By Susan Wiggs
Series: The Lakeshore Chronicles #11
Publication Date: 8/25/2015
My Rating: 5 Stars
#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs sweeps readers away to a sun-drenched summer on the shores of Willow Lake in a stunning tale of the delicate ties that bind a family together…and the secrets that tear them apart
When caregiver Faith McCallum arrives at the enchanted lakeside estate of Avalon's renowned Bellamy family, she's intent on rebuilding her shattered life and giving her two daughters a chance at a better future. But she faces a formidable challenge in the form of her stubborn and difficult new employer, Alice Bellamy. While Faith proves a worthy match for her sharp-tongued client, she often finds herself at a loss for words in the presence of Mason Bellamy—Alice's charismatic son, who clearly longs to escape the family mansion and return to his fast-paced, exciting life in Manhattan…and his beautiful, jet-setting fiancée.
The last place Mason wants to be is a remote town in the Catskills, far from his life in the city, and Faith McCallum is supposed to be the key to his escape. Hiring the gentle-hearted yet strong-willed caregiver as a live-in nurse gives his mother companionship and Mason the freedom to return to his no-attachments routine. For Faith, it means stability for her daughters and a much-needed new home. When Faith makes a chilling discovery about Alice's accident, Mason is forced to reconsider his desire to keep everyone, including his mother, at a distance. Now he finds himself wondering if the supercharged life he's created for himself is what he truly wants…and whether exploring his past might lead to a new life—and lasting love—on the tranquil shores of Willow Lake.
About the Author
Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends...and fiction. She lives at the water's edge on an island in Puget Sound, and she commutes to her writers' group in a 17-foot motorboat. She serves as author liaison for Field's End, a literary community on Bainbridge Island, Washington, bringing inspiration and instruction from the world's top authors to her seaside community. (See www.fieldsend.org) She's been featured in the national media, including NPR's "Talk of the Nation," and is a popular speaker locally and nationally.
According to Publishers Weekly, Wiggs writes with "refreshingly honest emotion," and the Salem Statesman Journal adds that she is "one of our best observers of stories of the heart [who] knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every book." Booklist characterizes her books as "real and true and unforgettable." She is the recipient of three RITA (sm) awards and four starred reviews from Publishers Weekly for her books. The Winter Lodge and Passing Through Paradise have appeared on PW’s annual "Best Of" lists. Several of her books have been listed as top Booksense picks and optioned as feature films. Her novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have made national bestseller lists, including the USA Today, Washington Post and New York Times lists.
The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. Website Twitter Goodreads
A special thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A huge long-time faithful fan of talented Susan Wiggs, and her captivating Lakeshore Chronicles Series-- having read all the books in the series, her latest, STARLIGHT ON WILLOW LAKE (Lakeshore Chronicles #11) is by far, my favorite—lots of scandalous secrets, intriguing characters, and life lessons!
With the popular TV Hallmark series adaption of Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove series, and the new and upcoming Sherryl Woods, Chesapeake Series, I have my fingers crossed,Susan Wigg’s Lakeshore Chronicles Series will be next in line-- centered on this idyllic town of Avalon's Willow Lake, a remote lakeside town in the much loved Catskills, featuring the exciting Bellamy family and friends.
Meet the characters:
Faith McCallum, in her early thirties, widowed, a home care nurse and caretaker; raising a teenage daughter and a younger daughter with diabetes. She spent years taking care of her mother, her husband, and now her daughters. She cannot catch a break. She is currently being evicted, due to the past hospital bills from her husband’s diabetes, and loss of her job. She fights everyday to keep her family afloat, while looking for a new job. Best of all, with all her tragedies, she maintains a great attitude.
Alice Bellamy, now a paraplegic, is a miserable rich woman. After multiple surgeries, drug therapies, and intensive rehab, Alice had agreed to move to Avalon to settle into her new life as a widow and a quadriplegic, determined to find what independence she could, a few hours by train from New York City.
A former successful athlete, businesswoman, community leader, wife and mother; full of life-now shattered. With her spinal injury, she would never walk again--much less ski, salsa dance, cliff dive, run a triathlon, or even drive a car--she had raged against her fate. She has fired all her caretakers, with her negative attitude and sharp tongue. Everyone is afraid of her and no one wants to be around her. She has lost her husband in a skiing avalanche accident, and left her without any way to do anything on her own. She also has recently discovered secrets within her marriage, and she no longer has her independence, or her will to go on. She has lost complete control of her own life.
Mason Bellamy, Alice’s oldest son, is a successful man, wealthy, and smart, living in Manhattan with a stunning fiancée. He takes care of all the finances of his mother, and has set her up in Avalon, equipping her home, with a full staff, and environment with everything she could ever need; except his time.
When Alice’s daughter, Ivy has to leave for Paris, and her younger son, Adam has to go away for a firefighter’s mission training, Mason has to leave Manhattan to return to Willow Lake, to help with his mother’s care until they hire a new live in nurse and caretaker. He has spent his entire life since age seventeen escaping his mother. He feels guilty he knew the secret of his parent’s past.
Cara McCallum, a teen who is smart, intelligent, and a hard worker, yet she is aware she cannot dream of driving, getting a car, going to college, or other dreams, due to their financial situation. She does not have the means to expect clothes and material possessions.
Roby McCallum, younger sister, a diabetic, is smart, funny, and lights up a room. However, she has many fears to overcome. Alice may be the one person who can help her, while helping herself in the meantime.
As the book opens, we see Faith and her girls struggling, near being homeless; on the way to the interview with Alice and Mason Bellamy—when she discovers an accident and being the altruistic person she is, she stops to help a victim of a motorcycle accident, and is late for her interview. She helps save his life, and Mason witnesses a demonstration of her tenacity and skills.
Faith, and her funny, witty, and heartwarming daughters may just be what the doctor ordered for Alice, and for Mason. As the past and the present connect, these two families from different financial status, and walks of life, may be the perfect match for rebuilding, renewal, facing old fears, while gaining newfound courage and purpose to move on to an exciting future. Each person receives a gift from the other, creating a bond, closer than family.
As most of my book friends and followers are aware, I am typically not a huge fan of women’s fiction, romance, or chick-lit, as lean more towards crime, suspense, legal thrillers, or historical/literary fiction. However, there are a select number of contemporary authors, such as Susan, I always place at the top of my list, and anxiously await the next in the series.
If you have read any of Susan’s books, you are aware, they are not fluff and all feel good. They are rich in character, diversity, travel, and delve into social issues, emotions, and struggles of family and daily contemporary lives ---with suspense, intrigue, and sometimes a budding romance, despite all odds.
Fans of Luanne Rice, Jodi Picoult, and Emilie Richards will be drawn to Susan’s style and talent for a complex, yet inspiring tale of strong women, overcoming fears, facing the past, and the ability to allow others inside their hearts for much-needed change; leaving room for exciting new ventures. A great mix of characters (loved Faith, Alice, Cara, and Ruby)! Being a total wanderlust, I always enjoy Susan's books, filled with adventure, travel, music, art, culture; exotic, intelligent, and intriguing characters and settings--making for an ideal book club discussion.
While STARLIGHT ON WILLOW LAKE can be read as a standalone, recommend reading all of the books in this suspenseful series, rich in character and charm. Always love catching up with familiar characters. An inspiring and beautiful journey of self-discovery (for those with disabilities, caregivers, friends or families), of love, and healing.
A compelling tale, a romance, and one which will leave you awaiting the next group of characters, drawing you back to the captivating unspoiled Willow Lake, and the picture perfect storybook setting.
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