The most recent installment in Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles series was released on Tuesday, August 28. I haven’t read it yet, but I have read the eight previous novels so I thought it would be a nice time to do a series-type review.
A few years ago I was searching for new series’ to read. As I’ve mentioned many times, these are my favorite types of books. Not necessarily the type where you need to read them in absolute chronological order, but rather the type where some of the characters in previous installments are repeated later so you feel like you get to know the characters over a longer period of time than you would with a stand-alone novel. I was slightly apprehensive about beginning the Lakeshore Chronicles series because I was afraid it would be “too romancy.” Having long outgrown the romance genre, I had no need or desire to be swept off my feet by a long-haired well-muscled adonis and his loins. So I thought I’d have a look at the first book in the series, and if I didn’t like it I’d stop right there. That was eight books ago. 🙂
Although there is indeed romance in these novels, I would describe them more as a family saga rather than pure romance novels. The series revolves around the Bellamy family and their roots in the small town of Avalon in the Catskills. The remaining books introduce us to the full Bellamy clan, as they grow and age, with occasional looks back into their individual histories. Let’s take a look at the books in the series, in order.
1. Summer at Willow Lake (August, 2006) – In this inaugural novel we’re introduced to Olivia Bellamy in adulthood, as she attempts to renovate her grandparents’ ex-resort — Camp Kioga in Avalon, which is on the shores of beautiful Willow Lake. She does this with the help of contractor Connor Davis, and we soon find out these two have a history from when they were children and attended the camp in its heyday. As we learn more about Olivia and Connor (past and present) we’re also introduced to some of the other characters who will be at the forefront of subsequent books. This is the book that hooked me on the Bellamy family!
2. The Winter Lodge (February, 2007) – This installment centers around Jenny Majesky, an Avalon native who runs a popular local bakery. The plot grows from things we learned in the first novel (which I won’t spoil) and Jenny’s relationship with the Bellamys is cemented here. Another relationship (with womanizer Rourke McKnight) is at the center of the novel, but the mystery of Jenny’s long lost mother is also solved. And, we learn more about troubled teen Daisy Bellamy, who features prominently in future novels. I found each book in the series to be a little less “romance-y” than the previous entry.
3. Dockside (August, 2007) – Nina Romano and Greg Bellamy are the main focus of this book, and they immediately clash when Greg sweeps in and buys the Inn at Willow Lake out from under Nina and her longtime dreams. Predictably, they have a rocky history, and their relationship struggles to grow. Back stories follow other Bellamys and friends, and the Inn at Willow Lake becomes as romantic for its owner as it is for its guests!
4. Snowfall at Willow Lake (February, 2008) – This installment changed my mind completely about Susan Wiggs. I originally thought she was a romance writer. This book convinced me she’s an anything writer! While the story does indeed center around the beginning of a romance between Sophie Bellamy and Avalon’s local veterinarian Noah Shepherd, the true beauty of the writing lies in Sophie’s growth and healing after facing a terror-filled hostage situation overseas. She deserves, and finds, a new happiness.
5. Fireside (February, 2009) – I found this book extra fun because I’m a baseball fan, but you don’t have to be a fan of the sport to enjoy it. We’ve met Bo Crutcher in the previous book, but in this one he’s front and center, all set for his shot at the major leagues. Then, the vulnerable son he never met is at his door with a chip on his shoulder but needing his Dad. Kimberly van Dorn is a PR specialist helping Bo with his media relations skills. Or, maybe other relations?
6. Lakeshore Christmas (October, 2009) – Maureen Davenport is Avalon’s prim and proper librarian. What happens when she’s forced to work with wild-boy and former child star Eddie Haven? Fireworks! But, somehow together they plan the town’s annual Christmas pageant. Again, even though it sounds like a romance, there’s so much more to it!
7. The Summer Hideaway (March, 2010) – This may quite possibly be my favorite in the series. The vast and sometimes painful history of the Bellamy family is explored in depth, while new generation family members are introduced. We meet Ross Bellamy, grandson of dying George, and Claire Turner, George’s nurse. Everyone has a few secrets in their closet as they spend George’s final summer on Willow Lake.
8. Marrying Daisy Bellamy (February, 2011) – Remember Daisy Bellamy, the troubled teen from way back when this series started? Well, she’s now a successful photographer, mother, and soon-to-be wife. Her life seems settled and predictable, until a long lost love finds his way back home. I was again impressed by the amount of research and detail Wiggs supplies in her main and background stories.
9. Return to Willow Lake (August, 2012) – I’ve been waiting for this one! I’ll review it as soon as I read it. It’s next on my list!
Thanks for following along my Lakeshore Chronicles journey. Although I recommend reading any series in order, my favorites are Snowfall at Willow Lake and The Summer Hideaway, if you prefer to skip around. 🙂 Enjoy!
Disclosure: The Amazon links on this page is an”affiliate links.” This means if you click on a link and purchase an item, I will receive a small commission. For a full FTC-required disclosure statement please visit my About page.