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?
Synopsis source: Goodreads
I saw this on the shelf at my local Target and picked it up on a whim. I was dubious because as much as everyone raved about Fortune’s previous book, Every Summer After, I found it to be just so-so. I mean, I liked it, but I wasn’t raving like everyone else seemed to be. But this one continued to make the rounds on Goodreads and Instagram and I thought, okay, I’ll give her another try.
Then I saw my friend Amber from YarnVibes, who had joined me as my Books, WIPs, + Sips Book Club co-host for Every Summer After, had picked it up as well. The stars aligned and so did our reading queues, so we decided to make it a buddy read. So in this review, you’re getting two for the price of one! I’m going to share my thoughts and then Amber will share hers!
Wow, I LOVED this book!
My biggest issues with ESA weren’t present in MMATL, which I was nervous about at the start. I enjoyed both timelines equally. I loved Fern and Will, both young and adult versions. I love how they both have their own types of baggage from adolesence that in a single amazing day, they are able to help one another work through. They know they have a limited amount of time together, so they dig right into the hard stuff and get to the heart of the matter, encouraging each other to do the things they know are right for each other. They recognize the connection they have to one another immediately and I love how the author portrayed the feel of that young love at first sight. It felt so natural and real to me, making me invested in Will and Fern rather quickly.
Fast forward 10 years and they still struggle with the baggage from their youth now compiled with fear of unmet expectations in the present. The hurts of the past made me feel for each of their older selves as I watched them struggle to live up to the expectations they feel duty and honor-bound to live up to. It was beautiful watching them figure it all out together.
“I don’t want to be with someone who keeps parts of their life separate from me. I don’t want to be an escape. I want to be the reality.”
“Fern,” he says. “You’re not an escape. You’re everything.”
At times both heart wrenching and humorous, Meet Me at the Lake is a slow burn romance that will lay you out and then pick you right back up again. There are a couple of steamy scenes and it takes a while to get there, but when they do, it’s so good! Still, there are only a couple and others take place off-page, so it’s sure to please romance readers of all kinds. If you’re looking for a mature, mildly angsty romance for summer, this is a perfect book!
I loved Every Summer After, so I jumped to grab a copy of Meet Me at the Lake as soon as it came out. And guess what??? I loved it even more!!!
Our two MC’s, Will and Fern, stories unfold in dual timelines. Young and angsty Will and Fern vs more mature Will and Fern, were both enjoyable! I loved seeing them work through their issues and grow. They forced the best out of each other and I loved watching them discover what they truly wanted in life.
“I don’t think you should give up on anything, Fern. I just think you won’t admit what you want to hold on to.”
It was a roller coaster of emotions + nostalgic Summer time feels that made me not want to put this down. I love when an author can transport me instantly to a place, and Carley is SO good at doing just that. This book had me longing to book a vacation at a lake resort. As a teen I always wanted to do that (we have Dirty Dancing to thank for that) and now I think I need to make it happen.
If you are looking for a book with Summer vibes, second chance romance, and an amazing slow burn, this is the book for you!
PS: I just so happened to finish this book on June 14th, which was the day Will and Fern met. I don’t think I could have planned it any better if I tried.
I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did! And if you didn’t get the hype of her previous book, don’t let that hold you back from this one!
Until next time,
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