Review by Gabrielle

“The name?”

His eyebrows rise at my question, like he’s surprised I’ve asked. Then I notice how dark his eyes are, black as a crow’s wing, and my stomach twists. His posture is flawless. My heart races, pounding in the pads of my fingers and balls of my feet. I search for the scar immediately. And there it is: below his lip on the left side of his chin, barely visible unless you know to look for it. I can’t believe I still know to look for it.

But I do.

I know this face.

Meet Me At The Lake is the book of my summer dreams.

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?

I was super excited for this one. I still haven’t read Carley’s first book Every Summer After but it has been on my TBR since it first came out. I can confidently say after reading this one, it is moving up the list! I loved everything about this book.

When we first meet Fern, she has just lost her mother and is deep in her grief. If losing a parent is a trigger for you, you may want to skip this book for now. I thought Carley handled the topic really well, but it is heart wrenching to read. I connected with Fern right away and liked her tremendously as a main character. After her mom dies suddenly, she finds herself back at the resort she didn’t want to run. She has a plan back in Toronto. I loved watching Fern get up to speed on running the resort and developing a different appreciation of it and by extension, of her mother. 

Another character I loved was Peter, the pastry chef at the resort and Fern’s Dad-like figure. He was best friends with Fern’s Mom and has been around for Fern her whole life. I loved this gruff guy who showed his true feelings via baked goods and mixed CD’s. The relationship between him and Fern was really special. I liked that Carley included this more unconventional relationship, showing that families are made in lots of different ways and all are equally valuable.

Will is a suitably wonderful book boyfriend. Gorgeous and smart, kind and quick-witted. I loved Will and Fern together. They just kinda click. They are the sort of couple that just feels right. 

This book is set in Muskoka. That felt really special to me as a reader. I spent many summers and holidays at my grandparents cottage in the same area this book takes place. The sights and sounds described in the book were very nostalgic.  

An absolutely perfect summer read, put this one on your list.

Thank you, Berkley Publishing Group for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.