USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts takes readers back to the sun-dappled shores of Moonlight Harbor as its citizens find hope, happiness and humor in the wake of a tragic loss…
Synopsis: "Jenna Jones has been standing on the shore of the Sea of Love for too long. Even with two good men interested in her, she’s been afraid to wade in. According to her best friend, Courtney, she should. The water’s fine. Life is great! Practically perfect, if you don’t count Courtney’s problems with her cranky ex-boss. Maybe Courtney’s right. It’s time to dive in.
When tragedy strikes, everything changes and Jenna’s more confused than ever. But this fresh heartache might help her figure out at last who she can turn to when times get tough.
Full of warmth and humor, Sunset on Moonlight Beach proves that every ending can be the beginning of a beautiful new story."
My Review: I have really been enjoying this series and was excited for the next book to come out, thanks to Pump Up Your Book and Sheila Roberts I was able to read it early and it was so worth it. I was able to jump right back into this series, the setting and characters are all so vivid they stand out in your memory. I have loved the small town atmosphere and getting to know all the characters in this quirky little seaside town. I like how in this book we kind of got a recap about each of the characters we have followed in previous books in the series, it was fun seeing how their stories have continued. This book took us on quite an emotional journey with a lot of ups and a lot of downs. I felt every emotion with the characters. I have to say that Roberts has done a love triangle so well, this is one where you can root for either option (but I got the one I like best). I really hope this isn't the end of the series but if it is we still get a pretty satisfying conclusion.
My Rating: As emotional as this book made me, it was so worth the journey. I laughed and cried with the characters and was overjoyed with the happy beginnings they received. I give this book a rating of Four Paws!
You have a great life, Jenna Jones told herself as she took the glass of champagne her sister had given her. She was living proof that if you waited long enough and worked hard enough, you could turn a shipwreck into a new life.
She looked around the crowded living room of her great aunt’s beach house. It was filled with friends and family, all celebrating the fact that Jenna was now a member of Moonlight Harbor’s city council, thanks to a special election in March to replace a councilman who’d resigned due to health problems. It had been a hard-fought battle, but she’d won and she had high hopes of accomplishing great things for the town, including getting support for building a convention center.
A town with a city council, it was a little odd. Moonlight Harbor didn’t really have the population to qualify as a city, but the powers that be thought they were close enough, so why split hairs?
“We’re all so proud of you,” said Jenna’s mother, Melody Jones, putting an arm around Jenna’s shoulders.
“Yes, we are,” put in Aunt Edie, the woman who had made Jenna’s new life possible.
“Yes, we are,” echoed Jolly Roger the parrot from his cage. “Give me whiskey.”
“We’re not serving whiskey, Roger,” said Jenna’s sister, Celeste. “You have to ask for champagne. Say, it Roger. Give me champagne, give me champagne.”
“Say it, Roger. Give me champagne,” said the bird, bobbing his head and stepping back and forth on his perch.
“Poor Roger. Nobody ever gives him anything to drink,” said Celeste.
“Poor Roger,” said Jolly Roger, making several of the guests chuckle. “Give me champagne.”
Celeste and Brody Green, Jenna’s ardent admirer and campaign manager, circulated about the room, refilling glasses with champagne or sparkling cider. Daughter Sabrina pouted when Brody poured more sparkling cider in her glass, and muttered, “I’m eighteen now.”
“Which is a long way from twenty-one,” Jenna reminded her, and she rolled her eyes.
Once everyone’s glass had been filled, Celeste performed the toast. “To Jenna Jones, the most successful woman I know. Moonlight Harbor is lucky to have you.”
“Hear, hear,” echoed Brody.
Ellis West, friend and fellow businessman, said, “I’ll drink to that.” Ellis owned The Seafood Shack, the popular fast food restaurant next to the Driftwood Inn.
“So will I,” Jenna said and smiled.
Successful. A few years ago she would have never used that word to describe herself. She’d come to Moonlight Harbor, newly divorced, with a wounded heart and an angry daughter, towing their worldly goods in a rented trailer. She hadn’t been sure how she was going to pay the spousal support the court had allotted her cheating ex, the starving artist, and keep a roof over her and her daughter’s head until she’d gotten Aunt Edie’s invitation.
Aunt Edie had offered Jenna a home and a job running the Driftwood Inn along with the future security of knowing someday the vintage motel would be hers. It had been a rundown dump when she arrived, but she’d turned it into a charming bit of nostalgia and the motel was actually doing well.
So was her daughter. Sabrina had been anything but cooperative when the unwanted change had been dumped on her, but she’d eventually found her feet (along with the love of her life) and, like her mother, had put down roots in the beachside town. There’d been plenty of room for them in Aunt Edie’s beach house, and the older woman enjoyed having them with her.
Jenna looked at the trio of women who were the pillars of her life. Her mother Melody (Mel to her friends), in her early sixties and still slender and beautiful, was standing next to Ellis, whose eyes had lit up the moment he saw her. She was happily holding her two-month old second grandchild. Next to her stood Jenna’s younger sister, Celeste, sneaking an appetizer to her dog, Nemo. She was curvy and cute, the life of the party, now married and responsible for that second grandchild. Then there was sweet Aunt Edie, still perky at almost eighty-six. She was proudly wearing an orange Elect Jenna Jones t-shirt that clashed horribly with her hair. It was a shade of bright cherry red that made her head look like a lost Christmas light, but she’d sported that shade for years and refused to be budged from it, in spite of the best efforts of her friend Pearl at Waves Salon to switch her to something slightly more subdued. Her coral lipstick added yet another interesting palette to the colors that were Edie Patterson. In short, she was adorable.
Yes, Jenna thought, looking at them and all the people who had come to mean so much to her, what more could a girl ask for?
Sex. Getting a sex life sometime before she died would be great. She’d been divorced for almost four years. Surely she was ready to take a chance on love again.
And who better to take it on with than tall, blond, blue-eyed Mr. Gorgeous, Brody Green? Successful, charming, well-off, he was Moonlight Harbor’s catch of the day, and Jenna had caught him the first time they met. Most people already considered them a couple, friends with benefits.
Except there weren’t any benefits, hadn’t been anything beyond a couple of hot kisses, one of them fueled by alcohol and moonlight when she first came to town. Brody was more than willing to offer benefits, and waiting patiently for her to say the word. So far she hadn’t been able to.
Her eyes strayed to Seth Waters, who’d been renting a room at the motel ever since he hit town and started his mold removal business. Dark, swarthy, pirate Seth Waters, who knew how to make the sparks fly. She’d tried his lips on for size, too, but that relationship was stalled out permanently.
Aunt Edie was a big fan of both men, but Brody had been her buddy for years and he was her favorite. “I don’t know what you’re waiting for,” she’d said to Jenna when another Valentine’s Day came and went and her left-hand ring finger was still bare.
“You’re waiting because the time isn’t right yet,” her mother said when Jenna had repeated Aunt Edie’s words. “When it strikes the hour for love, you’ll know.”
Jenna was beginning to wonder if her love clock was broken.
Nothing wrong with her appetite though. She popped another one of Annie Albright’s bacon-wrapped dates in her mouth.
Annie had her own catering business and a food truck. She’d come a long way from the days of waitressing at Sandy’s.
“What’s going to be your first order of business now that you’re on the council?” Ellis asked Jenna, catching her in mid-chew.
The others all looked at her expectantly.
After revamping the Driftwood, she’d felt ready to change the world. At least the world of Moonlight Harbor. Not that her town needed much changing, but she did have ideas.
“I’m sure going to be pushing for looking into building a convention center. It would be great for our local businesses if we could bring tourists to town all year long, and a convention center would help us do that. Then we could hold our winter festival indoors.”
The first Seaside with Santa festival had been a disaster, and even though the chamber of commerce had tried again, moving it to earlier in December, luring people to the beach when the weather was iffy was still a challenge. Tourists could be such wimps.
“A good idea,” Ellis approved, “I’m not sure you’ll get everyone in town on board with it though. It costs money to build convention centers and people might not want to make that big of an investment.”
“Yes, but if we all make more and benefit in the long run it will be worth the pinch in the short run,” Jenna argued.
“Good luck with even getting to that,” said her friend Nora Singleton, who owned Good Times Ice Cream Parlor. “People are more concerned with having more sidewalks in town and solving the deer problem.”
“They’re only a problem for our local gardeners,” said Jenna’s pal Courtney. “The tourists love ‘em.”
“I love them, too,” said Tyrella Lamb, who owned the hardware store. “In venison stew. I hope you’re listening, Councilwoman.”
“I won’t be able to get a law passed that you can run around town with a rifle, shooting deer,” Jenna said to her.
“Who needs a rifle? They walk right up to you, the stupid things. I could club one to death.”
Sabrina gasped. “That’s terrible.”
And out of character for a woman who was normally so kind-hearted.
“No, terrible is what they did to my rhodies last spring,” Tyrella said. “They aren’t even supposed to like rhododendrons and the stupid things ate every bud.”
“But they’re so cute,” protested Sabrina.
“And they were here first,” Courtney added.
“First come first served… on a platter,” Tyrella retorted, unrepentant. “The population is out of control. You all just wait. If something isn’t done pretty soon we’re going to start seeing cases of Lyme disease down here. You’ve got power now, girl,” she said to Jenna. “You need to use it.”
“Yeah, to save the deer,” said Courtney. “They’re God’s creatures, Tyrella. Don’t they teach you to have love for God’s creatures at church?”
“I love God’s creatures,” Tyrella insisted. “But I eat hamburgers. Don’t you?”
“See what I mean?” Nora said to Jenna. “I think we’d better take up a collection and buy you a suit of armor. Now that you’re on the city council you’re going to need it.”
Good grief. What had she gotten herself into?
She said as much later when it was just her and her family, seated around the living room, finishing up the leftover appetizers from the party.
“Nothing you can’t handle,” Celeste assured her. She burped baby Edie and handed her over to her daddy.
“Pretty thankless job,” said Celeste’s husband, Henry, as he took the baby.
“Some jobs need to be done, whether we get thanked or not,” Mel said. “I’m proud of you for taking this on.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” Jenna said. “Moonlight Harbor is my forever home and I want to do my best for it.”
“It does my heart good to hear you say that, dear,” Aunt Edie said. “I can rest easy knowing the Driftwood will be in capable hands after I’m gone.”
“You’re not going anywhere for a long time,” Jenna said firmly. “You’re going to live to be a hundred.”
“I plan on it,” Aunt Edie said, just as Pete Long, the motel’s not so handy handyman walked into the dining room, resplendent in dirty jeans and a shirt in need of patching at the elbows. As usual, the old coot needed a shave and his chin was a bristly white mess.
He stopped at the little dining room table to help himself to a cupcake. “You’ve got lots of good years left in you, Edie, old girl,” he said.
“Pete, you missed the party,” Aunt Edie scolded.
Which meant that there had been enough food for all the guests. Pete was a two-legged locust and about as useful.
“Yeah, I hear congrats are in order,” he said to Jenna.
“She won by a landslide,” Celeste told him.
“Fourteen votes is hardly a landslide,” Jenna said.
“It is if there’s not that much land to slide down,” Celeste argued. “Moonlight Harbor isn’t exactly Seattle, and it’s not like everyone gets out and votes.”
“True, but the ones who really care did,” said Aunt Edie.
“I voted,” Pete said, leaning against the archway. He stuffed half the cupcake in his mouth.
“Who did you vote for?” Celeste asked him.
“Jenna, of course,” he said around a mouth full of cake.
“Did you, really?” Jenna asked, surprised.
He half-frowned. “Sure. Why not? You whipped the Driftwood into shape. I guess you can do the same for this town. Anyway, keeping you busy with Moonlight Harbor business will keep you off my back.”
“The real reason,” she said with a knowing nod. Pete needed constant nagging.
“A win-win,” he said, then gobbled up the last of the cupcake and returned to the refreshment table to forage for more goodies.
He stayed long enough to finish off the last of the appetizers plus two more cupcakes. Then he left to go hang out at The Drunken Sailor, the town’s favorite watering hole.
Baby Edie was soon fussy and tired, and Henry took her over to the motel room where he and Celeste were staying to put her down for the night and work on the final edits for his latest thriller novel.
“Take the dog with you,” Aunt Edie said.
Nemo, not feeling the love, whined, but he followed his master out of the house. Then it was just the women and time for girl talk.
“What did you think of Ellis West?” Aunt Edie asked Mel.
Mel’s cheeks turned seashell pink. “He’s very nice.”
“And he’s very successful,” said Aunt Edie. “Plus he’s good looking.
“Looks like he’s interested in you, Mom,” Celeste said.
The pink got darker. “He was just being friendly.”
“I think he’d like to get a lot friendlier,” Celeste insisted.
Mel blew it off. “Oh, nonsense.”
“Melody, I think you’ve forgotten how to read the signs when a man is interested,” said Aunt Edie.
“Interested and friendly are two different things,” Mel told her.
“Yeah, friendly, says, ‘Hi, nice to meet you. You from around here?’ then wanders off to talk to someone else. Interested wants to hear the story of your life, never leaves your side and hurries off to fetch food for you,” Celeste said. “How many times did Ellis get you more canapes?”
Now the pink was sunset vivid. “Oh, honestly,” Mel said in disgust.
“He’s a really nice man, Mom,” said Jenna.
“He is, but I’m not interested. There will never be another man for me but your father.”
“Now don’t go getting all sentimental and silly,” Aunt Edie scolded. “You can love more than one man in a lifetime.”
“I doubt it,” Mel said. “Anyway, I’m too old for him. He’s still in his fifties.”
“Not for much longer,” Jenna said. “I think he’s fifty-eight.”
“Age doesn’t matter at this point in life,” Aunt Edie argued.
“I read somewhere that since men die younger than women a woman should marry a man seven years younger than her,” Jenna said. “And what are you always saying to me? Don’t give up on love.”
“You girls,” Mel said, her face still red. “You obviously don’t have enough to do.”
“We’ve got plenty to do, trust us,” Celeste said. “But we’re never too busy for you, Mom.”
“That’s sweet,” Mel said, smiling at her. “You just work on helping your sister get her love life sorted out. Let’s see her find her happy ever after. That’s what I want.”
“Me, too,” said Celeste. “When are you going to figure out what you’re doing?” she asked Jenna. “I’m ready to start planning your wedding.”
“You’ll be the first to know,” Jenna said.
“After me,” put in Mel.
“And me,” said Aunt Edie.
“And me,” said Jolly Roger. “Give me champagne.”
“A good idea,” said Jenna, and went in search of the last bottle. Her love life was enough to drive her to drink.
USA Today and Publishers Weekly best-selling author Sheila Roberts has written over fifty books under various names, ranging from romance to self-improvement. Her humor and heart have won her a legion of fans and her novels have been turned into movies for both the Lifetime and Hallmark channels. When she’s not out dancing with her husband or hanging out with her girlfriends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends and chocolate.
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