Series: Lakeshore Chronicles #1
Published by MIRA on August 1, 2006
Source: Purchased, Audible
Narrator: Joyce Bean
Length: 12 hours, 48 minutes
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Olivia Bellamy has traded her trendy Manhattan life for a summer renovating her family's crumbling holiday resort. Tempted by the hazy, nostalgic memories of summers past - childhood innocence and the romance and rivalries of her teens - it's the perfect place to flee after her broken engagement. But what began as an escape may just be a new beginning...As Olivia uncovers secrets buried thick with dust, one by one her family return, their lives as frayed at the edges as the resort.
I loved this book. Summer at Willow Lake is the beginning of a series of family saga stories with a lot of time spent focusing on the main characters, there is also much (maybe equal?) page time given to introducing the secondary cast for future installments.
In this case, the entire extended Bellamy family gathers at Camp Kioga in rural New York. The Bellamy family has owned the camp for years and years, but it has not been operational in a long time. Olivia Bellamy, with her career in staging homes for real estate sales, has been asked by her grandmother to fix up the camp so she and her husband can renew their vows for their 50th wedding anniversary. Olivia and her assistant move to the camp and get started on the work right away, inviting the entire family to come stay and help out because the job is so big. After Olivia arrives, it turns out that one of the locals that she hires to help is Connor Davis.
Olivia and Connor know one another from way back when they were both young campers at Camp Kioga. Over the course of several summers, the two grew quite close. Then a Big Major Event happened that split them up and they haven’t crossed paths since. Naturally, working together will bring up those friendship/love feelings that they had in the past, and maybe the two will work through what happened so they can have a relationship in the present…all while we (the readers) find out the backstories of the rest of the cast.
So, I loved this. I love these types of series. I LOVE the relationships between the siblings and cousins and the entire family, and I love second chance romances. And I love small-town romance with a lakeside setting. All of these things are present in this book. That – along with “summer” in the title – is what drew me to this one at this particular time.
It took a little while to get the reason Olivia and Connor had such a bad parting many years ago, but the development of their newfound relationship was nice while I waited. I love that these two come from very different backgrounds and are able to look beyond that. Much of this story is told in flashbacks and there are multiple POVs. I’m excited for several of the upcoming installments because I liked certain characters so much. Actually, I’m surprised at how much I liked Olivia; I sometimes find the female characters in books like these to be less interesting than the male leads for one reason or another. But I liked both Olivia and Connor very much.
I’m curious to see what happens with the rest of these characters over the course of the Lakeshore Chronicles series, and I’m hoping for more of this lakeside setting because I liked it so much.
The Summer at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs audiobook is 12 hours, 48 minutes, Unabridged and published by Brilliance Audio. The audiobook narrator is Joyce Bean. When I look at audiobook reviews, I see pretty mixed reviews for this narrator. I think she was okay but it feels like a little bit of overacting with the male voices – they’re noticeable to me where I really forgot I was listening to a narrator at other parts. I loved listening to this book in the evenings during my kids’ exams and last week of school; it was like completely de-stressing before I went to bed each night. I already have the audiobooks for much of this series already in my audio library, so I’ll be listening while I alternate reading with my paperback copies.