Starlight on Willow Lake
by Susan Wiggs
Series: Lakeshore Chronicles #11
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: August 25th, 2015
Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Join #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Wiggs on a journey to a charming Catskills town that feels like home and where a cast of brilliantly drawn characters awaits in a poignant story of reconciliation and the healing power of love.
Mason Bellamy’s world is fast, loud and decorated with the most extreme risks. Nothing can tempt him to give up his high-rolling Manhattan life and high-maintenance girlfriend—not even family. When he’s called home to upstate Avalon to help his quadriplegic mother in her deepest time of need, he sets his mind on temporary, determined to craft a way to care for her from a distance.
Alice Hayes is supposed to be his best solution. Hiring the gentle-hearted yet struggling caregiver as a live-in nurse gives Alice and her two daughters shelter, his mother companionship and Mason the freedom to escape to his adrenaline-pumped, no-attachments routine. But Alice’s beautiful presence promises to repair Mason’s frayed family ties. And his unstoppable attraction to Alice could lead to the most exhilarating thrill of his life.
“Wiggs’s storytelling is heartwarming… [for] romance and women’s fiction readers of any age.”—Publishers Weekly
Cara shrugged and turned away. “Like I said, junk mail.”
Faith regarded the beautiful photograph of a college campus. A letter on university letterhead slipped out. There was a personal note at the bottom—“Cara, you have a bright future ahead of you”—and it appeared to be signed by hand from the director of admissions. “It says here that based on your test scores, you’re invited to apply early, and the admission fee will be waived.”
Another shrug. “Not interested.”
“You didn’t tell me you got your scores back.”
“Oh. So I got my scores back.”
Cara drove Faith crazy as if it were her job to do so. Daily.
“And?” Faith demanded.
“And I did okay.”
“Cara Rose McCallum.”
Heaving a long-suffering sigh, Cara dug in her backpack and came up with a printout.
Faith scanned the numbers, assessing her elder daughter’s verbal and quantitative achievements. If she was reading it right, her daughter had crushed the hardest standardized test given at Avalon High. “And you were going to show me this…when?”
“It’s just a bunch of numbers.” She flopped down again and went back to her homework.
“Numbers that tell us you’re in the ninety-ninth percentile of students who took the test.”
“Does that mean she’s really smart?” Ruby asked.
“Really, really smart,” said Faith. Pride, exasperation and frustration mingled together. When a girl was as smart as Cara, she should be proud of her own potential, not blasé or worse, defeated. Faith wanted to give her the world. She wanted to give both girls the world. Instead, she had them living in a trailer park while she held on by the tips of her fingernails.
“If she’s so smart,” Ruby mused, “why does she keep forgetting me after school?”
Faith ignored the question as she looked through the bills—two ominously thick packets from St. Francis Hospital and Diabetes Center. Dennis had died there three years ago. She had been paying a dead man’s bills for three years. The vows said “until death do us part,” but clearly the hospital billing system still believed that even in death, the bills didn’t have to end.
The next envelope gave her a jolt. She opened it, read the single page. “Oh, come on,” she muttered under her breath. “Really?”
“What now?” asked Cara.
Faith sent her a warning look. “E-V-I-C—”
“T-I-O-N. You don’t have to spell it in front of me,” said Ruby. “I know how to spell it, and I know what it means.” She got up and crossed the room, leaning over Faith’s shoulder. “And I know what means.”
The new management company gave her no quarter. She had tried reasoning with them and had held them at bay for several weeks, but apparently they were done waiting. She hated the tone of the letter: Did they think she actually had the money and was holding out on them?
Cara slammed her book shut. “It means we’re moving again,” she snapped. “That’s great. Just great. Two weeks before school lets out. Maybe we could go for a record—how many times do we have to change schools in one year?”
“Cara, I’m not doing this on purpose.” Faith felt sick. “I know you like Avalon High. I’ll try my best to see if you can stay in the district.”
Cara yanked her bike helmet from a closet by the door. “I’m going to work. I guess I’ll have to give notice at the bakery.”
“Come on, Cara—”
“It says we’ve got twenty-four hours.” Cara snatched up the letter and shoved it under Faith’s nose.
“I’ll figure something out,” said Faith. “I always do.”
“She always does,” Ruby said loyally.
Faith gave her a hug, drawing Cara into it. “What did I do to deserve you two? You’re not in the ninety-ninth percentile. You’re in the one hundred and tenth percentile. A hundred and ten percent awesome.”
“Right,” said Cara, stepping back and cracking a smile for the first time just before she went out the door. “That’s us. A hundred and ten percent pure, unadulterated awesome. I’ve got to go.”
“Bring me a kolache,” Ruby piped up.
“Sure thing.” The Sky River Bakery, where Cara worked, made delicious sugar-free kolaches. Faith’s daughter liked working there. She liked her school.
She hated being broke all the time.
But not nearly as much as Faith hated it. She watched her elder daughter ride away on a bike she’d snatched from the donation pile at Helpline House, a local charity. Other kids had cars, but Cara didn’t even have her license yet, because the driver’s ed fees were too high, not to mention insurance for a teenage driver.
She sat down and drew Ruby onto her knees, holding her close. Then she tightened her arms around the child in her lap, feeling her younger daughter’s impossibly small frame. Ruby felt as fragile as a baby bird. “Let’s check on your sugar bugs,” she said. The endless routine of testing her levels, administering insulin and managing her diet and exercise was always at the forefront of their lives.
“My meds cost the moon,” Ruby said.
“Where did you hear that?”
“The school nurse. I wasn’t supposed to hear, but I heard. So I asked her what the moon costs and she said it’s just an expression, but I know it means it costs a lot of money. Which we don’t have.”
“We have exactly what we need,” said Faith.
Excerpt tour for STARLIGHT ON WILLOW LAKE:
Monday, August 3rd: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, August 4th: The Sassy Bookster
Wednesday, August 5th: Book Reviews & More by Kathy
Thursday, August 6th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
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
Thursday, August 13th: Books and Spoons
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