|Kimberly Fisk has written a debut novel that is filled with potential. Lake Magic has a lot going for it. There are two main characters who redeem themselves by the end of the book, good romance and sexual tension, and a fine dose of falling in love. Unfortunately there are also some freshman mistakes. The two main characters argue through the first half the book, making the reader wait to really get into their romantic possibilities. There is a side story about the heroine’s sister and her life. I didn’t like her and that made it difficult to be engaged in her story. Ultimately, Fisk delivers strongly in the last half of the novel and this made it easy to give Lake Magic three hearts.
Jenny Beckinsale is a kind of widow – except she was never married. Her fiancé of six years, Steven, was killed by a drunk driver. This left Jenny alone with a business they had started, a house and land she had inherited from her grandmother, and a broken heart. She has a supportive family, including a brother who may get his own story, doting parents and a successful sister. Jenny’s past includes several failed businesses and now it looks like Blue Sky Charter Service won’t last either. Her pilot/mechanic is loyal and works whenever she needs him. Lately however, the charters to places like the San Juan Islands and to Canada from Seattle are few and far between. She has some marketing ideas, but isn’t sure how to proceed and is determined to make this work in memory of Steven.
Jenny is thrown for a big loop when she is confronted with a man who tells her he is her new partner. Jared Worth is an ex-military pilot like Steven. They were best friends. Jared had loaned Steven start-up money and the contract stipulated that he would become a partner if the money was not paid back in a specified time. That time is almost up. Jared needs the money and really doesn’t want to be a partner. But if that is his only option, he will use it to force Jenny to ultimately sell and give him his money. Jared is a tortured soul, having grown up in the foster care system and using the military as his escape. He learned the hard way to guard his heart. When the military left him high and dry after a mission, he quit and now wants to buy an island in Mexico, essentially to hide. Jenny’s resistance to selling the business and all that she and Steven had worked for has put a major kink in his plans.
Jenny and Jared argue, fight and plot ways to make each other miserable through much of the first half of the book. They also independently and silently acknowledge their attraction. Jenny denies it because she feels guilty and Jared denies it because he knows it can go nowhere. Many authors use this as foreplay, but it has never really worked for me. And in this case, they are very blatant about their dislike. Jenny sets him up and then Jared sets her up. Everything they do is with the purpose of making the other give up. Jared even moves into Jenny’s house and rather than kicking him out, she allows him to stay with the plan to cook for him (she is a terrible cook) in order to drive him out. Jared’s plan is to move in and drive her crazy, thus making her run to daddy and ask for money.
There is a major side story about Jenny’s sister, Anna, who is a very successful pediatrician but not a successful wife nor a doting mother. Her 13-year-old son, Cody, plays a role in helping get Jared and Jenny together, but he also clearly shows how self-serving Anna is. Her work is way more important than her son, even when he starts acting out to get her attention. Her husband has left in order to help the poor, volunteering for Doctors Without Borders. But we quickly learn that he really left to get away from her. Because she was not likable, it was hard not to feel sorry for Cody and root for his new relationship with Jenny and Jared. This whole plot line felt poorly thought out and was resolved without much real effort or believability.
The second half of the book is the saving grace for this novel. Jenny starts acting like the adult she is and takes charge of her life and her business, while Jared starts acting like a human being and not just a guy with a major chip on his shoulder. They actually begin talking and sharing, putting their relationship on a more even keel. Their sexual tension felt real and added to the story. This part of the book kept me turning the pages and put the entire author’s potential in focus. If Fisk can build on this part of the book and move it into her other books, I will definitely read her again.
Lake Magic is a book that requires the reader to stick with it in order to see the gems beneath the surface. There is magic here, but it takes a while to shine through.