Full-figured best-selling Romance novelist Meghan Mason slips into the center of a twisted plot of misunderstanding, deception, and danger herself when, on a coincidence-driven impulse, she buys and renovates a derelict house, Fiddler’s Rest, on the Beaufort River overlooking a picturesque town in South Carolina. Here she gradually falls under the spell of her handsome contractor, William Hamilton, beset by his own secrets and personal interest in Fiddler’s Rest. Meghan’s uncertainties about Hamilton’s intentions and a shocking revelation ultimately propel Meghan into a precipitous marriage to an older man, the dapper and sophisticated literary agent Donald Drake. When Drake’s grown son, Ted, appears on the doorstep of Fiddler’s Rest, the Drake household sinks into a gripping tension coming to a squall point at the mouth of the Beaufort River in a decrepit sailboat, dragging Meghan into the grip of the latest in a series of tragic coincidences that may not be all that coincidental.
Word Count: 19,370
I knew the Realtor was only trying to make a house sale, but the house was getting under my skin anyway. However, I just could not afford to fix it up. True, that den at the end could be made into a perfect room for my writing. But I just could not afford the work that was required here.
“Yes, it’s a pity,” I said. “I think it’s just too far gone.”
“Good,” Julie said. “Let’s get back in the car and hightail it back to Hilton Head. I’m dying to tie into some crab cakes and marinate myself in a gallon of mint juleps.”
We made it as far as the front door, when we were caught up short by the appearance of a scene straight out of one my books. The hero had arrived on the scene. Or at least that would have been the way I would have written it up in one of my Romances.
And quite a typical hero he was too. Long and lanky, with bedroom eyes and a sensuous smile. Dressed out casually in jeans and a pristine-white polo shirt, he was lounging languidly against the fender of a hunter-green Jaguar sedan. And the way he was lounging brought images flashing through my mind of the young man Julie and I had spotted on the front porch of the mansion in old Beaufort, and the man of my recent dreams. He was wearing casual loafers without socks, which made me fanaticize him undressed and sent chills down my arms. In my books he would have been consulting a map and looking lost, but in reality he was just leaning there, his hands neatly folded before him.
“Hi, Bill,” the Realtor called out in a voice that was dripping with honey wishful thinking. “So, you got my message.”
“Yeah, I got the message, thanks,” he said. But intriguingly, he wasn’t looking at the Realtor. He was looking at me—and with interest in his eyes. I was nonplussed by this. I wasn’t accustomed to this. He was looking into my eyes rather than where I was accustomed to guys looking. I blushed and became disconcerted. I was the kind of girl guys ogled at chest height and then moved right on to liking me for my mind or simply to get their hands on a set of big bazooms if they grew to liking me at all.
“Ms. Mason, this is Bill Hamilton, a Beaufort contractor,” the Realtor continued. “I took the liberty of asking him to come over and give you some assessment on the house. He’s quite familiar with the place. I know you’re just here for the afternoon, and I thought it would save some time and effort on your part.”
“Um, thanks,” I answered dubiously. “I’m sorry you had to come this far out of town, though, Mr. . . . it’s Mr. Hamilton, isn’t it?” I wasn’t sure, as it seemed like I’d just heard that name in some other context. “It looks like the place is too far gone for my pocketbook. It’s a pity, though, the setting is delightful.”
“Did you know you could see the lights of Beaufort from the porch here at night?” Hamilton asked. The voice went with the rest of the package, a smooth, confident baritone. And it revealed a good college education, probably someplace up north. This young Mr. Hamilton was intriguing indeed. And I wondered if I thought so only from the standpoint of a model for a character in one of my Romances or because my mind kept wanting to connect him to the dream I’d been having.
“Does it?” I asked.
“And good bones. It’s got really good bones. I’d hate to see it slide any further—or to see it demolished. My grandmother told me that the original builder put his entire life into it.”
Hamilton. His grandmother. Ah so. I could see a storyline forming. And it made me turn and look at the house again with a good deal of interest and regret. If only it wasn’t so run down.
But as entranced as I was, hearing “good bones” spoken just as the Realtor had done set off alarm bells of locals putting one over on unsuspecting city slickers.
This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 03 August, 2011.