In this, Seilstad’s third and final novel in the “Lake Manawa Summers,” we are given Lilly’s story; the girl who kept Marguerite in check back when first we met her in “Making Waves.” When I discovered that is who Seilstad’s third and last book in this series was going to be about, I remember thinking what a good choice she had made. Knowing that Lilly’s story is not your typical boy-meets-girl idea (she being a widow) like Marguerite’s and Emily’s was, makes the reader view the novel differently. As a widow with a young son, this had the promise of starting out very melancholy but I appreciated the author not endearing Lilly’s husband to us as a character introduced on the pages in either of the former books. Instead he is a figure present but never developed. Here we get to experience Lilly falling in love not for the first time or in the blush of a first love but a second time that is a more mature, but equally enthralling love. Hero Nick is an admirable guy and just the sort of man we want to see win the stubborn heart of Lilly – he is also the best fit to warm Lilly’s heart to the idea of something new… to loving again.
One of the best things about this series, or this novel in particular is its consistency. Before twenty pages are gone, we are re-introduced to both of the female protagonists from the prior books and I loved that the author kept such close tabs on their friendship. In the case of this novel, it was important to see Lilly at the center of a friendship that would do anything to see her happy and well looked after, even if it means going “around” her pride because she had a lot working against her. If there is one thing that I would really wish different it would be moving things along a touch more quickly. Like the other books, this one tends to take too much time on events (one event can lag on for two to two-and-a-half chapters) – overusing and over-playing them. On the other end of the spectrum, I do not like a story to not take time at key moments, furthering them but even given that, I think this could have been written better and without lagging on the majority of occasions that are undeserving of so much space.
Lorna Seilstad saved the best for last; “The Ride of her Life” is an endearing, entertaining, quick read. Overall, I think it was strongest in the series. Who knew that a secondary character of the past would turn up and be an unwitting villain? That was the big ringer in ‘Life.’ (Seriously, I liked him!) The hints of mystery seemed more appropriate as if it belonged here as well. Getting to know Lilly as a person was lovely and her son, Levi is as cute as a button plus we meet a new character in the adorable Eugina who is looking for someone to take an interest in her. It was fabulous that Nick wasn’t forcing himself to set aside his thoughts of loving Lilly because he “couldn’t” afford to fall in love but rather that he needed to use patience with her. As the “author’s note” points out, it is hard to say good-bye to each of these characters – they were a memorable trio of women… but I also look forward to the next chapter of new characters that in the same note she promised us is to come. It is one I hope to see materialize in the next year.
*Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for reviewing purposes.