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of Contemporary Women's Fiction, Romantic Comedies, and Historical Romances

 

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Sisters are known to share many things—but not the same boyfriend.

 

The most basic “girl code” states that you never date a friend’s ex—so wouldn’t it be obvious that a current boyfriend is really off limits—especially to your own sister? Apparently Jamie Newman’s half-sister Laurel didn’t get the memo. Leaving behind New York—and the humiliation—Jamie heads to the tiny barrier island of Seaside Cove, North Carolina, for a quiet summer of healing her broken heart and reassessing her sudden disaster of a life. But instead of solace in a cozy beach cottage, she finds a run-down bungalow complete with stray cats and a leaky roof—and of course it’s raining—and the repairman M.I.A.…

 

Strays and colorful neighbors are nothing compared to her next visitors. First her drama-prone mother barges in. Then her angst-ridden teenage niece arrives. And the grand finale of the crazy storm is the arrival of Laurel, who’s been dumped by Jamie’s ex. And of course there’s the repairman, who’s finally shown his face—and is way too good-looking for Jamie’s own good. It’s clear there’s more to him than meets the eye, and Jamie would like to know what, but with the family she tried to escape now crammed in her ramshackle cottage, she may never get the chance…  

 

 

 

 

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Excerpt

Chapter One

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Reader Comments (coming soon)

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Excerpt

 

 

 

Top of Page

Excerpt

Chapter One

Reviews

Reader Comments (coming soon)

Awards

 

Chapter One

 

            The decapitated, plastic pink flamingo, standing ass-feathers deep in what looked like poison ivy was Jamie Newman’s first clue that doom had followed her from New York.  The   pictures of the “cheerful, cozy, inviting” beach house posted on the rental internet site for the North Carolina coastal barrier island of Seaside Cove must have been seriously photoshopped. 

There was absolutely nothing cheerful, cozy, or inviting about this ramshackle bungalow which sported peeling paint, grimy windows--two of which bore jagged cracks--and a second story porch whose screens drooped like a flag on a windless day.  The ten foot stilts raising the house off the ground resembled weathered toothpicks and the entire structure looked a single ocean breeze away from dropping into a pile of rubble.  The headless flamingo’s faded color was the only bright spot in the tiny yard choked with weeds and thorny bushes. 

Like all the neighboring dwellings, a plaque hung on the front of the rental proclaiming the house’s name.  She turned and read the names of several homes across the street--Beach Music, Kickin’ Back, It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.  Unlike those colorful, beautiful plaques however, her cottage sported a splintered oval of wood bearing sun-faded sand dunes and the words Paradise Lost.  It hung at a drunken angle, above the cracked front window.

While “Lost” was appropriate, someone clearly didn’t know what “Paradise” meant.

“More like Hell Found,” she muttered.

“Good luck, ma’am,” came a male voice.

Jamie yanked her gaze away from the house of horrors and saw that while she’d been gawking, the cab driver had set her luggage at the end of the driveway.  He made a beeline for the driver’s seat.

“Whoa--you’re not leaving me here,” she said, hurrying after him.

“My shift ended twenty minutes ago, ma’am, and I promised the wife I wouldn’t be late.  As it is she’s goin’ to be hoppin’ mad.”

“She’s not the only one.  There’s obviously been a mistake in my accommodations, and I’ll need a ride once it’s straightened out.”

“I’m afraid you’ll need to call the cab company and arrange for another driver.  Don’t worry--they’ll send someone quickly if you need them to.  You have a good evenin’ now, ya hear?”  With that he slammed the door and took off like his gas tank contained rocket fuel.

If I need them to?”  Oh, she’d definitely need them to send someone else.  There was no way in hell she was staying in this tumble-down shack.  “We came to Seaside Cove to get away from disasters, not take on any new ones, right, Cupcake?”

She looked down at Cupcake who glared at her through squinty eyes from the confines of her cat carrier.  Poor kitty.  Jamie hated putting her in the carrier as much as her beloved pet hated being in it, but safety first. 

“Don’t give me that look.  Believe me, it’s no better out here.”

            Cupcake answered with a pissed off hiss.

            “I know exactly how you feel.”  In fact, pissed off didn’t begin to describe her mood as anger and frustration burst through the wall she’d so carefully erected around her emotions since her life had fallen into a sink hole a week ago.

With a muttered curse she sat on one of her three overweight suitcases that had cost an arm, leg, and part of a kidney to check in at the airport and pulled her cell phone from her pocket.  Ignoring the flash that announced three missed calls, two voicemails and seven text messages, she scrolled through her contacts until she found Jack Crawford.  Right now the Realtor from whom she’d picked up the keys to Paradise Lost less than ten minutes ago when the cab had stopped at his office was number one on her hit list.  Jack Crawford had seemed like a nice man--fatherly and oozing southern hospitality--but clearly he was insane, not to mention severely mistaken, if he thought he could pawn off this dump on her.

After two rings, Jack’s cheery voice came through on his voicemail stating he wasn’t available but would return “y’all’s call as soon as possible.”

“Mr. Crawford, this is Jamie Newman,” she said through her clenched teeth.  “I picked up a key at your office a few minutes ago.  I need to speak with you immediately as there’s been a mistake with my rental.  Please call me as soon as you receive this message.”

She ended the call and heaved out a disgruntled breath as she glared at the house.  The absolute last thing she wanted to do was go inside, but given that she had no idea how long she’d have to wait for Jack Crawford to return her call and the bottle of water she’d sucked down during the hour-long cab ride from the airport had made its way to her bladder, she was going to have to brave it.  Not to mention that Cupcake could use a few minutes of freedom.

Pulling in a resolute breath, she grabbed the carrier then picked her way up the crushed shell pathway--a construction material that should have come with a warning label as she discovered when a piece of shell found its way inside one of her flat-heeled sandals.

“Youch!”  She shook her foot to dislodge the sharp shell, and tried to recall if her tetanus shot was up to date.   “Clearly I should have worn Nikes,” she mumbled.  “And a Hazmat suit.”

She cut across the cracked cement of the carport, praying with each step the house wouldn’t collapse on top of her, then stared at the steep wooden stairs leading up to the door.  The two bottom treads were missing.  Not even broken--just completely gone.  Like giant termites had come and hauled them away.

“Perfect. Really adds to the ambiance.  Hold on, Cupcake.  This first step is gonna be a doozy.”

Jamie hauled herself and Cupcake onto the third step then carefully climbed up, testing each tread before putting her full weight on it.  Holding the screen door open with her elbow, she inserted the key in the lock, then pushed the door inward.  And was immediately enveloped in a noxious cloud of hot air that reeked of something fishy.  Something dead and fishy.

“Holy Stink Almighty!” Jamie said, wrinkling her nose.  Breathing through her mouth, she shouldered her way in and rolled her eyes at Cupcake whose quivering nose was pressed against the carrier.

“Yeah, sure, that’s your favorite smell but Eau de Old Man and the Sea doesn’t make my top ten fragrances.  There’s fifty bucks in it if you find whatever that stink is and drag it outside.”

Leaving the door open so she wasn’t asphyxiated from the stink fumes, she unlocked the carrier.  Cupcake shot out so fast Jamie was shocked she didn’t leave a vapor trail behind her.  Knowing her pet was simultaneously pouting over her confinement and scouting out potential hairball hacking locations, Jamie looked around the shadowed interior, which was--no shocker--as shabby as the outside. 

She stood in a small, dingy kitchen complete with a linoleum floor that peeled up in the corners, and a chipped Formica countertop.  The appliances--which she noted with horror didn’t include a dishwasher--screamed Circa 1958.  Beyond the kitchen was the living area, furnished with a dirt-colored sofa, two folding chairs, a cracked leather beanbag chair, and a coffee table made out of two plastic crates emblazoned with the United States Postal Service logo topped with a piece of sway-backed, splinter-ridden plywood.  A pair of doors, both ajar, one on each side of the living area, led, Jamie presumed to bedrooms, and hopefully a bathroom.

“Probably there’s a frat boy somewhere who would think this is very chic,” Jamie grumbled.  “No doubt the bathroom has all the elegance of a Porta Potty.”

She crossed the living area and opened the nearest door.   As she suspected, it led to a bedroom.  She hit the light switch.

Nothing.

“Perfect.”  Probably whoever owned this dump forgot to pay the electric bill.  Although that could be a blessing as the room definitely benefited from a lack of illumination.  There was no headboard or bedspread on the bed, and the dresser was missing three of its four knobs.  Clearly a garage sale find.  No blinds or curtains covered the windows, but given how dirty the glass was privacy probably wasn’t an issue. 

She stuck her head in the tiny adjoining bathroom and groaned.  Porta Potty with a shower.  It had looked way larger on the internet photo.  The internet photo had also featured a shower curtain.  Now there was merely a liner of dubious cleanliness that drooped off the curtain rod as half the hooks were missing.

Her jaw clenched.  How could anyone possibly think they could get away with renting something like this?  And so grossly misrepresenting it on the internet?  It was fraud!  By God, when Jack Crawford called her back he was going to have to offer her the damn Taj Mahal of Seaside Cove to make up for this snafu.

Because the pressure on her bladder had reached emergency proportions, she made quick use of the facilities.  When she finished, she explored the rest of the house.  The door on the opposite side of the main living area yielded an identical bedroom/tiny bathroom/no light situation.  The only difference was this bed did have a bedspread--depicting the New York Mets logo.  Figures.  She was a Yankees fan.  Cupcake had taken up residence on the bedspread and currently had her hind leg hoisted in the air to clean her lady bits.  She spared Jamie a single glare then resumed her cleansing ritual. 

“Feel free to hack one up on the Mets,” Jamie said, sitting gingerly on the edge of the bed.

Her cell phone buzzed and she quickly pulled it from her pocket.  When she saw the caller’s name, she was sorely tempted to hit ignore--as she’d done the last two times he’d called--but since he obviously wasn’t taking the hint, she might as well get this over with.

“Hi Patrick--“

“Thank God you picked up.” Patrick Wheeler, the normally unflappable maitre d’ of Newman’s restaurant, sounded like he was about to cry.  “Everything has gone to hell in a handbag here.  The seafood delivery truck hasn’t come because the drivers are on strike, which could continue for God knows how long.  Laurel pissed off both our beef and vegetable suppliers and they’re now refusing to deal with anyone other than you.  Not one, not two, but three waiters and the new hostess have all called in sick--yeah, right, like they’re not out in the Hamptons and just don’t want to come back to the city during the worst heat wave in a decade.  And don’t even get me started on Eduardo!  He’s simply impossible.  Why do we have such a diva chef?  Plus--“

“Patrick.  Stop.  Deep breath.”

She heard him pull in a shuddering lungful of air.  “Okay.  I breathed.  Look, I’m keeping things afloat here as best I can, but it’s like the Titanic after the iceberg--only a matter of time before we sink.  You need to come back.  Now.”

 “Patrick.  I told you.  I’m not coming back until the end of summer.  Consider me temporarily resigned.”

“You can’t temporarily resign.  Newman’s belongs to your family.”

“I’m not the only Newman.”

“But you’re the only one capable of running the restaurant.  God knows I love your mother, but a manager Maggie is not.” 

Jamie couldn’t argue with him on that point.  Maggie Newman was a perfect hostess for the busy, upscale restaurant located in Manhattan’s theatre district.  But she had no talent--or interest--in anything managerial or financial. 

“Nathan is perfectly capable of handling things, she said, referring to her assistant manager.

“Yes, but he’s off for the next two days.”

“Then call him at home.”

“I already left him two voicemails.”

“Then you’ll need to speak with Laurel about these problems, Patrick.”

Her voice caught on her half-sister’s name, and the sense of betrayal that she’d fought so hard to swallow, rose up and grabbed her by the throat.

“Laurel is part of the problem.  She’s great when it comes to schmoozing the patrons and getting her rich, fancy friends to frequent the restaurant, but she doesn’t have the rapport with the staff or suppliers that you do.  I told you--she’s completely pissed off the beef and vegetable suppliers with her attitude.”

“I know she can be difficult--“ Difficult, abrasive, snobby, and oh, yeah, a back stabbing Judas, “but you need to find a way to deal with her because for now the restaurant is out of my hands.”

“Your father is turning over in his grave to hear you even whisper such a thing.  You know that’s not what he wanted.”

Jamie gritted her teeth.  Her mother had already heaped a ton of guilt on her.  The last thing she needed was more guilt--and pressure--from Patrick.  Nor did she need any reminders of her dad .  

Even after three years, grief still wrenched her heart at the mention of him.  The pain had dulled with time, but it still cut deep.  And no, Tom Newman wouldn’t have wanted her to walk away from the restaurant he’d founded thirty-five years ago--even temporarily--and where she’d worked in one capacity or another since she was fourteen.  Just one more burden for her to deal with.  Which was why she’d had to get away.

“Dad’s not here,” Jamie said quietly, “and I have to do what’s best for me.”  For the first time in my life.  “I’m sorry Patrick, but I’m off the clock until the end of August.  Call Nathan again.  Call Laurel or my mother.  But don’t call me.”

“But Jamie--“

“I can’t help you.  Good bye, Patrick.”  She ended the call then pulled in a slow deep breath.  Before she’d even fully exhaled her phone rang again.  The only name she wanted to see on her caller id was Jack Crawford.  Unfortunately that’s not what she saw.  That’s what she got for turning the damn phone back on.  She was once again sorely tempted to ignore the call, but she sucked it up and answered.

“Hi, Mom.”  She braced herself--Maggie Newman attracted drama like bees to honey, and this phone call no doubt would bring some form of commotion.

“Jamie!  Finally.  I’ve been so worried, honey.  I sent you half a dozen texts.  Are you all right?”

“Of course.  I texted you when I landed.”

“Yes, but that was ages ago.  Are you in Seaside Cove yet?”

“I just arrived.”

“How’s the house?”

“It’s...” her gaze darted around the bedroom and she winced.  “Perfect.”  In her mind’s eye she pictured the decapitated flamingo.  “Gorgeous.  A veritable palace.”

She looked upward, praying she wasn’t about to get sizzled by a lightning bolt for that whopper.  But there was no way she could tell her mom the truth.  One of Mom’s many, many arguments against Jamie leaving New York, and going to Seaside Cove for the summer had been that any rental available on such short notice and for such a cheap price had to be a dump.

Damn it, she hated it when Mother Knew Best.  Granted, it didn’t happen often, but still.  Galling.  Especially in this case.

“Oh, well I’m glad,” Mom said, not really sounding glad at all.  “I was afraid it would be awful.”

 “Nope.  It’s great.  How are you doing?”

Her mom hesitated.  Uh oh.  A sure sign something was wrong.   Which meant Drama Time.  “I’m fine.”  The cheerful tone would have led anyone other than Jamie to believe her words.  “I just miss you.”

“I’ve only been gone since this morning,” Jamie teased.

“I know.  But you’re so far away.  And Newman’s simply isn’t the same without you.”

“Mom--please.  Don’t go there.”
            Jamie heard an unmistakable sniffle--the sound that meant Mom tears were on the way--and guilt smacked her.  Her mom didn’t cry often, yet it seemed that over the past couple weeks she’d shed an enormous amount of tears.  Jamie’s heart squeezed, knowing her situation and decisions were the cause. 

“I understand why you left New York, honey,” her mom said.  “ Really I do.  But I hate that you’ll be gone for such a long time.  Who’s going to help me balance my checkbook and do that online bill pay thing you set up for me?  You know what a financial disaster I am.”

“I e-mailed you step by step instructions.  I also e-mailed you all your passwords to access your online bill pay account and a list of which bills get paid automatically and the ones you need to pay each month.  You’ll be fine.  And if you can’t figure something out, I’m only a phone call away.”

Jamie drew a deep breath, then continued gently, “But Mom, you can’t call me every five minutes, okay?  I need to...breathe.”

Jamie could practically feel her mother’s sadness oozing through the phone, and it filled Jamie with a guilt she didn’t want to feel.  “I know,” Mom said.  “I just miss talking to you.  You’re always so...”

“Bossy?”

             “I was going to say decisive.  And smart.  And practical.  You always know how to make things right.”

            Yeah, I’m a regular Ms. Caretaker Fix-it.  She could solve everyone else’s problems but not her own.  Could see the cracks and flaws in everyone else’s relationships, but not her own. 

 “Well, as I said, I’m only a phone call away.  I need to go, Mom, but we’ll talk soon.  Love you.  Don’t forget tomorrow is trash day.”

The instant the words left her mouth, Jamie cringed.  She had to stop doing that.  No wonder her mother depended on her so much--Jamie enabled her to do so.  Her mom was smart--she’d figure it out.

The problem was that her mom had never had to figure out all the pesky little details that life involved, like remembering what day the trash was picked up, filing tax returns and paying bills and making a household budget.  Jamie’s dad had taken care of all that, and upon his death, Jamie had stepped in.  Maggie Newman had married young, gotten pregnant right away, and been a fabulous stay-at-home, never-miss-a-game/class trip/school outing mom who could whip up a batch of cookies at a moment’s notice and whose artistic help always resulted in unusual and tres cool school projects. 

But practical she was not.  She could make her own curtains, decorate the hell out of a room, but had no idea how to pump her own gas, operate the lawn mower, or have the oil changed in her car. 

Well, at the age of forty-six, she was going to learn.

Jamie’s phone rang again and her lips pressed together in a grim line when Jack Crawford’s name appeared on the caller id.

“Brace yourself, Mr. Crawford.  The Wrath of Newman is about to fall on you.”

She answered with a brisk, “Hello Mr. Crawford.  Thank you for returning my call so promptly.”

“What can I do for you, Miss Jamie?”

“There’s been a mistake with my rental.  The house you gave me the keys for is not the house I rented--the one pictured on your website.”

“There’s no mistake,” came Jack Crawford’s deep, slow--reeeaaaly slow--southern drawl, “You rented Paradise Lost.”

“No,” she said, with her usual outward calm.  She’d learned long ago that even if she was raging inside, losing her cool accomplished exactly nothing.  “I rented--and I’m quoting from your website—‘a fully furnished, cozy beach cottage only minutes from the ocean where you can relax, unwind, and breathe in the fresh ocean air.’”

“And that’s exactly what Paradise Lost is.  Oh, she needs a little TLC, but you sure are lucky to have gotten her.”

“The house requires more than some TLC--an Extreme Makeover is needed.  The point is, it’s not the house you advertised on your website.”

“Well now, I’ll admit those photos are a bit out of date,” Jack said with a chuckle, “but that’s Paradise Lost all right.”

A bit out of date?  Surely it broke about seven hundred laws to advertise with photos taken in oh, about 1972.

“I rented, and paid for, the house depicted on the website,” she said slowly and distinctly, “and that is what I expect to have.”

“And it is.”

            “No, it’s not.  The condition of the house is completely unacceptable.  There must be something else available.”

“There sure isn’t.  Every other house on the island--as well as every other beach in the area--has been booked for months.  I sure am sorry Paradise Lost isn’t all you wanted it to be, but there’s no need for anything fancy here--life on the island is real casual.  Different from what you’re accustomed to, I reckon.  Manhattan this is not.”

Jamie doubted truer words had ever been spoken in the entire history of mankind.  She could actually feel steam seeping from her ears.  “You’re telling me there’s nothing else?  Nothing?”

“Not a thing,” he said cheerfully, as if that was fabulous news.  “And even if there was--which there isn’t--I can promise that you’d never find a last minute, full summer beach rental for the bargain price you’re paying for Paradise Lost.  Most houses here rent for a single week for what you’re paying for the entire two months.”

Jamie closed her eyes.  No other accommodations on the island.  Her Manhattan apartment sublet for the summer.  Good lord, if she didn’t have rotten luck, she’d have no luck at all.  “So I’m stuck here.” 

She hadn’t realized she’d spoken out loud until Jack replied, “Best place in the world to be stuck, if you ask me.”

Clearly Jack had never traveled.  Anywhere.  She drew a long, slow breath.  “While remaining in this house for the next two months is not an option, it appears I have little choice but to spend the night.  Which means there are two problems that need to be remedied immediately.  First, there’s no power.”

“Oh, that’s too bad.  Paradise Lost has a new owner--Nick Trent bought the place only a couple of months ago.  Could be he didn’t pay the electric bill.  And you’ll need to take that up with him since Paradise Lost isn’t actually a Seaside Cove Rentals property.  I just let Nick list it on our website as a personal favor.”

Un.  Freaking.  Believable.   That probably broke about seven hundred rental laws as well.

“How do I get in touch with this Nick Trent?”

“Shouldn’t be too hard as he lives right next door to Paradise Lost.  Name of his place is Southern Comfort.  Pretty fittin’ name.”

“Because we’re in the south?”

“No because...well, I don’t like to talk out of turn, but when you live in a community with only ninety full time residents, there are no secrets to be had, so you’ll find out quick enough.  Southern Comfort is fittin’ ‘cause it’s a brand of whiskey and since Nick Trent took up residence on the island three months ago, he’s been known to disappear for days at a time.  Word is he goes off on benders.  Either that or he’s a hit man.  Or a CIA agent.  Ha ha ha.  Just funnin’ with ya.  Nice enough guy, friendly to everybody, but he don’t talk much about himself.  One of those Men of Mystery types.  Nobody’s seen him for the past couple days.  Most likely drunk as a skunk.”

Jamie closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose.  This day has to end.  This day has to end...

“If you look out your kitchen window, you can see Southern Comfort.  If his truck is in the carport that means he’s home.”

Jamie pressed her nose to the kitchen screen and looked across the weed-choked, untrimmed hedges that separated Paradise Lost from Southern Comfort.  No truck, and not a single light glowed from any of the windows.  Maybe Nick On-a-Bender/Hopefully Not a Hitman/Maybe a CIA Agent Trent had forgotten to pay the electric bill there as well.

“It doesn’t look like he’s home,” Jamie reported.

“Could be he’s at the Shrimp Festival over at Breezes Beach.  It’s a huge event around these parts--folks come from all over to attend.  And it’s especially big this year because it’s the Centennial Shrimp Festival.  In fact, I’ll be heading that way as soon as we get off the phone.

“’Course the Shrimp Festival can’t hold a candle to Seaside Cove’s annual Clam Festival at the end of August,” he continued in that unhurried drawl that in spite of its leisurely pace somehow didn’t allow her to get a word in edgewise.  “It is a sight to behold--a parade through town, arts and crafts, music at the pier, bonfires on the beach, and the best food you’ve ever tasted.  My wife Cecelia makes a hot clam dip that could charm the scales off a fish.  You have any good clam recipes, Miss Jamie?”

“Not really.  About the power--“

“Oh, right.  Could be it got knocked out by the storm that blew through last night.  Have you checked the circuit breakers?”

“No.”

“Bless your heart.  You should do that.  Do you know what a breaker panel box looks like?  My Cecilia wouldn’t know one if it jumped up and bit her in the butt.  Bless her heart.”

Hmmm...didn’t sound like having one’s heart blessed was necessarily a good thing.  In fact, it pretty much sounded like it was interchangeable with “you’re a dipshit.”  “Yes, I know what a panel box looks like.  Where is it?” 

“In the storage closet in the carport.  The same key that unlocked the house opens the door.”

  “I’ll check it.  The other immediate problem is the smell in the house.”

“Smell?  Now that’s just impossible.  While Paradise Lost may be a bit run down and worn, I can promise you it’s clean.  The Happy Housekeeping service was there just a few days ago and they’re top notch.”

 “Well, the Happy Housekeepers must have missed something because the entire place stinks like fish.”

Jack chuckled.  “Well, you are at the beach, Miss Jamie.  I reckon it smells like car exhaust in New York City, but not around here.  Around here stuff smells fishy.”

“Fishy is one thing.  Dead fishy is quite another.”

“Aw, it’s probably just a forgotten clam.  Sea gulls drop clams on the roofs all the time to crack them open.  Or could be something one of the island cats dragged onto the carport.”

“Island cats?”

“Yes, ma’am.  There’re several colonies of feral cats on the island.  Real good at keepin’ down the mouse population.”

“Who takes care of them?  Who feeds them?”

“They take care of themselves, but they’re monitored by a group of colony caretakers.  Dorothy Ernst--she lives right across the street from Paradise Lost in Beach Music--heads up the Cat Colony Committee--she can tell you all about it.  They trap any new ferals to the area and bring them to Doc Weston on the mainland who gives them their shots and spays and ear-tips ‘em for identification purposes for free.  Then they’re released back here at the beach.  You’ll see them wandering around like they own the place.  As for feedin’ them, well, just about everybody on the island leaves out food for them.  Believe me, they never go hungry.”

“But about the smell,” he continued, “you’ll need to take up with Nick as well.  Lucky for you Milton’s General Store and Bait Shop on the corner sells air freshener.  They’ve got one called Blueberry Muffin that’ll make the place smell like you’ve been baking all day.  We use it in the rental homes all the time.”

Yeah, lucky for me.  ‘Cause Dead Clam Blueberry Muffin is my favorite smell.  “I’m afraid that’s not good enough--“

“’Course, Milton’s is closed up for the next two days, so you’ll need to head to the Piggly Wiggly ‘bout ten miles down Route 4 for any supplies between now and then.”

“Excuse me?”

“Luther Milton, the general store’s owner, is recuperating from gall bladder surgery and closed the store for a few days.   But don’t you fret, Miss Jamie, Nick’ll be back soon.  Paradise Lost may not be fancy, but I predict you’re gonna fall in love with the place.  It’s sure to grow on you.”

Yeah. Like mold on cheese.  Before she could state that opinion, Jack said, “Try the circuit breaker--that’s most likely the problem.  If not, there’s sure to be emergency candles and a flashlight in the house.  No need to worry about air conditioning--far as I know Paradise Lost doesn’t have any.  So just do what the locals do--open the windows and enjoy the ocean breezes.  That’ll air the place out and take care of your fish smell problem, too.”

Had he just said no air conditioning?  Holy Freakin’ Heat Wave.  She was going to die here.  In the dead clam inferno.  “But--“

“Oh, and just in case you were planning a walk on the beach, don’t go too far.  Another frog strangler like the one last night is fixin’ to blow through in the next little bit.”

“Frog strangler?”

Jack chuckled.  “A sudden, heavy rain--comes down so fast the frogs can’t escape.”

Jamie didn’t particularly fancy herself a girly-girl, but yuck.   An image of hundreds of poor, struggling frogs being strangled by a wall of rainwater flashed through her mind. Damn it, who thought up that crappy expression?  She’d probably have nightmares.  “Uh, thanks for the warning.”

“My pleasure.  Oh, and a word to the wise--you might want to steer clear of your neighbor on the other side, Melvin Tibbs.”

“Why?  Is he an ax murderer?”  Which would be just her luck.

“No.  At least not that I know of. Ha, ha, ha.  But he’s as ornery and grumpy as they come.”

Swell.  But grumpy Melvin wasn’t going to be a problem because she wouldn’t be staying more than one night.

  “Oops, the wife is callin’,” said, Jack.  “I gotta get a move on.  Welcome to Seaside Cove, Miss Jamie.  There’s no other place like it in the world.”

Uh huh.  She didn’t doubt that for a New York minute.

 

 

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Reviews

 

Publisher's Weekly http://www.publishersweekly.com/images/star.gifSummer at Seaside Cove

Jacquie D'Alessandro. Berkley Sensation, $7.99 mass market (368p) ISBN 978-0-425-24149-3

Jamie Newman flees the stress of New York for a summer in Seaside Cove, N.C., to recharge her spirit and re-evaluate her life. After years of being the family caretaker and managing their restaurant, she's finally putting herself first. Unfortunately, family drama follows her to her retreat and soon the ramshackle bungalow is bursting at the seams with people wanting Jamie to fix their problems, while Jamie is distractingly attracted to her sexy and mysterious landlord, Nick Trent. A summer fling will let Nick hide his past and Jamie eventually return to Manhattan--what could possibly go wrong? Bestseller D'Alessandro (Tempted at Midnight) has a light and humorous touch, and there's plenty of romantic tension and snappy dialogue to keep readers enthralled. Likable characters and steamy situations make this a sensuous winner. (May)

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"Summer at Seaside Cove sizzles with sensuality, creating a heartwarming novel about the discovery of true love. The delicious repartée, humorous inner dialogue, and detailed contextual descriptions all help the reader get immersed in this story of forgiveness and compassion." -- Nancy Lepri, New York Journal of Books

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I believe this book is the best book Jacquie D’Alessandro has ever written. The flow of the story is just flawless.  Not once did my mind wonder from the story. In fact, every word captivates and draws the reader deeper into the story of new found love and the drama of families. Jacquie is known for her sexy, witty romances and this is Jacquie at her absolute best!  This book is a treasure! -- Buffie Johnson, The Romance Dish

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SUMMER AT SEASIDE COVE grabbed me with the first sentence and didn't let go.   Ms. D'Alessandro has crafted a fun and funny romance featuring lots of family drama, personal exploration, and flirtatious passion. This is my first book by Ms. D'Alessandro and I am already on the hunt for more. -- Fresh Fiction

 

 

 

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