The One Who Stays by Toni Blake
This first book in the Summer Island series hooked me from the start. Unlike many romances, I wasn't always sure who Meg would choose. It's nice not knowing until the end.
Meg Sloan returned to Summer Island for unhappy reasons, but she's come to love her grandmother's island. After her grandmother passes away, she's remained on the island running her grandmother's inn. It's a roof over her head and a steady income, but she isn't sure it's all she wants from life.
Part of that lies in the part-time romance she has going with a local fisherman. He comes and goes as he wants, and she's tired of watching him go away for weeks at a time and waiting for his return. She wonders if Zack will ever want to be part of a committed relationship.
As spring arrives, Meg finds herself hiring a newcomer to the island. Seth Darden is only around for a few months, but he needs the money and agrees to be the Summerbrook Inn's handyman. He is really at the inn for another reason, but he hopes never to reveal the truth.
Meg finds herself torn between two men. She's definitely intrigued by Seth, even if he is younger. Meanwhile, Zack seems to be changing. He's talking more about how much he loves Meg. Is his sudden claim that he loves her enough?
To add to her confusion, Seth stumbles across an old diary hidden in the floorboards. It's her grandmother's diary. In it is a confession that Meg never sees coming. Her grandmother may be offering the best advice from the pages of her diary, but it's up to Meg to decide what her heart wants.
There were several things I found felt right at home. I, too, live for the scent of lilacs in the spring. My back deck is surrounded on three sides (minus the stairs) so that I can sit on the covered back deck and inhale that scent as I work. I related to Meg for that reason. Like her, I also have roses, but they're just not the same.
Now, I've never been to Michigan's islands, but as I read this book, I was thinking of Block Island. I fell in love with Block Island two years ago and would love to live there. I managed to avoid the island in peak tourist season, which is my preferred time to get to know an area. There is a charm to being on an island in the off-season as the summer crowds just start to return. While Meg was busying talking about the reasons she'd like to leave, I was thinking that they were the reasons I'd want to stay.
Spoilers are something I work hard to avoid. What I do want to say is that the man who loses out in this first book in the series will hopefully get to tell his own story in the future. I really want to learn more about what happens to him! Write as fast as you can Ms. Blake. I am eager for the next chapter in this island's tale.