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The One Who Stays

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Lose your heart to Summer Island, where summers are easy, winters are cozy and friends welcome you with open arms. Summer Island has always been home to Meg Sloan. She runs the Summerbrook Inn, like her grandmother did, and she loves the laid-back pace of life and the close-knit community the island offers. Meg also loves Zack Sheppard, a local man she’s been seeing for yea Lose your heart to Summer Island, where summers are easy, winters are cozy and friends welcome you with open arms. Summer Island has always been home to Meg Sloan. She runs the Summerbrook Inn, like her grandmother did, and she loves the laid-back pace of life and the close-knit community the island offers. Meg also loves Zack Sheppard, a local man she’s been seeing for years. What she doesn’t love is Zack’s refusal to commit to her, his reluctance to be exclusive with her. Seth Darden arrives on Summer Island in search of summer work, but also in search of something else—his past. There are secrets buried at the Summerbrook Inn, secrets that forged the path of Seth’s life. But he wasn’t counting on falling for the lovely innkeeper, Meg. When Meg meets Seth, she can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them, even though she feels like her heart has been torn in half. But if Zack won’t commit, should she take the leap with Seth? And can she even have a future with him if he can’t reckon with his past?


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Lose your heart to Summer Island, where summers are easy, winters are cozy and friends welcome you with open arms. Summer Island has always been home to Meg Sloan. She runs the Summerbrook Inn, like her grandmother did, and she loves the laid-back pace of life and the close-knit community the island offers. Meg also loves Zack Sheppard, a local man she’s been seeing for yea Lose your heart to Summer Island, where summers are easy, winters are cozy and friends welcome you with open arms. Summer Island has always been home to Meg Sloan. She runs the Summerbrook Inn, like her grandmother did, and she loves the laid-back pace of life and the close-knit community the island offers. Meg also loves Zack Sheppard, a local man she’s been seeing for years. What she doesn’t love is Zack’s refusal to commit to her, his reluctance to be exclusive with her. Seth Darden arrives on Summer Island in search of summer work, but also in search of something else—his past. There are secrets buried at the Summerbrook Inn, secrets that forged the path of Seth’s life. But he wasn’t counting on falling for the lovely innkeeper, Meg. When Meg meets Seth, she can’t ignore the sparks that fly between them, even though she feels like her heart has been torn in half. But if Zack won’t commit, should she take the leap with Seth? And can she even have a future with him if he can’t reckon with his past?

30 review for The One Who Stays

  1. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

    3.5 Stars! Romantic, engaging, and sweet! The One Who Stays is a heartwarming, inspiring tale featuring the dependable innkeeper and cancer survivor Meg and the charismatic, secretive, hardworking Seth as they work together to unravel secrets from the past and find a place to truly call home. The prose is light and hopeful. The characters are supportive, welcoming, and authentic. And the plot is a dramatic tale full of relationship dynamics, genuine emotion, family, friendship, community, life, los 3.5 Stars! Romantic, engaging, and sweet! The One Who Stays is a heartwarming, inspiring tale featuring the dependable innkeeper and cancer survivor Meg and the charismatic, secretive, hardworking Seth as they work together to unravel secrets from the past and find a place to truly call home. The prose is light and hopeful. The characters are supportive, welcoming, and authentic. And the plot is a dramatic tale full of relationship dynamics, genuine emotion, family, friendship, community, life, loss, love, and a touch of romance. Overall, The One Who Stays is a heartfelt, entertaining tale about accepting the things you cannot change, letting go of the past, rediscovering one’s self, taking chances, and moving on. Thank you to Harlequin Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Simply Love Book Reviews

    What a beautiful book this was. Filled with love, heart-break, a little intrigue and some amazing women who will make you proud. Meg grew up on Summer Island and wouldn’t trade her life for anything. She was in love and knew that she was loved back. Unfortunately, he won’t commit to her and she’s finding that it’s something that she needs. Everyone assumes that her and Zack will be together forever but she can’t stand him sailing away when the mood strikes. Along comes Seth, the summer worker who What a beautiful book this was. Filled with love, heart-break, a little intrigue and some amazing women who will make you proud. Meg grew up on Summer Island and wouldn’t trade her life for anything. She was in love and knew that she was loved back. Unfortunately, he won’t commit to her and she’s finding that it’s something that she needs. Everyone assumes that her and Zack will be together forever but she can’t stand him sailing away when the mood strikes. Along comes Seth, the summer worker who seems to be a little bit more than meets the eye. Meg can’t help but notice how handsome and helpful he is. She also can’t help the spark that ignites whenever he touches her. But, her heart belongs to Zack. Or does it? Yes, Seth does have something he is hiding. How does he tell her that he’s looking for the one thing that would bring her the most joy without telling her how he knows where it is or how it got there? How does he explain the life he’s led or the real reason why he’s on Summer Island without breaking her heart and having her hate him? He’s fallen in love with that little girl that was running around the last time he was here and now he faces a real dilemma. Especially when his past comes walking through the front door of Summerbrook Inn. Now, he has no choice but to come clean, to face his past and hope that Meg accepts him in her future. This story was so emotional. So beautiful. I give Toni Blake a lot of credit writing such a complex story line that had characters that were so intense and impassioned. The other women in the book are just as intriguing as Meg was and played such important roles in her life. Suzanne is an enigma and I am not sure about Dahlia yet. But, I am sure their stories are coming and we’ll figure it out. I cried and smiled in the end and silently thanked Toni Blake for writing such a beautiful love story. I was really moved and touched by this story and hope you all are too. Review copy provided for a voluntary review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    I enjoyed The One Who Stays, it provides a good book-cation! It was a cute and sweet romance. Meg loves Summer Island, the memory of her grandmother, Summerbrook Inn (the inn her grandmother left her) and Zack, a local fisherman who simply won’t commit. Seth is a “wander” searching for his past on Summer Island. He meets Meg as a handyman and helps Meg see her dreams again while remodeling Summerbrook Inn. What he didn’t plan on was falling for Meg. Meg is conflicted with her attraction to Seth and I enjoyed The One Who Stays, it provides a good book-cation! It was a cute and sweet romance. Meg loves Summer Island, the memory of her grandmother, Summerbrook Inn (the inn her grandmother left her) and Zack, a local fisherman who simply won’t commit. Seth is a “wander” searching for his past on Summer Island. He meets Meg as a handyman and helps Meg see her dreams again while remodeling Summerbrook Inn. What he didn’t plan on was falling for Meg. Meg is conflicted with her attraction to Seth and her feelings for Zack. The story moves between character with multiple points of view. I'm not a fan of multiple points of view especially with lots of internal dialog. In the end, I liked it but it kept me from loving it. I received this ARC copy of The One Who Stays from HARLEQUIN - Romance (U.S. & Canada) - HQN. This is my honest and voluntary review. The One Who Stays is set for publication July 30, 2019. My Rating: 3 stars Written by: Toni Blake Series: Summer Island (Book 1) Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages Publisher: HQN; Original edition Publication Date: July 30, 2019 ISBN-10: 1335504982 ISBN-13: 978-1335504982 Genre: Woman's Lit Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/One-Who-Stays-... Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    I was very excited about this new series from Toni Blake. I’m a big fan of her Destiny series and when she said that this series would have a similar feel, I couldn’t wait to get started! I will say that I definitely got some of the same feels. Set in a small town, there’s a much sweeter and slower pace to these books that I absolutely adore. But for me, the biggest similarity was the conflict. ONE RECKLESS SUMMER had one of the most interesting conflicts I’ve ever read and this book has so I was very excited about this new series from Toni Blake. I’m a big fan of her Destiny series and when she said that this series would have a similar feel, I couldn’t wait to get started! I will say that I definitely got some of the same feels. Set in a small town, there’s a much sweeter and slower pace to these books that I absolutely adore. But for me, the biggest similarity was the conflict. ONE RECKLESS SUMMER had one of the most interesting conflicts I’ve ever read and this book has something quite similar to it. I will give a warning to readers though. The heroine, Meg, is in a one-sided relationship with a local guy named Zach. Although they’ve had this thing going on between them, Zach has never really fully committed to her, leaving her wondering if she’s even in a proper relationship at all. This is where Seth comes in and he basically sweeps her off her feet. Their chemistry is instant and fiery, making her relationship with Zach seem like nothing in comparison. I know a lot of people will see this as cheating, which is why I wanted to give a warning because I know for a lot of people it’s a hard limit in the romance books they read. I’m in the same boat, but actually Blake made this conflict work for the book. This book is really about choosing your own happiness and following your heart and I think she handles it well. But I know that from the blurb, it kind of gives off a different vibe. In the end, I enjoyed it and it’s quite obvious who the heroine will end up with. I know that I will be looking forward to the other books in the series. There really is no one who writes Contemporary Romances like Toni Blake. She simply writes some of my favorites.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alecia (The Staircase Reader)

    Review will be posted soon!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    *Received copy from third party source for review. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this book. I didn't like it, but that is purely my opinion and doesn't speak to the plot, writing, pacing, etc. It just wasn't for me. I hate love triangles, and this one has a doozy. I didn't like the main character, Meg, who I felt didn't make good decisions or just let decisions be made for her by the men in her life. I didn't like either of the main male characters, Seth and Zach, for a host of reasons. I *Received copy from third party source for review. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this book. I didn't like it, but that is purely my opinion and doesn't speak to the plot, writing, pacing, etc. It just wasn't for me. I hate love triangles, and this one has a doozy. I didn't like the main character, Meg, who I felt didn't make good decisions or just let decisions be made for her by the men in her life. I didn't like either of the main male characters, Seth and Zach, for a host of reasons. I wouldn't have chosen either. The secondary characters weren't as developed as I needed them to be to care about them. I'm sure there are many, many readers who will be all about this one. Me? Not so much. In an interesting twist, however, I've never read any Toni Blake before, and I thought the writing was good enough I would look up some of her backlist with different plots. I appreciated the writing despite not liking the book. Maybe a different book by Blake will score on both.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    3 stars! The blurb is intriguing. However, I thought this was a romance novel - based on the title (my fault) It is, but it dwells more on the heroine finding herself through reading her grandmother's journal and the love triangle that follows. Unfortunate for me, I am not fond of reading about finding one's self. I find it boring and while I am looking forward for the love triangle, it lacks some kick. The story was a bit slow (at least for me) This book is captivating on its own. But, like I s 3 stars! The blurb is intriguing. However, I thought this was a romance novel - based on the title (my fault) It is, but it dwells more on the heroine finding herself through reading her grandmother's journal and the love triangle that follows. Unfortunate for me, I am not fond of reading about finding one's self. I find it boring and while I am looking forward for the love triangle, it lacks some kick. The story was a bit slow (at least for me) This book is captivating on its own. But, like I said, it just wasn't for me. However, if you enjoy reading woman's fiction, you should give this book a try. ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    The One Who Stays is a heartwarming, inspiring story about Meg, a cancer survivor and innkeeper who lives year round on Summer Island. Meg moved to Summer Island while recovering from leukemia. Her grandmother took care of her, then Meg stayed to help her run the Inn, she never left. Meg is a hardworking woman who is content in her life with Zack, a fisherman who spends as much or more time at sea than with Meg. Recently, she is realizing that she wants more of a commitment than Zack is willing The One Who Stays is a heartwarming, inspiring story about Meg, a cancer survivor and innkeeper who lives year round on Summer Island. Meg moved to Summer Island while recovering from leukemia. Her grandmother took care of her, then Meg stayed to help her run the Inn, she never left. Meg is a hardworking woman who is content in her life with Zack, a fisherman who spends as much or more time at sea than with Meg. Recently, she is realizing that she wants more of a commitment than Zack is willing to give. When Seth Darden appears on the island looking for work as a handyman, neither of them is prepared for the emotions each stirs in the other. This was a sweet, heartwarming story that will have a happy ending if they can move beyond their secrets and be totally honest with one another. They both have issues in their past that they need to deal with before they can move forward to find a happy ending and a place to call home. I enjoyed this hopeful romance. The women who live on the island and are Meg's friends, are supportive, welcoming, and authentic. The story is not only a romance, but there is a bit of a mystery as well as some drama. It has relationship dynamics, emotion, family, friendship, community, life, loss, and love. The story was well written with good pacing. Overall, The One Who Stays is a heartfelt story about accepting the things you cannot change, letting go of the past and the things that make you unhappy, taking chances, and moving on. This story introduces Summer Island and the wonderful people that live there. I read the second book in the series before this one, so I already know this is a great series and I highly recommend both this book and the series. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Juliana Philippa

    4 stars [ALERT: shelving could disclose somewhat spoiler] She supposed if you didn't ask for what you wanted in this world, you could only blame yourself for not having it. Warning: Sorry (not sorry), this review is expletive-filled; enjoy! I'm going to start with the headline that this romance book is unlike any other romance book I have ever read . And I mean that in reference to books that truly fall in the romance genre, not fiction books that heavily feature a romance. When compared to 4 stars [ALERT: shelving could disclose somewhat spoiler] She supposed if you didn't ask for what you wanted in this world, you could only blame yourself for not having it. Warning: Sorry (not sorry), this review is expletive-filled; enjoy! I'm going to start with the headline that this romance book is unlike any other romance book I have ever read . And I mean that in reference to books that truly fall in the romance genre, not fiction books that heavily feature a romance. When compared to every single other trade romance book I have read ... this was insanity. INSANITY, PEOPLE!! Let me be clear, it wasn't a bad thing—I mean yes, it was a TOTAL mind-fuck—but as you can see from my 4-star rating, I ended up very much enjoying this book and found it to be a lovely and emotional read. So where does the mind-fucking come in? you ask. THERE ARE TWO HEROES AND YOU TRULY DON'T KNOW WHO THE HEROINE WILL END UP WITH! AND IT'S ALSO NOT CLEAR WHICH ONE YOU SHOULD BE HOPING SHE ENDS UP WITH!!!! Like WHAT. THE. FUCK. #mindblown Yes, sometimes romances feature a love triangle setup (though it's quite rare to begin with), but at least with all the ones I've read, it has always been extremely clear who the "hero" is and who the heroine should and will end up with—whether the other guy is setup as the villain or actually a supremely likable guy (who is probably then going to get his own story later on). WE HAVE CLARITY, PEOPLE. I hate love triangles, so was nervous about this from the start. Because of the book summary, I knew that Meg, our heroine, is in a relationship with Zack, but it's one of those "it's complicated" situations and is very undefined (to the point of being non-exclusive, we learn). But whatever, Meg has a boyfriend—no big deal, I'm going to expand my horizons and be a big girl; I can deal with a love triangle, sometimes the author does it well and doesn't make it too angsty (not an angst fan). Usually the new guy coming in is going to be our hero, but from the book summary it actually wasn't clear whether that would be the case—note I wrote from the book summary. Because of course, within the first few pages we're going to know immediately. Duh. So I start reading ... and I notice that I'm getting much more of the story from Meg's perspective than Seth's. He's staying a bit of a mystery to me longer than I would have expected, not getting a feel for him yet or what he's about, but okay, maybe that's on purpose, sometimes author's don't do an equal balance at the beginning. Hmm, but this is weird, I'm starting to get third-person perspective from Zack—and not a paragraph or two, I'm talking whole sections. Umm, and he's realizing he actually loves Meg? And he doesn't want to lose what they have? And he's changing his behavior and wants to express himself more to her and make his feelings clear? (If that's not confusing enough, let me be clear that during all this, it's also very clear that she still loves Zack; yes, it's complicated, because she has resentment towards him and is dissatisfied with their relationship, but she does truly love him.) Soooo ... Zack is the hero? But she and Seth have this explosive chemistry building up to something, right? Okay, answer received: yes. And now they're developing an emotional connection and bond? I'm also learning about Seth finally and getting bigger sections from his POV. But. So. What? Zack is off sailing and missing her? And she misses him?? But Seth is drawn to her?? And she's drawn back??? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE PEOPLE?!?! WHO AM I SUPPOSED TO WANT HER TO END UP? One of the defining characteristics of a romance book is that you know the ending—it's all about the journey. So yeah, this book was taking me on a journey alright, BUT WHAT THE FUCK WAS THE DESTINATION???????? Because I want you to be able to experience the same mind-fucking that I did (I know, you're welcome), I'm not going to say much more. Very compelling and well-written characters. Meg is the main character, Zack and Seth are the supporting actors; the entire story is character-driven and really takes you on ups and downs (clearly). Blake did such a good job of portraying the tension and confusion that each of the characters feel, the weight of these momentous decisions they're taking and choices they have to make, how their past has shaped them and how they're trying to decide what they want for their futures. Is another one of those few romances that brought a tear to my eye (very rare). Would have really liked an Epilogue; wanted a closing frame showing me what Meg and (view spoiler)[no fucking way, not ruining it, sucker! ;-P (hide spoiler)] look like together, a little farther down the road. *This review is of an ARC provided by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Some changes and/or edits may be made to the final published version.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Under the Covers Book Blog

    I was very excited about this new series from Toni Blake. I’m a big fan of her Destiny series and when she said that this series would have a similar feel, I couldn’t wait to get started! I will say that I definitely got some of the same feels. Set in a small town, there’s a much sweeter and slower pace to these books that I absolutely adore. But for me, the biggest similarity was the conflict. ONE RECKLESS SUMMER had one of the most interesting conflicts I’ve ever read and this book has somethi I was very excited about this new series from Toni Blake. I’m a big fan of her Destiny series and when she said that this series would have a similar feel, I couldn’t wait to get started! I will say that I definitely got some of the same feels. Set in a small town, there’s a much sweeter and slower pace to these books that I absolutely adore. But for me, the biggest similarity was the conflict. ONE RECKLESS SUMMER had one of the most interesting conflicts I’ve ever read and this book has something quite similar to it. I will give a warning to readers though. The heroine, Meg, is in a one-sided relationship with a local guy named Zach. Although they’ve had this thing going on between them, Zach has never really fully committed to her, leaving her wondering if she’s even in a proper relationship at all. This is where Seth comes in and he basically sweeps her off her feet. Their chemistry is instant and fiery, making her relationship with Zach seem like nothing in comparison. I know a lot of people will see this as cheating, which is why I wanted to give a warning because I know for a lot of people it’s a hard limit in the romance books they read. I’m in the same boat, but actually Blake made this conflict work for the book. This book is really about choosing your own happiness and following your heart and I think she handles it well. But I know that from the blurb, it kind of gives off a different vibe. In the end, I enjoyed it and it’s quite obvious who the heroine will end up with. I know that I will be looking forward to the other books in the series. There really is no one who writes Contemporary Romances like Toni Blake. She simply writes some of my favorites.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Good book, though it read more like women's fiction than the romance I thought it was. It was enjoyable, but I frequently found my attention wandering to scrolling through facebook rather than reading the book. The only thing that kept me on task was that I was reading on a transatlantic flight, so distractions were limited. Meg is an innkeeper on Summer Island, running the inn that she inherited from her grandmother. She retreated to the inn several years earlier, recovering from both a serious Good book, though it read more like women's fiction than the romance I thought it was. It was enjoyable, but I frequently found my attention wandering to scrolling through facebook rather than reading the book. The only thing that kept me on task was that I was reading on a transatlantic flight, so distractions were limited. Meg is an innkeeper on Summer Island, running the inn that she inherited from her grandmother. She retreated to the inn several years earlier, recovering from both a serious illness and the desertion of her fiancé when he found out about that illness. She likes the quieter lifestyle and the closeness of the resident community but also enjoys the bustle of the summer tourist season. For the past five years, she has been in a relationship of sorts with Zack, but she finds herself wanting more than he is willing to give. Zack is a fisherman who spends long periods on his boat. He is content to leave his relationship with Meg as it is. He likes that she is there for him when he returns to port on Summer Island and doesn't complain when he leaves again. Seth came to the island in search of work but also looking for something from his past. He visited once as a child, along with his grandparents, and a memory from that time has brought him back. Seth's past haunts him, and he is looking to make some significant changes. The book opens as Zack leaves Meg once again. It is their fifth anniversary and Meg had made plans, but Zack behaves as if it is just another day. Meg finally faces the fact that Zack is unlikely ever to give her the commitment that she needs. With the idea that Zack may no longer be in her life, Meg contemplates the idea of selling the inn and moving away, starting a new life somewhere that she can find what she needs. Fate intervenes with the arrival of Seth, a handsome, younger man who is looking for work as a handyman. He is light-hearted and charming, and Meg hires him to do some needed repairs on the inn. She doesn't expect the attraction that flares between them. I had fun watching the friendship that developed between Seth and Meg. He is an outrageous flirt and makes no secret of his attraction to Meg, but leaves it up to her whether to pursue it. In the meantime, they work together on projects around the inn, and Seth's attention to Meg gives her a taste of what could be. I loved all the little things that he did to show her how special she is. Meg is torn between her loyalty to Zack and the feelings she develops for Seth. Things become more complicated when Seth's presence makes Zack realize that he could lose the woman who is such a big part of his life. Can he let go of his past enough to give Meg what she needs? At the same time, Seth gets closer to solving the issue that brought him to Summer Island. His feelings for Meg grow deeper, but so do his fears of her reaction if he should confess his reasons for coming to the island. An unexpected part of Seth's past arrives on the island, forcing him to face those fears, and providing some much-needed healing. But will it be enough for him to believe that he deserves a chance at happiness? As Meg and Seth work on the inn's renovations, they discover an old diary of her grandmother's, hidden long before. As Meg reads the diary, she finds some unexpected parallels with her own life. I loved Meg's surprise at the things she learned and how she used them to deal with her own problems. There was a surprising twist at the end of the diary that I didn't see coming and made me smile when all was revealed. I liked how it helped Meg face her fears and insecurities and embrace life on her own terms. The ending was terrific. I liked the secondary characters, such as Meg's friend Suzanne and the other residents of the island. Suzanne was a good friend to Meg. I enjoyed how she was both a sounding board for Meg when she needed to talk, and also a kick-in-the-pants when Meg needed a little extra push to step outside her comfort zone. I liked how the residents looked out for each other, even though there was sometimes a little too much attention for Meg's comfort.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Meg Sloan runs the Summerbrook Inn that she inherited from her grandmother. Returning home to Summer Island has been peaceful after a series of unfortunate events which really caused her emotional distress. Meg enjoys her romantic time with a local man, Zack, but he is not willing to take things further. Meg gradually tries to cope with Zack’s lack of commitment. Some of the towns folks really pushed for him which struck me as odd since they were together for 5 years and he couldn’t commit. She t Meg Sloan runs the Summerbrook Inn that she inherited from her grandmother. Returning home to Summer Island has been peaceful after a series of unfortunate events which really caused her emotional distress. Meg enjoys her romantic time with a local man, Zack, but he is not willing to take things further. Meg gradually tries to cope with Zack’s lack of commitment. Some of the towns folks really pushed for him which struck me as odd since they were together for 5 years and he couldn’t commit. She then meets Seth who is a “drifter”. He is in town looking for some work. She needs someone to help around the inn and pretty soon a friendship develops. I love romance stories by Toni Blake. She knows how to deliver a cozy small town romance. So I became so excited to read this story once I discovered a brand new series by her. The problem that I have with this one is that the story has a women’s fiction vibe to it. The romance is very light. The reader is inside Meg’s head throughout her whole journey of self-discovery. In fact, the reader is inside everyone’s head. There is so much inner dialogue and musings that very little is said. It is hard to stay in the story. I would have rather the story be told in first person. I really like Seth. He1 makes his intentions towards Meg known upfront. He is genuinely a nice guy who hasn’t really found a place or reason to settle down. I kind of wanted more excitement for him to be honest. As Meg is working on her romantic prospects, she is reading her grandmother’s diary. While the story or should I say the romance moved a bit too slow for my own romantic preference, I really enjoyed the parallel between Meg’s life and her grandmother’s. It sort of helped Meg figure things out for herself. I would recommend this as a good beach read. ARC provided for honest review.

  13. 5 out of 5

    BookAddict

    It’s been several years since I’ve read a book from this author, and my recollection of her work is quite positive so I was excited to read an early copy of this book. I loved the picturesque, vivid island setting and small-town feel. The main characters were well developed and authentic, and the secondary characters just enough quirky to make them memorable. Sadly, this book didn’t live up to my memory of this author's work. My problem was with the copious amount of narrative that detracted from It’s been several years since I’ve read a book from this author, and my recollection of her work is quite positive so I was excited to read an early copy of this book. I loved the picturesque, vivid island setting and small-town feel. The main characters were well developed and authentic, and the secondary characters just enough quirky to make them memorable. Sadly, this book didn’t live up to my memory of this author's work. My problem was with the copious amount of narrative that detracted from my reading experience. There was a lot of character introspection that rarely revealed anything new and a lot of telling rather than showing. There were also times when a question asked and answered had several paragraphs between so I had to go back and find out what the question was to begin with. All of this had the effect of bogging down the story and frustrating me, rather than building up emotion or driving the story forward. It got to the point that I was dreading returning to the book and skipping large chunks just to get to the meat of the story. Because I read for pleasure and don’t want reading to be work, this style isn’t for me. If you're a fan of this author and have the attitude “the more the better,” this one may be right up your alley. *I read an early edition of this book freely and voluntarily, having made no commitment to provide feedback and receiving no compensation of any kind from any source.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Margaret Dombrowski

    I won this book but I would have purchased it, because Toni is an automatic buy for me. I am very excited about this new series on Summer Island. I honestly was surprised (pleasantly), how the interactions between Meg, Zack, and Seth. My, a threesome! (Not!!)....it really brought to light how life's situations can determine your path. There were a few times that I became somewhat frustrated with Meg, but her reasoning on certain issues made sense. I truly loved the ending and I can't wait to rea I won this book but I would have purchased it, because Toni is an automatic buy for me. I am very excited about this new series on Summer Island. I honestly was surprised (pleasantly), how the interactions between Meg, Zack, and Seth. My, a threesome! (Not!!)....it really brought to light how life's situations can determine your path. There were a few times that I became somewhat frustrated with Meg, but her reasoning on certain issues made sense. I truly loved the ending and I can't wait to read about Suzanne's story!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Bette Hansen

    Fantastic This is a beautifully told story of a woman that takes a hard look at her life and finds it lacking. This is her journey to finding the happiness and life she longs for. Superior writing, intriguing characters and a beautiful story make this a book not to be missed.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    3.5 - 4 Stars Review to follow

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Schmidgall

    Fun romance and part mystery that takes place on an island like Mackinac Island (which is my absolute favorite place on earth).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Miriam Childs

    There was a creepiness to Seth that I didn’t like. I almost quit reading it when he was sneaking around the house. I pushed through and it was ok in the end but I don’t like creepiness in my romance stories.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    THE ONE WHO STAYS was an engaging women's fiction/romance that follows Meg as she makes decisions for her life and love. Meg runs an inn on Summer Island, which she took over after her grandmother's death. She is starting to think more about leaving the island, which had been her dream until her grandmother got sick. She is about to celebrate a kind of 5-year anniversary with her it's-complicated-boyfriend, Zack. They have been kind of off-and-on as he comes in and out of town without warning or THE ONE WHO STAYS was an engaging women's fiction/romance that follows Meg as she makes decisions for her life and love. Meg runs an inn on Summer Island, which she took over after her grandmother's death. She is starting to think more about leaving the island, which had been her dream until her grandmother got sick. She is about to celebrate a kind of 5-year anniversary with her it's-complicated-boyfriend, Zack. They have been kind of off-and-on as he comes in and out of town without warning or apology. He is unwilling to commit or to be exclusive. However, as Meg approaches the big 4-0, she knows this is not what she wants out of life- but of course, she still has strong feelings for Zack. As she is working on the inn, a new (and very attractive) man approaches. Seth is a handyman who Meg ends up hiring to help fix up the place. As they spend time together, Meg finds herself pulled in Seth's direction. However, Seth is hiding some things about his past from her, and Meg is not sure if she is ready to move on from Zack. As the summer progresses and Meg begins reading her grandmother's old diaries, she comes to some epiphanies about herself and about love that will reach out and touch your heart. Ultimately, this is a complicated romance with two men whose perspectives also feature in the book. It is not cut-and-dried, and I enjoyed the complexity of the characters and the decision that Meg has to make. So often in these triangles, there is one choice that is just terrible or less-than, and here, this was not the case. However, each man has something different to offer/to bring to the table, and so Meg's decisions about her own life also guide this decision about love. With a satisfying ending and plenty of twists and turns, this was an engrossing read that follows Meg as she contemplates what she wants from life and a partner- a sentiment that will resonate with many readers. Highly recommend as a summery read with some extra complexity and thoughtfulness. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Meg Sloan runs an inn on Summer Island, a small community on Lake Michigan that comes alive each year when tourists wake up their sleepy town. The Summerbrook Inn was originally established by her grandmother several years before Meg went to live there while recovering from a serious illness and afterwards, never left. She has a relationship with the commitment phobic Zack Shepard who spends weeks and sometimes months on the water as a commercial fisherman. Every time Zack leaves, Meg’s heart br Meg Sloan runs an inn on Summer Island, a small community on Lake Michigan that comes alive each year when tourists wake up their sleepy town. The Summerbrook Inn was originally established by her grandmother several years before Meg went to live there while recovering from a serious illness and afterwards, never left. She has a relationship with the commitment phobic Zack Shepard who spends weeks and sometimes months on the water as a commercial fisherman. Every time Zack leaves, Meg’s heart breaks a little more. Meg loves him, but has come to realize she wearies of always feeling left behind. When handsome charmer Seth Darden shows up looking for handyman work, Meg feels the immediate attraction. As he works to remodel and repair the Inn, a relationship develops which leaves Meg feeling torn in two. Seth has a lot of secrets that are connected to some time he spent at the Inn as a child. He is making major changes in his life and wanting Meg is a part of that. Meg finds an old diary that belonged to her grandmother whose story is told concurrently in part as Meg discovers surprising secrets. Meg and Seth seem to have much in common although whether she can trust him is not clear. Zack comes in and out of the story finally realizing that he may be losing the woman he loves. How this love triangle works out is not revealed until the end keeping the reader guessing Meg’s choice; however, there are some strong clues along the way. Meg has to decide how to live her best life and with whom to do it. The story slowly unfolds over spring and summer and while I was expecting a romance, this reads more like Women’s Fiction to me with the level of angst and self-discovery. The ending leaves me conflicted in part as I have to wonder what it will be like being around the man she does not choose when they meet again. This story is the first in the Summer Island series.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Toni Blake sets her newest series on Summer Island in Michigan. She chooses a unique background for her story and it allows her to build a romance in an isolated region. Ms. Blake spends a good bit of the story describing the surroundings. This story could not have taken place somewhere else. Meg Sloan runs the Summerbrook Inn which her grandparents owned for years. She returned to the island to recover from her cancer treatments and then stayed to take over the Inn when her grandmother died. Meg Toni Blake sets her newest series on Summer Island in Michigan. She chooses a unique background for her story and it allows her to build a romance in an isolated region. Ms. Blake spends a good bit of the story describing the surroundings. This story could not have taken place somewhere else. Meg Sloan runs the Summerbrook Inn which her grandparents owned for years. She returned to the island to recover from her cancer treatments and then stayed to take over the Inn when her grandmother died. Meg loves the Inn and the island that surrounds her. Lately, she has found herself looking for something more. Meg is seeing a fisherman named Zack Sheppard. She loves him, but he goes out on the water fishing for months at a time often without warning. Is this a man she can build a life with? Then she meets Seth Darden, a stranger who arrives on the island looking for work. He is a huge help as Meg starts to fix up the Inn. As she learns more about him, Meg finds herself falling for him and wondering if she can trust him. She has to figure out if he is worth risking her relationship with Zack. I know that some readers will enjoy the lazy pace of this book especially when reading it during the summer, but for me it was just too slow. The story is told through the thoughts of the characters so there isn’t a lot of action or dialog in the book. I wanted things to move along more quickly and for the secrets that are revealed to have a more dramatic impact. I also didn’t care overmuch for the characters. I found Meg to be a bit whiney and indecisive. I thought Zack needed to make some decisions and not keep letting his past be an excuse. Seth is someone who can’t really be trusted and keeps a lot of secrets. This book just wasn’t my style or preference.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gina Marie

    A perfect summer romance! I thoroughly enjoyed Summer Island and can’t wait for the sequels to come out. The One Who Stays was more than romance, too. It highlights the self-discovery of a woman who has endured a lot of trauma for only being in her thirties. The island surrounded by the beautiful lakes of Michigan provided a safe and stable place for Meg and she made a happy life as an Innkeeper alongside her Grandmother. Years later, Grandmom has passed and Meg is running the Inn solo, also in A perfect summer romance! I thoroughly enjoyed Summer Island and can’t wait for the sequels to come out. The One Who Stays was more than romance, too. It highlights the self-discovery of a woman who has endured a lot of trauma for only being in her thirties. The island surrounded by the beautiful lakes of Michigan provided a safe and stable place for Meg and she made a happy life as an Innkeeper alongside her Grandmother. Years later, Grandmom has passed and Meg is running the Inn solo, also in a relationship with a man she loves. However, she begins to question Zack’s love for her, as his fishing boat takes him away for months at a time, and he refuses to talk about commitment or compromise. For a long time she has stayed in a comfortable situation with Zack and with living on the island, and this summer is about her reflection on what really would make her happy. She begins to indulge in a new relationship with a man named Seth, who is helping her repair some things around the Inn and is charming and kind. Not knowing where the new relationship is going is a scary thing for Meg, not to mention her conflicting feelings for Zack; but Meg’s connection with Seth (along with diary entries written by her Grandmom!) eventually brings her closer to the truth and the courage to express how she feels. In the end, “you love the one who stays.” The story was relatable and sweet, the characters are lovable. I especially liked Suzanne, Meg’s best friend, and hope to see her happy ending soon. The seaside setting was perfect for summer reading and it was a wonderful happy ending!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    The One That Stays is a good story about a young woman growing into herself & choosing what path her life would take going forward. Meg Sloan has had a lot dumped on her in her short life. This spring has her feeling down & depressed. Meg has to decide what is important to her & find the light & love in her life again. Two men are vying for her last be. Which will she choose? Or will she do the unexpected & leave the island? Zack Sheppard is a commercial fisherman. To him, being alone, out on th The One That Stays is a good story about a young woman growing into herself & choosing what path her life would take going forward. Meg Sloan has had a lot dumped on her in her short life. This spring has her feeling down & depressed. Meg has to decide what is important to her & find the light & love in her life again. Two men are vying for her last be. Which will she choose? Or will she do the unexpected & leave the island? Zack Sheppard is a commercial fisherman. To him, being alone, out on the open sea is safe & comforting. When he comes home, he comes home to Meg & is comforted. He finally tells Meg a little of his history but doesn’t like to talk about it. Can he stay home for Meg or will he continue his long absences? Seth Darden has a dark past. He’s come to the Inn to find something from his past. Redemption is hard to come by and doesn’t always take the form you think it will. Seth opened up to Meg about his past & felt lightened by the way she accepted it & him. A person from his past showed up & Seth realized he needed to share his secrets. Will Meg think less of him when he shares everything? “You pick the one who stays. You love the one who stays.” This book was one of growth & redemption. Not everything was as it seemed. Meg had to determine her path for the rest of her life without worrying about who she’d share it with. I loved her grandmother’s thoughts sprinkled throughout the story. Her friends added depth but also confusion as it seemed they each wanted different things for their friend. This was a through provoking read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    B.

    This was a lovely book about a lonely woman who faces decisions to make about her life, livelihood, and the two men in her life. Meg has been living on Summer Island, an island in northern Michigan similar to Mackinac Island, but smaller. She came there after she got sick and her fiance abandoned her and she’s been there ever since running her grandmother’s inn. She has a relationship with Zack, a fisherman, but he leaves her for long stretches at a time and refuses to make any sort of commitmen This was a lovely book about a lonely woman who faces decisions to make about her life, livelihood, and the two men in her life. Meg has been living on Summer Island, an island in northern Michigan similar to Mackinac Island, but smaller. She came there after she got sick and her fiance abandoned her and she’s been there ever since running her grandmother’s inn. She has a relationship with Zack, a fisherman, but he leaves her for long stretches at a time and refuses to make any sort of commitment to her. While she’s pondering if she deserves more, into her life comes a sexy younger man, Seth. The wandering handyman clearly has some mystery in his background and the reasons why he has ended up in this remote setting. But he’s also willing to help her renovate her inn while flirting with Meg and making her feel attractive and worthwhile. Should she stay on this island or move away? Should she keep on with more of the same from Zack, or should she take a chance with Seth. Spending the Spring and Summer with Meg in this beautiful setting while she pondered her decisions was like a leisurely vacation on her island enjoying the lilacs and the slow pace. This book fits a bit more under Women’s Fiction than Romance, but there is still an intriguing romance to follow. The resolution isn’t any great surprise, but it was still a very enjoyable read. I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book that I received from Netgalley; however, the opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation for my review.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Smitten

    Meg gradually tries to cope with Zack’s lack of commitment. Some of the towns folks really pushed for him which struck me as odd since they were together for five years and he couldn’t commit. She then meets Seth who is a “drifter”. He is in town looking for work. She needs someone to help around the inn and pretty soon a friendship develops. I love romance stories by Toni Blake. She knows how to deliver a cozy small town romance. So I became so excited to read this story once I discovered a bran Meg gradually tries to cope with Zack’s lack of commitment. Some of the towns folks really pushed for him which struck me as odd since they were together for five years and he couldn’t commit. She then meets Seth who is a “drifter”. He is in town looking for work. She needs someone to help around the inn and pretty soon a friendship develops. I love romance stories by Toni Blake. She knows how to deliver a cozy small town romance. So I became so excited to read this story once I discovered a brand new series by her. The problem that I have with this one is that the story has a women’s fiction vibe to it. The romance is very light. The reader is inside Meg’s head throughout her whole journey of self-discovery. In fact, the reader is inside everyone’s head. There is so much inner dialogue and musings that very little is said. It is hard to stay in the story. I would have rather the story be told in first person. I really like Seth. He makes his intentions towards Meg known upfront. He is genuinely a nice guy who hasn’t really found a place or reason to settle down. I kind of wanted more excitement for him to be honest. As Meg is working on her romantic prospects, she is reading her grandmother’s diary. While the story, or should I say the romance, moved a bit too slow for my own romantic preference, I really enjoyed the parallel between Meg’s life and her grandmother’s. It sort of helped Meg figure things out for herself. I would recommend this as a good beach read. ~ Samantha

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kate Vale

    First of the Summer Island series and it is a winner! Meg Sloan has been living on Summer Island for years, but now she's thinking she needs a change. To prepare to sell her grandmother's B&B, she hires Seth Darden, a recent arrival, who's looking for work and is happy to make the repairs she knows will make the big old house bring in a bigger price. Seth's arrival occurs about the time Meg's long-time lover is gearing up to shove off in his boat to do the summer fishing that forms his business a First of the Summer Island series and it is a winner! Meg Sloan has been living on Summer Island for years, but now she's thinking she needs a change. To prepare to sell her grandmother's B&B, she hires Seth Darden, a recent arrival, who's looking for work and is happy to make the repairs she knows will make the big old house bring in a bigger price. Seth's arrival occurs about the time Meg's long-time lover is gearing up to shove off in his boat to do the summer fishing that forms his business all around the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. With Zack gone and being missed, nothing stops Meg from indulging in what she decides to consider a summer fling--at least in the eyes of her widowed friend, Suzanne. Too bad that Zack's aunt isn't so thrilled. Over the course of the summer, Meg also discovers some things about Seth that are worrisome when she allows them to be, but she's distracted by the diary of her grandmother, which pages reveal things about the old woman as a young girl that are surprising and become a parallel for Meg's own life this particular summer. Too bad that she decides she wants and needs more than Zack is willing to provide. But then Seth takes off, leaving her a note, a bittersweet reminder of how her fiance had also left her to cope with a life-threatening illness alone, until she retreats to Summer Island to begin life anew. Can she do that again? Will she leave? Or, can she find it in herself to stay? I won't ruin the surprise, even as I look forward to the next in this series.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Marcie Robinson

    In “The One Who Stays”, Toni Blake delves into the world of women’s fiction. Her writing voice is perfectly suited to this genre. The first book in the Summer Island series introduces us to Meg Sloan, the owner of Summerbrook Inn and several other residents of the island. Meg loves the island and the inn. It’s a place where she sought shelter after a life-altering event. But now, she isn’t sure it’s a place she wants to be nor is she sure if she wants to be with Zack, a man she’s been in a non-co In “The One Who Stays”, Toni Blake delves into the world of women’s fiction. Her writing voice is perfectly suited to this genre. The first book in the Summer Island series introduces us to Meg Sloan, the owner of Summerbrook Inn and several other residents of the island. Meg loves the island and the inn. It’s a place where she sought shelter after a life-altering event. But now, she isn’t sure it’s a place she wants to be nor is she sure if she wants to be with Zack, a man she’s been in a non-committed relationship with for a few years. Then Seth comes along, looking for contracting work for the summer. His charm is appealing and Meg shares things with him she never expected to reveal. As Meg begins to change things around the inn, changes occur within her, making her realize she deserves happiness and if she wants something, she should ask for it. Not only are we part of Meg’s journey, we learn more about Seth and why he came to Summer Island. His part of the story will grab your heart. And then there is Zack. A man, who loves Meg, but holds pieces of his himself back in his relationship with her. Ms. Blake crafts a beautiful story, pulling you into these character’s lives and making you believe Summer Island actually exists. Plus, the ending (or new beginning?) of Meg’s journey, was exactly as I hoped it would be! If you are a fan of Susan Mallery or Robyn Carr, I highly recommend you pick up “The One Who Stays” and add it to your bookshelf.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Allison

    This is the story of Meg, an innkeeper on Summer Island who has a lot of soul searching to do when two men are in her life. She has had an open relationship with Zach for five years as he leaves for long periods as a commercial fisherman. However, Zach then enters the picture as a handyman around the inn. I would definitely call this novel women’s fiction rather than a romance novel. Yes there were elements of romance, but there was a lot more introspection and angst than action. At one point I r This is the story of Meg, an innkeeper on Summer Island who has a lot of soul searching to do when two men are in her life. She has had an open relationship with Zach for five years as he leaves for long periods as a commercial fisherman. However, Zach then enters the picture as a handyman around the inn. I would definitely call this novel women’s fiction rather than a romance novel. Yes there were elements of romance, but there was a lot more introspection and angst than action. At one point I really wanted to tell Meg to shut up and have a glass of wine. There were elements that I really enjoyed too though which saved the book. I recently heard Sarah Morgan say that a well written setting becomes another character in the book and this is definitely true in this book. Blake paints a beautiful picture of Summer Island as a peaceful, friendly, safe island where one can go to heal. I could see it in my head and wanted to go there. It also played a large part in the story. The characters were interesting and well written. I felt like I could also picture them, however I really had a difficult time liking Meg! Finally, the diary element of the story was very cool and the ending was super unexpected! It was sweet and surprising which made me happy I had finished the book. Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and author for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Pelusa Rivera

    Well I was bored the heroine bored me and it was kind of hard to stay on course and read it til the end, but I did. It was sad to say that by the end or middle or whenever I could not care less who she would pick, ok let me back up and explain. So Meg has had a sort of-yes sort of relationship with Zack for 5 years but he wouldn't really commit yet everyone on the island saw them as a couple. When he goes off on on one of his fishing trips she ends up meeting Seth, convenient right? Any who she Well I was bored the heroine bored me and it was kind of hard to stay on course and read it til the end, but I did. It was sad to say that by the end or middle or whenever I could not care less who she would pick, ok let me back up and explain. So Meg has had a sort of-yes sort of relationship with Zack for 5 years but he wouldn't really commit yet everyone on the island saw them as a couple. When he goes off on on one of his fishing trips she ends up meeting Seth, convenient right? Any who she loves Zack but realizes that she wants and deserves more, so now we have a love triangle both men vying for her attention you would think that with this it would be more interesting but sad to say for me not as much..There was a journal and it seems her grandmother had same issue so now we have 2 stories her grandmoms and hers and Meg is going thru some self discovery.. I gave it a three because it was not badly written just needed more ooomph Rcvd an ARC at no cost to author..(netgalley) voluntarily reviewed with my own thoughts and opinions.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Kelly

    This is book 1 in the Summer Island series and while I normally love books by Toni Blake, I had a really hard time with this one. In it we meet Meg Sloan and Seth Darden. Meg has been dating a fisherman named Zack for years but is tired of him leaving her to spend most of his time on his boat doing what he loves along with his refusal to settle down with her. When she meet's Seth she isn't expects sparks to fly or for her to make a decision on where she wants her life to go this soon. But now sh This is book 1 in the Summer Island series and while I normally love books by Toni Blake, I had a really hard time with this one. In it we meet Meg Sloan and Seth Darden. Meg has been dating a fisherman named Zack for years but is tired of him leaving her to spend most of his time on his boat doing what he loves along with his refusal to settle down with her. When she meet's Seth she isn't expects sparks to fly or for her to make a decision on where she wants her life to go this soon. But now she needs to make a choice and hope it's the right one. I really did try to like this book but I think for me it seemed too much like a love triangle. Parts of it are extremely slow and too drawn out for me. But my biggest issue was that she is supposedly in love with Zack, even though she is tired of him leaving. But she doesn't even break things off with him fully before she decides to jump into something with Seth. And I didn't like that at all. I gave it 3 stars because while I didn't like the actions of the heroine, the writing isn't horrible. It's just not a story for me.

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