A laugh-out-loud funny later-in-life romcom!
ALL THE FEELS! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
"I simply loved the beginning of this series!
What a way to kick off an introduction to Hearts Cove! The love and anguish between Grant and Fi- the other residents in Hearts Cove just add to the story. I can’t wait to read the next book."
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A tired groan shudders out of my best friend’s rusty old Toyota. That…doesn’t sound good.
On the bright side, Simone’s hooptie has successfully gotten us three hundred miles north of Los Angeles and into our destination vacation town. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it’s going to make it much farther.
I grip the worn plastic door handle as if it’ll help keep the car together. If Simone’s worried about her car breaking down, she doesn’t show it. With wild red hair tied back in a messy bun on top of her head and thick, black-rimmed glasses framing her pale blue eyes, Simone looks far younger than her forty-four years—a fact that has often needled at my own insecurities. Time hasn’t been so kind to me.
Another screechy noise escapes the hood of the car as we turn onto the main drag of Heart’s Cove, and I start hunting the signs on the street for a mechanic. Even if Simone isn’t worried about this hunk of junk, I need a way to get out of here at the end of our two-week stay.
We make it about fifty more feet before the engine sputters, the car rattles, and the whole things dies right there on the street. Simone expertly navigates the coasting car to the curb as smoke curls out of the hood in thick black puffs. Parked in a semi-appropriate spot and acting like nothing at all is the matter, she pulls the handbrake and tucks a strand of flame-red hair behind her ear.
I throw my best friend a glance. “We should have taken my car.”
“We couldn’t take your car. It reminds you of Voldemort.”
“He Who Shall Not Be Named. That shiny white Mercedes is the only thing that jerk left you in the divorce and looking at it reminds you that he cheated. I see it in your eyes every time you turn the key in the ignition. There was no way we were taking your car. Big Bertha did just fine.” She taps the dashboard fondly, as if there isn’t a plume of dark smoke coming from Bertha’s hood. My best friend gives me a meaningful stare.
“This vacation is about us, about pampering, about being the women we were always meant to be. Besides, we made it, didn’t we?”
“Barely,” I grumble, fighting the grin trying to curl my lips.
“I’ll find a mechanic this afternoon. We won’t need the car for the next two weeks, anyway—everything in Heart’s Cove is within walking distance from the Heart’s Cove Hotel. It’s in the brochure.”
Through the windshield, past the smoke, I spy a faded green-and-white awning above the hotel door. A screen door hangs slightly crooked and lace curtains frame the interior of every window. Paint is peeling on the old siding, but neatly trimmed grass lines the front of the hotel and baskets bursting with colorful flowers hang from every post. A low hedge lines the sidewalk leading to a small parking lot, the other side of which is a well-maintained path to the front door.
This accommodation is quaint, though a bit worse for wear. It isn’t exactly what I’d put as my first pick.
Or maybe it’s not what John, my ex-husband, would have liked. Do I actually mind this place? It’s kind of cute, in a lost-kitten-with-patchy-fur-and-three-legs kind of way. If Simone’s to be believed, it’s got great reviews and a killer continental breakfast.
John would’ve taken one look at this place and complained nonstop until we found someplace else, maybe even canned the whole vacation—but he’s not here. He’s in his swanky office in L.A. with whatever hot, young assistant he’s decided to stick his junk into. Or maybe a paralegal. Or a junior partner. Or an intern. Or all of the above.
Simone must see my pursed lips, because she punches me in the arm. “Quit sucking lemons, Fi. Come on. We have art to create.”
“How many times do I have to tell you I’m not an artist? Why did you have to choose an art retreat for our big self-actualization getaway? I’m a precision gal. Organizing. Planning. Why can’t we have a vacation job hunting or something? At least it would be useful.”
Simone lets out a snort and exits the car, casting a quick glance at the smoke still escaping her hood. She kicks a tire for good measure, then slings her purse over her shoulder and waves me forward. “Come on! The sign on the door says to check in inside.”
Pushing thoughts of my ex aside, I follow Simone out of the car. The air tastes fresh here, if you can ignore the smell of Bertha’s dying engine. Full of floral scents and a hint of salt from the sea, the smell unwinds a knot of tension between my shoulders. Simone’s right. I need a vacation—and why not do something that I never would have done before? Why not try something new?
It’s not like there’s anything for me back in Los Angeles. Now that the fancy penthouse was transferred to John’s name last week and my half of its worth has finally hit my bank account, I’m officially homeless. The divorce is settled, so I’m officially single, too. My dream of moving to the hills and getting my picket fence and perfect little family are gone with the penthouse, but I’m trying not to think about it too hard. Starting over at forty-five isn’t something I’d planned on.
Simone decided I needed some time to figure myself out, so I’m here. About to do two weeks of art, yoga, and meditation classes in the hope of finding myself, even though I’m terrified of what I might discover. I find myself in the mirror every morning, and I’m not sure I like what I see. I’m on the other side of forty-five, with new wrinkles appearing every day. Things are sagging where they never used to, and soft where they were once taut.
Compared to John’s younger, prettier, more docile playthings, I feel positively dumpy. I’m not sure a week of painting and ohm-ing will help any of that.
Simone’s already halfway to the door by the time I take a step. She turns around and plants her fists on her hips, arching her brows at me. “Um, earth to Fiona! Get a wriggle on, girl. Our first class starts in half an hour.”
I pause, tilting my head. “I thought you said tomorrow was day one.”
“I lied. Deal with it.” She pushes a stray piece of red hair off her forehead, looking zero percent remorseful. Her eyes sweep down the street then back to me, shoulders dropping slightly. Speaking more gently, she says, “I knew you’d never get in the car if you knew you had to try drawing something today. Your comfort zone is doing its best to keep you hostage, so you know, desperate times and all that.”
“Who are you calling desperate?” I pop a brow.
Simone grins, but before she can open her mouth to answer, a rumble sounds from the asphalt separating us. My best friend’s eyes widen as she looks at the ground where a crack is splitting the pavement apart. I take a step back, a hand on my chest.
Then the parking lot of the Heart’s Cove Hotel explodes.
No, really. It explodes.
"I'd be giving this book more than five stars if I could."
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Asphalt everywhere. A geyser of water shooting fifty feet into the air, cascading down on top of us. I scream, putting my purse over my head while I crouch down. Rocks and bits of asphalt rain down around me, biting my skin as they land. I put a hand on the back of my neck, pull it back, and see blood.
Water’s still raining down on me as shouts erupt. Doors open, and a siren sounds in the distance. I’m still crouched on the sidewalk, staring at the blood on my fingers.
What in the name of self-actualization is wrong with this town? Where the heck did Simone bring me? Maybe I should hightail it out of here, but how would I even do that? Our car is out of commission.
I’m stuck, stuck, stuck. Just like I was stuck in my marriage. Stuck in a penthouse I didn’t like. Stuck in a city I never wanted to be in. Stuck around sycophants and snobby housewives preening and gossiping while I felt like I was dying a slow and painful death as life passed me by.
Water seeps into my dress, soaking my back. I curl myself into a ball, worried another stray chunk of asphalt is coming for my skull. My thoughts rush around me, and my comfort zone constricts inside my head.
I should have stayed at home. What if John needs me for something? I should be apartment hunting and trying to find a job. A vacation is the last thing I need. Why would I even deserve a vacation? I need to get my butt in gear and start figuring out how to start my life over.
Emotion chokes my throat, and I feel silly. I’m not the kind of person who falls apart. I’m the rock. I’m the one who keeps the family together.
That didn’t go so well, did it?
Tears threaten to spill onto my cheeks and I fight my rioting emotions to hold myself together. It’s just a burst water main. I have a shallow cut on the back of my neck, but I’m fine. Just wet and weirdly emotional.
Then, a shadow. The water stops, and I hear the pitter-patter of a geyser hitting an open umbrella. The lack of water raining down on me allows me to take a full breath. I lift my head to see the owner of the umbrella currently helping me maintain a shaky hold on my own sanity.
Heart’s Cove might not be so bad, judging by this vision in a wet t-shirt.
Tall, dark, and handsome doesn’t even cover it. This guy looks like he belongs in every forty-something woman’s wet dream, not in a sleepy town called Heart’s Cove. He’s broad, and by the way his wet shirt clings to his chest, I can tell he’s packing serious muscle. My eyes sweep over the curves of his pecs and shoulders, down his arms and over his trim waist. Snapping my eyes back up before they reach dangerous territory, I see a hint of a smile on his full lips.
“Um, h-hi,” I stammer, standing up as I brush my hands down my navy wrap dress. The back of it is soaked. My dress clings to me as much as his shirt hugs him, and I catch my mystery man’s eyes heating as they take me in. A strange kind of warmth knots in the pit of my stomach as I tuck a strand of black-brown hair behind my ear. I gulp, still staring at my savior.
He has dark hair and rich, tan skin with two patches of grey hair above his temples. The rest of his hair is piled to one side in short, loose curls, one of which slides down across his forehead.
I watch in fascination as he lifts a broad hand to sweep the stray piece of hair back, his grey-blue eyes still studying me. Is he even real? I’m not sure people this good-looking exist in real life. Maybe I finally snapped after the last horrendous fifteen months. The geyser was the last straw. Something in Bertha’s engine fumes has turned my brain to mush. I’ve finally lost my marbles.
“I’m Grant.” His rich, deep voice sends a tremor shivering down my spine. It sounds real enough.
I barely manage to croak out a response. “Fiona.”
His lips curl into a smile, as if the sound of my name pleases him. A curl of heat beads in the pit of my stomach and I place a hand over the offending spot. I feel… I’m not…
I haven’t felt this in a long time.
Grant lifts a hand toward me, and I suck a breath through my teeth as he reaches around the back of my neck. As I close my eyes, I imagine him pulling me close, crushing me against that glorious chest of his, and taking my lips in his.
A man like him would take control. I can sense it in the electricity zinging between us. He’d pin me to a wall and show me what I’ve been missing for the past twenty years. He’d light up every nerve ending in my body and be as rough, as commanding, as demanding as he’d need to be.
And I would melt like freaking butter on his tongue. God, his tongue—I wish I could melt on it. Preferably when his hands grip me tight and I feel the raw power coiling in his huge body. Wet and weirdly emotional, huh. Yup, still accurate.
But Grant’s touch is feather-light when the pads of his fingers brush across the back of my neck. They’re calloused, rough. Not at all like John’s doughy, soft hands were when he palmed my skin back in the days when we actually touched each other.
Grant’s skin may be rough, but his touch is soft. A silent gasp escapes my lips before I can stop myself, heat flooding between my legs, spreading through my core, and all the way up to the tips of my ears.
This is… Oh, no. Is this menopause? Did I just have my first hot flash under a geyser in the middle of a parking lot?
But when I open my eyes, Grant’s expression is soft. “You’re bleeding,” he says, almost to himself. Before I can stop him, he hands me the umbrella, then grabs the edge of his shirt and rips off a strip.
The man rips his freaking shirt apart and uses it to dab at my admittedly very minor wound.
I might faint.
This is a fever dream. This isn’t real life. It can’t be.
I stare at the strip of skin now exposed by the rip, just above the waistband of Grant’s pants. His stomach is hard, and the unholy desire to run my tongue over that bit of flesh bubbles through me without warning.
“Fiona!” Simone’s voice cuts through the lust fogging my mind. My best friend runs over, shielding her face with her hands as she laughs. “Can you believe it? I think it’s a sign.”
“Of what? Poor municipal plumbing?”
Grant lets out a chuckle at my words, and the desire to make him laugh again overwhelms me. I steal a glance at him as Simone walks up to me, her eyes widening as she takes in the specimen standing next to me.
“Well, hello there, handsome. I’m Simone.” She wiggles her eyebrows at me, then drops into a curtsy in front of Grant.
A freaking curtsy, as if the man is the King of England.
My best friend is a maniac.
“Grant,” he replies with a smile, not at all bothered by the fact that Simone is insane. “I’d better go check on the twins. They’ve been having trouble with the hotel maintenance lately, and I’m sure they could use a hand.” I make to give him the umbrella, but he shakes his head. “Keep it. I don’t mind getting wet.” A flash crosses his eyes as his gaze drops to my lips then away, so quickly I wonder if I imagined it.
Call me the Wicked Witch of the West, because I’m about to melt right where I stand.
Simone squeals as she hooks her arm through mine, and we watch Grant stride around the geyser, his white shirt soaking through and clinging to every muscle in his back. “He is delicious. It’s definitely a sign.”
“A sign of what?”
“That this vacation is exactly what you needed.”
“He’s just a friendly local.”
“I hope he’s friendly,” Simone answers, the word sounding very different when she says it.
I shake my head, laughing, and nod to the hotel. “Should we go find out what’s going on?”
“Yeah, but first let me grab some tissues. I don’t want to drool all over the hotel floor if I’m going to be in the same room as that friendly local.”
Rolling my eyes, I fight the smile off my face and jerk my head toward the green-and-white awning, setting off in the same direction as Grant went as if there’s a tether pulling me toward him.
Maybe Simone’s right. Maybe this vacation was a good idea, after all.
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"Loved it! Just a good book about real people...buy it and read it! Do it now!!! And then buy the next one like I did and read it too!"