Summer At Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Olivia Bellamy is a talented "fluffer" of real estate, but her eye for design doesn't transfer to her romantic life, and once again she has chosen poorly when it comes to men. She has been expecting a proposal, not another disillusionment, and when the ax falls, she takes her grandmother up on a summer-long job offer to escape the city and lick her metaphorical wounds. Olivia is tasked with getting Camp Kioga, the family's former summer camp, rehabilitated in time for her grandparents' 50th wedding celebration. Problem is, the only local contractor available turns out to be the very same man who broke her heart when they were teenage counselors at the camp ten years ago.
Connor Davis isn't quite the Bad Boy he likes to let people think he is. He has built a successful business and plans to build his dream home on a piece of property he bought. But dream homes cost money, so he takes the job at Camp Kioga not realizing that "Olivia" is the same person as "Lolly," his former best friend and the love of his life. He never told her what really happened all those years ago, so he's got a steep hill to climb to win her trust again.
This is the first installment in the Lakeshore Chronicles series, and it's interesting how many subplots/secondary characters end up getting novels of their own later. Ms. Wiggs does a good job of laying the groundwork early. Of course, part of the reason I know that is that I accidentally read this book fourth, or so, instead of first. I'm not sure how that happened, as I hate reading series out of order, and I've owned a copy of this book for so long, I no longer recall when/where/how I came to have it on my nightstand.
As with most, if not all(?), the other books in this series, this tale is non-linear in chronology, slowly doling out information to readers, while the main characters know most of what happened all those years (and even decades) ago. I like this style better in the other books where the characters are more often learning alongside the reader what really happened at crucial junctures in the past. This volume would have been better had the revelations occurred more quickly, in my opinion. As it was, I sometimes grew tired of Olivia's repetitive insecurity--by the age of 27, you'd think at least some of that would have worn off, especially when her business became so popular and she lost the weight she'd gained in adolescence. It's a good beach read, but lacks the depth of later books in the series.
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, character secondary. There are a couple of sex scenes, but they're not particularly explicit, as well as some inner dialogue (monologues?) of horny adolescents. Some mild swearing on occasion as well.
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