Small town story, one of my faves. This was a great read, except it needed some editing to make the plot tighter. There were also some situations that didn’t feel real. Even so, it’s a delightful story about two families, one rich and the other working class. The Caliendo’s owned a chain of hotel resorts. They were the wealthy family in town. The McAdams were the working class family. In the Caliendo family, there’s Marc Caliendo, who is now in charge of the Caliendo hotel emporium after the death of his father six months ago, his mother Eliza, Carl, his uncle, who is now helping Marc run the emprise, and his sisters Violet, Emma and Izzy, the baby of the family, a little bit spoiled and a lot flighty.
In the McAdams family we have Kent McAdams, who was the maintenance foreman in the resort. There are five McAdams siblings: Kate and Peyton, who are twins, Sidney and Avery, another set of twins a year younger, and Abby, the baby of the family. Kate McAdams returns to Willow Valley after a six-year absence.
Six years ago, she left suddenly, with no explanation and left Marc bereft. They were best friends when children, then high school sweethearts. Even though she made contact with her family later on, she never contacted Marc again. From the beginning, it’s clear that she was forced to leave, that Marc’s father had something to do with her departure, but the whole story is made clear much later in the book. We also know that this forced departure is responsible for her education and that of her siblings. The cause of her return is the funeral of her grandmother. Since Marc’s father is now dead, she felt safe to return. This death is specially hard for Abby, the youngest, because she felt abandoned for the second time in her life. First Kate, now her grandmother. There’s some to-do during the book with Abby, ably assisted by Izzy, her bestie and fellow fightly girl.
Kate’s mother died when she was a teenager, and her father turned to alcohol to mitigate his pain. Kate was left to take care of her younger siblings until her grandmother arrived to help. During her father’s dark period, she assisted him at work, finishing his work chores so he wouldn’t lose their paycheck. Marc was his accomplice in those endeavors. She was friends with Marc Caliendo since they were in grammar school. Marc was being bullied by his older brother and Kate defended him. After that, she helped Marc overcome his shyness and involved him in her mischief. She brought him out from his shadow. Later, after her mother died, he was her support and help when she was attending to her siblings.
Now that Kate is back in town, both families are speculating about the chances of resurrecting Kate and Marc’s relation. They are both loud in their negation, yet, when they meet again, the sparks are there and a huge sense of connection is back. Marc is quick to forgive and they resume their friendship. However, there are also instances in which the hurt of her abandonment causes friction and hurt. Some in their immediate circle are not so happy to see them together again. There’s Melissa, Marc’s secretary and Kate’s arch-enemy from high school. She wants Marc, not for his money or for love, but because he belongs to the same pedigree as her family. Emma, Marc’s sister and bestie with Melissa, naturally feels that Marc belongs with Melissa.
The McAdams sisters embark on a new enterprise related to natural soaps and lotions and Marc is their financial aid. Many things happen related to Marc’s ownership of the resort, and there is an apparent intrigue related to the hotel’s contracts and acquisitions. Kate is brought unwillingly into these machinations.
I liked the story and the characters. I didn’t like a part in which Kate has to manipulate and scheme without Marc’s knowledge. I liked the interventions of family and friends and all the scheming to get Marc and Kate together again. I liked Kate and Marc as characters and was rooting for them. This was not one of those books that break your heart and make you cry, there wasn’t a lot of angst, but there were some heartfelt moments towards the end with a couple of great surprises. All in all, a great beach read.