Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Read an #Excerpt from Meet Me at the Lake by Carley Fortune

This summer, Carley is back with another sweeping lakeside romance that capture the magic of young love, second chances, and adolescent summers where all things seem possible.

About the Book

Meet Me at the Lake
by Carley Fortune

Format: 336 pages, Paperback
Published: May 2, 2023 by Viking
ISBN: 9780735243781 
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?




noticing me. It’s a striking piece, carved from a large tree trunk— rustic but not shabby, the epitome of Mom’s aesthetic—and there’s no one behind it. I hurry past, to the office, then shut myself inside and lock the door.
The room is more fishing hut than work space. Pine walls, two ancient desks, a small window trimmed with a flimsy plaid curtain. I doubt it’s changed much since the lodge was built in the 1800s. There’s nothing to suggest how much time Mom spent here, except for a photo of me as a baby pinned to the timber and a faint whiff of Clinique perfume.
Dropping into one of the worn leather chairs, I switch on the plastic tabletop fan. I’m already sticky, but it’s stifling in here, one of the few spots in the building without air-conditioning. I raise my elbows like a scarecrow and swing my hands back and forth. Pit stains are the last thing I need.
While I wait to cool off before changing into heels, I stare at a stack of our brochures. Brookbanks Resort—Your Muskoka Get- away Awaits, declares a chipper font above a photo of the beach at sunset, the lodge looming in the background like a country cottage castle. It almost makes me laugh—it’s Brookbanks Resort I’ve failed to get away from.
Maybe Jamie will forget I agreed to do this tonight, and I can sneak back to the house, slither into stretchy pants, and douse myself with a bucket of cold white wine.
The door handle rattles. No such luck.
“Fernie?” Jamie calls. “What’s with the lock? You decent in there?”
“I need five minutes,” I reply, voice pinched.
“You’re not gonna bail, right? You swore you’d do this,” he says. But the reminder is unnecessary. I’ve been dreading it all day. All my life maybe.
“I know, I know. I’m finishing up some paperwork.” I clamp my eyes shut at the mistake. “I’m almost done.”
“What paperwork? Is it the linen order? We have a system for that.”
My mom had a system for everything, and Jamie doesn’t want me messing with any of them.
He’s worried. It’s peak season, but many of the guest rooms are vacant. I’ve been back for six weeks, and Jamie thinks it’s only a matter of time before I shake things up. I’m not sure if he’s right. I’m not even sure if I’m staying.
“You can’t shut me out of my own office. I have a key.” I curse under my breath. Of course he does.
It’s going to be embarrassing if he has to drag me out of here, and I’m pretty sure he’ll do it. I haven’t made a scene at the resort since my senior year of high school, and I’m not about to start.
Being here sometimes makes me feel like I’ve regressed, but I’m not a reckless seventeen-year-old anymore.
Taking a deep breath, I stand and smooth my palms over the front of the dress. It’s too tight, but the ripped jeans I’ve been living in aren’t appropriate for the dining room. I could almost hear Mom when I changed earlier.
I know you’d rather wear pj’s all day, but we have to set the tone, sweet pea.
I open the door.
Jamie’s flaxen curls are cropped short and styled into obedi- ence, but he has the same baby face from when we were young and he thought deodorant was optional.
“Is it the linen order?” he asks.
“Absolutely not,” I say. “You have a system.”
Jamie blinks, not sure if I’m teasing. He’s been the resort’s general manager for three years, and I can’t get my head around it. In pressed pants and a tie, he looks like he’s playing dress-up. In my mind, he’s still a lake rat in swim trunks and a bandanna.
He doesn’t know what to make of me anymore, either—he’s torn between trying to please me, his new boss, and trying to prevent me from wreaking havoc. There should be a cosmic law against exes working together.
“You used to be fun,” I tell him, and he grins. And there, with his deep smile lines and sky blue eyes, is the Jamie who once sang the entirety of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill stoned and wearing a purple caftan he’d nicked from Mrs. Rose’s cabin.
The fact that Jamie loved attention as much as he loved going commando was one of my favorite things about him—no one looked at me when Jamie was around. He was a good boyfriend, but he was also the perfect diversion.
“So did you,” he says, and then squints. “Is that your mom’s dress?”
I nod. “It doesn’t fit.” I pulled it from her closet earlier this evening. Canary yellow. One of at least two dozen brightly col- ored sleeveless shifts. Her evening uniform.
There’s a beat of silence, and it’s all it takes for me to lose my courage. “Listen, I’m not feeling—”
Jamie cuts me off. “Nuh-uh. You’re not doing this to me, Fer- nie. You’ve been dodging the Hannovers all week, and they check out tomorrow.”
According to Jamie, the Hannovers have stayed at Brook- banks for seven summers, tip like they’ve got something to prove, and refer a ton of guests. From the way I’ve caught him frowning into his computer screen, I think the resort needs good word of mouth more desperately than Jamie’s let on. Our accountant left another message today asking me to call him.
“They’ve already finished dessert,” Jamie says. “I told them you’d be right out. They want to give you their condolences in person.”
I scrape my nails across my right arm a few times before I catch myself. This shouldn’t be so hard. In my real life, I manage a trio of indie coffee shops in Toronto’s west end called Filtr. I’m overseeing the opening of our fourth and largest location this fall, the first with an on-site roastery. Talking to customers is sec- ond nature.
“Okay,” I tell him. “I’m sorry. I can do this.”
Jamie lets out a breath. “Awesome.” He gives me an apolo- getic look and then adds, “It would be extra awesome if you stopped by a few tables to say hello while you’re there. You know, carried on the tradition.”
I do know. Mom visited the restaurant every single evening, making sure this person liked the rainbow trout and that person had a restful first night. It was bonkers how many details she
could recall about the guests, and they loved her for it. She said being a family-run business didn’t mean anything unless you put a face to the Brookbanks Resort name. And for three decades that face was hers. Margaret Brookbanks.
Jamie has been not-so-subtly hinting that I come to the din- ing room to greet the guests, but I’ve shrugged him off. Because as soon as I go out there, it’s official.
Mom is gone. And I am here.
Back home at the resort—the last place I planned to end up.

Excerpted from MEET ME AT THE LAKE by Carley Fortune, published by Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2023

About the Author

Carley Fortune is the New York Times bestselling author of Every Summer After. She is an award-winning Canadian journalist who’s worked as an editor for Refinery29, The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, and Toronto Life. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Due to time constraints we may not be able to personally respond to every comment made, but we do read and appreciate them all. 📚❤️🙂

✋ RBtWBC has a zero-tolerance policy for review harassment and author bashing. Such comments will be deleted at the the blog's discretion.