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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Moonlight Harbor











WELCOME TO MOONLIGHT HARBOR by Sheila Roberts, Women's Fiction, 400 pp., $7.99 (Paperback) $6.99

(Kindle edition)





Welcome to Moonlight Harbor


Title: WELCOME TO MOONLIGHT HARBOR

Author: Sheila Roberts


Publisher: Harlequin MIRA


Pages: 400


Genre: Women’s Fiction








Once-happily married Jenna Jones is about to turn forty, and this

year for her birthday – lucky her – she’s getting a divorce. She’s

barely able to support herself and her teenage daughter, but now her

deadbeat artist ex is hitting her up for spousal support…and then

spending it on his “other” woman.


Still, Jenna is determined follow her mother’s philosophy – every

storm brings a rainbow. And when she gets a very unexpected gift from

her great Aunt Edie, things seem to be taking a turn for the better.

Aging aunt Edie is finding it difficult to keep up her business running

The Driftwood Inn, so she invites Jenna to come live with her and run

the place. It looks like Jenna’s financial problems are solved!





Or not. The town is a little more run-down than Jenna remembered, but

that’s nothing compared to the ramshackle state of The Driftwood Inn.

Aunt Edie is confident they can return it to its former glory, though

Jenna feels like she’s jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the

beach fire.


But who knows? With the help of her new friends and a couple of

handsome citizens, perhaps that rainbow is on the horizon after all.

Because, no matter what, life is always good at the beach.


What I Thought:

I was drawn to this book because, I just turned 40 and Jenna, the main character is getting ready to turn 40.  Unlike Jenna, I am not getting a divorce though.  I thought this was a well written book and I liked how Jenna developed as the book went along.  I also enjoyed the other characters in the book as well. I thought this was a well written book that tackled very real issues of today.  I thought the descriptions were spot on.  I was drawn into to this story and I felt that I knew the characters and had visited the setting.  Great job as usual Sheila.

I received a complimentary copy of this book.






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https://www.amazon.com/Mistress-Suffragette-Diana-Forbes-ebook/dp/B06XG3G2TF












































 Chapter 1


To Do:


Clean office


Dentist at noon


Drop Sabrina off at Mom’s


Meet everyone at Casa Roja at 6


Or just tell them I’ve got bubonic plague and cancel





            The

four women seated at a corner booth in the Mexican restaurant were getting

increasingly noisier with each new round of drinks. Cinco de Mayo had come and

gone, but these ladies still had something to celebrate, as they were all

dressed in slinky tops over skinny jeans and body-con dresses, killer shoes,

and wearing boas. There were four of them, all pretty, all still in their

thirties. Except the guest of honor, who was wearing a black dress, a sombrero

and a frown. She was turning forty.


            It

was going to take a while for her to get as jovial as the others (like about a

million years) considering what she’d just gotten for her birthday. A divorce.


            “Here’s

to being free of rotten scum-sucking, cheating husbands,” toasted Celeste,

sister of the guest of honor. She was thirty-five, single, and always in a

party mood.


            The

birthday girl, Jenna Jones, formerly Jenna Petit, took another sip of her

mojito. She could get completely sloshed if she wanted. She wasn’t driving and

she didn’t have to worry about setting a good example for her daughter,

Sabrina, who was spending the night with Grandma. Later, if they could still

work their cell phones, the gang would be calling Uber and getting driven home

and poured into their houses or, in the case of sister Celeste, apartments, so

there was no need to worry about driving drunk. But Jenna wasn’t a big drinker,

even when she was in a party mood, and tonight she was as far from that as a

woman could get.


            What

was there to party about when you were getting divorced and turning (ick!)

forty? Still, that mojito was going down pretty easily. And she was inhaling

the chips and salsa. At the rate she was going she’d be getting five extra

pounds for her birthday as well as a divorce.


            “Just

think, you can make a whole new start,” said her best friend Brittany.
Brittany was happily married with three kids. What did she know

about new starts? Still, she was trying to put a positive spin on things.


            “And

who knows? Maybe the second time around you’ll meet a business tycoon” said

Jenna’s other bestie, Vanita.


            “Or

someone who works at Amazon and owns lots of stock,” put in Celeste.


            “I’d

take the stock in a heartbeat,” Jenna said, “but I’m so over men.” She’d given

up on love. Maybe, judging from the chewed fingernails and grown-out highlights

in her hair, she’d given up on herself, too. She felt shipwrecked. What was the

point of building a rescue fire? The next ship to come along would probably

also flounder.


            “No,

you’re over
man,” Brittany corrected. “You can’t

give up on the whole species because of one loser. You don’t want to go through

the rest of your life celibate.” She shuddered as if celibacy was akin to

leprosy.


            “Anyway,

there’s some good ones out there somewhere,” said Vanita, who, at thirty-six,

was still single and looking. “They’re just hiding,” she added with a guffaw,

and took another drink of her Margarita.


            “That’s

for sure,” Celeste agreed, who was also looking now that This-is-it

Relationship Number Three had died. With her green eyes, platinum hair, pouty

lips and perfect body, it probably wouldn’t take her long to find a replacement.

“Men. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t ...” Her brows furrowed. “Live with ‘em.”


            Jenna

hadn’t been able to live with hers, that was for sure, not once she learned Mr.

Sensitive Artist had another muse on the side - a redhead who painted murals

and was equally sensitive. And had big boobs. That had nothing to do with why

they were together, Damien had insisted. They were soul mates.


            Funny,

he’d said the same thing to Jenna once. It looked like some souls could have as

many mates as they wanted.


            Damien

Petit, handsome, charming... rat. When they first got together Jenna had

thought he was brilliant. They’d met at a club in the U District. He’d been the

darling of the University of Washington Art Department. He’d looked like a work

of art, himself, with brooding eyes and the perfectly chiseled features of a

marble statue. She’d been going to school to become a massage therapist. She,

who had never gotten beyond painting tiles and decorating cakes, had been in

awe. A real artist. His medium was un-recyclable detritus. Junk.


            Too

bad she hadn’t seen the symbolism in that back when they first got together.

All she’d seen was his creativity.


            She

was seeing that in full bloom now. Damien had certainly found a creative way to

support himself and his new woman - on spousal support from Jenna.


            Seriously?

She’d barely be able to support herself and Sabrina once the dust settled.


            Nonetheless,

the court had deemed that she had been the main support of the family and poor,

struggling artist Damien needed transitional help while he readied himself to

get out there in the big, bad world and earn money on his own. Her reward for

being the responsible one in the marriage was to support the irresponsible one.

So now, he was living in the basement of his parent’s house, cozy as a

cockroach with the new woman, and Jenna was footing the bill for their art

supplies. Was this fair? Was this right? Was this any way to start off her

fortieth year?


            Her

sister nudged her. “Hey, smile. We’re having fun here.”


            Jenna

forced a smile. “Fun.”


            “You

can’t keep brooding about the junk jerk.”


            “I’m

not,” Jenna lied.


            “Yeah,

you are. I can see it in your eyes.”


            “I

know it’s not fair you have to pay him money,” put in
Brittany, “but that’s how things work today. You know, women’s

rights and all. If men can pay us spousal support we can pay them, too.”


            “Since

when does women’s rights give your ex the right to skip off like a fifteen-year

old with his new bimbo and you pay for the fun?” Jenna demanded.


            It

was sick and wrong. She’d carried him for years, working as a massage therapist

while he dabbled away, selling a piece of art here and there. They’d lived on

her salary supplemented by an annual check at Christmas from his folks, who

wanted to encourage him to pursue his dream of artistic success, and grocery

care packages from her mom, who worked as a checker at the local Safeway. And

the grandparents, God bless them, had always given her a nice, fat check for

her birthday. Shocking how quickly those fat checks always shrank. Damien drank

up money like a thirsty plant, investing it in his art ... and certain

substances to help him with his creative process.


            Maybe

everyone shouldn’t have helped them so much. Maybe they should have let Damien

become a starving artist, literally. Then he might have grown up and manned up

and gotten a job.


            They’d

had more than one discussion about that. “And when,” he’d demanded, “am I

supposed to do my art?” 


            “Evenings?

Weekends?”


            He’d

looked heavenward and shaken his head. “As if you can just turn on creativity

like a faucet.”


            One

of Jenna’s clients was an aspiring writer with a family, who worked thirty

hours a week. She managed to turn on the faucet every Saturday morning.


There

was obviously something wrong with Damien’s pipes. “I need time to think, time

for things to come together.”


            Something

had come together all right. With Aurora Ansel, whose mother had obviously

watched one too many Disney movies.


            Jenna

probably should have packed it in long before Aurora came slinking along,

admitted what she’d known after only a couple of years into the marriage that

it had been a mistake. But after she’d gotten pregnant she’d wanted desperately

to make things work, so she’d kept her head down and kept ploughing forward

through rough waters.


Now

she and Damien were through and it still didn’t look like clear sailing ahead.

Sigh.


            “Game

time,” Celeste announced. We are going to see who can wish the worst fate on

the scum-sucking cheater. I have a prize for the winner.” She dug in her

capacious Michael Kors purse and pulled out a Seattle Chocolates chocolate bar

and everyone, including the birthday girl let out an “ooh.”


            “Okay,

I’ll go first,”
Brittany said. “May he fall in a dumpster looking for junk and not

be able to climb out.”


            “I’ll

drink to that,” Jenna said, and did.


            “Oh,

that’s lame,” scoffed Vanita.


            “So,

you think you can do better?”
Brittany challenged.


            “Absolutely,”

she said, flipping her long, black hair. “May he wind up in the
Museum of Bad Art.”


            “There

is such a thing?” Jenna asked.


            “Oh,

yeah.” Vanita grinned.


            “Ha!”

Celeste crowed. “That would serve him right.”


            Jenna

shook her head. “That will never be happen. To be fair, he is good.”


            “Good

at being a cheating scum sucker,” Celeste said and took a drink.


            Vanita

tried again. “Okay, then, how about this one? May a thousand camels spit on his

work.”


            “Or

a thousand first-graders,” added Celeste, who taught first grade.


            “How

about this one? May the ghost of Van Gogh haunt him and cut off his ear,”
Brittany offered.


            Vanita

made a face and set down the chip she was about to bite into. “Eeew.”


“Eew

is right,” Jenna agreed. “But I’m feeling bloodthirsty tonight so I’ll drink to

that. I think that one’s your winner,” she said to her sister.


Celeste

shook her head. “Oh, no. I can do better than that.”


            “Go

for it,” urged
Brittany.


            Celeste’s

smile turned wicked. “May his ‘paint brush’ shrivel and fall off.”


            “And

to think you teach children,” Jenna said, rolling her eyes.


            Nonetheless,

the double entendre had them all laughing uproariously.


            “Okay,

I win the chocolate,” Celeste said.


            “You

haven’t given Jenna a chance,” pointed out
Brittany.


            “Go

ahead, try and beat that,” Celeste said, waving the chocolate bar in front of

Jenna.


            “I

can’t. It’s yours.”


            Their

waiter, a cute twenty-something Latino, came over. “Are you ladies ready for

another drink?”


            “We’d

better eat,” Jenna said. Her mojito was going to her head.


            Celeste

overrode her. “We’ve got plenty of night left. Bring us more drinks,” she told

the waiter. “And more chips.” She held up the empty bowl.


            “Anything

you ladies want,” he said, and smiled at Jenna.


            Celeste

nudged her as he walked away. “Did you hear that? Anything you want.”


           

“Not

in the market,” Jenna said firmly, shaking her head and making the sombrero

wobble. Tonight she hated men.


            But,

she decided, she did like mojitos, and her second one went down just fine.


            So

did the third. Ol
é.





            Saturday

morning, she woke up with gremlins sandblasting her brain and her mouth tasting

like she’d feasted on cat litter instead of enchiladas. She rolled out of bed

and staggered to the bathroom where she tried to silence the gremlins with

aspirin and a huge glass of water. Then she made the mistake of looking in the

mirror.


            Ugh.

Who was that woman with the ratty, long, blond-gone hair? Her bloodshot eyes

were more red than blue and the circles under them made her look a decade older

than what she’d just turned. Well, she felt a decade older than what she’d just

turned.


            A

shower would help. Maybe.


            Or

maybe not. She still didn’t look so hot, even after she’d blown out her hair

and put on some make-up. But oh, well. At least the gremlins had taken a lunch

break.


            She

got in her ten-year-old
Toyota (thank God they made those cars to run forever - this one

would have to) and drove to her mother’s house to pick up her daughter. 


            She

found her mother stretched out on the couch with a romance novel. Unlike her

daughter, she looked rested, refreshed, and ready for a new day. In her early

sixties, she was still an attractive woman, slender with a youthful face and

the gray hairs well hidden under a sandy brown that was only slightly lighter

than her original color.


“Hello,

birthday girl,” Mom greeted her. “Did you have fun last night?”


            As

the night wore on she’d been distracted from her misery. That probably counted

as fun, so she said, “Yes.”


            “Looks

like you could use some coffee,” Mom said, and led her into the kitchen.


“How’s

my baby?” Jenna asked.


            “She’s

good. She just got in the shower. We stayed up late last night.”


            Jenna

settled at the kitchen table. “What did she think of your taste in movies?”


            “She

was impressed, naturally. Every girl should have to watch
Pretty in Pink and Jane Eyre.”


            “And?” Jenna prompted.


            “Okay,

so I showed her
Grease. It’s a classic.”


            “About

hoods and ho’s.”


            “I

don’t know how you can say that about an iconic movie,” Mom said. “Anyway, I

explained a few things to her, so it came with a moral.”


            “What?

You, too, can look like Olivia Newton John?”


            Mom

shrugged. “Something like that. Now, tell me. What all did you girls do?”


            “Not

much. We just went out for dinner.”


            “Dinner

is nice,” Mom said, and set a cup of coffee in front of Jenna. She pulled a

bottle of Jenna’s favorite caramel flavored creamer from the fridge and set it

on the table and watched while Jenna poured in a generous slosh. “I know this

is going to be the beginning of a wonderful new year for you.”


            “I

have no way to go but up.”


            “That’s

right. And you know...”


            “Every

storm brings a rainbow,” Jenna finished with her.


            “I

firmly believe that.”


            And

Mom should know. She’d had her share of storms. “I don’t know how you did it,”

Jenna said. “Surviving losing dad when we were so young, raising us

single-handedly.”


            “Hardly

single-handedly. I had Gram and Gramps and Grandma and Grandpa Jones, as well. Yes,

we each have to fight our own fight, but God always puts someone in our corner

to help us.”


            “I’m

glad you’re in my corner,” Jenna said. “You’re my hero.”


            Jenna

had been almost five and Celeste a baby when their father had been killed in a

car accident. Sudden, no chance for her mom to say good-bye. There was little

that Jenna remembered about her father beyond sitting on his shoulders when

they milled with the crowd at the Puyallup Fair or stood watching the Seafair

parade in downtown Seattle, that and the scrape of his five o’clock shadow when

he kissed her goodnight.


            What

stuck in her mind most was her mom, holding her on her lap, sitting at this

very kitchen table and saying to Gram, “He was my everything.”


            That

read well in books, but maybe in real life it wasn’t good to make a man your

everything. Even the good ones left you.


            At

least her dad hadn’t left voluntarily. Her mom had chosen a good man. So had

Gram, whose husband was also gone now. Both women had picked wisely and knew

what good looked like.


            Too

bad Jenna hadn’t listened to them when they tried to warn her about Damien.

“Honey, there’s no hurry,” Mom had said.


            Yes,

there was. She’d wanted to be with him NOW.


            “Are

you sure he’s what you really want?” Gram had asked. “He seems a little...”


            “What?”

Jenna had prompted.


            “Egotistical,”

Gram had ventured.


            “He’s

confident,” Jenna had replied. “There’s a difference.”


            “Yes,

there is,” Gram had said. “Are you sure you know what it is?” she’d added,

making Jenna scowl.


            “I’m

just not sure he’s the right man for you,” Mom had worried.


            “Of

course, he is,” Jenna had insisted, because at twenty-three she knew it all.

And Damien had been so glamorous, so exciting. Look how well their names went

together - Damien and Jenna, Jenna and Damien. Oh, yes, perfect.


            And

so it was for a time... until she began to see the flaws. Gram had been right,

he was egotistical. Narcissistic. Irresponsible. Those flaws she could live

with. Those she did live with. But then came the one flaw she couldn’t accept. Unfaithful.


            Not

that he’d asked her to accept it. Not that he’d asked her to keep him. Or even

to forgive him. “I can’t help how I feel,” he’d said.


            That

was it. Harsh reality came in like a strong wind and blew away the last of the

fantasy.


But,

here was Mom, living proof that a woman could survive the loss of her love,

could climb out of the rubble after all her dreams collapsed and rebuild. She’d

worked hard at a job that kept her on her feet all day and had still managed to

make PTA meetings. She’d hosted tea parties when her girls were little and

sleepovers when they became teenagers. And, in between all that, she’d managed

to make time for herself, starting a book club with some of the neighbors. That

book club still met every month. And Mom still found time for sleepovers, now

with her granddaughter.


Surely,

if her mom could overcome the loss of her man, Jenna could overcome the loss of

what she’d thought her man was.


            Mom

smiled at her and slid a card-sized envelope across the table. “Happy birthday.”


            “You

already gave me my birthday present,” Jenna said. Mom had given her a

motivational book about new beginnings by Muriel Sterling with a fifty-dollar

bill tucked inside. Jenna would read the book (once she was ready to face the

fact that she did, indeed, have to make a new beginning) and she planned to

hoard the fifty like a miser. You could buy a lot of lentils and beans with

fifty bucks.


            “This

isn’t from me. It’s from your Aunt Edie.”


            “Aunt

Edie?”


            She

hadn’t seen her great aunt in years, but she had fond memories of those

childhood summer visits with her at Moonlight Harbor – beach combing for

agates, baking cookies with Aunt Edie while her parrot Jolly Roger squawked all

the silly things Uncle Ralph had taught him, listening to the waves crash as

she lay in the old antique bed in the guest room at night with her sister. She

remembered digging clams with Uncle Ralph, sitting next to her mother in front

of a roaring beach fire, using her arm to shield her face from the heat of the

flame as she roasted a hot dog. Those visits had been as golden as the sunsets.




            But

after getting together with Damien, life had filled with drama and

responsibilities, and, after one quick visit, the beach town on the
Washington

Coast had faded into a memory. Maybe she’d spend that birthday

money Mom had given her and go see Aunt Edie.


            She

pulled the card out of the envelope. All pastel flowers and birds, the outside

read
For

a Lovely Niece.


The inside had a sappy poem telling her she was special and wishing her joy in everything

she did, and was signed, Love, Aunt

Edie.
No Uncle Ralph. He’d been gone for several years.


            Aunt

Edie had stuffed a letter inside the card. The writing was small, like her

aunt. But firm, in spite of her age.


            Dear Jenna,


            I

know you’ve gone through some very hard times, but I also know that like all

the women in our family, you are strong and you’ll come through just fine.


            Your

grandmother told me you could use a new start and I would like to give it to

you. I want you to come to
Moonlight Harbor and help me revamp and run The Driftwood Inn. Like me, it’s

getting old and it needs some help. I plan to bequeath it to you on my death.

The will is already drawn up, signed and witnessed, so I hope you won’t refuse

my offer.


            Of

course, I know your cousin Winston would love to get his grubby mitts on it,

but he won’t. The boy is useless. And besides, you know I’ve always had a soft

spot for you in my heart. You’re a good girl who’s always been kind enough to

send Christmas cards and homemade fudge for my birthday. Uncle Ralph loved you

like a daughter. So do I, and since we never had children of our own you’re the

closest thing I have to one. I know your mother and grandmother won’t mind

sharing.


            Please

say you’ll come.


            Love,

Aunt Edie


            Jenna hardly knew what

to say. “She wants to leave me the motel.” She had to be misreading.


            She

checked again. No, there it was, in Aunt Edie’s tight little scrawl.


            Mom

smiled. “I think this could be your rainbow.”


            Not

just the rainbow, the pot of gold as well!

















Sheila Roberts lives on the water in the Pacific Northwest. Her books

have been printed in several different languages and have been chosen

for book clubs such as Doubleday as well as for Readers Digest Condensed

books. Her best-selling novel ON STRIKE FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a

movie and appeared on the Lifetime Movie Network, and her novel THE NINE

LIVES OF CHRISTMAS was made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel.





When she’s not making public appearances or playing with her friends,

she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s

hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.



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