The Summer of Second Chances
It’s never too late to start over…
When Sophie Russo inherits two lakeside cottages in Willow Bay, Michigan, she thinks she can start over with a peaceful, quiet summer.
Boy, is she wrong.
First, there's Henry Dugan, the nerdy genius behind the GeekSpeak publishing empire, who has rented Sophie’s second cottage so he can write his novel. The instant attraction catches them both off guard. He’s fresh off a brutal divorce, and Sophie’s still grieving her beloved Papa Leo, so this is no time to start a relationship, but a casual summer fling might be an option…
Then Sophie’s long-lost mother barrels onto the scene and opens up a long-buried mystery involving Depression-era mobsters and a missing cache of gold coins worth millions that some present-day hoodlums would like to get their hands on.
Suddenly, Sophie’s quiet summer becomes a dangerous dance with her grandfather’s dark past. With Henry at her side--and in her bed--Sophie needs to find a way to make peace with the past and look toward the future… assuming she lives that long.
“There!” Sophie Russo brushed her hands on the butt of her jeans and gazed around the living room of the Sandpiper, her guest cottage on the shore of Lake Michigan. The place fairly sparkled—all ready for the new summer renter, her colleague and friend, Henry Dugan, right down to a lovely spot on the screened porch, where he would be able to set up his laptop and work in the breeze off the lake. She and Henry had been working together for years and he was setting aside his publishing empire to write a novel. If he couldn’t get some serious writing done here this summer, it wasn’t going to happen at all.
They’d never met in person, but Henry published the famous GeekSpeak books and as his freelance editor, Sophie had worked on nearly all his computer how-tos over the last ten years. She enjoyed his chatty, familiar voice, and wondered if his fiction had the same easy quality. She hoped he’d let her read the novel. He’d never mentioned using her as his fiction editor, but it made sense. She knew his writing style and they already had a good working relationship. He hadn’t even told her what genre the novel was, but she assumed it was guy-type fiction, political suspense, crime drama, or maybe a mystery….
The mantle clock chimed eleven as she hung fresh towels on the rack in the bathroom and then began making the bed. With the windows open slightly, the crisp May breeze had aired the coverlets nicely, and she smoothed Papa Leo’s favorite log cabin quilt over the clean sheets. She’d never thought about it before, but with the tall pines and spectacular lake views, this cottage was the ideal place for a writer.
A loud noise at the back door nearly sent her sprawling across the bed. Whatever was back there was way bigger than a skunk or raccoon. Apparently, she’d forgotten to lock the door when she left earlier. Great. A break-in and it was only May third! Of course, Beach Road was practically deserted. She’d been the first to open up this season. None of the other summer folks had even arrived yet.
Hands fisted at her sides, she peered into the hall, assessing whether she could get to something she could use to defend herself before the prowler stepped inside. What that would be eluded her completely. Maybe the oar hanging above the fireplace or a badminton racket from the closet in the second bedroom or the hairdryer here on the dresser? All good options except that heavy footsteps sounded in the utility porch and the kitchen suddenly flooded with light.
Would a thief switch on the brightest light in the place, knowing she was right next door? Maybe a dumb one who didn’t bring a flashlight…
Oh, screw it.
Sophie grabbed the hairdryer and brandishing it like a pistol, jumped into the hall with a loud shout. She recognized the intruder immediately. His graying hair was longish, soft, and slightly tousled. Small rectangular wire-rimmed glasses gave him a rather intellectual air. He’d grown a goatee since the last publicity photo, but it was unquestionably Henry Dugan gazing around the cottage before his eyes lit on her.
He had a canvas messenger bag slung over one shoulder, a large duffel in one hand, and a guitar and a brown paper bag that emanated the heavenly scent of onions and fries in the other. Obviously, he’d found Swenson’s, the only fast food place in Willow Bay open after ten p.m.
Her heart pounded and her mouth was dry with residual fear, or maybe it was simply dismay that he’d caught her with her wild hair streaming down her back, no makeup, and clad in pink polka dot pajamas. Shouting and waving a hairdryer at him probably didn’t help either. She couldn’t tell. Whatever, one of them needed to speak. In what was probably a futile attempt to regain her dignity, she set the hairdryer on the table, stopped a few feet away from him, and gave him a tentative smile. “Hello, Henry.”
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But writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. She can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t writing—she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten, a love story between the most sophisticated person she knew at the time, her older sister (who was in high school and had a driver’s license!) and a member of Herman’s Hermits. If you remember who they are, you are Nan’s audience! She’s still writing romance, but now from the viewpoint of a wiser, slightly rumpled, menopausal woman who believes that love never ages, women only grow more interesting, and everybody needs a little sexy romance.
Visit Nan’s website at www.nanreinhardt.com, where you’ll find links to all her books as well as blogs about writing, being a Baby Boomer, and aging gracefully…mostly. Nan also blogs every Tuesday at Word Wranglers, sharing the spotlight with three other romance authors.