The One Who Stays
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?
A Note from Toni
With every book, I use this space to tell you a little something about what inspired it or some fun facts about the story. As I sit down to do this with THE ONE WHO STAYS, it feels like a much more profound task than usual. I started writing this book almost four years before its release. It was inspired by a trip I took to Mackinac Island, Michigan back around 2008 and has been simmering in me that long. I knew the book would feel like a bigger story than even my most complex books so far, with a true love triangle that I hope pulls at your heart with authenticity and makes it hard for you to decide how you want it to end.
As I reached the conclusion of other ongoing series and the time felt right to move forward with this book, I took a research trip back to Mackinac in 2015, and then I sunk into the writing. But then a couple of things stopped me. First, a scheduling snafu at my publishing house made it so this beautifully summery book would be released at Christmastime – and as that would not have done the book justice and I didn’t want a book I loved to be lost in the holiday shuffle, I changed gears and wrote Christmas in Destiny, which turned out to be a great decision, and a lovely addition to the Destiny series. And then, no sooner had I returned to work on this book, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in February 2016.
If you follow me on social media or you’ve explored my website, you know about my cancer journey, and that I completed my treatment and have a clean bill of health now. But there’s no getting around it – going through cancer is a profound and life-changing experience. I took a year away from writing as a result because it simply took some time to be ready to immerse myself in any other story than the one I was living. And as luck would so strangely have it, Meg, the heroine of THE ONE WHO STAYS, is also a cancer survivor. And that was already part of the story when my diagnosis came – but my own personal life suddenly made that aspect of the book a lot more real.
In fact, life continued to imitate art in significant ways as I wrote the three Summer Island books, and it’s safe to say that from the time I started this book to the time I finished it, I became as changed as the characters themselves did from the things they went through. So not only is THE ONE WHO STAYS a true book from my heart – it’s a book that marks a significant life-changing time for me. I think that comes through in the storytelling, and I hope you will feel that as you read it.
Reviews for The One Who Stays
"The pages are practically drenched in the scent of lilacs and fresh paint in this delightful new series debut from Blake (“Destiny, Ohio” series). Readers looking for a gentle summer romance with a dose of family secrets will wish they could stay on Summer Island.” ~Library Journal
"Toni Blake tells the perfect story for a summer afternoon in The One Who Stays." ~BookPage, STARRED Review
“This book is really about choosing your own happiness and following your heart... There really is no one who writes Contemporary Romances like Toni Blake.“ ~Under the Covers Book Blog
“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… I cried and smiled in the end and silently thanked Toni Blake for writing such a beautiful love story.” ~Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
“The skillful narration of Ann Marie Gideon has the listener feeling like a part of the Summer Island community… Listeners will get caught up in the romance and be intrigued by Seth's mysterious past.“ AudioFile Magazine on the audio edition