AVAILABLE AUGUST 25TH, 2015
#1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs sweeps readers away to a sun-drenched summer on the shores of Willow Lake in a stunning tale of the delicate ties that bind a family together… and the secrets that tear them apart…
When caregiver Faith McCallum arrives at the enchanted, lakeside estate of Avalon’s renowned Bellamy family, she’s intent on rebuilding her shattered life and giving her two daughters a chance at a better future. But she faces a formidable challenge in the form of her stubborn and difficult new employer, Alice Bellamy. While Faith proves a worthy match for her sharp-tongued client, she often finds herself at a loss for words in the presence of Mason Bellamy—Alice’s charismatic son, who clearly longs to escape the family mansion and return to his fast-paced, exciting life in Manhattan…and his beautiful, jet-setting fiancée.
The last place Mason wants to be is a remote town in the Catskills, far from his life in the city, and Faith McCallum is supposed to be the key to his escape. Hiring the gentle-hearted yet strong-willed caregiver as a live-in nurse gives his mother companionship and Mason the freedom to return to his no-attachments routine. For Faith, it means stability for her daughters and a much-needed new home. When Faith makes a chilling discovery about Alice’s accident, Mason is forced to reconsider his desire to keep everyone, including his mother, at a distance. Now he finds himself wondering if the supercharged life he’s created for himself is what he truly wants…and whether exploring his past might lead to a new life—and lasting love—on the tranquil shores of Willow Lake.
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They were lined up in birth order—Mason, the firstborn, the one who knew their father best. Adam, three years younger, had been closest to Trevor. Ivy, still in her twenties, was the quintessential baby of the family—adored, entitled, seemingly fragile, yet with the heart of a lioness. She had owned their father’s affections as surely as the sun owns the dawn, in the way only a daughter can.
Mason wondered if his siblings would ever learn the things about their father that he knew. And if they did, would it change the way they felt about him?
They stood together, their collective silence as powerful as any conversation they might have had.
“It’s incredible,” Ivy said after a long pause. “The pictures didn’t do it justice. Maybe Dad’s last request wasn’t so nutty, after all. This might be the prettiest mountain ever, and I get to see it with my two best guys.” Then she sighed. “I wish Mom could be here.”
“Mason will get the whole thing on camera,” Adam said. “We can all watch it together when we get back to Avalon next week.”
A year after the accident, their mother was adjusting to a new life in a new place—a small Catskills town on the shores of Willow Lake. Mason was pretty sure it wasn’t the life Alice Bellamy had imagined for herself.
“Do you have him?” Adam asked.
Mason slapped his forehead. “Damn, I forgot. Why don’t the two of you wait right here while I ski to the bottom, grab the ashes, helicopter back up to the rendezvous and make the final climb again?”
“Very funny,” said Adam.
“Of course I have him.” Mason shrugged out of his backpack and dug inside. He pulled out an object bundled in a navy blue bandanna. He unwrapped it and handed the bandanna to Adam.
“A beer stein?” asked Ivy.
“It’s all I could find,” said Mason. The stein was classic kitsch, acquired at a frat party duringMason’s college days. There was a scene with a laughing Falstaff painted on the sides, and the mug had a hinged lid made of pewter. “The damned urn they delivered him in was huge. No way would it fit in my luggage.”
He didn’t explain to his sister and brother that a good half of the ashes had ended up on the living room floor of his Manhattan apartment. Getting Trevor Bellamy from the urn to the beer stein had been trickier than Mason had thought. Slightly freaked out by the idea of his father embedded in his carpet fibers, he had vacuumed up the spilled ashes, wincing at the sound of the larger bits being sucked into the bag.
Then he’d felt bad about emptying the vacuum bag down the garbage chute, so he’d gone out on the balcony and sprinkled the remains over Avenue of the Americas. There had been a breeze that day, and his fussiest neighbor in the high-rise co-op had stuck her head out, shaking her fist and threatening to call the super to report the transgression. Most of the ashes blew back onto the balcony, and Mason ended up waiting until the wind died down; then he’d swept the area with a broom.
So only half of Trevor Bellamy had made it into the beer stein. That was appropriate, Mason decided. Their father had been only half there while he was alive, too.
“This is cool with me,” said Adam. “Dad always did like his beer.”
Mason held the mug high, its silhouette stark against the deepening light of the afternoon sky.
Mason said, in the French their father had spoken like a native.
Ivy, the artist in the family, favored Italian.
“Take your protein pill and put your helmet on,” Mason said, riffing on the David Bowie song. “Let’s do this thing.”
Ivy lowered her sunglasses over her eyes. “Mom loves skiing so much. It’s so sad that she’ll never ski again.”
“I’ll film it so she can watch.” Adam took off one glove with his teeth and reached up to switch on the Go Pro camera affixed to the top of his helmet.
“Should we say a few words?” asked Ivy.
“If I say no, will that stop you?” Mason removed the duct tape from the lid of the beer stein.
Ivy stuck out her tongue at him, shifting into bratty-sister mode. Then she looked up at Adam and spoke to the camera. “Hey, Mom. We were just wishing you could be here with us to say goodbye to Daddy. We all made it to the summit of Cloud Piercer, just like he wanted. It’s kind of surreal, finding winter here when the summer is just beginning where you are, at Willow Lake. It feels somehow like…I don’t know…like we’re unstuck in time.”
Ivy’s voice wavered with emotion. “Anyway, so here I am with my two big brothers. Daddy always loved it when the three of us were together, skiing and having fun.”
Adam moved his head to let the camera record the majestic scenery all around them. The sculpted crags of the Southern Alps, which ran the entire length of New Zealand’s south island, were sharply silhouetted against the sky. Mason wondered what the day had been like when his parents had skied this mountain, their last run together. Was the sky so blue that it hurt the eyes? Did the sharp cold air stab their lungs? Was the silence this deep? Had there been any inkling that the entire face of the mountain was about to bury them?
“Are we ready?” he asked.
Adam and Ivy nodded. He studied his little sister’s face, now soft with the sadness of missing her father. She’d had a special closeness with him, and she’d taken his death hard—maybe even harder than their mother had.
“Who’s going first?” asked Adam.
“It can’t be me,” said Mason. “You, um, don’t want to get caught in the blowback, if you know what I mean.” He gestured with the beer stein.
“Oh, right,” said Ivy. “You go last, then.”
Adam twisted the camera so it faced uphill. “Let’s take it one at a time, okay? So we don’t cause another avalanche.”
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Monday, August 3rd: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, August 4th: The Sassy Bookster
Wednesday, August 5th: Book Reviews & More by Kathy
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Friday, August 7th: Raven Haired Girl
Monday, August 10th: Mom in Love with Fiction
Tuesday, August 11th: The Romance Dish
Wednesday, August 12th: Written Love Reviews
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Friday, August 14th: A Chick Who Reads
Monday, August 17th: Urban Girl Reader
Tuesday, August 18th: Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Wednesday, August 19th: FictionZeal
Thursday, August 20th: Palmer’s Page Turners
Friday, August 21st: The Bookish and The Romantic