Sweet Lake Review
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Without a little bit of tension and conflict, even contemporary romances can fall flat. But in Sweet Lake, the first book in a new series by author Christine Nolfi, a hardworking businesswoman may face a little more than her share of conflict and family drama.

The story introduces Linnie Wayfair, the manager of the historic Wayfair Inn in Sweet Lake, Ohio. Seven years ago, Linnie’s older brother, Freddie, left for California with a filmmaking dream and a big chunk of the family’s funds. Since then, Linnie has fought to keep the family business afloat—and she’s done so with help from her two best friends and encouragement from the slightly batty but generally well-meaning Sweet Lake Sirens, a group of older women who work behind the scenes to help their neighbors. And when Freddie unexpectedly returns to Sweet Lake, Linnie suddenly finds herself needing all the help she can get.

This first book in the new Sweet Lake series gets off to a somewhat rocky start. Linnie may be a hard-working character who’s been making the most of a difficult situation, but readers may wonder how she’s managed the inn for so long, since she appears to be completely incapable of making a decision. She waffles and flounders and hides in her room whenever faced with a challenge.

Even more frustrating than Linnie’s insecurity, though, is her family’s attitude. Freddie is spoiled and narcissistic, a B-movie filmmaker who owes his entire career to stolen money and embarrassing video footage that he didn’t have permission to release—yet he feels that he deserves more respect and appreciation when he shows his face back in town. But Linnie’s parents might be the worst—because, despite Linnie’s hard work and dedication, despite Freddie’s history and his utter lack of interest in the inn, they still intend to hand everything over to Freddie, based solely on his gender. Their stance alone—but also Linnie’s failure to do anything about it—often makes for a frustrating read.

The role of the Sweet Lake Sirens, too, seems a little unclear in the beginning—who they are and how they’re supposed to fit into the town. (Are they hippies? Witches? Just crazy old ladies?) But, after a while, things start to come together. Linnie gradually begins to stand up for herself. The Sirens’ role becomes more clear. And things at Sweet Lake begin to look more promising. But it isn’t exactly an easy-going journey.

The end of Sweet Lake promises plenty of romance and small-town charm to come—but it gets off to a rather rough start. Only time will tell whether this new series is worth picking up.

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