Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Summer at Willow Lake (The Lakeshore Chronicles)
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on August 1, 2006
Olivia Bellamy decides to spend her summer renovating Camp Kioga, the resort camp that has been in the family for over 3 generations. Her grandparents plan to celebrate their 50th anniversary by "renewing their vows" at the camp where they had first met, but since the camp has been closed for the last nine years it needs an "extreme makeover" before it can host such a huge family event. Olivia is reluctant to accept the job at first, because she spent all of her summers growing up there, and they were not happy memories. But after being dumped by her third fiance, she is overwhelmed with the need to get out of Manhattan, and away from her disappointed parents. Returning to Camp Kioga brings back many uncomfortable memories of her childhood growing up an overweight "smart mouthed" kid, with thick glasses and no friends ... no friends except for her older cousins, and one very handsome boy who was as unhappy and lonely as she was. His name was Connor Davis, and on Olivia's very first day back at the old camp, she finds out that he is the only building contractor available in town. Even though she loved Connor growing up, Olivia is not anxious to see him again, because he broke her heart when she was eighteen, the summer before she started college. When Connor arrives at camp to give a renovation estimate, he sees a beautiful, slender blonde, hanging from a flag pole. He doesn't realize that she is his childhood friend "Lolly", because Olivia Bellamy has changed quite a lot in the last several years...

This story goes back and forth between "present day" camp renovation, and Olivia's childhood memories of camp, (and a few memories from her parents' generation), but it does not distract from the story at all. It's a really good story, and the book was a joy to read from beginning to end. This is one of Susan Wiggs' best written books, and I find it very similar in style to many of family sagas written by Nora Roberts.
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on September 5, 2007
First, this is more like a 2.5 than a 3 star book for me.

When I first started this story about a woman who is trying to get her life on track after her third serious relationship falls apart through no reason she can understand, I was interested. I liked the flashbacks to the camp, I liked her best friend, I liked her. I was willing to believe that this book deserved its RITA nomination. It was solidly entertaining, which is all I ever look for in my romance novels.

Somewhere along the way, I lost interest. Was it when I realized that her best friend was too awesome for her? That was a little early in the book. Was it when I began to think that her first boyfriend and new love interest was not so much a bad boy as a kind of lame man? Again, that was a little early. Was it when I realized I was following multiple love stories, solving a mystery about the main character's father, and watching a set up for future books? YEP. That's exactly where I lost interest in this whole thing.

This was my introduction to Susan Wiggs, and I found it both lackluster and slightly overwhelming. Was I supposed to care about all of the Bellamys? I know why romance novelists set up their series nowadays, and feel the need to revisit old characters from previous novels, but some days, I just want to read a standalone. I don't care about the future books or the past books. It's as hard to find a standalone romance as it is to find a single book in a fantasy series. WHY, authors, WHY? I know the answer is money, but, consider your readers.

If you like series, and you're ready to dive into them, and you love the idea of fake 'bad boys', perhaps you'll like this book. I just kept wondering why the main character didn't get together with her best friend who seemed like a way more awesome choice.
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on March 2, 2011
I liked the idea of this book--that the heroine would return to the family's summer camp to renovate it, and at the same time face and overcome her painful memories as a camper and counselor there. But somewhere along the way, the story bogged down for me. I think the author tried to incorporate too many story lines and too many characters, which made it difficult to keep them all straight or even care about them. (The book's afterword invites the reader to look for more books in the "Lakeshore Chronicles" series, which explains why the author included so many extra characters but doesn't make it any more acceptable.) I thought the author's characterizations were all over the map and--maybe because she was juggling so many story lines--I never felt like I saw the characters' relationships changing and growing. Instead, the author told us that weeks had passed, that work had been done, and that relationships had changed and deepened. And even when the author did try to show us meaningful moments in the characters' lives, their reactions did not ring true to me--maybe because they all seemed to be walking-talking incarnations of Sociology 101 case studies: kids of divorce, biracial children, children of alcoholics, etc. It didn't help that the dialog was often stilted and somtimes descended into Oprah-speak: "You and Max are just beginning this journey. I wish I could spare you the pain and confusion you're bound to feel, but that isn't how divorce works." People don't talk that way. Ultimately, the book had some moving moments and I did finish it, but I sure won't be looking for the next book in this series.
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on May 3, 2007
I enjoy Ms. Wiggs' books, but this was a disappointment. It was fairly long and I did finish it, but kept waiting for something to happen. Nothing ever did. It was hinted that Connor "did time," but that led to nothing and there was absolutely nothing noteworthy happening. It seemed like merely a prelude to another book (which it was). There was no mystery, no danger...nothing worth writing a book about. As another reviewer stated, the end was obvious from page one.
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on July 7, 2011
I have already read one of Susan Wigg's books which I found slow; I had to skip many pages to finish it. I decided to give Summer at Willow Lake a chance because it had good reviews, so I thought maybe the first book was just a fluke. Unfortunately it was not.

At the end of page 16 you have the first encounter between Lolly and Conner. The book seemed to have a good start, but I started to get bored around page 80 so I thought I would skip ahead to find out when the next meeting of Lolly and Conner would occur. It does not happen until page 156. Sorry, when I read a romance I need the couple to interact (good or bad) more than every 150 pages. I am certainly okay with an author introducing other characters, but they should not take precedence over the developing romance. Susan Wigg's just does not have her main love interest characters interact often enough for me. I don't plan on reading any more of Susan Wigg's books, they just frustrate me.
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on February 24, 2013
I was so disappointed when I read "Summer at Willow Lake". I've read and enjoyed several of Susan Wiggs novels, so I expected more of this book. I'm afraid to say that I had to force myself to keep reading it, and to finish it! That it kept going back and forth from the present to the past was hard to follow. And I really wish that the author didn't feel the need to use the "f-word" in it. The bad boy who really wasn't a bad boy was not very convincing, either. Also, I am no prude, but it really seemed tacky and in poor taste that she kept writing about "hard ons", and referred to them as "shwing"! Tacky! I will not be reading more books in this series!
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on August 1, 2006
Read this while traveling to Virginia. What a great start for this new series Lakeshore Chronicles. The main characters are beliveable and have SUCH chemistry. The present and past narratives add much to the story. Thank you Susan for another terrific read. Anxious for the next installment.
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on May 18, 2012
Wow, that was pretty awful. Too many storylines that contained too many characters with WAY too many emotional issues. Heck, even the dog had emotional issues.

This book contained tons of flashbacks but they weren't cohesive. Instead of giving fuel to the story they would put on the breaks because the timing would be off. Characters that were given a lot of attention in the beginning were suddenly dropped and many key points brought up were left totally undeveloped.

When the hero/heroine finally (and quickly) came together at the very end it was with terrible lackluster. The "Big Secret" about what happened to them as teen sweethearts (which had been alluded to throughout the book) was such a lame bust. It didn't help that it was given maybe a paragraph out of this entire drawn-out and choppy story.

The only nice thing I can think to say is that when the author wrote about the kids in camp, it was at least somewhat interesting as she did capture childhood angst quite well. It's when she wrote about them as adults that it was so very, very boring.
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on April 8, 2011
This was one of the most boring books I've ever read. I liked the hero and the heroine but there were just too many secondary characters. Too many flash backs and not enough romance. It was my 1st Susan Wiggs book and it will probably be my last. I don't know what possessed me to buy this book because I usually read Romantic Suspense. What a disappointment.
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on January 20, 2011
This was my first introduction to Susan Wiggs and I'm not usually a reader of the romance genre. This book was offered for free for the Kindle (perhaps as a teaser for future books in the series?) and the description intrigued me (and the price was right). I found this to be an enjoyable read on a rainy weekend. Having attended camp as a kid (Camp Oweki and Camp Inisfree), I was transported back to the dining hall, the lake, hiking, swimming, canoeing, etc. This certainly helped set the stage for my enjoyment of those parts of the book --- but also to some of my dissatisfaction with the book.

Ms. Wiggs' description style was distracting. Or perhaps I was just disappointed in the things that she chose to describe ad nauseum. Some of those passages would have benefited from a tighter editor. Additionally, the slipping back and forth between the past and present was a bit disconcerting at first as it distracted me from the storyline with having to get my bearings, re-establish what was going on during that time, and I found myself doing some math to figure out the characters ages, when events occurred, etc.

As with most books in this genre, it is fairly apparent early on what the final outcome will be, and the journey is in how an author gets them to the place where we all know we're headed. I enjoyed most of the character development, but did feel distracted by many of the characters that at the time seemed to be introduced for the sole purpose of appearing in future books in the series with no resolution of their part in this story. I know that there is more to all of them that what we were given, but from visiting Ms. Wiggs web page <susanwiggs.com> it appears that only a few of the characters from Willow Lake are featured in future books (there is a list of books in choronological order available for download).

After reviewing the chronological list of books from Ms. Wiggs' web site, I see that a few of the characters carry over from this book. However, none of the ones featured are characters in which I am interested! I will probably check the next in the series out of the library rather than purchase it to read --- and even then, I think I'm only interested in Winter Lodge because of the hint at Polish recipes! ;-)

Interestingly, when I first started this review I thought that Willow Lake was a four-star book. However, after writing the review and reading what I've written, I moved it down to a 3 . . . it's not a bad book, but I'm not sure (for me) that it's a four.
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