Meet Me at the Lake
By Carley Fortune
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Berkley Romance
Pub Date: 2 May, 2023
Thank you so much Berkley Romance for allowing me to read an ARC! All opinions are my own.
Available: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop
Content Warning: death of parent, grief, mental health
Meet Me at the Lake Synopsis:
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?
Meet Me at the Lake Review
Overall I really enjoyed Meet Me at the Lake. It was melancholy, angsty, and also romantic. Fortune is very, VERY good at doing second-chance (if you consider this book to be that, which idk) romance, like her angst levels are at a high. But there’s such a tenderness in the writing as well.
Let’s get the big question out of the way: is there cheating? In my opinion, no? Like Fern and her BF were already on the edge of things (at least from Fern’s perspective). I think when you’re 22 and you go on this amazing day with a guy you just met part of it is serendipitous and there might have been some emotional aspects involved, but I don’t think that it was enough for it to be considered cheating. That’s just my opinion. They both said they had significant others. They both didn’t cross the line besides some very intense sharing of personal demons and then having a fun day in the city in your early 20s.
Ok, now into the rest of the book. Like I said I did enjoy the book. I’m down for a moody summer read, which Fortune is becoming the absolute best at. Like Lana Del Rey in Canadian summer romance? idk if that’s a thing but I declare it such.
Fern deals with some very heavy pieces in her life like her mother’s sudden passing and working through a lot of packed away baggage that comes with living in a small community. I really liked this aspect of the book. To me Will was the best character (also, was anyone getting P&P 2005 Darcy vibes because I was). I think a lot of people will have issues with how private he is, but I saw myself a lot in him and understand. Letting people see the flaws in yourself is difficult, even if they are on your side and love you. It’s hard. All of the pieces from their shared day, to the current time, to Fern’s mother’s diary were all nicely interwoven that it told a really rich story.
What I wasn’t the biggest fan of was the pacing of the book. I could have used a bit more of the big reveal items earlier in the book. I could have used more community earlier in the book. It felt stifled. I got through it, but there definitely could have used some energy. On the other hand, the ending could have been drawn out a bit more. I needed more depth on some of the pieces that were revealed in the last 50 pages. A better balance would have been welcomed!
Another piece I wanted more from was the character themselves. I wanted Fern to be more multi-dimensional than she was. She wanted to own her own coffee shop–that was cool, I wanted more from it! What really drove her there, where she was passionate about beyond just music because that was even sorta half-hearted. Whitney and Cam could have used a bit more dimension in things as well.
Long Story Short
Do I recommend this book? Yes. I think it is a great summer read and great for a lake vacation. Even with the few things I was more disappointed about with the book, I really enjoyed it. Cannot wait to see what other books Fortune has in store for us in the future because her somber Canadian summer romance novels are become a summer tradition for me!
If You Liked This One…
Obviously I’m going to recommend you read Every Summer After, which is Carley Fortune’s debut novel. I think that if second chance romances set in a similar location with similar vibes is your thing you’re going to love it! I would also recommend picking up Emily Henry’s Beach Read because early 20s romance and second chances with difficult dead parents at a lake is your thing then this is perfect. But this time it’s with writers! I’ll also add People We Meet on Vacation to the list as well. For a similar energy from the book I HIGHLY recommend picking up Lease on Love by Falon Ballard. It’s definitely more on the city (NYC) side of things, but I think a lot of the themes and writing are incredibly similar!