Whispers at Willow Lake
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Pages: 78
Goes well with: Blueberry scones and hazelnut coffee.

Ryder and Ali were friends growing up until tragedy tore them apart. Now Ryder’s out to make amends, and the years have taught him restraint, which is just as well since his high-school nemesis is driving the cop car that pulls him over. Ryder remembers Mama Stalling’s beloved Bible quote, “Patience is better than pride,” but sometimes it’s just so hard to even want to be patient, and sometimes being angry feels like the only possible answer.

While Ali may not be ready to pick up her lost relationship with Ryder, she doesn’t want to get rid of him straight away either. Soon he’s staying at her beloved Willow Inn, “atop a cove along the prettiest inlet of the quiet lake,” remembering childhood and regretting all he’s lost. Storms have blown through the inn’s beautiful landscape, and through Ryder’s life. But now a new storm stirs in Ali’s thoughts, bringing memories of all she’s left behind.

“Remember… His will, not yours,” Mama Stallings always said. So Ryder works on the inn’s ruined grounds, finding release as he labors to renew their beauty to what God might have intended. Meanwhile Ali walks through rooms filled with memories. Perhaps wounded lives can be put back together too, with a little hard work. And a few unguarded comments from Ryder’s nemesis might help.

The dialog is natural, blending youth’s sarcasm and hurt pride with genuine love and mercy. The scenery is beautiful and draws the reader in. The Bible weaves its way naturally like another character through the protagonists' lives. And the past slowly reveals itself with unexpected glimpses of youth’s promise and folly and hope.

A lovely story, set in a wholly believable, beautiful place, I thoroughly enjoyed Whispers at Willow Lake, and if it is really the first of a series I’ll be eager to read more.

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