The Summer Hideaway (Lakeshore Chronicles Series #7)

( 96 )


Susan Wiggs wrote her way into readers' hearts with stories of every woman's hopes and dreams. Now she returns with a touching tale of secrets and sacrifice, loss and redemption…and a love too powerful to be denied.

Never get attached—Private nurse and protected witness Claire Turner lives by this motto. Fleeing a treacherous past, she knows no other way.

Never give up—In the twilight of his life, George Bellamy makes it his final wish to ...

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Susan Wiggs wrote her way into readers' hearts with stories of every woman's hopes and dreams. Now she returns with a touching tale of secrets and sacrifice, loss and redemption…and a love too powerful to be denied.

Never get attached—Private nurse and protected witness Claire Turner lives by this motto. Fleeing a treacherous past, she knows no other way.

Never give up—In the twilight of his life, George Bellamy makes it his final wish to reconcile with an estranged brother. He and Claire journey to Willow Lake—where it all went wrong for him fifty years ago.

Never let go—George's grandson Ross is ruled by a fierce devotion to family and a deep mistrust of the mysterious Claire…yet sparks fly whenever she's near. In the face of wrenching loss, amid the enchantment of Willow Lake, Ross and Claire dare to risk everything for love.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"An emotionally gripping tale centered on family. Wiggs is back in top form."


"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. Highly recommended."

-Library Journal

"Wiggs is one of our best observers of stories of the heart. She knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every book." —Salem Statesman-Journal

"Susan Wiggs paints the details of human relationships with the finesse of a master." —Jodi Picoult

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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778327998
  • Publisher: Mira
  • Publication date: 2/23/2010
  • Series: Lakeshore Chronicles Series , #7
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 421
  • Sales rank: 238,981
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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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Read an Excerpt

Korengal Valley, Kunar province, Afghanistan

His breakfast consisted of shoestring potatoes that actually did look and taste like shoestrings, along with reconstituted eggs, staring up at him from a compartmentalized tray in the noisy chow hall. His cup was full of a coffeelike substance, lightened by a whitish powder.

At the end of a two-year tour of duty, Ross Bellamy had a hard time looking at morning chow. He'd reached his limit. Fortunately for him, this was his last day of deployment. It seemed like any other day—tedious, yet tense with the constant and ominous hum of imminent threat. Radio static crackled along with the sound of clacking utensils, so familiar to him by now that he barely heard it. At a comm station, an ops guy for the Dustoff unit was on alert, awaiting the next call for a medical evacuation.

There was always a next call. An air medic crew like Ross's faced them daily, even hourly.

When the walkie-talkie clipped to his pocket went off, he put aside the mess without a second glance. The call was a signal for the on-duty crew to drop everything—a fork poised to carry a morsel of mystery meat to a mouth. A game of Spades, even if you were winning. A letter to a sweetheart, chopped off in the middle of a sentence that might never be finished. A dream of home in the head of someone dead asleep. A guy in the middle of saying a prayer, or one with only half his face shaved.

The medevac units prided themselves on their reaction time—five or six minutes from call to launch. Men and women burst into action, still chewing food or drying off from the shower as they fell into roles as hard and familiar as their steel-toed boots.

Ross gritted his teeth, wondering what the day had in store for him, and hoping he'd make it through without getting himself killed. He needed this discharge, and he needed it now. Back home, his grandfather was sick—had been sick for a while, and Ross suspected it was a lot more serious than the family let on. It was hard to imagine his grandfather sick. Granddad had always been larger-than-life, from his passion for travel to his trademark belly laugh, the one that could make a whole roomful of people smile. He was more than a grandparent to Ross. Circumstances in his youth had drawn the two of them close in a bond that defined their relationship even now.

On impulse, he grabbed his grandfather's most recent letter and stuck it into the breast pocket of his flight jacket, next to his heart. The fact that he'd even felt the urge to do so made him feel a gut-twist of worry.

"Let's go, Leroy," said Nemo, the unit's crew chief. Then, as he always did, he sang the first few lines of "Get Up Offa That Thang."

In the convoluted way of the army, Ross had been given the nickname Leroy. It had started when some of the platoon had learned a little—way too little—about his silver-spoon-in-mouth background. The fancy schools, the Ivy League education, the socially prominent family, had all made him fodder for teasing. Nemo had dubbed him Little Lord Fauntleroy. That had been shortened to Leroy, and the name had stuck.

"I'm on it," Ross said, striding toward the helipad. He and Ranger would be piloting the bird today.

"Good luck with the FNG."

FNG stood for Fucking New Guy, meaning Ross would have a mission virgin on board. He vowed to be nice. After all, if it weren't for new guys, Ross would be here forever. According to the order packet he'd received, his forever was about to end. In a matter of days, he'd be stateside again, assuming he didn't get himself greased today.

The FNG turned out to be a girl, a flight medic named Florence Kennedy, from Newark, New Jersey. She had that baby-faced determination common to newbies, worn as a thin mask over abject, bowel-melting fear.

"What the fuck are you waiting for?" demanded Nemo, striding past her. "Get your ass over to the LZ."

She seemed frozen, her face pale with resentment. She made no move to follow Nemo.

Ross nailed her with a glare. "Well? What the hell is it?"

"Sir, I…Not fond of the f-word, sir."

Ross let out a short blast of laughter. "You're about to fly into a battle zone and you're worried about that? Soldiers swear. Get used to it. Nobody on earth swears as much as a soldier—and nobody prays as hard. And I don't know about you, but I see no conflict there. Pretty soon, you won't, either."

She looked as though she might cry. He tried to think of something to say to reassure her, but could come up with nothing. When had he stopped knowing how to speak kindly?

When he'd grown too numb to feel anything.

"Let's go," he said simply, and strode away without looking back.

The ground crew chief barked out a checklist. Everyone climbed aboard. Armor and helmets would be donned on the chopper to shave off run time.

Ross received the details through his earpiece while he consulted his lap charts. The call was the type they feared most—victims both military and civilian, enemy still in the area. Apache gunships would escort the medical birds because the red crosses on the nose, underbelly and each cargo door of the ship meant nothing to the enemy. The crew couldn't let that matter; they had to roll fast. When a soldier on the ground was wounded, he needed to hear one key phrase: Dustoff is inbound. For some guy bleeding out in the field, the flying ambulance was his only hope of survival.

Within minutes, they were beating it northward over the evergreen-covered mountains of Kunar province. Flying at full speed across the landscape of craggy peaks, majestic forests and silvery rivers, Ross felt tense and jittery, on edge. The constant din of flight ops, along with strict regulations, kept conversation confined to essential matters only over the headsets. The rush into unknown danger was an everyday ordeal, yet he never got used to it. Last mission, he told himself. This is your last mission. Don't blow it.

The Korengal Valley was one of the most beautiful places on earth. Also one of the most treacherous. Sometimes the helos encountered surface-to-air missiles, cannonade or tripwires strung between mountain peaks to snag the aircraft. At the moment, the gorgeous landscape erupted with lightning bolts of gunfire and ominous plumes of smoke. Each represented a deadly weapon aimed at the birds.

Ross's heart had memorized the interval of delay between spotting the flash and taking the hit—one, two, three beats of the heart and something could be taken out.

The gunships broke off to fire on the areas blooming with muzzle flashes. The diversion created a lull so the medical choppers could circle down.

Ross and Ranger, the other pilot, focused on closing the distance between the bird and the other end of the radio call. Despite the information given, they never knew what might be waiting for them. Half of their flights were for evacuating Afghan civilians and security personnel. The country had lousy medical infrastructure, so sometimes a pickup was for patient transport, combat injuries, accidents, even dog bites. Ross's unit had seen everyone's horrors and ill luck. But judging by the destination, this was not going to be a simple patient transport to Bagram Air Base. This region was the deadliest of Taliban havens, patrolled on foot and referred to as the Valley of Death.

The chopper neared the pickup point and descended. The tops of the majestic pine trees swayed back and forth, beaten by the wind under the main rotors, offering fleeting glimpses of the terrain. Wedged between the walls of the valley lay a cluster of huts with rooftops of baked earth. He saw scurrying civilians and troops, some fanning out in search of the enemy, others guarding their wounded as they waited for help to arrive.

Muzzle flashes lit the hillsides on both ends of the valley. Ross knew immediately that there was too much small-arms fire below. The gunships were spread too thin.

The risk of drawing enemy fire was huge, and as pilot, he had to make the call. Bail now and protect the crew, or go in for the rescue and save the lives below. As always, it was an agonizing choice, but one made swiftly and followed by steel resolve. No time for a debate.

He took the bird in, hovering as close to the mark as he dared, but couldn't land. The other pilot shook his head vigorously. The terrain was too rough. They'd have to lower a litter.

The crew chief hung out the cargo bay door, letting the penetrator cable slide through his gloved hand. A Stokes litter was lowered and the first soldier—the one most seriously wounded, was placed in the basket. Ross lifted off, hearing "Breaking ground, sir," over his headset as the winch began its fast rewind.

The basket was nearly in the bird when Ross spotted a fresh plume of smoke—a rocket launcher. At an altitude of only fifty feet, he had no time to take evasive action. The miniature SAM slammed into the aircraft.

A flash of white lightning whipped through the ship. Everything showered down—shrapnel, gear, chips of paint, and an eerie flurry of dried blood from past sorties, flaking off the cargo area and blowing around. Then a burst of fire raked the chopper, slugs stitching holes in the bird. It bucked and vibrated, throwing off webbing, random bits of aluminum, broken equipment, including a couple of radios, right in the middle of Ross's first Mayday call to the ops guys at base who were managing the mission. A ruptured fuel line hosed the flight deck.

He felt slugs smacking into his armored chair, the plates in front of his face, the overhead bubble window. Something thumped him in the back, knocking the wind out of him. Don't die, he told himself. Don't you fucking die. He stayed alive because if he got himself killed, he'd take down everybody with him. It was as good a reason as he knew to keep going.

He had landed a pranged chopper before, but not in these conditions. There was no water to hit. He hoped like hell he could set it down with everybody intact. He couldn't tell if the crew had reeled the basket in. Couldn't let himself think about that—a wounded soldier twisting and dangling from the bird.

Ranger tried another radio. The red trail of a smoke grenade bloomed, and then the wind swept it away. Ross spotted a patch of ground just as another hail of fire hit. Decking flew up, pieces glancing off his shoulder, his helmet. The ship whirled as though thrown into a giant blender, completely out of his control. There was no lift, nothing at all. The whistles and whines of the dying ship filled his head.

As the earth raced up to meet them, he found himself focusing on random sights on the ground—a tattered billboard for baby milk, a mangled soccer goal. The chopper roared as it hit, throwing up more steel decking. The jolt slammed through every bone of his body. His back teeth crunched together. A stray rotor slung free, mowing down everything in sight. Ross was in motion even before the thing settled. The reek of JP4 fuel choked him. He flung out a hand, grabbing Ranger's shoulder, thanking God the other pilot was looking lively.

Nemo was struggling with his monkey strap, the rig used to hold him in the chopper during ops. The straps had tangled, and he was still tethered to a tie-down clamp attached to the ripped-up deck. Ranger went to help him, and the two of them dragged away the wounded guy in the litter, which, thankfully, had been hoisted into the cargo bay before the crash.

"Kennedy!" Ross dropped to his knees beside her. She lay eerily still, on her side. "Hey, Kennedy," he said, "Move your ass. Move your fucking ass! We need to get out."

Don't be dead, he thought. Please don't be dead. Damn, he hated this. Too many times, he'd turned a soldier over to find him—or her—too far gone, floating in root reflexes.


"Fuck." The FNG threw off his hand, hauling herself to her feet while uttering a stream of profanities. Then, just for a second, she focused on Ross. The soft-cheeked newness was already gone from her face, replaced by flinty-eyed determination. "Quit wasting time, Chief," she said. "Let's get the fuck out of here."

The four of them crouched low against the curve of the chopper's battered hull. Bullet holes riddled the starkly painted red cross and pockmarked the tail boom. The floor was covered with loose AK-47 rounds.

The Apache gunships had broken off and gone into hunter-killer mode, searching out the enemy on the

ground, firing at the muzzle flashes on the mountainsides and producing a much-prayed-for lull. The other chopper had escaped and was no doubt sending out distress calls on the unit's behalf. Pillars of black smoke from mortar rounds rose up everywhere.

With no means of evacuation, the crew had to take cover wherever they could. Heads down, in a hail of debris, they carried the litter toward the nearest house. Through a cloud of dust and smoke, Ross spotted an enemy soldier, hunched and watchful, armed with an AK-47, approaching the same house from the opposite direction.

"I got this," he signaled to Nemo, nudging him.

Unarmed against a hot weapon, Ross knew he had only seconds to act or he'd lose the element of surprise. That was where the army's training kicked in. Approaching from behind, he stooped low, grabbed the guy by both ankles and yanked back, causing the gunman to fall flat on his face. Even as the air rushed from the surprised victim's chest, Ross dispatched him quickly—eyes, neck, groin—in that order. The guy never knew what hit him. Within seconds, Ross had bound his wrists with zip ties, confiscated the weapon and dragged the enemy soldier into the house.

There, they found a host of beleaguered U.S. and Afghan soldiers. "Dustoff 91," Ranger said by way of introduction. "And unfortunately, you're going to have to wait for another ride."

The captured soldier groaned and shuddered on the floor.

"Jesus, where'd you learn that move?" one of the U.S. soldiers demanded.

"Unarmed combat—a medevac's specialty," said Nemo, giving Ross a hand.

A babble of Pashto and English erupted. "We're toast," said a dazed and exhausted soldier. Like his comrades, he looked as if he hadn't bathed in weeks, and he wore a dog's flea collar around his middle; life at the outposts was crude as hell. The guy—still round-cheeked with youth, but with haunted eyes—related the action in dull shell-shocked tones. A part of this kid wasn't even there anymore. When Ross met a soldier in such a state, he often found himself wondering if the missing part would ever be restored.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 96 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 96 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Summer Hideaway is an exceptional read

    Welcome to Avalon New York, home to Susan Wiggs' famous and sometimes infamous Bellamy family, in this installation we find a whole new branch of the Bellamy tree. George Bellamy has lived a long life and has regrets and now that his time is nearing the end he's decided that it's time to put things to right. Claire Turner has secrets, secrets that could kill if revealed and so she's lived a life of solitude and service as a private nurse caring for the terminally ill. Ross Bellamy returns from the war zone of Afghanistan to find his grandfather dying. Claire and Ross are fighting a powerful attraction to each other both for different reasons and as George tries to match make watch out for the fireworks because even though these two might be perfect for each other, convincing them of that is another story..
    There is no better storyteller than Susan Wiggs and when she uses that talent to further our journey with the Bellamy family, well, there's just no words to describe it, but I'll try. Susan has a way with words that puts her readers right on the page with the characters, you feel a part of the story as you meet and greet each of the cast members. And what a group of characters it is. The family is as large and larger than life then you could imagine and yet they are each so memorable in their own right. Let's take her double heros of this story, George and Ross Bellamy grandfather and grandson who's characters will make you weep with worry with joy and with empathy. Then there's our heroine Claire Turner, who's character you will feel emotions for all over the board. Then we have her supporting cast of characters that include most of the Bellamy clan. Susan will literally pull you into her story with her dialogue, it will amaze you how intricate her details become and while you're reading the story comes together seamlessly. Her story line is an ongoing portrait of the Bellamy family and it amazes me how fresh she can make each installation while keeping us up to date on the members she's previously headlined. Her love story is as always complicated and at times frustrating to her fans who know the right moves and unfortunately can't convey that to the characters in the novel. Her love scenes are vivid and sensual and spicy and yet you see the innocence in them as well.
    Summer Hideaway is another example of what an amazing talent Susan Wiggs is. There is no author I know of who can write a family biography with such finesse and tenderness. This novel could very well stand up by it self, but to get all the nitty gritty details of the histories of the Bellamy Family start from the beginning of the series, you won't be sorry you did.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 29, 2010

    Another good Lakeshore Chronicles story

    All of this series has provided enjoyable reads, this one included, maybe especially this one. I suppose this was somewhat predictable, but I enjoyed the story so much, it didn't matter.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The Summer Hideaway by Susan Wiggs

    The Lakeshore Chronicles

    George Bellamy finds that his brain tumor has become inoperable and untreatable without a great deal of pain, so he decides to stop treatment and live his remaining days enjoying life. He has made a list of all the things he want to do before he dies and that means traveling back to Willow Lake and Camp Kioga. He hires a private nurse and sets out on his way.

    Meanwhile, George's grandson, Ross is returning home from Afghanistan as he has completed his tour of duty and the whole family is counting on him to "talk sense" to his grandfather and get him to return home for treatment. When he reaches Camp Kioga and talks to his grandfather, Claire the nurse and reviews his grandfather's medical reports, even talks to some doctors after a trip to the emergency room for George, he realizes he has to bend to his grandfather's wishes.

    One of the first things George wants to do is reunite with a brother he has not seen in 55 years, then he also wants to skydive, ride a Harley, and have a big family reunion. As Claire and Ross work together to make everything happen they grow closer and closer, (something that was also on George's list.) but her past keeps holding her back.

    Yes this story was a little predictable but there were some surprises too. Susan Wiggs is one of the best current day storytellers around. She weaves the words so wonderfully and takes us right into the story. The flashback parts of the story are truly a treasure. There are so many characters that have come from all the books in the series and most where present for the family reunion and it is no small task to keep them all fresh, and remind us of their history. If you have read the other books in this series this is a family you want to read this and find out what is going to happen next at Willow Lake.

    As a side note, the covers on the books in this series are fabulous.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2010

    Best book in the Lakeshore Chronicles Series!

    This is the absolute best book in the Lakeshore Chronicle Series. The Summer Hideaway is a wonderfully written book about George Bellamy, who has lost his battle with cancer and chooses to spend his last days making peace with his life, hopes, dreams and family. His nurse, Claire Turner, is hiding from her past but learning from George about what's important in life and what isn't. Ross Bellamy, just back from the war in Afghanistan, learns that his grandfather is dying of cancer and while coming to terms with what will be his greatest loss also learns about what's most important in life. The characters were well developed and their stories blend so well together. Susan Wiggs did an excellent job of writing a book about family and love. This is truly the best book in the series!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    Love never fails

    Ross and Claire find love while George teaches them that love never fails. Grab it while you can.

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  • Posted June 7, 2013

    Great read

    I enjoyed this book very much. Enough that I am ordering the series from the beginning.

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  • Posted January 15, 2013

    Read in January, 2013 I have enjoyed this book about a girl wh

    Read in January, 2013

    I have enjoyed this book about a girl who had witnessed double murder by a trusted adult while in the foster system. From that day on she had to disappear and learn to live on the run if need be. While her motto was not to get attached to anyone so that they will not get hurt she chose a profession that would allow for that as well - working with dying patients. When taking on another assignment she was not aware that her patient had other plans for her and his grandson. And the real story begins. Very interesting turn of events follow...

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  • Posted December 31, 2011

    Heart warming story that makes you think about life

    Have you ever had a family member with a terminal illness? If so, this story will resonate in your heart. It makes you think about all those things that you want to do knowing you're going to die in just a few months. George Bellamy left not only his legacy but his heart to his family. I loved this book! Not only did it have love, romance, laughter, but also suspense and mystery. Grab the tissues because you will cry in the end, but it's worth the read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2011

    I loved this book! It is nice to see an older person as the focus

    I like seeing an elderly person as the hero. It is heartwarming that a senior citizen wants to find romance & repair broken relationships. It brings home the fact that family really is everything.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2010

    Love it!

    I love the Lakeshore Chronicles and couldn't wait to read this one. Susan writes with an easy reading style and you are able to tie all the characters together with each book in the series. What could be better than reading about a place you only can dream of visiting. Hope there will be more to come! And what better way to escape the everyday drama of our lives!! I recommend reading the entire series and capturing the beauty of this place called Avalon and Camp Kioga.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Susan Wiggs Lakeshore Chronicles Series

    I enjoy all of the Lakeshore Chronicles series so much. There's lots going on with the characters, but Susan puts it all together so well, that the reader quickly becomes involved in the story. The family members, whether they're from the past or present, are easy to remember and hard to forget. I found myself doing an online search for the real towns of the Catskills used in this series. A beautiful part of New York State and one that I miss. Delightful, loving, funny and charming all rolled into one story. Don't miss The Summer Hideaway.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Great addition to the chronicle series

    I loved this book! It was a bit slow in the start but picked up quick. Susan Wiggs is great at pulling the reader in, I just couldn't put it down. Would recommend to any person that wants to read a heartfelt romance.

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  • Posted January 26, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Fans will enjoy The Summer Hideaway as love grows with the Bellamy brood

    Medvac helicopter pilot Ross Bellamy comes home after two years deployed in Afghanistan. His beloved grandfather, George, has terminal cancer, and refuses to receive any more medical treatment. Instead George has gone to Willow Lake in the Catskills to reconcile with his brother Charles before he dies; George's three sons had no idea he even had a brother.

    George hires private-duty nurse Claire Turner, whose specialty is palliative care for the terminally ill, to accompany him. His family thinks Claire is using George and has the local cops thinking she kidnapped him. However, Ross observing very carefully knows otherwise as she is a caring professional. What he does not understand is why the beautiful Claire has buried herself with the Bellamy brothers and their kin in Avalon, New York; not that he is complaining as he is attracted to her. She reciprocates, but romance is not in the cards of someone in hiding having seen a murder but is ineligible for the witness protection program as the homicide was not a federal offense.

    Although Claire's teenage past as a homicide witness is over the Catskills, fans will relish the return to Willow Lake starring a feisty dying Bellamy, his family especially his grandson, and a brave heroine fearing who may find her in rural New York. The character driven story line grips the audience when the Auburn cop pulls over Claire and George because his daughter-law from California hysterically convinces the police he is a kidnap victim. Fans will enjoy The Summer Hideaway as love grows with the Bellamy brood.

    Harriet Klausner

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    Posted March 29, 2010

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    Posted March 16, 2010

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