Friday, May 5, 2023

Book Review: Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune


Pages: 336
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 2, 2023
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Every Summer After
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in Toronto. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn't. At thirty-two, Fern's life doesn't look at all how she once imagined it would. Instead of living in the city, Fern's back home, running her mother's Muskoka lakeside resort--something she vowed never to do. The place is in disarray, her ex-boyfriend's the manager, and Fern doesn't know where to begin. She needs a plan--a lifeline. To her surprise, it comes in the form of Will, who arrives nine years too late, with a suitcase in tow and an offer to help on his lips. Will may be the only person who understands what Fern's going through. But how could she possibly trust this expensive-suit wearing mirage who seems nothing like the young man she met all those years ago. Will is hiding something, and Fern's not sure she wants to know what it is. But ten years ago, Will Baxter rescued Fern. Can she do the same for him?"

Fern Brookbanks has grown up at the lakeside cottage resort on Canada's Lake Muskoka. Her single mother is a force who tries to do it all, including running the resort that was Fern's grandparents. It clearly means a lot to her mom who has given up a lot in her life to run it, but for Fern, it's always been a place that she wants to move on from. She doesn't want to end up here much to her mom's dismay. Fast forward many years later, Fern's mother dies tragically in a car accident and now the resort is Fern's. Fern has been living in Toronto helping to run a coffee shop; this wasn't in the plans. Upon her return, she reunites with her high school boyfriend, Jamie, who helps runs the resort--he loves it there, which Fern finds to be strange. There's also Peter, the resort's baker, and her mom's best friend as well as her best friend and new mom, Whitney. Then cue all the awkwardness when Will Baxter enters as a consultant to help the resort as it's struggling. Fern's mother hired Will, but what is most alarming is Fern knows Will. This sends her into a tailspin as he is *THE* Will who stood her up on their second date ten years ago after the best 24 hours spent with him in Toronto. Could things get any worse for Fern? Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune is part a coming-of-age story, part second chance romance, part beach read set at a picturesque lake resort. Fans of Fortune's Every Summer After will enjoy this escape to a lake resort filled with beautiful sunsets, canoe rides, happy hours on the porch, romance, and quaint lake side cottages.

Fern was my kind of character right from the start of Meet Me at the Lake. She wants so much more for her life than to work at her family's resort, but doesn't have to courage to tell her mom of her plans. That is until she spends a whirlwind of 24 hours with Will in Toronto. He changes her life - not only with their instant connection, but also with how he challenges and inspires her to not let life happen to her, but to truly live it. He begs her to question what does she want in life? Fern, after 24 hours, feels like she is in love, she has never met anyone like artistic Will. They make plans for a second date at her family's resort, but he never shows. She has never really got over it, as there was no closure. It's been the question that has hung over her for years.

Cue Will entering her life at resort 10 years later as a consultant. After her nervous breakdown about this, she realizes she not only will work with him to restore the resort and determine its future, but maybe she can get some answers to what exactly happened ten years ago. She also is wondering how someone so artistic would end up as a consultant. What happened to his art dreams? Slowly, Fern realizes their connection is still there...will she let him into her life again?

Meanwhile, the lake side resort setting was fantastic in Meet Me at the Lake. It reminded me a bit of the lodge in Dirty Dancing. I loved it! Between the happy hours on their porch, the resort dances, the restaurant, the canoe rides, sunsets, and the backdrop of the lake lapping the shores, I was smitten. I also loved the witty banter in this novel. If you enjoyed that about Every Summer After, you will be happy to hear this novel has it, too. I also think Fortune's then/now narrative works well as well as the snippets from her mom's diary, which fleshes out her mom's backstory. Lastly, Fortune covers some mental health issues in Meet Me at the Lake, which I appreciated and I think many people can relate to.

My only issue with Meet Me at the Lake was Will. He wasn't as swoon-worthy as I was hoping and some of his behavior was inexcusable despite his excuses. His codependency with his family really didn't work for me as a plausible excuse at this point in his life. He is letting his relationship with his sister really hold him back from living his own life.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed Meet Me at the Lake. It's a wonderful beach read that will have you cheering for Fern and Will's second chance romance. It also made me want to book a lake vacation stat. So, do you have plans to read Meet Me at the Lake? Are you a fan of Carley Fortune? Let me know in the comments.



  1. You have me intrigued as to what kept Will from keeping their date all those years ago!

    1. Yes! That aspect of the book definitely kept me flipping the pages. Thanks for visiting, Angela!


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