Summer in the City by Irene Vartanoff

SITC WEB PROMO largeMy First Women’s Fiction Novel

Summer in the City was a huge surprise to me. I didn’t set out to be an author of women’s fiction. I had just completed my very first novel, Temporary Superheroine, a superhero adventure. I decided to enter a writing challenge from New Zealand, the Southern Cross. The goal was to write 50,000 words in June, but I wrote 105,000 words. Summer in the City simply poured out of me.

When I got the idea for Summer in the City, I’d recently been binge-watching Sex and the City. That TV show reminded me of the pleasure and excitement of living in a big city when young, ambitious, and seeking romance. But instead of writing a story about a young woman experiencing the city and romance for the first time, I decided to write about three older women who were reuniting in the city for a summer after many years apart, a summer that would become a pivotal moment in their romantic lives.

Why do that? By creating three Baby Boomer characters, I could tell the stories of three women who had chosen very different paths in life, who had very different personalities, and whose future choices might be very different, too. My characters had decided attitudes derived from their life experiences.

My main character, Susan, has lived a conventional married life in the suburbs, or so it seems, but she’s suffered a major personal tragedy, the loss of a child. During her summer in the city, she wants to forget the past and live her dream of working for a romance publisher as a senior intern. She intends to enjoy shopping and decorating an apartment, and experience the cultural life of a big city. She’s very surprised to find herself romantically involved with a younger man.

My dedicated city character, Rona, has all the sophistication and smarts one expects from a big city successful professional woman, and she is unapologetic about the men who come and go in her life. But the renewal of her long-ago love affair brings up feelings she has shut away for decades. Suddenly, Rona’s emotional equilibrium is at risk, and her increasing habits of hoarding and drinking are tested.

My surprise third character, Bev, is a catalyst who sees life differently from both Susan and Rona. Although Bev at first comes across as a self-centered troublemaker, she’s an interesting person because she’s loyal to those she loves and she’s a fighter on principle despite her crassly materialistic approach to life.

Writing Summer in the City was a labor of love, but I was daunted by an early critic who claimed it was a kitchen sink novel best forgotten. Although I revised the story heavily, working hard to improve it, I shelved it, thinking perhaps that critic had been correct. Recently, I reread my story. It made me smile. It’s a wonderful, warm tale about the possibilities of life. I think many women will relate to my characters and sigh over their summer of renewed hopes.


Somehow, their relationship had leaped past the light, getting-to-know-you moments. They had to drag it back and do them anyway. They hardly knew each other.

He’d gotten her hand in his again. He tugged it a little, pulling her from her bleak thoughts. “Have we fully enjoyed basking in the company of the literati of Gotham?”

She looked up at him, shaken again by how much she wanted to rend the fabric that they had so carefully rebuilt this evening. After a second, she nodded. She didn’t want their evening to end so soon, but she wasn’t ready for it to end in a bed, either.

Michael didn’t disappoint her. “Let’s find somewhere we can talk, a café where we can order food we don’t want and nurse glasses of wine we won’t drink.”

“We’ll talk until the waiters are cleaning up and wanting to go home,” she smiled, getting into the spirit of the thing.

“After they kick us out we’ll walk through Rockefeller Center like tourists.”

“We can even hail a hansom cab and drive through the park,” she suggested. It was the classic tourist ending to a night on the town.

He smiled again, a light in his eyes, “We’d better get started.” He put his arm around her and led her toward the exit.

It happened exactly as they imagined. They spent hours getting to know each other at a little Italian trattoria. Michael seemed very interested in everything she had to say. Not only was it flattering, but it also boosted her self-confidence. She felt she sparkled conversationally.

They walked to Rockefeller Center and wandered through the parklike promenade with its tiny white lights decorating the greenery, where they stopped to talk some more.

Then they did hop into one of the smelly open air horse-drawn vehicles that plied the tourist trade around the southeast corner of Central Park. They laughed a lot during that ride. Later, they took a cab downtown. When it pulled up at her apartment building, she sighed. She never wanted this night to end.

They both climbed out and went to her steps. Michael put his arm around her, something he had not done during their long cab ride. She looked up at him and saw an expression that mirrored her own.
Irene VartanoffBIO

Award-winning author Irene Vartanoff combined her love of romances and comic books by working for Marvel Comics and DC Comics as well as Harlequin, Bantam, Berkley, and My Her first superhero adventure novel, Temporary Superheroine, was quickly followed by a sequel, Crisis at Comicon. Her first sweet contemporary romance novel, Captive of the Cattle Baron, has a sequel coming soon. More women’s fiction novels are in the works.


Summer in the City is available at Amazon at

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