Book Review: Smile Like You Mean It by S.J. McCoy 2


Smile Like You Mean It

By S.J. McCoy




Renée Nichols returned to Summer Lake because she had nowhere left to turn. Her marriage, the charity she spent her life building, her entire life—they were all shattered when her husband was arrested. She’s getting by, even if barely standing on her own two feet. She has a job, even if it’s not the greatest. She has her childhood home to live in, even if it’s barely livable.

Gabe Morgan is back in town, too—even if he’s only visiting. Every time she gets around him her heart rate and her temperature soar, but that’s just her overactive imagination, isn’t it? He might be even hotter now than he was in high school, but he’s still the town’s golden boy. He’s the town doctor’s son, she’s the town drunk’s daughter. He’s one of life’s good guys, he’ll help her out because it’s what he does. But that’s all.

Gabe Morgan has been spending as much time as he can back in Summer Lake—though he couldn’t tell you why. He’s a partner in a successful firm of trial attorneys in New York City. He’s gone out and conquered the world as he always knew he would. So why is it every time he comes home to the lake, he feels like a failure? He’s achieved so much, but he hasn’t found happiness.

Running into Renée again has made him question everything. She told him that love, family, and happiness are the most important things in life. He’s starting to agree—but will she be the one to help him find them?

The Summer Lake contemporary romance series follows a group of friends from a small lakeside town in the California hills. They have kept in touch over the years and now, in their early thirties, their lives are drawing them back to Summer Lake and to each other.

This book is intended for adult readers 18+


My Rating:

4.5 hearts


Favorite Quotes:


“You got lucky there Uncle Gabe, but you almost blew it!  You’d better let me teach you about girls if you want Miss Renee to be your girlfriend.”


“I’ve been telling you for ten years Wade.  I have no interest in that package of yours.  And besides, I’m sure it must be almost worn out from overuse by now. “


“I’ve been searching all the time for this ever elusive meaning and purpose.  I get it now, what greater meaning and purpose could there be, than love and family and happiness?”



My Review:


I adore Summer Lake and would love to live there, socialize with my favorite characters and visit the resort.  Smile Like You Mean It presented a more intense and angsty read than previous books in the series – due to the rigidity, pride, and stubbornness of the main character.  However, I trusted Ms. McCoy to get me to my highly desired sweet HEA ending, and as always – she came through for me with flying colors.  I continue to admire her craft and skill, and revel in the interweaving of previously spotlighted characters into each story.  I could, and hopefully will, continue to check in on them with subsequent volumes as long as this talented author keeps gracing us with them.  S.J. McCoy rates as one of my all-time favorite go-to authors, and I will never tire of this series.


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Each Summer Lake Romance can be read as a stand alone book – no cliff hangers here! Each book contains one couple’s story. However, they are best read in order to get full enjoyment of the underlying story and friendships.

Book 1: Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt Emma and Jack
Book 2: Work Like You Don’t Need the Money – Pete and Holly
Book 3: Dance Like Nobody’s Watching – Missy and Dan
Book 4: Fly Like You’ve Never Been Grounded – Smoke and Laura
Book 5: Laugh Like You’ve Never Cried – Michael and Megan
Book 6: Sing Like Nobody’s Listening – Kenzie and Chase
Book 7: Smile Like You Mean It – Gabe and Renee


About the Author


Goodreads author page  website

Amazon author page


Hi, I’m SJ. A coffee addict, lover of chocolate and drinker of good red wines. I’m a lost soul and a hopeless romantic. Reading and writing are necessary parts of who I am. Though perhaps not as necessary as coffee! I can drink coffee without writing, but I can’t write without coffee.

I grew up loving romance novels, my first boyfriends were book boyfriends, but life intervened, as it tends to do, and I wandered down the paths of non fiction for many years. My life changed completely a couple of years ago and I returned to Romance to find my escape.

I write ‘Sweet N Steamy’ stories because to me there is enough angst and darkness in real life. My favorite romances are happy escapes with a focus on fun, friendships and happily-ever-afters, just like the ones I write.

These days I live in beautiful Montana, the last best place. If I’m not reading or writing you’ll find me just down the road in the park – Yellowstone. I have deer, eagles and the occasional bear for company, and I like it that way :0)





2 thoughts on “Book Review: Smile Like You Mean It by S.J. McCoy

  1. Reply joselynburke Dec 26,2015 2:33 pm

    sounds like a nice drama and romance book

  2. Reply Anita Dec 26,2015 2:58 pm

    Oh, this one sounds like a cute, sweet story! I may have to check this series out!

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