acting like he couldn't see Jess, tucked under Blondie's arm. He probably thought he was being subtle. And Blondie played right along: widening his stance as if experiencing a sudden and significant surge in ball size, speaking in the drawl used by guys who are fluent in Brah.

The feeling I got after reading this book was the same one I felt when I finished watching Boyhood. That's not say that the storylines are similar, because they aren't. But Boyhood gave me the sense that I was watching life; ups, downs, mistakes, uncertainties. That's how Summer Skin made me feel. Like I was reading about life. Or at least a part of it.
"It's like we meant nothing to them," Jess said, hooking her friends through the wire mesh of the fence and sagging despondently. "Who's going to ogle us now?"
"I feel used," Farren agreed. "Cast aside for some honcho from head office. And now I'm not being objectified, my sense of self is suffering. I'll have to get back on Facebook."

For having quite a heavy subject matter, this book was surprisingly not depressing. The humor was great and kept things from getting dark. And any book that faithfully portrays feminism is already in my good graces. Summer Skin shows that it isn't easy voicing thoughts that you'd think would be common sense. You're constantly learning what it means to be a feminist and it's not easy and it's not always black and white.
"Jess nodded, dry mouthed. "Are you okay?" she rasped.
Mitch shook his head. "Not without you." He took a breath. "Jess?"

I don't think I've ever been so happy to hear the next five words that come out of his mouth.

The romance aspect of Summer Skin is exactly what I was looking for. Kirsty Eagar must have been like, "I'm going to make them hate this character . . . and then I'm going to make them love him". Which is exactly what she did. I was pretty dead-set on not liking Mitch. He comes off as a mega douche, the very embodiment of what rubs me the wrong way. And yet . . .
I fell.

However, despite really enjoying this book, there were a few things I wish would've been more developed. Particularly, the side characters. Jess had an amazing set of friends and I really would've liked to see more. Not that they weren't present, but I felt like I was just watching their friendship instead of feeling it, youknowwhatimean? Also, there were a few moments when I felt that things were going over my head. Something would happen and it was so ambiguously written that I was just there like, did something happen?? It was like listening in on a conversation that had already started. I could kinda guess what had happened but at the same time I felt like I had read over something.

All in all, this was a great feminist romance. Lots of humor, lots of angst, lots of good things to say about it.

((f.d: the visuals above were edited by myself-- base images found on google))
Profile Image for Pearl Angeli.
622 reviews946 followers
October 7, 2016
DNF @ 12%.

Reading this book was like a chore. I don't know what the heck is going on.


The writing style was so difficult to get into and the whole thing confused me. I don't even know how to describe the story since the narration doesn't make any sense to me at all. And so I decided to break the agony and just let this book go.



Pages of Pearl

Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,386 reviews11.8k followers
March 16, 2016
Well, it's hot alright. But I don't see how this novel is any different than all other "new adult" romances. I don't think Eagar managed to escape any of "new adult" tropes. Essentially, "Summer Skin" is the same story about a good girl reforming a bad boy. Yes, accompanied by some feminist talk, but mostly filled with misunderstandings, break-ups and make-ups, hot-and-cold jerkiness on the part of the bad boy, a "secret" and hot hook-ups.

Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,161 followers
April 3, 2016
Summer Skin is the type of New Adult novel I've been waiting to be written; a book that is sexy, passes the Bechdel test, and discusses feminism without shame or pretense. It's a story of two rival schools--Unity, co-ed, and Knights, all-male and distinctly elite. Last year the Knights men made a bet to sleep with a Unity freshman and this year, the Unity girls are out for revenge. The story opens with Jess, a Unity girl, sneaking onto the Knights campus to steal a Knights jersey--the prize for the Unity who humiliates a Knights man the most on the night of their annual toga party. But Jess is seen by Blondie, an arrogant Knights guy who she can't seem to get out of her head and when she encounters him again at the toga party, that's when the fun truly begins.

Jess and Blondie have a crazy relationship. It's messy and isn't perfect, which I love. They'll be in a middle of a steamy scene and suddenly it'll get awkward or uncomfortable and it all felt so desperately real that I couldn't help but love each and every moment of this book. Plus, the majority of their relationship lies in their conversations trying to understand one another. To Jess, Mitch (Blondie) seems to be just another Knights guy--willing to use women for sex without sustaining a relationship with them first--and Jess wants to be more than that. But also, she doesn't want to judge Mitch for his actions or the women he's been with for their decisions. Just because she requires more than a nameless face for sex doesn't mean that everyone does. But that concept of feminism--of women owning their agency--is so difficult to internalize.

This book is all about understanding what it means to be a feminist and using that definition however you see fit; for Jess that means that she doesn't feel comfortable having sex unless she has some sort of relationship with the person, for her friends it means entirely different things and their difficulty navigating those waters is what makes this such a phenomenal story. There's one scene in particular where Jess is talking to her Instagram famous friend about her insecurities--why does her friend constantly feel the need to post on Instagram?--and she admits that though she has judged her friend, she also admires her. I think that's the crux of discovering feminism at any point in your life--you judge others for their actions, whether it be their sexual liberty or their lack of sexual actions--but you're also torn between admiring them and wanting to be them as well. It's so hard to be okay with being you and rationalizing your own decisions to yourself, especially when the whole world seems to be of a different opinion, so I really love that we get to explore this tension with Jess in such an authentic manner.

Mitch, too, isn't all he seems on paper. The guy is screwed up--won't kiss, won't have sex, definitely will touch--but his relationship with Jess evolves and changes with time which I appreciate. It's difficult and certainly not an easy slope to climb but I enjoyed getting a glimpse into his world as well--the pressures he faces from guys around him, the way his friends think about women, etc. It isn't easy to be a feminist and be a man. We think it is but sometimes, society and circumstances are built in such a way that it's so hard for men to break out of their molds, too. Like Jess, I'd often sway between frustration and swoon when it came to Mitch but by the end, I understood his perspective too do, kudos to Eagar for not making this one-sided and flat but instead turning this three-dimensional and complex and all-too-real.

Summer Skin is so, so good. It features healthy discussions about sex, not just with partners but also with friends and adults. It centers around Jess and Mitch's relationship but also revolves around them individually and their struggles with friendship and college and figuring out what they want. Plus, there's the tension between Unity and Knights that persists throughout, the forbidden element of Jess and Mitch's affair, not to mention Eagar's distinct writing style that never fails to amaze me. I only wish similar books were being written with different characters and different races and genders and socio-economic statuses so that we'd have a whole slew of novels that discussed feminism and sex so that teens didn't have to feel so alone when they glanced at their bookshelves. But maybe this is the start of that revolution; I certainly hope so.
Profile Image for Glire.
736 reviews517 followers
February 8, 2017
We have a winner!


Todas esas reseñas repletas de gif donde se quejaban del machismo y del copy-paste de los New Adult, ¡no han sido en vano!

Kirsty Eagar ha oído las súplicas y nos presenta un NA que:

1.- Rompe los esquemas del género:
Nada de chica dulce, tímida y virgen que se enamora del macho alpha mujeriego, que apenas la toca la hace ver la vía láctea completa.

De acuerdo, tal vez Mitch sí sea un macho alpha mujeriego pero no de la manera como estamos acostumbradas; nada de tríos, ni de chicas arrojándose a sus pies, ni de el acostándose con cuanto se mueva. Es algo más pasivo, más real: no fuma, no bebe y no quiere tener sexo con la protagonista. Algo así como Richard Gere en Pretty Woman, un hombre capaz de causar daño con la peor de sus armas: desapego emocional.


Por su parte, Jess es fuerte, segura, feminista, vengativa, independiente, sexualmente libre... y tal vez mentalmente inestable, en el buen sentido xD

La mejor protagonista que haya leído jamás en un NA.

“I reserve my right to choices, too, and I choose to behave badly.”

2.- Deja de lado los clichés:
Ok, tal vez no TODOS los clichés, algunos pocos inofensivos se escapan. Es NA después de todo, no una obra de Tolstoy.

Peeero no hay insta-love, no hay descripciones extrañas de los ojos de nadie, no hay chica diosa que se cree un espanto, no hay chicos esculturales como adonis (ahora que lo pienso, más allá de las descripciones básicas para darte una imagen, la autora no se enfoca mucho en el físico de ningún personaje).


No hay padres abusivos, los mencionan poco pero cuando lo hacen son descritos como ¡gente normal! No malvados, no angelicales. Solo padres que no son perfectos pero quieren a sus hijos. ¿Pueden creerlo?

Y lo más importante de todo: ¡no hay girl-hate! Jess tiene un grupo de amigas digno de Sex and the City: diverso, imperfecto, incondicional. Están juntas para bailar, para llorar, para emborracharse y drogarse, para hablar de amores y desamores, para vengarse de quien lastime a alguna de ellas, para jugar baloncesto, para regalarse vibradores, para hablar de sus inseguridades, e inclusive para ir a lanzarle piropos a albañiles.


Aún cuando aparece la típica competencia —ya saben: la chica hermosa, con cutis de porcelana y que tiene un pasado con el prota— ¡sigue sin haber girl-hate! No puedo hablar mucho de esto porque ¡spoilers! Pero me encanta como la autora manejo todooo el tema. Perfecto.

No, no es un sueño. Realmente se trata de un NA feminista. Y de los buenos.

“If I have to read another book or see another movie about a woman being courageous, I’ll throw up. [...] They not only have to get through it, they’re supposed to stand up, become a symbol, allow their whole lives to become derailed and defined by it. What if you don’t want to? [...] People bang on about women having the right to make choices—well, they need to realise women have the right to choose in these matters, too.”

4.- Es sexy:
Oh, sí. Hay algunas escenas que ufff.


Pero siempre con un toque de humor y ternura, que las diferencia de las demás steamy scenes que he leído antes.

5:.-Tiene montones de referencias musicales:
¿No me digan que soy la única que ama un libro con un buen playlist? En este caso, cada capítulo tiene el nombre de la canción que le sirve de soundtrack. 

Realmente les recomiendo que escuchen la canción indicada mientras leen, la selección es perfecta y lleva el libro a otro nivel. Pueden escuchar la lista completa aquí: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=...

En definitiva, si te gusta el romance, Summer Skin es el libro que estabas esperando. Divertido (más de una vez me hizo reír, ¡a mí, que mantengo mi poker face hasta con Les Luthiers!), dulce, entretenido y sexy.

La próxima vez que leas un NA terrible, no desfallezcas. Recuerda, que esto ocurrió. Tal vez sea el inicio de una nueva era.


Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
832 reviews3,725 followers
February 15, 2021

4.5 stars. Every time I read Kirsty Eagar's work I'm hit by the same uneasy feeling : we've [I' ve] used realistic too many times and its meaning sort of... watered-down, when really, authors who capture the inherent messiness of real relationships are so, so rare - Melina Marchetta and Kirsty Eagar are the only ones who pull it off for me, if I'm being honest. And yet, I know it's a double-edged sword. I know - and I understand - that many of my friends would not love this novel because they want, they need to escape in a world of princes - and that's okay. That's the beauty of reading.

Upon closing this book today, something struck me : I've complained so often about the way New Adult romances rely on unnecessary and ridiculous drama, yet I've come to realize that the drama itself isn't to blame. Summer Skin is full of drama. And that's okay, because you know what? Life is messy and fucked-up and oh my god, aren't we the most dramatic beings ever? Why do I feel differently, then? Why is this particular book so special? That's simple, really. From start to finish, I never once raised my head to roll my eyes. And I do that a lot. Ask my friends. I'm this cynical kill-joy who will ruin the moment because wait, that's ridiculous. Here? God. You could never have caught me judging the characters or their choices. It would have felt disrespectful because somehow, they're real to me. And if I'm a bitch to fictional characters, I am not one in real life.

So very few authors manage to make me feel that way. And these authors are gold.

Finally, I've seen many reviews discussing whether or not Summer Skin was feminist, and a lot of good points were raised. No, seriously. Go read them. In my opinion though? Yeah. It's feminist. 100%. PERSONALLY, I think we need to stop nitpicking each others and accept that we don't need to be "perfect" to call ourselves a feminist. The gate-keeping? Not for me. We go out there, putting unatteinable expectations on ourselves, in an all-or-nothing fantasy that never fail to end crushed on the harshness of our patriarchal society. Summer Skin asks the good questions in my opinion, both on double standards and on the difficulties raised when our ideals are confronted to hard choices. Honestly, after having put women into stereotyped boxes for centuries, we don't need books setting yet again how-to-be-a-good-woman rules. God, please. No. There is such a thing as internalized misogyny (I mean, gendered stereotypes have been DRILLED into our minds all our life for crying out loud) and of course bringing down rape culture is vital. I will never excuse any kind of slut-shaming or victim blaming. But let's just not create another unattainable model is all.

I want to hug every woman out there and tell her that it's okay to screw up. It's okay to doubt. It's okay. Really, it's okay. Breathe. You're amazing. Jess is amazing. I love her, I love her weaknesses that aren't weaknesses at all but rather the fantastic layers that go hand in hand with being a living human being. As to Mitch... I was slow to like him, but in the end, I reallllllly do, and I get him. Isn't that the most important of all? I rooted for them so much and they made me so, so happy.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Jeann (Happy Indulgence) .
1,003 reviews3,321 followers
August 12, 2016
This review appears on Happy Indulgence. Check it out for more reviews!

Actual rating: 4.5

If there's anything that I wished I had at university, it is Summer Skin. Finally, there's a book that tells you that having sex is okay without being called a slut, that it's okay to stand up for yourself in an abusive relationship, that it's okay to tell off misogynist men while still maintaining your values. This isn't a usual love story, and it isn't the usual story about feminism. It's about two individuals, learning about each other, while mutually breaking down their misconceptions about each other.

Jess is the self respecting young woman who we all want to be, but we're too scared of being because of societal attitudes against women. I love how she surrounds herself with friends who respect each other, who are there for each other and have fun but aren't incredible BFFs like the many YA portrayals of friendship lead us to believe. She's even friends with a male who isn't a love interest. I love how she admits she enjoys sex and foreplay, without being embarrassed about it or needing to hide behind excuses. Despite the steamy amount of sex in this book, I love how the act of slut shaming was discussed but it was owned and embraced - why should we feel ashamed about demeaning labels that others place on us? Because the moment you own it, no one can use that to hurt you.

You know all those NA love interests who are complete dickheads? Summer Skin actually features a romance between a misogynist pig and a modern feminist, but it throws a curve ball in the works - Mitch isn't what he appears on the surface. While Jess schools him on his rude ways, you find out that he's actually not as bad as he seems at the start. Yes he does say some pretty rude things to her, but then you find out that all his life he's hidden his true thoughts and feelings behind some choicely placed words. This to me, felt a lot more realistic than the super perfect chivalrous guy who we see so often in romance. Mitch felt like an everyday person we could encounter today.

The thing about Jess, is that she's not the perfect heroine that we often see in these books. While she has a healthy attitude about sex and feminism, she still shows her vulnerability in still wanting a relationship with a guy that treats her with respect. That's okay as well - I'm not the only one who's sick of seeing the brazen feminist heroine who doesn't need a man. The truth is, you can be in a happy healthy relationship, while being feminist as well.

Summer Skin is set in Brisbane, which felt really relatable to me being my hometown. While this setting wasn't crucial to the storyline, it was still fun knowing about the landmarks and seeing the personality of the city captured in the novel. Seeing a unique book with healthy attitudes in the university setting is also important - I'm always up for more NA that isn't just about steamy sex and romance (although there's plenty of that here, there's so much more too). The only thing I had difficulty relating to, is all the talk about the Unity girls and the Knights studs, which are fraternities and sororities. I had no idea we had them in Australia.

You've probably picked up by now, that Summer Skin breaks down a lot of misconceptions we have about society, misogyny, friendship and romance. I love how it addresses not only societal values about women, but about men as well and how there may be more to a person than rude jokes and ogling. It's a book you could pick up and get something from every time you read it, and I think these stories are more important than ever for women today. I loved every minute of it, and hoping it'd set a trend for more books like this.
Profile Image for Alex ♈.
1,568 reviews1,161 followers
December 13, 2018
Thanks to my friend Sunny’s Books for recommending this book to me!

Despite I didn’t like the main characters much, it was worth reading.
Like one of the books, which makes you mad, but you can’t put it down – aka bag of chips *lol*

I would recommend this book for those, who are looking for a different read, maybe even to break out of their comfort zone. And if you are a feminist!
Though the girls/women in this book were not my preferred type of feminists.

I’m not the right auditorium for YA reads, but I enjoy them, when the characters are mature.
This one had definitely depth, was party immature annoying, but had strong serious moments.

I honesty glad I read it. Live and learn *lol*

As not a native speaker, I struggled a bit with the writing.
Can be totally it’s not the book, it’s Alex.

Very interesting female protagonist. Strong, but still weak and vulnerable (but the girl was only 19!); with cool attitude, which I hoped were more constant.

I’m very bad in retelling, and this one is extremely difficult to describe with a couple of lines.

Safe. The male protagonist was celibate for over a year, but was a big manwhore in the past (and all this with only 21!). She broke up with her bf. MCs ‘saw’ each other and later ‘touched’ each other for over 5 months till they had sex. Mild OW drama, but not in the typical way.

I never pretended to be a better person than I am, so here some more of my true colors.

I was never and I’m still not into saving tortured a§§hole souls.

I know there are women (thanks God they exist), who like tortured broken men and truly believe in saving them.
Well, Alex is NOT one of them. If a man insulted me (e.g. as this male protagonist called her slut) or he pushed me away / was rude etc. – I wash my hands and move on.
Of course it doesn’t apply to family members, but to the rest of the world it does.

Next lines were said by one of the side characters and they are exactly how I think:

‘The only thing you can do is stop wanting things to be different. Because you can’t change people. You can’t help people. And you definitely can’t save them. They have to do it themselves.’

The male protagonist was a misogynistic pig. For me it was enough. And I didn’t have a feeling he changed a lot toward the end. Plus ***HUGE SPOILER**

But it’s me – not forgiving and stubborn person – so maybe you’ll see it different!

One of the books I wasn’t sad because of the lack of epilogue. The book ended with HNF.
Any epilogue in the future wouldn’t be plausible for me.

Well, Alex didn’t believe in their rosy future...
Damn, Alex sounds like a pessimist - or just a woman with a long life experience ;-)

I shut up! *lol*
Read it and decide for yourself!
Profile Image for Kelly (Diva Booknerd).
1,106 reviews299 followers
February 7, 2016
Oh Kirsty Eagar, how I love thee.

As a reader, don't you tire of the same protagonists? The sleek, blonde and usually perfect young women who seem to have it all on a platter? Yeah, me too kids. Me too. You clearly haven't met Jess. Jess Gordon is a strong, no nonsense girl that could be the voice of the young feminism movement. Jess attends a not so prestigious collage with campus boarding, where females band together against the onslaught against the Knights, an all male boarding house who teach sexism as an extra curricular activity. Jess's story begins with her mission into the Knights lair, looking for a prize in their new annual ritual to repay their previous deeds only a year prior. Blondie doesn't look like a typical Knight but he sure shares their arrogance and catches Jess in her tangled lie of guernsey thievery and playing a doting yet imaginary girlfriend.

Now suddenly Mitch is everywhere and that makes him easy prey.

Mitch is very much the alpha male type character. He's undeniably sexy but does nothing to dispel the sexist label that is placed upon what he represents, even if Mitch isn't part of the typical Knight culture and Jess is the last girl he should be playing games with. The sexual tension between the two was delicious, the banter and sarcasm was hilarious. But under the surface, both Jess and Mitch have their issues. As lovely as Jess is, she's also incredibly cynical about others intentions, especially a Knight and they aren't exactly boyfriend material. She's also just escaped from a toxic relationship, in which she was not only oppressed but the relationship portrayed as being emotionally abusive. Mitch on the other hand is haunted by a ghost from his past. Physically, he's well aware of how attractive he is but emotionally he won't allow anyone to break past the barrier he uses to ensure women don't become attached. Jess included. Jess isn't the shy and subdued lamb you typically find in new adult novels, she's feisty and not afraid to call others out on their bullshit. Including Mitch.

'You're probably also threatened by the fact that the guys here can cope with women in contexts other than porn. Not like a bunch of little lords who hate women because they secretly prefer getting hot and sweaty with each other under the guise of chasing a leather ball around a field.'

She's awesomely fierce and refuses to sugar coat her words.

Jess and Mitch's chemistry sizzles. She's feministic, he's sexist and although they tend to clash, there's an incredibly tentative and gentle romance forming between the two. Slowly, Mitch's attitude towards not only his own demons, but also women, begins to change. Jess doesn't want to make him a better version of himself but through compassion and being such a pivotal person in his life, he wants to change. For her but more importantly, for himself.

The sex is wonderful, Kristy Eagar you saucy minx. It's so well written, sexy without being the focal point of the storyline which is what seems to occur with similar books within the genre. It's mature, sensual and incredibly sex positive. Jess isn't ashamed to give into her urges, nor should she be and I loved that characters were able to talk openly about sex without being shamed. It was incredibly empowering and a refreshing change.

"I want you to revise your attitude. Women, amazingly enough, are allowed to like it. If that's news to you, then you're not doing it right."

Other aspects that Summer Skin also explores is the need for young women to feel validated, quite often by social media. Allie is a beautiful and kind hearted girl who only feels validated by photos she posts of herself on Instagram which creates such fluctuations in her emotional state, often effecting her friendships.

One of the funniest scenes is between Jess and her strong female group of friends at a local building site. Where women are often on the end of cat calls and crass comments, it was brilliant seeing the girls taking control of the situation and be the ones objectifying male workers for once. It was written in such a positive light, with both parties engaging in heavy innuendo banter.

'I've got a big hard thing!' yelled a guy who'd been marking out a sizable plank of wood. 'See from here,' Jess shouted, 'it looks just like you're holding a stubby little pencil!'

It's all about the innuendo.

Summer Skin is a book to empower young women. The snark, the strong female characters, the compassion and tenderness. The message of being your own person and fighting against the stereotypes of both sexes, all wrapped up in a realistic, relatable and hilarious storyline.

Buy it. Idolise it. Refer to it as the thinking young womans bible. You need this book in your life. Kirsty Eagar, you complete me.

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Profile Image for Giulia.
152 reviews237 followers
August 9, 2016
You know, these days I don't even bother reading New Adult anymore, because it's a genre I usually find myself disliking. But the thing is, Summer Skin was supposed to be different.

I think my biggest mistake was going into this book with very high expectations - that were, inevitably, disappointed. I was told of a NA book that would defy all tropes, that had a feminist main character and a beautiful romance; I was told of a book that would be different from all others. And really, now I keep wondering if I read a different book from everybody else, because I just don't see it.

Summer Skin is not a bad book per se. The writing is okay, the characters are mostly multi-dimensional and, well, the plot is... the same as always. Bad Boy. Quirky Girl. Romance and drama! *sighs*
I was bored. Most of the NA books I've read so far have annoyed me or made me angry, but hardly ever bored me. Well, I'll have you know that nothing ever happens in this book. It's just so damn slow. I considered DNFing it more than once, but I'm ultimately glad I pushed through the whole thing, because now I can give my proper opinion about it. But, in the end, the book being dull and basically putting me to sleep wasn't even the biggest problem I had with it.

Summer Skin has a lot of dialogue in it. Which is not just to be expected in contemporary, but it's actually something I usually enjoy... the key word being usually. The dialogue in this book was - there's no other word for it - really confusing. Most of the time I found myself having to reread a paragraph two, or even three times, thinking, Wait, what the heck are they talking about? Characters were introduced without explaining who they were, which added to my confusion, and the two things together annoyed me immensely. Conversations often revolved around things that had been fleetingly mentioned only once, and never brought up again until then, which resulted in me having no idea what was going on.

The plot was really basic, which leads me to wonder why so many people have called it "original". It was a love story, sort of, with some bits of friendship thrown in, and some (a lot of) drama. Which could have been okay if the dialogue hadn't been so awkward, and the two main characters so boring. Case in point: we have Jess, the super sensitive and overthinking girl that wins prize n. 1 for Least Relatable, and that somehow thinks that letting a guy touch her shields her from the intimacy of sleeping with him (I'm still trying to understand this kind of logic, and still failing.) And then we also have the most unlikable love interest ever, Mitch. I don't think I get what the author was trying to do. I thought it was going to be a first you're gonna hate him, then you're gonna love him! kind of situation. Well, I was stuck at the "hate" stage for the whole book. Even Jess calls him a "sexist pig" more than once and, honestly, she's not wrong. I'm not sure what was supposed to redeem him, since, even at the end of the book, he kept treating other people like rubbish. In addition to this, the two had absolutely no chemistry whatsoever. I actually found myself shipping Jess with, A) Adrien, Mitch's brother. I know. This is not my usual style, but damn, did they have chemistry. And, B) with Sylvie, ex-girlfriend. In fact, I actually think Adrien and Sylvie were the only decent characters in the whole book.

Well, I'm disappointed. Clearly. I had already told myself I would stop trying to read NA (Elle Kennedy being, inexplicably, the only exception to this rule), but I relented when I heard all of my friends praising Summer Skin as something new and exciting. Seems I was wrong, since I was not able to enjoy this book.
... Better go back to my fantasy stash then.
Profile Image for ALPHAreader.
1,102 reviews
February 11, 2016
‘Summer Skin’ is the new young adult novel from Australian author, Kirsty Eagar.

Fair warning: when I love something I like to talk about it and examine it from all angles. I really loved ‘Summer Skin’, so prepare for a long, loving review …

First I’m trying to think of how to describe this book and what happens, plot-wise, when I don’t actually want to give too much away. Also that there’s isn’t really much to give away that the blurb doesn’t already beautifully summarise, like with this pithy one-liner that I think is just pure fucking poetry: a neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig. Or how about feminist commentator Clementine Ford’s endorsement, that explains ‘Summer Skin’ is: a keen look at modern day intimacy in a hook-up culture. You already know all you need to entice you to pick up this smart, sexy YA read.

So instead I want to tell you about ‘Summer Skin’ by going back to 1975 – the year Judy Blume’s ‘Forever’ was first published. I love this page about ‘Forever’ on Blume’s website, where she explains the kernel of an idea for what would become, without a doubt, one of the most important books in young adult history: My daughter Randy asked for a story about two nice kids who have sex without either of them having to die. She had read several novels about teenagers in love. If they had sex the girl was always punished—an unplanned pregnancy, a hasty trip to a relative in another state, a grisly abortion (illegal in the U.S. until the 1970's), sometimes even death. Lies. Secrets. At least one life ruined. Girls in these books had no sexual feelings and boys had no feelings other than sexual. Neither took responsibility for their actions. I wanted to present another kind of story—one in which two seniors in high school fall in love, decide together to have sex, and act responsibly.

Pretty radical notion, huh? Writing about two teenagers who have sex and don’t die. But that was radical back in 1975, when young adult literature (and especially American YA) had to have moralistic undertones – and when it came to sex that was meant to be abstinence is best.

Fast forward to 2016 and Kirsty Eagar’s ‘Summer Skin’ is adding new layers and nuances to a discussion Blume started 41 years ago. In this book, Eagar is talking about sex and sexuality, pleasure and politics in a way that’s taking Aussie YA literature into a new and daring stratosphere, and it’s absolutely worth celebrating.

‘Summer Skin’ runs quite the sexual gamut – exploring everything from young women who are sexually degraded by men, to sex being used as weapon or revenge, and the pressure women feel to have sex though it’s often divorced from feeling and pleasure … there’s even discussions in here about how pornography has impacted the way in which young people view sex today – as more performance than pleasure, and the impact of its dangerous unrealism;

If high school was all about whether or not you’d give it up, uni seemed to be about nothing but giving it up. Suddenly, inexplicably, the rules changed, and – bam – you were Adult-with-a-capital-A. There was no means to the end, there was just the end, just sex, and you pretended to keep up. Sometimes Jess had felt it, the flaring of her own appetite, but she’d rarely let herself go. Too busy performing.

This book is also built on discussions and dichotomies of sexism and feminism – not running just as an undercurrent, but an in-your-face refreshing statement not to be messed with or overlooked. Indeed, the book is about Unity Girls versus Knights Boys on college campus – and through them these discussions are made manifest. The Knights Boys in particular are beautifully portrayed in their truth and – it must be said – Neanderthal ways. And if you don’t believe me, know that ‘Summer Skin’ made me think all the way back to 2012 and a particularly disturbing story about a drinking scandal, near-death of a teenage girl and unearthed misogyny at St John's College at the University of Sydney. These boys Eagar is writing about, and the society they belong to, absolutely exist and she’s chilling in her scarily accurate depictions.

There’s also a perverse beauty to Eagar exploring these topics, because she is such a marvellous author for detail. I found myself marking so many pages in this book, just because her descriptions took my breath away for their vividness;

… widening his stance as if experiencing a sudden and significant surge in ball size, speaking in the drawl used by guys who are fluent in Brah.

I also want to celebrate this book for its grey-areas and sexiness – because ‘Summer Skin’ is both sensuous and subversive, scathing and scintillating. And this, in itself, is making a statement in YA as big as Blume’s ‘Forever’ did – as Eagar’s protagonist Jess enters into something steamy with her antithesis, Knights Boy, rugby player, Blondie Brah – Mitch. And their relationship is hot – something which is still not as prevalent as it should be in YA. Honest depictions of sexual desire and pleasure (particularly emphasis on female pleasure and self-pleasure) – it’s still a radical thing to find in YA.

Blondie held the can there, just out from her breast, until she looked at him. And when she did, his eyes were so intense that she released his wrist. She gasped when he pressed the can to her nipples, first one and then the other, but then he replaced it with his mouth, sucking each nipple in turn, his hands supporting her, and Jess closed her eyes, her breath catching. She arched her back.

As someone who reads a lot of romance, I can tell you that ‘Summer Skin’ is up there with the best. But I do want to say that I still consider this book to be young adult – even for its college campus setting and abundant sex. I have no problems with people bandying the label ‘New Adult’ around – but I will say that I absolutely believe teenagers (boys and girls alike) should find their way to ‘Summer Skin’ and embrace its many messages, particularly around sex-positivity and politics.

Kirsty Eagar has long been one of Australia’s most daring and rebellious YA writers, dating back to her powerful debut ‘Raw Blue’. ‘Summer Skin’ is more brilliance and fearlessness from this Aussie favourite, and I absolutely applaud Eagar for elevating such conversations around modern romance in our young adult literature.
Profile Image for Nat.
546 reviews3,172 followers
October 20, 2020
UPDATE 2020: Had the sudden urge to check out one scene from this book and ended up rereading all the scenes with Mitch in one quick succession. (Yes, I still skip the pages only to read the scenes with Mitch/Blondie).

Is this my favorite book couple? No. Is this my favorite romance? Yes. Make it make sense...

It's just that I take so much joy in the actual romance scenes of this book that I don't even care for the fact that the couple doesn't fit that well together. Similarly to my reading experience with The Hating Game: I love the romance, hate the couple.

The emphasis put on simply displaying tender touches instead of rushing to check off big milestones is the definition of romance™. I want more!!! Which is probably why I keep coming back to Summer skin time and again. But it's also why I'm perplexed by this book. I mean it has hands down one of the best romance scenes I've read and yet it degrades itself in the second half by including so many unnecessary drama scenes. Why? I've said it once and I'll say it again: This is a romance book, we're here for the romance!!

I mean, Mitch is the kind of guy you see repeatedly women complain about in advice columns with his hot-and-cold behavior: "If a guy wants to hang out daily but avoids getting personal does that secretly mean he really likes me?" Yeah, just the kind of guy you dream about... I felt legit sorry for Jess for having to put up with him simply because she's addicted to his touch. Something as little as Mitch refusing to give his phone number to her aggravated me (he refuses multiple times, ugh). If anything, the social distancing rules now in place keep guys like Mitch away. Far, far away.
Like I said, I had more respect for him as Blondie because at least Jess put him in his place. Also, hot.

Oh, and funny looking at the dates of my previous reread to notice that I read it around the same time last year. There are cosmic forces at work with this book. Like I noted at the end of my review: their sexual tension traveled into the future to remind me to reread it.

When you intend on only going back to reread one chapter and end up awake till nearly 4am to finish the book... Help. It's those damned Coca-Cola cans.

Also, why did I end up enjoying Mitch when he was simply known as “Blondie” more? The thrill of Jess’s electric chemistry with him at the start was everything. It’s why I kept reading on and on. I'll be the first to admit that his "Can I touch you?" worked all too well on me. I really enjoyed them challenging each other to see who would push the line too far. But that only seemed to happen at the start.

So the end turned into a bit of a let down with Mitch constantly disappearing, basically ghosting Jess, only to turn up intoxicated at her doorstep. Rinse and Repeat. Mitch's quick remarks as "Blondie" and Jess's feisty remarks putting him in his place were simply too good to be replaced with this wishy-washy behavior.

As a disclaimer, I tried reading this back in May 2016 and dnf'd it because "Blondie" turned into "Mitch," and it really wasn't doing the same for me at the end. But given that it's been three years and I could still recall scenes so vividly, like the Coca-Cola cans and the construction workers scene, really speaks volumes about this book. It was written so well that their sexual tension traveled three years into the future to remind me to reread it.

Check out when the fun begins through this excerpt:

Visit bookspoils.com for more book discussions and reviews.
Profile Image for Rachael.
Author 8 books423 followers
June 1, 2016
So, I started Summer Skin this morning and finished it at 1.15am and probably would have finished earlier if I hadn't been required to fulfill domestic chores and what not. Kirsty Eager, you wily minx. I am throwing handfuls of stars right at your gorgeous face. I loved Jess and Mitch. They made me laugh and cry. They broke my heart and put it back together. This was unflinching, honest, confronting, uncomfortable and triumphant. It's awfully late and I'm such a nana and I am going to pay horribly for my recklessness tomorrow. I blame you, KE. I blame you hard. <3 xxx
*sexual content may pitch this for mature readers.
Profile Image for Shelleyrae at Book'd Out.
2,425 reviews506 followers
February 5, 2016

Summer Skin offers a 'girl meets boy' story, a typical trope in YA/NA fiction, but author Kirsty Eagar has stripped back the common artifice of the construct to present a love story that honest, unique and relevant.

I found Jess to be a particular refreshing character for the YA/NA genre, though a mess of contradictions, she reflects a realistic young woman still figuring out that life and its challenges are rarely black and white.

Mitch challenges Jess in interesting ways, at first glance he is everything Jess despises - an arrogant rugby playing sexist pig, and she holds tightly to that initial assessment, which she often uses as an excuse and justification throughout their relationship for her own behaviour, even as she learns that Mitch is a much more than that. They both struggle to define their relationship in terms of both their own identities, and each other.

There is real depth to this novel beneath the humor, mischief, drunken revelry, dress up balls, and instagram poses that exemplifies campus life. The author explores modern day feminism and how its meaning varies between individuals, illustrated by the differing attitudes and opinions of Jess and each of her close friends, Farren, Leanne and Allie. She captures the conflict many young women face when negotiating issues of lust, sex and intimacy in the age of the hook-up culture. Eagar also touches on several relevant issues affecting today's young adults including the use, and abuse of social media, the way in which porn distorts attitudes to sex, the risks of speeding and drink driving, but she never preaches.

Aimed squarely at a mature young adult/new adult audience, Summer Skin is smart, funny, sexy and thought-provoking. There is nothing typical about it.
Profile Image for K..
3,606 reviews1,002 followers
August 7, 2016
I'd heard great things about this book, so I figured I'd read it for myself before ordering a copy for work. And wowsers, I'm glad I read it before I ordered it because I'm pretty sure my boss would sack me for ordering this. I've seen a few people referring to this as YA, but NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE, it's very definitely a new adult book, with the explicit sex scenes that are practically a requirement of new adult books.

Anyway. That has very little to do with the book itself and is more to do with "this book definitely wouldn't be allowed on the shelves at an Anglican high school library".

There were things that I loved about this book and things that didn't work for me.

Things I liked?
- That it's about teenage girls enjoying sex and generally schooling misogynistic teenage boys who seem to think women are just sex toys.
- That said teenage girls are unapologetic about enjoying sex.
- That there were plenty of funny moments.
- "Look, I fucking love you, alright?" may be the most authentically Australian declaration I've ever read.

Things that didn't work for me?
- Jess and Mitch's relationship. I just didn't care about either of them.
- The drinking. Holy hell, there was a lot of drinking. And drunkenness. And vomiting as a result of drinking and drunkenness. Like, I get that they're uni students living in halls of residence. I've been a uni student living in halls of residence. I know there's a lot of drinking and drunkenness. But it felt like it was CONSTANT. And I was a little concerned about their livers.
- OH MY GOD DO NOT FINGER BANG SOMEONE WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE. EVER. NOT OKAY. NOT. OKAY. Because you're not only risking YOUR lives, but you're risking other people's lives. And if WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU DO THAT HOLY HELL.
- The elements of "I fixed him" stuff. That just...yeah. No.

New Adult is always a bit hit or miss for me. And this was better than most - it didn't end with me wanting to throw my Kindle at the wall, which is a definite plus. But it also wasn't great for me.

Still, plenty of other people are raving about it, so don't take my word for it.
Profile Image for Rose.
408 reviews594 followers
August 3, 2016
I was so excited to read this book because:



But I think this book may be for people who aren’t normally into romance. I didn’t find it particularly romantic or sexy, just cute at certain moments. I felt that it told a more realistic story about life and specifically, college life, in general.

I expected BAM, something in your face. Something as loud as that cover, you know? This book just wasn’t unforgettable to me, despite having strong characters- because the plot just wasn’t enough. I wanted more revenge happening, but instead got lots of angst and lots of typical college party scenes.


I just expected a guys vs girls situation to happen.. but it never really did, or I guess it sort of happened but was over in .02 seconds. And talk about SLOOOW burn romance?! I usually love them, but this was too much.. it seriously felt like it took forever for them to get together. For real, they went weeks and weeks without speaking to each other.. then they got together.. and then another month before they were back.......... okay then??

but it wasn’t bad though!!!!!!!

I found this book to be so insanely refreshing.
Jess has a bit of a crooked nose and likes it. *does happy dance*
We have a female character with a ‘flaw' *gasps*
who isn’t insecure about it *faints*

Favorite Scene: the second time Adrian and Jess meet. I found it so utterly adorable that I swear I was holding my chest and just ‘aw’ing every second lmao.

It wasn’t necessarily something I loved, but it had a lot of great qualities that I think a lot of people would enjoy- so hopefully people go out and get this one!!
Profile Image for lisa.
2,071 reviews300 followers
May 27, 2018
Reread: May 2018

Buddy reread with Rachel!

Man, I miss reading this book. This reread was wayyyyy overdue.

Anyway, Summer Skin is finally releasing in US/CAN on May 29th!!!

 photo combine.png

First read: Feb 2016

4.75 stars


how do you even review a book you love, tell meeeeeee

I've been in a reading rut for a while, starting and abandoning and putting books on hold, and the fact that I stayed with this book from start to finish said a lot about it.

Summer Skin is definitely the Wow book I've been looking for. The word that came to my mind when I was a few chapters in is refreshing. I was uncertain about Jess at first but as the chapters progressed I began to love her even more. I love the girl friendships in this book, the Unity feminist movement (what a riot), and just ughhhhhhh

In hindsight I'm not really sure about the relationship between Jess and Blondie, I feel like I should be uncomfortable about certain things,* but I LOVE their banter and THE SEXYTIMES. YESSSSSSS.

I need to reread this immediately.

*Reread: June 2016:

I gained more understanding about Blondie this time around, and ughhhh I love him even more, asshole-ish ways and all. I'm so grateful for all the layers of his character, the complexity of him, that he isn't just one thing or the other.

Fam, I'm still in love with this book.
Profile Image for Emily Mead.
569 reviews
December 28, 2016
AHHH. Aussie YA is on point this year. Seriously guys, you're going to want to read this. It's sexy and smart and Jess is a protagonist you'll immediately love.

Absolutely loved it. Review to come!


Aussie YA this year is ON POINT, guys!

I’ve read some absolutely amazing books – this and My Sister Rosa and Facing Up and the Colours of Madeleine series, for instance.

If NA was more popular in Australia (or anywhere), this would probably be classified as NA. And so would one of my other fave Aussie YA books, The Intern. But it’s great as an older YA as well – great for people like me who are just about to start university and now are going to have COMPLETELY unrealistic expectations.

(Yes I want a Mitchell)

(Who can blame me?)

Here are my five reasons to read it:

1. Feminism. Because you’ll want to be shouting “hell yeah, you go girl.”

2. Sex positive. Thank you, Kirsty Eagar.

3. THE BANTER. Oh, the banter is glorious.

4. Somehow really informative and smart without being preachy – that’s a tough thing to achieve.

5. It manages to be funny AND heart-breaking AND brilliant AND smart. Like…Kirsty Eagar, seriously, please stop it with your talent.

Jess is definitely a protagonist you’re going to love.

She reminds me of so many other badass girls in books and films – Beca from Pitch Perfect and Olive from Easy A.

Lilly Moscovitz from The Princess Diaries. Josephine from Looking for Alibrandi.

But then again, Jess is also definitely a distinctively awesome character.

And it’s the little details that make her real – the fact that she keeps bras in the fridge; the fact that she pays attention to the stock market so she can buy/sell Telstra shares. I love that she’s more vulnerable than she first appears.

I LOVE JESS, basically.

Add to that excellent side characters and you’ve got great female friendships. They’re not necessarily easy friendships but I loved the depth that their relationships added to the book.

Of course, I have to also talk about Blondie.


I was so prepared to hate him (like Jess). I was so prepared to see his downfall (like Jess).

But it’s kind of like The Wrath and the Dawn where you start to see another side of him, and then all of a sudden you’ve fallen head over heels.

…like Jess.

Though I loved the rivalry between the Knight guys and the Unity girls, and I LOVED how Jess absolutely wrecked Mitch on many occasions, their developing relationship was incredible. Hate-to-love relationships have got to be my favourite trope. And there are quite a few steamy scenes for those of you who like your romances a bit ACOTAR-esque.

Basically, this is the feminist romance you've been looking for.
Profile Image for L A i N E Y (will be back).
394 reviews675 followers
July 8, 2020
For the life of me I still don’t know why oh why why these two didn’t just get together?! Who’s stopping them? Nobody that’s who! So I kept getting exasperated with the fake “angst” when they were like “oh I can’t be with you”.... yeah but... why??

I actually am getting frustrated just thinking about it now. It just made no sense to me.

So regardless of that one time I found the scene between them quite sexy, it’s a let down for me.
Profile Image for Jenny.
237 reviews347 followers
April 1, 2016
This book, you guys! It was wonderful! I just loved it. And I don't say it often, especially not when we are talking about NA romance. And this book is unlike any NA romance I've read. The plot might seem very simple, and maybe it is, but what I loved the most in the book was how despite the simple plot, the author has managed to create such beautiful story.

The female characters in Summer Skin are great. This book is mainly about feminism, and our protagonist, Jess, is a best fit for it; She doesn't always pretend to be strong, she is still figuring out herself, she gets confused, and I love how she deals with everything. I love her! I also liked her friends, it was refreshing to read about friendship between these girls without any unnecessary drama.

Yes, there's a hero who is rude, arrogant, carries baggage from his past, and in the beginning you just hate him. But you know what? Instead of portraying him as an alpha male, the hero's character is completely reversed and has made him more likeable. At the end of the book I couldn't even believe that it was the same guy I had been reading about in the beginning.

Summer Skin was really good and much better than I expected. Although the book deals with many issues, there are also light scenes to keep this book from getting very serious or dark. I loved everything; its romance, sexiness, cute banters, and amazing characters.

You'll probably love this book if you like: unapologetic female characters, romance( I think I forgot to mention above, there's some really hot romance in this book!), feminism, and hot male character! I would highly recommend this book to romance lovers. Just go read this book.
Profile Image for Carol -  Reading Writing and Riesling.
1,128 reviews115 followers
March 12, 2016
WOW! This author can write!

My View:
This New Adult/Mature YA book took me completely by surprise. The writing is fresh, bold and honest and the characters are written without self-consciousness but with a healthy dose of self-awareness. This is new age feminism at its best.

Realistic (well I cant vouch for the university pranking/drinking /hook up culture – I was a very mature age uni student when I completed my degree, studying part time, working part time with no experience of living in a boarding school - so this is all new ground for me but other reviewers have remarked on its accuracy) but the traumas, the sexual harassment, the friendships, the attachments and the exploration of self as an individual and sexual person all shout truth to me. One of the really interesting and honest parts of the book that stand out for me is Jess discussing with her aunt that she has a libido. How many books (or sex education classes) speak to this subject? It’s about time women were allowed to have a libido and to own those feelings.

Despite that that I am not in the age group of the targeted audience for this book I was really engaged in the narrative and liked the characters. Some of the rawness and sexual explicitness did surprise me but I did not feel it was gratuitous or did I feel like a voyeur (which I have noticed is often the case when I occasionally read an adult romance narratives). The only negative for me was most of the music references meant nothing to me – but I realise they will do to the target audience, however I do recall how important popular music was to me when I was a teenager. Somethings haven’t changed a lot.

This is a fun, smart, sassy and empowering read. I am recommending it to my (adult) daughter.

Profile Image for Norah.
9 reviews3 followers
January 11, 2017
This book is smart. And hot. It is written with the authenticity and detail of literary fiction, but is essentially genre romance at its best.

Amusing, complex characters, and the sort of relational tension that is left unresolved until the final page. If I had one complaint it would be that Eagar's style can border on frenetic. At times I wanted her (as a writer) to just calm down. Breathe. But perhaps she was merely deep within the point of view of her protagonist, Jess, who is a little frenetic after all. Also, the witty banter can be over-done. (Especially in the scene with the construction workers.) People are usually only that clever and quick with their comebacks in retrospect, so these scenes came off a bit staged.

But that said, more please, Kristy Eagar. I want more. (And thank you!)
Profile Image for Erika.
407 reviews
April 20, 2016
smart, hot, funny, feminist, romantic, sexy, moving...

why the hell didn't anyone tell me about this book?!?

this was the feminist NA love story i've been waiting for.

genuinely me throughout the entire thing:

(p.s. gracias a Gliré por facilitarme una copia!)
Profile Image for Chachic.
582 reviews205 followers
March 26, 2016
Originally posted at Chachic's Book Nook.

I was introduced to Kirsty Eagar's beautiful writing through Raw Blue, which I read and loved way back in 2011. Wowza, I didn't know it's been that long! I was pretty excited when I found out that she has a new book this year and with such a bright and fun cover too. I saw Aussie bloggers raving about Summer Skin, and I knew that I needed to have my own copy sooner rather than later. Thankfully, Book Depository now has stocks of some Aussie titles and I was able to order Summer Skin from their store. I couldn't resist reading it as soon as my copy arrived. I was reminded of how good Aussie fiction is, and now I want to read ALL THE BOOKS.

It was a good thing I started reading Summer Skin just as the weekend started because I was engrossed from start to finish. I stayed up way too late (or too early depending on your definition) on a Friday night to read it. I would have gobbled it up in one go if I didn't have plans to go out with a friend. As it is, I devoured it as fast as I can. I'm going to try and be coherent in this review, but I basically just want to say, GO FORTH AND READ THIS BOOK. Summer Skin is the kind of book that makes me want to go back in time so I can give it to my teenage self. I think it would have changed my life back then. The Aussie college experience described in this is different from my own experience in the Philippines in a lot of ways, but strangely similar in certain aspects, especially in the emotions involved. Like the feeling of having more independence than you had in high school, without the responsibility that comes with being an adult in the workforce. And also trying to make sense of things but feeling clueless. I felt that Kirsty Eagar did an amazing job of describing the crazy roller coaster ride of college days, when the highs were so high and the lows were so low.

Jess intrigued me from the first scene. I thought she and her girlfriends were all awesome. I kept wanting to cheer them on, YOU GO GIRLS. The four of them have such distinct and varied personalities, and it was fun to see how they balanced each other out. I felt that they have just the right mix of flaws and strengths for teenage girls. They were far from perfect and they made mistakes, but they also tried to learn as much as they can from those mistakes. And they showed their strengths in ways that suited their personalities. They're in that stage of their lives where they're still trying to figure things out, and they're starting to gain more awareness about themselves. It was helpful that all throughout that process, they have each others' backs. It's always a pleasure to read about strong female friendships because that's always something that I would be able to relate to. I met some of the best friends that I have during college, and I can't imagine life without them.

It's obvious from the book's summary that Summer Skin has romance in it, and I thought it was very well-written. I seriously could not get enough of Jess and Mitch! I loved all of their interactions, and I kept waiting for scenes that had the two of them together. I'm normally not a fan of drama in a romance but everything that Jess and Mitch went through felt necessary. They needed to experience all of it to grow and develop both individually and as a couple. I wouldn't call their romance slow burn because sparks fly the moment they meet and they do act on it, but the depth in their relationship is earned the hard way. Also, I thought it was really cute that their family and friends were invested in their relationship. One of my favorite scenes was Jess and Mitch's brother trying to get to know each other better. The adults in this novel were pretty great, they treated the younger characters with respect - giving advice whenever necessary but ultimately letting Jess and Mitch make their own choices.

As an aside, there's a lot of music mentioned in the novel and while there isn't a playlist found at the end, it can be found here. Summer Skin is the kind of book that you would hug to yourself after you turn the last page. I have a feeling I'd be sorely tempted to reread this sooner rather that later. Definitely one of my best reads in 2016, I've already started book pushing this to all my reader friends. Immensely readable, Summer Skin deserves to be read by anyone interested in realistic fiction about college experiences. I will be anxiously waiting for Kirsty Eagar's next novel.
Profile Image for Tara ☽.
303 reviews244 followers
June 29, 2018
4.5 stars!!

This book subverts the romance genre. You know how most new adult features an arrogant, sexist asshole as the love interest? This book does too. But it does something no other new adult books have attempted to do: It completely unseats him, teaches him a lesson and makes him a better person. Our main girl is a loud, unapologetic feminist, and, unlike so many new adult heroines, she doesn't sit there and meekly take it from the asshole. No, you know what she does? She teaches him respect.

I've never seen a new adult book simultaneously so feminist and so romantic. This is the second time I've read this book and I love it even more the second time around. Our two mains aren't cardboard cutouts; they are characters. Jess is a feminist, loudmouthed and talkative, but she's also struggling to find her identity, struggling to balance her feminist ideals with her growing feelings for a sexist jerk. Speaking of aforementioned sexist jerk, Mitch is such an interesting character. Surface level, he's cold, arrogant and misogynistic, but this book manages to look beneath the surface and humanise a boy who has grown up in a culture of toxic masculinity. And he learns. He learns about his shitty behaviour. He becomes a better person.

The girl friends are so awesome. They're all feminist, loud, obnoxious and rude, but also sweet, kind and supportive to one another. Honestly I wish these girls were my friends. They are so much fun.

If you are at all a fan of romance, or if you're looking for an empowering, feminist book, then I beg you to pick this up!!
Profile Image for Paula Weston.
Author 6 books850 followers
February 19, 2016
This is such a timely and excellent read. Not just because it’s brilliantly written, witty and populated with engaging, three-dimensional characters, but because it explores an aspect of young adult life we don’t discuss as frankly as we should.

Summer Skin deftly picks apart how the all-pervading porn culture impacts intimacy between teenagers (in this case uni students still finding their way as adults with new freedoms), particularly the ‘pressure to perform’.

The issue of connecting on more than a physical level for teens is certainly not a problem exclusive to the current generation (if my experiences back in the 80s are anything to go by), but the advent of social media has made it even trickier, particularly when it comes to trust between consenting partners.

Summer Skin is funny and heartbreaking - and frequently hot. Kirsty writes steamy scenes that are sexy and at times uncomfortable to read, but always real. And always with a purpose.

And she’s not afraid to give Jess a sexual appetite and call out stereotypes around girls who enjoy physical intimacy.

It’s most definitely a modern love story that doesn’t pull any punches - nor does it let any of its characters get away with a whiff of bullshit. It’s the honesty and the insight that makes this novel so much more than an entertaining and sexy read. That - and Kirsty Eagar’s sublime writing and characters. Highly recommended.

(I also loved the Brisbane setting and that cover...!)
Profile Image for Eri.
595 reviews176 followers
March 27, 2016
4.75 stars

This is the type of book that feels so achingly real it hurts, and character that tug at your every heartstring. I seem to get this feeling most often with ausYA, and after discussing with Lisa, we both agree that a lot of it could be with how the YA genre seems to be more liberal and less censored? compared to the YA books published in the US.

"All I really think is that girls are allowed to collect life experiences, too, without it meaning that they're ruined."

Jess, our heroine, is strong and fierce, a girl after my own heart. While she may come off a little strong in the beginning, it's hard not to get swept up in her spirit and energy, and her vulnerabilities made me just want to hug her all the more tighter. She has a loyal group of friends, from brash and wild Leanne, unrepentant and energetic Farren, sweet and charismatic Allie, and their friendship is deeply rooted. I laughed quite a few times when I was reading scenes between them, and I'm going to miss these girls who can be such a riot.

She looked from Leanne, to Allie, and then Farren, her beautiful friends, and the moment put an ache in her chest.

Now onto Blondie, aka Mitch. He's flawed, more so than any of the other characters in this book, excepting some douchebags that I refuse to taint this review with their names. He's cold and arrogant like the synopsis promises, but there's the underlying spark that makes you want to crack his secrets. On one hand he is the type of guy you just desperately want to knock some sense into, but on the other hand he's just an adorable puppy and I just loved his character a lot. Jess and he are a match made in reality, because they might not be perfect together, but they're so real, I can't help but root for them. Yes they mess up, and neither of them are perfect humans, but then again that's a myth, and sincere characters are so much more meaningful And also I'm cheering for Jess every time Mitch say something remotely idiotic, she knocks him in his place.

Then his smile faded, his blue eyes narrowed, and Jess's breath caught in her throat. It was quite a thing to be looked at like that.

This book is also very sex positive, with frank discussions and insightful comments about the misogyny that is placed on ideas of sex, as well as feminism in general. Jess is never afraid to put her money where her mouth is and I dearly love Eagar for writing these important points into this book. This book is also honest and blunt, a refreshing dose of reality and humor mixed in with the relationships and youthful energy that makes this book vibrate with life.

"Being human isn't two separate experiences. Get that into your thick head."

A more cohesive and eloquent review to come later.

Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,243 reviews266 followers
June 18, 2018
The path to happiness and togetherness is not always that clear cut build-up, neat conflict, and ultimate outcome. Nowhere is that more clear in the most new adult to ever new adult than in this straightforward book. I loved the central friendships in this, and that these two were respectably, age appropriately, struggling with who they were and who they wanted to be. And a bit immature at that.

The style of writing supported these rapidly-changing new adults, leaving aside sentiment and overdone descriptions in favor of immersing readers in the world in an accessible, if almost distant and observational way. Almost like an in-depth journalist would chronicle a relationship: A year in college.

None of this is bad, though reading a Romance in this style may not be for everyone. It's not really tugging at your heart strings as these two take a baby step forward just to get in their own ways (again in a way that feels so familiar to that time) and drag themselves back by great distances. It's not taking any cheap shots to make your compassion activate, more like dropping you in without a parachute and saying, "hey, remember shit like this, can you relate?" It's not fancy or beautiful (at times it is in its simplicity all these, including funny) but it's effective.
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