There’s a place for everything in this world—New York for theater, Paris for romance, even Roswell for alien sightings. And in Beth Kendrick’s charming new novel, Cure for the Common Breakup, there’s a perfect place for the brokenhearted—fictional Black Dog Bay, Delaware.
Flight attendant Summer Benson needs somewhere to nurse her aching heart, not to mention her battered ego. On the heels of a plane crash that left her physically scarred, it’s her emotional baggage that has apparently cost her one very attractive boyfriend, who dumps instead of proposes to her. When Summer learns about Black Dog Bay, she checks herself out of the hospital and into the Better Off Bed-and-Breakfast, where cell phones are confiscated by the inn’s owner—to prevent desperate late-night calls to the ex—and where bonfires to burn relationship relics are scheduled on a regular basis.
Summer’s life has always been more cautionary tale than fairy tale, despite her good looks and world travels, if only because she’s always cautioned herself not to love too deeply or for too long. Being the one left really stings, and Summer’s determined to spend her summer—and her savings, if necessary—among Black Dog Bay’s newly single population. Kendrick pulls out all the stops for the little shore town—the local bar is called The Whinery, and the Retail Therapy Boutique, the Jilted Café and the Rebound Salon are all close by. Even the roots of this haven for broken hearts run deep—the town’s founder was a wealthy society wife abandoned for a newer model way back in 1878.
But this is romance, of course, and it’s not surprising that Summer doesn’t stay single for long. What sets Cure for the Common Breakup apart is partly Summer’s good-natured snark and the fearless way she stands up to the town’s stiffest personalities, but it’s also Kendrick’s focus on female friendship. For the first time, Summer has pals she can count on—and this time they’re counting on her, too, not just for a good time, but for the sake of Black Dog Bay.
Each of the characters is sharply drawn, especially Hattie Huntington, the town’s oldest, richest and meanest resident, who hires Summer as an unlikely paid companion. Dutch Jansen, the town mayor and the object of Summer’s affection, is another win—rugged and handsome, civic-minded and responsible, but as sexy as they come when it’s time to get close. His teenage sister, Ingrid, is another of the novel’s highlights, and her relationship with Summer is laugh-out-loud funny while it explores the bonds of sisterhood.
What begins as another light, funny tale about a jilted woman deepens into a novel that explores what it really means to love (this may or may not involve running over your boyfriend’s roses), but it never loses its sense of humor along the way. Maybe the most touching aspect is the origin story of the black dog itself, a metaphor that often stands for depression. For Summer Benson and the residents of this delightful shore town, the dog is all part of the cure.
Amy Garvey is a freelance editor and also the author of several romances and two novels for young adults.