Saturday, August 24, 2019
Review - - The One Who Stays
The One Who Stays
by Toni Blake
A Summer Island Novel - Book 1
Release Date: July 30, 2019
Reviewed by PJ
Summer Island has always been home to Meg Sloan. She runs the Summerbrook Inn, like her grandmother did, and she loves the laid-back pace of life and the close-knit community the island offers. Meg also loves Zack Sheppard, but what she doesn’t love is Zack’s refusal to commit to an exclusive relationship.
Seth Darden arrives on Summer Island in search of summer work, but also in search of something else—his past. There are secrets buried at the Summerbrook Inn, secrets that forged the path of Seth’s life. But he wasn’t counting on falling for the lovely innkeeper, Meg.
When Meg meets Seth, she can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them, even though she feels like her heart has been torn in half. But if Zack won’t commit, should she take the leap with Seth? And can she even have a future with him if he can’t reckon with his past?
Toni Blake is an author whose books I've enjoyed over the years. More than a few sit on my keeper shelves so I was excited to hear that she was embarking upon a new contemporary romance series. The One Who Stays, a slow-paced, small-town story launches her A Summer Island series and left me with mixed feelings. I'm not sure if this book is intended to be a contemporary romance or a women's fiction story so I'll approach it from both perspectives.
As a romance, the story left me wanting more. I knew pretty early on which of the two men in Meg's life I preferred but I was never convinced that Meg's ultimate decision came from a place of deep, genuine, "I can't live without him" love. They have a solid friendship but I wanted more romantic development, more emotional depth between them. I like them both and I'm hopeful that their relationship will continue to evolve throughout the series and that I'll have that certainty by the end.
As a coming of age, women's fiction novel, I enjoyed it very much. Because, even though Meg is almost forty, because of past events that impacted her life, this is in many ways her coming of age. She's just now beginning to figure out what she wants from life, and gathering the courage to go after it. Zack and Seth are both on journeys of their own, and both play critical roles in Meg's journey, as do Meg's close friends on the island, but her main source of guidance comes from the diary that appears during the renovation of her inn. Giving her unexpected insights into her beloved grandmother's life as a young woman, her diary provides both a link to the woman who was so instrumental in Meg's life and a blueprint to aid Meg in figuring out her own life.
Blake does a good job of creating the laid-back environment of Northern Michigan's islands and the close-knit community of individuals who live there year-round. The supporting cast is interesting, with color provided by quirky islanders, and intriguing newcomers with past baggage, and a few secrets, that will undoubtedly be unraveled in the books to come.
Book two in the series, The Giving Heart, is scheduled to be released October 29 and features Meg's sister, Lila and real estate developer, Beck in a Christmas romance. I already have it on pre-order. But the book I'm most intrigued by is The Love We Keep, third in the series and scheduled for release January 28, 2020. I have a suspicion that one will be overflowing with all the "feels."
On which side of the book fence do you fall: Women's Fiction or Contemporary Romance? Or do you enjoy both?
Have you ever read Toni Blake?
How do you feel about love triangles?
One person who comments before 11:00 PM, August 25, will receive a signed, print copy of The One Who Stays. (U.S. addresses only)