Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Summer by the River” as Want to Read:
Summer by the River
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Summer by the River

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 2nd 2021 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Summer by the River, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Summer by the River

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  162 ratings  ·  54 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Summer by the River
This is a Women's Fiction with a bit of suspense put into it. I have to say this book took me forever it get into it, and that is because the flash backs of the past I feel was done wrong. The flash backs was not done where you do it was a flash back, and it took me a little bit to figure out what was happening. I think that took away for the book. The suspense part was good. I enjoyed the characters after I figured out what was happening. Overall, I liked the book. I was kindly provided an e-co ...more
Chatting About Cozies
Josie Waterhill fled a past filled with violence, and made a safe life for herself and Zoe, her six year old daughter. Zoe is an extremely bright child who loves animals. They have a home with Myra Moore, a sweet, elderly woman who hosts tea parties in her lovely backyard gardens with the help of Josie’s capable hands. Then, freelance journalist, Carter O’Brien comes to town researching a missing person and an old murder, and Myra’s memories could help him. Josie’s afraid he’ll find out about he ...more
Jan 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This story is filled with with excellently written and well-developed characters. The two main characters Josie Winterhill and Carter O'Brien meet and are instantly attracted to each other. Josie's background doesn't lend her to believe in Happily Ever After much. Plus she's in hiding and her first priority is her daughter Zoe. Carter's ex-fiancee cheated on him and that was the end of their relationship. So both characters have past issues to deal with. I enjoyed their journey to happiness as t ...more
Karren  Sandercock
Josie Waterhill is a single mother of six year old Zoe, she fled from her violent past five years ago and she’s made a new life in Galena in Illinois. Her eighty year old friend Myra Moore lives in her family’s civil war era home and with Josie’s help she runs a successful tea house.

Carter O’Brien is a journalist, he’s looking into a missing person case and suspected murder. His grandfather Myron O’Brien left his wife during the great depression, disappeared and was never seen again. His resear
Janilyn Kocher
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Burns is a new author for me and she turned out a good book. Set in a Galena, IL, Josie is hiding from the world. Readers are slowly able to piece together her story as the chapters unfold. The beginning was a little slow, but the momentum picked up the more I delved into the book. My favorite character was Myra. I did think Josie’s actions were a little out of character when she does something toward the end of the book. I know it was necessary for the story line, but it just didn’t fit, in my ...more
Debbie Burns
Feb 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
What do you know, even though it’s mine, I love this story enough to give it 5 stars. Hoping you love it as much as I do.

And thanks to all of you for your ratings and reviews that help books get noticed!
Angela Evans
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can’t remember when I have read a more beautifully written story than Summer By The River. Every word on every page is like a beautiful brush stroke capturing the scene and the characters perfectly for the reader to be completely immersed in the story. Summer By The River is a captivating story of characters brought together by chance but find they have a connection through their mixed up, often miss stepped pasts. Set in Galena Illinois, a town with as rich of a history as each character in t ...more
Danielle Lee
Apr 12, 2022 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

More to come after an author event with this author tonight
Jan 09, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is part romance, part mystery, part suspense, and all fabulous! Josie gives away no details of her past, although there’s always a shadow hanging over her head about it catching up with her. Carter happens to arrive in her home, looking for answers to his own past. Together they find a connection, chemistry, and eventually trust and love. I found this to be a many layered, captivating read, and I highly recommend it!
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoy reading books written by Debbie Burns. This book does not disappoint. Josie is a single mom who moved to Galena, Illinois to escape from her old life. She moves into the tea house with her daughter Zoe. Myra is the owner and takes Josie under her wing. Carter comes to the tea house to find out what happened to his grandfather and his research takes him to Galena. This book has romance, a bit of mystery and of course furry animals. I enjoyed reading this story. Thank you to NetGalley and ...more
Feb 28, 2021 rated it liked it
Thank you NetGalley, Sourcebooks Casablanca and Debbie Burns for gifting me an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
If you’re in the mood for a romance with a twist, look no further! I am getting over a serious book hangover and I needed something that was both light and easy to read, but not too fluffy. The hints of mystery and suspense peppered in with the chemistry and likeable characters made this a quick read! I would tag this as more of a women’s fiction with a spla
Jul 21, 2022 rated it really liked it
Feel good , engaging read
Savannah Hendricks
Mar 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable novel taking readers into the sweetness of summer and intrigue into the past.
Marsha Keeper Bookshelf
Reviewed at Keeper Bookshelf

Summer by the River easily captured my imagination as we are invited into the world that Josie has created for herself out of chaos and fear. Told in some places through flashback, Josie’s backstory is one of danger and secrets she’s kept, secrets that will steal her sense of safety, with the need to keep on the move trusting no one for long. When she arrives in Galena, Illinois she’s just about out of energy to go any further with her young daughter, Zoe. Thankfully,
Feb 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thank you NetGalley, Debbie Burns and SOURCEBOOKS Casablanca for the ARC of Summer by the River. This is my personal review.
Josie decided she wanted to start her life over with her daughter, Zoe and she moves them to Galena Illinois. When they got there Myra who owns a mansion invites them to stay there with her.
Josie is settling in until Myra invites a writer to stay with them also. He is in search for answers to missing person and murder that happened in the area.
Josie is hiding her past, bu
Barb Lie
Mar 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Summer by the River by Debbie Burns is a standalone novel. I have read a number of books by Debbie Burns, but Summer by the River was totally different, and I loved every moment. Very well done.

Josie Waterhill, our heroine, lives in a midwestern (Galena, Ill) town with her 6-year-old daughter, Zoe. Josie, who arrived 5 years before totally broke and, on the run, but had the fortune of meeting Myra, who owned a mansion, and offered her a job. Now all these years later, Josie runs the historic tea
Josie Waterhill and her six-year-old daughter, Zoe have fled LA and ended up in a cozy Midwestern town right on the river. Josie can raise Zoe away from the violence of the life she once knew, and make a new home in the historic tea house where they’ve been invited to stay. Josie's elderly landlord, Myra has grown to love them and treat them like family. Josie finally feels safe and Zoe had begun school when a stranger shows up at the Tea Room. Myra welcomes him and allows him to say while he is ...more
Jul 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. You can purchase your copy here:
On sale now for $1.99.
We begin this book with Josie drying blueberries in the oven and we meet her six- year-old daughter, Zoe. The next thing we know, Josie is passing out and Carter is there to catch her. Myra comes in just in time.
Carter, a journalist shows up looking for more information regarding his grandfather. We quickly find out that Josie and Zoe have forged
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
Another winner by Debbie Burns!

Josie Pictures has grown up rough in LA. Her mother was an alcoholic more concerned about her next movie role, man and drink, not necessarily in any order, than she was about her children, Josie and Sam. Josie pretty much was the head of household by 8 years old, responsible for her younger brother Sam.

Josie's life gets more difficult as the years go on, and she is forced to run for her life. She eventually winds up in Galena, a small river-side town in the Midwest
Vikki Vaught
Thanks go to the publisher and Net-Galley for the electronic copy of Summer by the River by Debbie Burns. I voluntarily agreed to read and review this heartfelt story. My opinions are my own, and nothing has influenced them.

Summer by the River is quite different the other books I’ve read by Ms. Burns. The pacing pulled me in from the first page and kept my attention to the last. This amazing novel had a great deal of substances and plenty of deep emotion.

Josie Waterhill is an endearing heroine
Apr 30, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 2021-reads, arc
This book was such an unexpected surprise of a romance. There was a good amount of mystery for both main characters but Josie's really swept me away. I was trying to guess at the missing details of her whole story all the way up until it was truly revealed. With each new revelation I was surprised and excited to keep reading. One of my favorite characters was Zoe who was an extremely well written 6 year old. I think that sometimes authors find it difficult to create a three dimensional character ...more
Feb 19, 2021 rated it liked it
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Summer by the River is a bit different than what I expected. It’s categorized on NetGalley as romance, but I found the book more of a small-town women’s fiction with romantic and mystery elements.

The part that appealed to me the most was the mystery, what with a missing person and suspected murder during the Great Depression, and how that leads Carter to investigate the town and what ha
Shirley Frances
After reading the blurb, I was intrigued about Josie's story. This was a new-to-me author so I didn't know what to expect from the story and/or characters.

Josie and Carter's story was sweet with a bit of mystery and suspense thrown into the mix. Although the story started slow, I was still intrigued by Josie's story and was glad to discover her past and everything that it entailed. There were some moments when the story definitely dragged, especially in regards to the mystery Carter was investi
Lisa Malmquist
Mar 03, 2022 rated it it was ok
Josie Waterhill and daughter Zoe are making a new life in a small Midwestern town.
They have gotten away from the violence of the life they left behind.
Josie has found a home at the victorian style house/teahouse with Myra, the elderly owner.
One day a journalist, Carter O'Brien shows up looking into his family history.
He is there to find his own connections and possibly long lost stories. He is from New York and possibly looking for a change.
Josie is determined to keep her past in the past and no
Sharon Grow
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Josie Pictures and her brother Sam had a dysfunctional childhood and now Sam is gone. As Josie Waterhill, she and her six-year-old daughter, Zoe are living in Galena, Illinois. Working and living at the tea house is a much-needed escape from her past and a new life for them. Her employer and friend Myra, invites Carter O’Brien, a journalist, to stay at the house while he investigates the long-ago death of his grandfather, Myron. As secrets are revealed, Josie worries that she and Zoe are becomin ...more
Tina Hobbs Payne
Dec 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"The thing is, it's probably best to remember you're here for Myra I don't make friends easily. And I honestly don't want to. I like my life that way."

Josie made her position clear to Carter. Carter was here to delve into his family's history with the Tea Garden's owner, Myra. Josie was not going to get involved. With the story or with Carter. Josie has a history that she does not want found out. Having a writer around makes her nervous.

Carter came for some answers about his grandfather. What he
Feb 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Summer by the River by Debbie Burns is a feel-good story about Josie Waterhill, a single mother and her six-year-old daughter, Zoe who escape LA and the violence Josie grew up around. They end up in a quaint Midwestern town where they meet Myra Moore, owner of a historic tea house who invites them to stay. For five years, Josie has felt safe from her past until Myra invites a journalist to visit and encourages him to stay. However, Carter O’Brien is researching a missing person. Has he discovere ...more
Sep 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was expecting this book to be a quick read and a normal romance book - but it’s so much better than that! It is indeed a quick read despite its somewhat long length, but it’s definitely not a typical romance book. It almost crosses over into some other genres with the content at some points, and it’s absolutely got a much more satisfying outcome than others considering those extra elements to the story, although it does still have the normal happy ending you see in romances. It’s probably one ...more
Kathleen Gray
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
Josie and her little daughter Zoe have made a good safe life since moving to Galena, where they live with Myra. Then Carter comes to town in search of answers about hus grandfather, who went missing years ago. First Zoe then Josie find a pull toward Carter (and his pup) but Josie has a secret. No spoilers from me. SHe's worried, and rightfully so, that Carter will discover it and thus she pulls away from him. Readers know that these two are meant to be together so how do they get there? I wanted ...more
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
I’m not a huge romance reader but this book may have turned me into one. I really enjoyed how Debbie Burns put an aspect of suspense throughout the book and I didn’t see the major twist coming so much so I cried when it did!

Overall, Burns did a GREAT job in developing the characters and I loved how I could feel their emotions through the pages. I’m sad I finished the book and I don’t get anymore Zoe, Carter, Josie and of course all the adorable rescue animals. I did wish there was more towards
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Somebody to Love (Blessings, Georgia, #11)
  • The Best of Me (Blessings, Georgia, #13)
  • The View from Coral Cove: A Sweet Contemporary Romance
  • Sound of Darkness (Krewe of Hunters #36)
  • All Is Bright
  • The Honeymoon Cottage
  • The Getaway (Lake in the Clouds, #1)
  • Warm Nights in Magnolia Bay (Welcome to Magnolia Bay, #1)
  • Puppy Kisses (Forever Home #3)
  • Heart on a Leash (Hearts of Alaska #1)
  • The Family You Make (Sunrise Cove, #1)
  • Bride for A Day
  • Riverbend Reunion
  • When She Dreams (Burning Cove, #6)
  • Small Town Charm
  • Nightwork
  • Home Sweet Christmas (Wishing Tree, #2)
  • How Sweet It Is
See similar books…
Debbie Burns is a best-selling author who writes happily-ever-afters for her stories’ two- and four-legged stars. While her books have earned many awards and commendations, her favorite praise is from readers who’ve been inspired to adopt a pet in need from their local shelter.

Debbie lives in Saint Louis with her family, two thoroughly spoiled rescue dogs, and a ridiculously grumpy Maine Coon cat

News & Interviews

  With more than 5.7 million votes cast and counted, the 14th Annual Goodreads Choice Awards are now official. Launched in 2009,...
131 likes · 59 comments