Summer at Willow Lake

Summer at Willow Lake

4.0 226
by Susan Wiggs, Joyce Bean

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs explores the many facets of love and friendship in Summer at Willow Lake, where family ties clash with family secrets during long, hazy days and hot, languid nights…

Renovating her family's once-posh resort is a labor of love for Olivia Bellamy. When duty calls, she forgoes a fast-paced Manhattan


#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs explores the many facets of love and friendship in Summer at Willow Lake, where family ties clash with family secrets during long, hazy days and hot, languid nights…

Renovating her family's once-posh resort is a labor of love for Olivia Bellamy. When duty calls, she forgoes a fast-paced Manhattan summer for the Catskills retreat, where her grandparents want everyone together for one last gathering of family and friends.

But the camp is in disarray, and reclaiming its lost greatness seems beyond Olivia. Forced to hire contractor Connor Davis, she is caught between her irritation at his laid-back attitude and a still-smoldering flame for the man arising from her own summers at camp. As the days grow warm, not even the inviting blue waters of Willow Lake can cool the passions flaring between them—or keep her family's shocking secrets at bay.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The latest contemporary from Wiggs (Table for Five) is a quiet, character-based romance set at the Catskills camp that Olivia Bellamy is renovating for her grandparents' 50th anniversary. Helping out is contractor Connor Davis, who initially doesn't recognize Olivia as the girl whose heart he broke a decade before at the very same camp. Now, both hold grudges against the other that hide their insecurities; although he's become successful and sophisticated, Connor believes Olivia's social status puts her out of his league, while Olivia remains buried in her awkward-little-fat-girl memories. The narrative switches off between present-day action and the summers Olivia and Connor spent at Camp Kioga, filling in the spaces of their relationship with each other and with their dysfunctional families. Wiggs's storytelling is heartwarming, but avoids schmaltz, and her chick-lit-ready leads seem older than their 20-some years, adding weight to their stories. Happily clutter free-no subplots to take attention away from the intelligent, appealing couple-this book, first in a series, should appeal to romance and women's fiction readers of any age. (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Susan Wiggs paints the details of human relationships with the finesse of a master."

-Jodi Picoult

"Wiggs's storytelling is heartwarming... clutter free... [for] romance and women's fiction readers of any age."

--Publishers Weekly

"Wiggs's talent is reflected in her thoroughly believable characters as well as the way she recognizes the importance of family by blood or other ties."

--Library Journal

"Susan Wiggs writes with bright assurance, humor and compassion."

--Luanne Rice

"Wonderfully evoked characters, a spellbinding story line, and insights into the human condition will appeal to every reader."

--Booklist on Summer at Willow Lake

"An emotionally gripping tale centered on family. Wiggs is in top form."

-Booklist on The Summer Hideaway

"With the ease of a master, Wiggs introduces complicated, flesh-and-blood characters...a refreshingly honest romance."

--Publishers Weekly on The Winter Lodge [starred review]

"Emotionally intense."

Booklist on The Winter Lodge

"Wiggs is at the top of her game here, combining a charming setting with subtly shaded characters and more than a touch of humor. This is the kind of book a reader doesn't want to see end but can't help devouring as quickly as possible."

--RT Book Reviews [Top Pick] on Snowfall at Willow Lake

"Rich with life lessons, nod-along moments and characters with whom readers can easily relate.... Delightful and wise, Wiggs's latest shines."

--Publishers Weekly

Product Details

Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
Lakeshore Chronicles Series, #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.12(d)

Read an Excerpt

Welcome to Camp Kioga

Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, "America’s greatest contribution to the world is the summer camp." Anyone who visits Camp Kioga discovers this for himself. Camp Kioga is a place where dreams still live and breathe, where you can dive into the crystalline waters of a pristine lake, hike to a mountaintop and lift your eyes to heaven, gaze into the brightly glowing embers of a campfire at night, and imagine all that life has in store for you.

Camp Kioga Rules

Camp Kioga flies three flags -- the official camp flag, and the flags of the state of New York and the United States -- which are raised each morning at sunrise and saluted by all campers at reveille. When flags are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the right of the flag of the United States. When the flag is half masted, both flags are half masted, with the U.S. flag at the midpoint and the other flags below.


Olivia Bellamy tried to decide what was worse. Being trapped at the top of a flagpole with no help in sight, or having help arrive in the form of a Hells Angel.

Her plan to raise the flags over Camp Kioga for the first time in ten years had seemed so simple. Then the cable and pulley snagged, but Olivia was undaunted. She had set up an old aluminum ladder and climbed to the top, only to discover she still couldn’t reach the snag. Shinnying up the pole was no big deal, she told herself -- until she accidentally kicked over the ladder.

You idiot, she thought, hugging the pole for dear life. It was a long way down, and this was not exactly the Batpole. The galvanized steel was old and corroded, and if she slid down, she’d rip the skin from her hands and inner thighs.

She had just begun to inch toward the ground when a loud snort of unmuffled exhaust sounded from the road. She was so startled that she nearly let go of the pole. Instinctively, she clung tighter and shut her eyes. Go away, she thought. I can’t deal with whoever you are right now.

The blast of the engine grew louder, and she opened her eyes. The intruder turned out to be a biker clad in black leather, his face concealed by a menacing black helmet and shades. Behind the black-and-chrome motorcycle, a rooster tail of dust rose in a tall plume.

Just my luck, she thought. Here I am in the middle of nowhere, and Easy Rider comes to my rescue.

Her arms and shoulders were starting to tremble. So much for all those hours of strength training at the gym.

At the base of the flagpole, the biker stopped, dismounted and engaged the kickstand. Then he leaned back to look straight up at her.

Despite the circumstances, Olivia found herself wondering what her butt looked like from his perspective. Growing up as she had, comforting herself with food until she’d earned any number of unflattering childhood nicknames, she’d never quite gotten over feeling self-conscious about her figure.

Play it cool, she decided. "Hey," she said.

"Hey. What’s up?" Though she couldn’t see his face, Olivia thought she detected a grin in his voice. She became sure of it when he added, "Okay, sorry. Couldn’t help myself."

Great. Just her luck. A wise guy.

To his credit, he didn’t make her suffer. He picked up the ladder and leaned it against the flagpole. "Take it slow," he coached her. "I’ll hold this steady."

Olivia was sweating now, having reached the limit of her endurance. She scooted downward inch by inch, while her denim shorts rode upward. She hoped he wouldn’t notice they were giving her an enormous wedgie.

"You’re almost there," called the stranger. "Just a little more."

The lower she shinnied, the less he sounded like a stranger. By the time her foot touched the top rung of the ladder, she was having seriously bad premonitions about this guy. She hadn’t been anywhere near this place in years, this camp where she’d found both her wildest dreams and her worst nightmares. These days, she didn’t know a soul in the remote mountain wilderness . . . did she?

In true neurotic fashion, she couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that she hadn’t done anything to her hair that morning. She wasn’t wearing a smidge of makeup. She couldn’t even recall whether or not she’d brushed her teeth. And the denim cutoffs she was wearing were too short. The tank top, too clingy.

Climbing down the ladder, she knew with each step that what awaited her at the bottom would be, at best, awkward humiliation. In order to reach solid ground, she was forced to descend into his waiting arms, which were braced on either side of the ladder to hold it steady. He smelled of leather and something else. The wind, maybe.

Her muscles, which had been screaming in protest a moment ago, now threatened to go slack with exhaustion. She used the last of her strength to give his arm a push so she wasn’t trapped. He let go of the ladder and held up his cyborg hands, palms out, as if to show he came in peace. They were huge, in their black gloves. Darth Vader hands. Terminator hands.

"Okay," he said. "You’re safe now."

She leaned back against the ladder. When she looked up at him, the ground beneath her feet didn’t feel so safe. Nothing felt safe.

He was huge, his bulk enhanced by all that leather, including chaps. A biker in chaps over faded Levi’s, the leather worn to softness in all the most interesting places. She eyed the ripped T-shirt visible through the half-open jacket. His battered boots appeared as though they belonged to a man who actually worked in them. Except for the chains. She could see no earthly purpose for that bit of bling, except that it was sexy. Oh, God. It was.

"Thanks," she said, quickly stepping out from between the guy and the ladder. "I don’t know what I would have done if you hadn’t come along." In his mirrored glasses, she could see her own reflection -- flushed cheeks, wind-tossed hair. She wiped her hands on her shorts. "What, um . . ." She fumbled. Maybe it wasn’t him. Maybe all this fresh air and sunshine had muddled her brain. She adopted a neutral tone and decided to play it cool. "Can I help you?"

"I think it’s the other way around. You left a message on my voice mail. Something about a construction project?" With that, he peeled away the sunglasses, then unstrapped the helmet and took it off.

Oh, God, Olivia thought. I wanted it to be anyone but you.

He removed the gloves, keeping his eyes on her as he tugged them off, finger by finger. He squinted. "Do I . . . have we met?"

Was he kidding? she wondered. Did he really not know?

When she didn’t respond, he turned away and expertly raised the flag. Immediately, the wind filled it like a sail.

Watching him, Olivia forgot to move. To breathe. To think. With one look at those heartbreaker eyes, she was hurled back in time, the years peeling away like pages from a calendar. She wasn’t looking at Easy Rider. She was looking into the face of a man, but in those ice-blue eyes, she could see the boy he was so long ago.

And not just any boy. The boy. The one who owned all the firsts, every significant milestone of her troubled and painful adolescence -- the first boy she’d ever loved. The first she’d ever kissed. The first she’d ever -- The first to break her heart.

Her whole body flared to life with a fiery blush. Maybe that was why the term "old flame" had been invented. Somebody always got burned.

"Connor Davis," she said, speaking his name aloud for the first time in nine years. "Fancy meeting you here." Inside, she was thinking, I want to die. Let me die right here, right now, and I’ll never ask for another thing as long as I live.

"That’s me," he said unnecessarily.

As if she could forget. The promise of the boy he had been was fulfilled in the man standing before her. He would be twenty-eight now, to her twenty-seven. Lanky height had filled out with solid breadth. His cocky grin and twinkling eyes were still the same, though the GI Joe jawline had been softened by a day’s growth of beard. And he still -- Olivia blinked, making sure she wasn’t seeing things -- yes, he still wore a tiny silver hoop in one ear. She herself had done the piercing, thirteen years ago, it must have been.

"So you’re . . ." He studied the back of his left hand, where it appeared that he had scrawled something in purple ink. "You’re Olive Bellamy?"

"Olivia." She prayed for him to recognize her the way she had recognized him, as someone from the past, someone important, someone who’d had a life-changing impact on his future. God, someone who’d risked getting sent home from camp for piercing his ear.

"Yeah, sorry. Olivia." He studied her with blatant male appreciation. He clearly misinterpreted her look of outrage. "Didn’t have a piece of paper handy when I checked my messages," he explained, indicating the purple ink with which he’d scrawled a message on his hand. Then he frowned. "Have we met before?"

She gave a short, harsh laugh. "You’re kidding, right? This is a joke." Had she really changed that much? Well, okay, yes. Nearly a decade had passed. She’d lost a ton of weight. Gone from nut brown to honey blond. Traded her glasses for contacts. But still . . .

He just stared at her. Clueless. "Should I know you?"

She folded her arms, glared at him and summoned a phrase he’d probably remember, because it was one of the first lies they’d ever told each other. "I’m your new best friend," she said, and watched the color drain from his tanned, handsome face.

His gorgeous blue eyes narrowed and then widened in dawning wonder. His Adam’s apple rippled as he swallowed, then quickly cleared his throat.

"Holy shit," he said in a low murmur. His hand went up in an unconscious gesture and touched the little sliver hoop. "Lolly?"

Camp Kioga Code of Conduct

Everyone is expected to participate in all planned activities as defined by the camp schedule and to be in regulation dress. Counselors are responsible for ensuring that campers participate in all sessions of the planned program activities, unless excused by the camp nurse or the director.


Summer 1991

"Lolly." The tall, lanky boy hiking up the trail behind her spoke for the first time since they left base camp. "What the hell kind of name is Lolly?"

"The kind that’s stenciled on the back of my shirt," she said, flipping a brown pigtail over one shoulder. To her dismay, she felt herself blushing. Cripes, he was just a dumb boy, and all he’d done was ask her a simple question.

Wrong, she thought, hearing a game-show buzz in her head. He was pretty much the cutest boy in Eagle Lodge, the twelve-to-fourteens. And it hadn’t been a question so much as a smart remark designed to rattle her. Plus, he said hell. Lolly would never admit it, but she didn’t like swearing. Whenever she tried saying a swearword herself, she always stammered and blushed, and everyone could instantly see how uncool she was.

Meet the Author

Susan Wiggs is the author of many beloved bestsellers, including the popular Lakeshore Chronicles series. She has won many awards for her work, including a RITA from Romance Writers of America. Visit her website at

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Summer at Willow Lake (Lakeshore Chronicles Series #1) 4 out of 5 based on 3 ratings. 226 reviews.
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
I pretty much went backwards here, because I read the Lakeshore Chronicles #8 (Marrying Daisy Bellamy) before I read #1, but I'm not terribly sorry that I did. I enjoyed both books, and by reading the newest one first I got rid of all that pesky "will they or won't they?" bit. (Not that there really is any, but still. You never know.) Summer at Willow Lake introduces us to the Bellamys and to Camp Kioga, a family and a location that feature prominently in the rest of the series. This novel focuses on Olivia Bellamy, the only child of a wealthy but unhappy-until-they-get-divorced couple. Olivia spent summers at her grandparents' summer camp, Camp Kioga, of which she has mostly uncomfortable memories. Lolly, as she was called back then, compensated for her tense home situation by overeating, and this made her awkward and out of place at camp. She slims down in college, gains much needed self-esteem, and as a adult owns her own business in New York; her love life, though, leaves much to be desired. As the novel begins, Olivia is just about to be almost engaged for the third time...but gets dumped instead. Her grandmother asks her to oversee the renovations of Camp Kioga, which has been closed now for many years so that her grandparents' fiftieth wedding anniversary party can be held there. Olivia agrees, not realizing that by doing so she will come into direct--and near constant--contact with Connor Davis, local contractor and the boy who broke her heart so many summers ago. A touching start to the series, Wiggs gives readers a nice introduction to the characters and locations that will feature prominantly in the next seven books. I'll be looking for #2 soon!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was difficult at times to keep up with the story. The author bounced from past and present day too much. Once i got past that, it was easier. Overall, it was an excellent book.
Mobar More than 1 year ago
This was the first book that I have read by this author. I will definitely be reading more of her books!
muffin1 More than 1 year ago
wiseowlOH More than 1 year ago
You will feel like you are right there with the Bellamy family. Each member is a story and this is Olivia. If you read one book you will be checking out all of the rest to find out "What happened?" It is a wonderful series. With Susan Wiggs you can hear the lapping of the lake's water and the bird song as thought you were there. I certainly enjoyed my visit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The back and forth of this story was a bit frustrating. Not that I didn't like the characters. I liked them but I didn't need it to go back to some time in the past. I felt like it was kind of useless. She could have just said so somewhere else. It took forever for Connor and Olivia to finally get together. They waisted a whole summer before doing anything. I skimmed through a lot of useless information to get to that part. I want to go on but I'm a little leary about it the stories are this way.
Julie Bailey More than 1 year ago
I bought another by this author because I liked this book so much.
cinchase More than 1 year ago
Love Susan Wiggs books and this is no exception. Good story and very hard to put down. An excellant, heartwarming, feel good book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is very well written with good characters that have depth. Their personalities shine and they appear to be human. Ms. Wiggs is great about making human frailties surmountable. I kept avoiding reading this series thinking it would be all suagar and sweetness. However much sweetness it does have, it has enough conflict to make it great. I've actually tried two recipes and they are pretty good.
hillarity More than 1 year ago
but unexciting, predictible romance.
Kiko1021 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. The story was well-paced and the central characters, Olivia and Connor, were both interesting. It was an easy, yet engrossing read. You could put it down and pick it back up and go right back into the story with no trouble. My only complaint is that the resolution is in the last ten pages of the book. This is the first book of The Lakeshore Chronicles, and I can't wait to read the rest of the books. I'm really excited to hear Julian and Daisy's story.
Anonymous 4 months ago
"Hey, again."
Anonymous 5 months ago
Snowreader More than 1 year ago
Beautiful love story that develops over time. If you've ever felt like you don't fit in, this is a great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pure_Jonel More than 1 year ago
Wiggs has created a picturesque and uniquely inviting novel that draws you into the Catskills, allowing you to vacation alongside the characters. Intricate descriptions bring everyday events to life in such a way that I felt as if I were there. The plot of the tale had me intrigued, and the development definitely did it justice. The multiple steps back into the characters’ pasts, showing how they came to be who they are today, was both informative and completely entertaining. Wiggs gives a complete picture of who each of the characters are, and how their lives intersect one another. Knowing Olivia & Connor’s pasts helps understand how they interact with one another today. Their individuality yet need to prove themselves to overcome their pasts comes about in very different ways, yet holds them together as well. Wiggs not only creates the type of characters that you love getting to know throughout a novel, but the type of characters that you are dying to follow through an entire series. I can’t wait to see Daisy & Max grow up, and I love knowing that we’ll get to see more of Greg and Freddy and Dare. Wigg’s first novel in her Lakeshore Chronicles launches a series I definitely can’t wait to continue following. This novel captured me heart and soul, introducing me to a world I will be revisiting time & time again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No, I just.... Lots of things are going through my mind right now...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found the book entertaining. The characters were interesting and it wasn't the usual boy meets girl, they hate each other, they fall in love story. The characters were fun and I can see some of the other pair ups that will probably be in future books about Willow Lake. I will probably pick up other books in this series for light reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like this author but had not read any from this series. Really enjoyed this book. Easy read, good characters, nice story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read my reveiw at res 1
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