#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
He picked up the résumé on top—Chandler Darrow. “So this guy was great. He’s got an impressive list of credentials—top of his class at SUNY New Paltz, with references from grateful families for the past ten years.”
“No,” said Alice, glaring at the photo attached to the résumé.
“He’s perfect. Single, good personality, seemed really caring.”
“He had shifty eyes.”
“His eyes—they look shifty. You can see it in the picture.”
Gritting his teeth, Mason arranged his face into a smile as he picked up the next one—Marianne Phillips, who also had flawless references, including the fact that she had worked for the Rockefeller family.
“She smelled like garlic,” his mother said.
“No, she didn’t.” Shit, thought Mason. This was not going well.
“I’ve lost most of my abilities, but not my sense of smell. I can’t stand garlic. You know that.”
“Okay, next. Darryl Smits.—”
“Don’t even bother. I can’t stand the name Darryl.”
“I don’t even know what to say to that.”
“I just said it--no.”
“She was the one wearing Crocs. Who wears Crocs to an interview? They look like hooves.”
“I didn’t like him, either. Jesús Garza. In fact, you can cross all the men off the list right now and save us a lot of trouble.” She paused to gaze thoughtfully at the display of family photos on the baby grand. “I’ve never had much luck with men,” she added softly.
“What?” He had no idea what she was talking about. “Never mind,” Mason added, not wanting to get distracted. “Let’s go back over the female candidates.”
She sighed impatiently then glared again at the photo display. There were pictures of her parents—Mason’s grandparents—who lived in Florida. Immediately following his mother’s accident, they had worn themselves out trying to take care of her. Then her dad had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and Mason had stepped in. His mom’s brothers, who ran a seaplane service in Alaska, were too far away to pitch in.
“Why is there a piano in here?” his mother demanded.
“You’ve owned that piano all your life. You love piano music,” Mason pointed out. “Everybody in the family plays.” He’d taken lessons as a kid and used to be really good, but he hadn’t played in years. Why was that? He liked making music, but he just didn’t bother anymore.
“Every time I look at that thing,” his mother said, “it reminds me that I used to be able to play a dozen Chopin nocturnes from memory. Now my piano is nothing but a display area for old photos.”
“We thought you might like having someone in to play for you every once in a while.”
Touché. “I’m pretty rusty, but I’ll try to play for you whenever I’m around, Mom.”
“That’s just it, you’re never around.”
“Hey, check it out,” he said, brandishing one of the résumés, “the woman named Dodie Wechsler says she plays piano and put herself through school giving lessons.”
“She was the chatty one,” said his mother. “She talked too much.”
“Mom, I get that you’ve lost your independence. We all wish you didn’t need a single soul to take care of you. But the reality is, you do. So we damn well better pick somebody, and soon.”
“All the people we met today are unacceptable. There’s not a single one in the bunch I can stand.”
“She kept mentioning what a blessing everything is—this house, the lake, the beginning of summer. I’d feel as if she were judging me all the time.”
“She had a positive attitude. That’s a good thing.”
Alice sniffed and looked away.
“I get it, Mom. The person you need doesn’t exist. Because the person you need is a freaking saint. Just not a churchy one.”
They had run through all the candidates his assistant had found, except one—a last-minute addition of someone named Faith McCallum. Her profile on a jobs website looked promising, though Brenda hadn’t scheduled a meeting with her yet.
What were the chances that she could be the one? Could she be strong enough to handle Alice Bellamy?
Though there was no photograph attached, Mason liked this candidate already. He liked the name—Faith McCallum. It was a sturdy name, even though his mother might think it sounded churchy. It was the name of a person who was organized, in control and classy. The name of a person whose life ran as smoothly as a Tesla motor, and whose saintly qualities would bring peace to the household.
Susan Wiggs's life is all about family, friends...and fiction. She lives at the water's edge on an island in Puget Sound, and she commutes to her writers' group in a 17-foot motorboat. She serves as author liaison for Field's End, a literary community on Bainbridge Island, Washington, bringing inspiration and instruction from the world's top authors to her seaside community. (See www.fieldsend.org) She's been featured in the national media, including NPR's "Talk of the Nation," and is a popular speaker locally and nationally.
According to Publishers Weekly, Wiggs writes with "refreshingly honest emotion," and the Salem Statesman Journal adds that she is "one of our best observers of stories of the heart [who] knows how to capture emotion on virtually every page of every book." Booklist characterizes her books as "real and true and unforgettable." She is the recipient of three RITA (sm) awards and four starred reviews from Publishers Weekly for her books. The Winter Lodge and Passing Through Paradise have appeared on PW’s annual "Best Of" lists. Several of her books have been listed as top Booksense picks and optioned as feature films. Her novels have been translated into more than two dozen languages and have made national bestseller lists, including the USA Today, Washington Post and New York Times lists.
The author is a former teacher, a Harvard graduate, an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier and terrible golfer, yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. Readers can learn more on the web at www.susanwiggs.com and on her lively blog at www.susanwiggs.wordpress.com.