Book Excerpt: Summer at the Cape by RaeAnne Thayne

Today I get to share with you the final title I was lucky enough to read as part of the HTP Books Women’s Fiction Blog Tours. I really enjoyed Summer At The Cape by RaeAnne Thayne – during a very hectic week, it was a perfect fictional escape during the downtime I managed to eke out. This new summer-friendly novel was released April 5th. While I’ve enjoyed each title I read for this tour, Thayne’s was possibly my favourite – lighthearted but full of meaning with just the right balance of romance, family, and community.

Below is an excerpt from the book to give you a little snippet of what you’ll find in this new release.

2

VIOLET

WILD, FRENZIED BARKING RANG OUT WHEN Violet Porter let herself into the back door of her mother’s comfortable kitchen at Moongate Farm.

Rosemary was nowhere in sight. Instead, a cranky-faced schnauzer–toy poodle mix planted himself in front of the door, telling her in no uncertain terms that she was an intruder who wasn’t welcome here.

“Hi, Baxter,” she said, mouth stretched thin in what she knew was an insincere smile. “How are you, buddy?”

Lily’s dog only growled at her, baring his teeth with his hack-les raised as if he wanted to rip her throat out.

The dog hated her. Violet wasn’t exactly sure why. 

She might have thought he would look more fondly toward her, considering she was the identical twin to his late owner. But maybe that was the problem. Maybe the fact that she looked so much like Lily but clearly wasn’t her sister confused the dog and made him view her as a threat.

He had never really warmed to her, even when he lived in her condo with Lily. Since Lily’s death, he had become down-right hostile.

“Stop that. What’s gotten into you? I could hear you clear back in my bedroom.”

Her mother’s voice trailed out from down the hall, becoming louder as she approached the kitchen, still fastening an earring.

She stopped dead when she spotted Violet.

“Oh! Violet! You scared me! What are you doing here?”

“You invited me. Remember? You’ve known for months I was coming to help you out during my summer break.”

“You were coming tomorrow. Not today!”

Okay. That wasn’t exactly the warm welcome she might have expected, Violet thought wryly. Instead, her mother was staring at her with an expression that seemed a curious mix of chagrin and dismay.

She shrugged as Baxter continued to growl. Wasn’t anybody happy to see her?

“I finished cleaning out my classroom and calculating final grades this morning. Since all my things were already packed and loaded into my car, I couldn’t see any reason to wait until the morning to drive up. Is there a problem?”

Rosemary, usually so even-tempered, looked at her, then at the giant wrought iron clock on the wall of the Moongate Farm kitchen with a hint of panic in her eyes.

“No. It’s only…this is, er, a bit of a complication. I’m expecting dinner guests any moment.”

“That must be why it smells so good in here.”

It smelled like roasting vegetables mixed with garlic and cheese. Violet’s stomach rumbled loud enough she was certain her mother had to hear, but Rosemary didn’t seem to notice, looking at the clock again.

Why was she so nervous? Who was coming? If she didn’t know better, Violet might have suspected her mother was expecting a date.

Not impossible, she supposed. Her mother was still a beautiful woman, with high cheekbones, a wide smile and the deep blue eyes she had handed down to Violet and her identical twin.

Rosemary didn’t date much, though she’d had a few relationships since her divorce from Violet’s father.

As far as Violet knew, she had broken up with the most re-cent man she had dated more than a year earlier and Rosemary hadn’t mentioned anyone else.

Then again, just as Violet didn’t tell her mother everything that went on in her life in Sacramento, Rosemary likely had secrets of her own here in Cape Sanctuary.

“No problem,” she said, trying for a cheerful tone. “You don’t have to worry about feeding me. If I get hungry later, I’ll make a sandwich or something. I’ll get out of your way.”

“You’re not in the way,” Rosemary protested. “It’s just, well…” She didn’t have time to finish before a knock sounded at the back door. Baxter, annoying little beast, gave one sharp bark, sniffed at the door, then plopped down expectantly.

Violet thought she heard a man’s deep voice say something on the other side of the door and then a child’s laughter in response.

Something about that voice rang a chord. She frowned, suddenly unsettled. “Mom. Who are you expecting?”

“Just some…some friends from town,” Rosemary said vaguely. She heard the man’s voice again and her disquiet turned into full-fledged dismay.

No. Rosemary wouldn’t have. Would she?

“Mom. Who’s here?” Her voice sounded shrill and she was quite sure Rosemary could pick up on it.

“I didn’t know you were coming tonight,” her mom said defensively. “You told me you were coming tomorrow, so I…I invited Alexandro and his daughter for dinner. He’s been such a help to me with Wild Hearts. I could never have set up all those tents or moved in the furniture without him. I’ve been meaning to have him and his daughter over for dinner but the time got away from me, until here we are. I’m sorry. You weren’t supposed to be here until tomorrow and I didn’t think it would be a problem.”

The news hit her like a hatchet to the chest. Alex was here, on the other side of the door. Alex, who had once been her best friend, the man she thought would be her forever.

Alex, who had betrayed her.

She had seen him exactly twice since they broke up a decade ago.

One previous encounter had been a few years after he married Claudia Crane, when she had bumped into him at the grocery store while home from college for a brief visit.

The second time had been four months earlier at Lily’s memorial service.

That was two times too many, really. Three encounters was asking far too much of her.

She wanted to jump back into her car and head back to Sacramento.

No. This was silly. She had known she would see him this summer. How could she avoid it? Cape Sanctuary was a small town. Not only that, but his house and boat charter business were both just down the road from Moongate Farm.

The concept had seemed fine in the abstract. Like algebra and the periodic table.

It had been nearly a decade, after all. She was a completely different person from that besotted girl she had once been.

He meant nothing to her anymore. She should be able to blithely chat with him about what he had been up to the past decade.

Yeah. Not happening.

Maybe she could turn around, climb back into her car and go hang out at The Sea Shanty until he was gone.

No. That was just kicking the can down the road. She had to face him eventually. Why not now?

She could come up with a dozen reasons, but none of them seemed compelling enough for her to flee without at least saying hello.

“I’m sorry,” Rosemary said again, her hand on the doorknob. “It’s fine, Mom. Don’t worry about it. Don’t leave them standing outside. I’ll just say hello and then head over to the bunk-house to settle in. You won’t even know I’m here. It will be fine.”

She didn’t believe that for a minute, but she forced herself to put on a pleasant smile as her mother opened the door.

And there he was.

As gorgeous as ever, with those thick dark eyelashes, strong features, full mouth that could kiss like no one else she had ever met…

Her toes curled at the unwelcome memories and she forced her attention away from Alex to the young girl standing beside him. She had dark hair that swung to her shoulders, bright brown eyes and dimples like her father.

Right now she was staring at Violet like she had just grown a second head.

“Miss Lily?” she whispered, big brown eyes wide and mouth ajar.

Of course. Ariana thought Violet was her sister. It was a natural mistake, as they were identical twins, though as an adult, Vi had mostly seen the differences between them.

She approached the girl with the same patient, reassuring mile she used in her classroom when one of her students was upset about something.

“Hi there,” she said calmly, doing her best to ignore Alex’s intense gaze for now. “You must be Ariana. I’m Violet. Lily was my twin sister.”

“You look just like her,” the girl said breathlessly. Her gaze narrowed. “Except I think maybe your hair is a little shorter than hers was. And she had a tattoo of flowers on her wrist and you don’t.”

When they were in college, Lily had insisted on getting a tiny bouquet of flowers, intertwined lilies and violets and camellias to represent the three Porter sisters.

She had begged Violet and Cami to both get one, too. Cami, older by two years and always far more mature than either Vi or Lily, had politely explained that she didn’t want any tattoos because of the serious nature of the law career she was pursuing. Violet had promised she would but then kept putting it off.

She still could go get a tattoo. After Lily’s death, she had thought more seriously about it, but the loss of her sister was always with her. She didn’t need a mark on her skin to remind her Lily wasn’t here.

She forced a smile for the girl. “Right. No tattoo. That’s one sure way of telling us apart.”

Plus, she was alive and Lily wasn’t. But she wasn’t cruel enough to say that out loud, especially not to this child.

Lily had drowned after rescuing Ariana and a visiting friend when a rogue wave from an offshore winter storm dragged the girls out to sea. Lily had somehow managed to get both girls back to safety, but the Pacific had been relentless that day, and before Lily could climb out herself, another wave had pulled her under.

Violet certainly couldn’t blame this child for a cruel act of nature.

Or for her parentage.

Excerpted from Summer at the Cape by RaeAnne Thayne. Copyright © 2022 by RaeAnne Thayne. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

I received a complimentary copy of this title. Thoughts expressed are entirely my own.

HTP Books Women’s Fiction – Blog Tour & Book Reviews

It’s the time of year when new beachy summer reads are popping up on the shelves of booksellers and libraries and women’s fiction lovers! The covers alone will make you want to book a vacation to a destination involving sand, surf, and sun. They’re usually light enough – in both physical weight and actual storyline – to toss in your tote and enjoy poolside with a straw hat, sunglasses, and cool drink – just don’t forget the sunscreen!

Two of the titles I was gifted by the publisher and got to dive into recently – reading on my couch and not on distant sandy shores – include A Family Affair by Robyn Carr (of Virgin River fame – she’s been a go-to author since maternity leave with my little ones who are not so little anymore!) and the prolific Brenda Novak’s Summer On the Island whose works I have also enjoyed over the years. Both titles were released earlier this week (April 5th) and are available to purchase wherever your heart desires.

Typically, I would offer a separate review for each title but in celebration of the fact that they’re both featured in HTP’s Women’s Fiction Blog Tour, I’m going to offer a combined review. The books have similarities – both are written by popular, accomplished authors. They were both a little heavier than I was anticipating with grief and infidelity being a foundational aspect of both stories. Yet they still contained the elements of romance (with a little spice), family bonds, friendship, resilience, and forgiveness that you want and expect. Don’t be concerned that when you pick up one, you’ve already read the plot for the other – each novel offers its own distinctive dynamic.

The key characters are varied with major personality differences. (As an aside, some of the supporting characters needed personality transplants and in Summer On The Island, I’m not sure their stories added much to the plotline.) The struggles each family faces are integral to their personal development. The voices, the plotting, the settings – opposite coasts, and the storylines themselves are unique. They are the heartwarming happy-ending easy reads you expect from each individual author. Do I have one title I preferred over the other? Yes – I connected with one a little better. Will I tell you which one it was? Absolutely not! I think each novel will appeal to its own readership and in honesty, they were both enjoyable – messy topics aside. They are both worth picking up if contemporary women’s fiction is the genre you like to have on hand! I’ve included the book descriptions below.

If you read either or both of these titles, let me know in the comments! Did you prefer one to the other? Which character was a standout for you?

My thanks to the publisher for the complimentary copies and opportunity to participate in this blog tour. Opinions expressed are entirely my own.


Summer on the Island
Brenda Novak
On Sale Date: April 5, 2022
ISBN 9780778311850
Publisher: MIRA

ABOUT THE BOOK:
For fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Nancy Thayer, New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak’s newest standalone novel about friendship, family and the ties that bind and challenge us follows three friends as they escape to a coastal Florida town for the summer.

Marlo Madsen has just been through a global pandemic that turned her life—and the lives of almost everyone she knows—upside down. Her beloved father has died from COVID. Helping her mother, who has MS, handle his estate means returning to the small coastal Florida town where she was raised.

Having just left her job as a divorce attorney—which paid well but showed her too much of the worst in people—she’s invited two friends to join her for a seaside summer. The two friends are also facing huge life changes after the worsening California wildfires took everything from them, and need to decompress and recuperate. And travel has long been forbidden, so they are beyond appreciative for the ability to escape.

Unfortunately, a restful summer doesn’t seem to be in the cards, especially when Marlo learns about a special provision in her father’s will that reveals he has a love child with Rosemarie, the housekeeper who’s worked for the family for years. Rosemarie’s son was around while Marlo was growing up, but she never suspected a thing. Nobody did. And once the news is revealed, the fallout will cause waves big enough to topple two families and a whole community.


A FAMILY AFFAIR
Robyn Carr
ISBN: 9780778331742
Publication Date: April 5, 2022
Publisher: MIRA

ABOUT THE BOOK:
An exceptional storyteller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr beautifully captures the emotionally charged, complex dynamics that come with being part of any family. Readers will laugh and shed a few tears as they discover what it means to be loved, supported and accepted by the people who mean the most.

When a woman notices a young pregnant woman attending her husband’s funeral she realizes his mid-life crisis went far beyond his weekend warrior lifestyle. But Carr’s story of a family dealing with their grief is full of surprises and as everyone examines their own beliefs and behavior, they become closer than they ever thought possible. Carr tackles the serious issues women face with humor and heart.