The Shellwater Key Tales
As children, Layla, Emma and Callie made a vow to be “friends for life”. Life and heartache intrudes, and each ends up going her separate way. Years later, they all return to their hometown of Shellwater Key, Florida for different reasons. All soon become involved in reviving the old Paradise Dinner Theatre, and it is there that they find healing and ultimate happiness.
LEFT TURN AT PARADISE (Book 1)
High-powered business executive Layla McCarthy has lost everything, but an abandoned dinner theatre is about to usher in a brand new act in her life.
Layla McCarthy has spent most of her life trying to outrun the wild reputation of the mother who abandoned her. Raised by her grandmother, Layla puts all her faith in building a career, only to lose everything. So, when she learns her grandmother and great aunt have bought the old Paradise Dinner Theatre, she returns to her hometown of Shellwater Key to ensure her relatives don’t lose their life savings. Reviving The Paradise brings an unexpected romance with Grayson Kendall, the enigmatic director hired to produce the first show. But nothing will ever be the same when Layla’s long-lost mother returns, looking to make amends.
In the end, The Paradise will become the backdrop as Layla opens her heart to love…and three generations of McCarthy women find a way through past mistakes to a new life filled with hope and redemption.
I have a mortgage. A lease on a new luxury car.I am an unabashed shopaholic and like regular meals. I need a new job. A new career.A whole new life.
Layla McCarthy tried to quell the panic as she pictured the pile of bills waiting for her at home. Bills she had no way of paying thanks to her now empty bank account.
A human hurricane had struck her life, leaving her business, LM Concepts, strewn across the landscape. Her passion, her baby, the one thing that had never disappointed her…gone. All because Layla’s business partner had fallen in love and decided to abscond with him…and the company funds.
She really should have decked him.
The moment Melanie’s spray-tanned, Euro-trash boyfriend had used kissing the back of Layla’s hand as a cover for looking down her shirt, she should have decked him. As a green-eyed blonde with a body that screamed bombshell, Layla was used to leers and suggestive comments, even from her friends’ significant others. Usually, they tried to be discreet about it though. Julian hadn’t even made an effort.
For Melanie’s sake, Layla had restrained herself.
She’d wound up losing everything for her trouble. Whatever had been left after Melanie fled had gone to pay vendors, a private investigator who was still sending her invoices for what looked to be nothing more than internet searches, and an outrageously expensive bankruptcy attorney. Layla might have held strong and kept going, except her clients took a hike too, unwilling to stay aboard a ship that had Titanic written all over the bow.
She’d known this day would be difficult, but she hadn’t expected the gut-wrenching sense of loss. The soul-shattering knowledge that she was a failure at thirty. Failing was something Layla never did.
She walked to the window and looked down at the street. From this vantage she could see both downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay. Traffic flowed on Biscayne Boulevard, the cars looking like giant ants marching back and forth—all racing to get somewhere, while Layla’s life had come to a screeching halt.
“This is awful,” a voice said from behind her. “It feels like someone died.”
Something had died. Her marketing business, her reputation, and her sense of financial security had all been killed by a backstabbing partner and a playboy with orange-hued skin.
Layla looked over her shoulder at her secretary. Kelly had been crying ever since they’d arrived to gather what remained of the business and close up shop for good. She dabbed at her eyes and nose before crumpling up the tissue and tossing it in the garbage can.
Layla’s life seemed a lot like that Kleenex.
“I still can’t believe Melanie betrayed you,” Kelly said. “Betrayed everyone.”
Layla moved to the desk and emptied the last drawer into a trash bag. “I can.”
“Right,” Kelly said, rolling her eyes. “I forgot one of Layla McCarthy’s cardinal rules. Never trust anyone.”
Layla paused to wave her arms around the nearly empty office. “Hello? I should have known better, but I thought Melanie was too logical to lose her head over any man.”
Kelly sighed. “Julian was so gorgeous, I can almost – almost – understand. I don’t know how many times Melanie told me she couldn’t believe a man like him would want her.”
Layla slammed the drawer closed. “That’s no excuse.”
“No, but for someone like Melanie who’s never had men notice her that way—” Kelly glanced over. “Maybe you wouldn’t understand. Men always notice you.”
Layla heard the unspoken assumption that she had men falling to their knees. Why did no one consider that her looks were not always an advantage? That she’d had to work overtime to prove herself to coworkers and bosses who were convinced that an extra dose of cleavage meant all the brain cells had been sucked out of her head. It’s why she’d started LM Concepts in the first place.
She could have told Kelly all of that, but Layla didn’t have the emotional energy to fight the world’s misconceptions.
“No, I’m sure I wouldn’t,” Layla said.
An awkward silence descended as Kelly realized she’d stepped into a minefield. She swallowed and looked away. “So…what now?”
Layla took a deep breath, trying to ignore the hitch in her chest that spelled tears. She hated crying almost as much as failing. “We move on.”
“Right.” Kelly gave Layla a hug and then picked up her box of personal belongings. “I’ll see you.”
Layla waited till Kelly was gone before hanging her head. Her eyes stung, and she blinked to clear her vision.
What does come now?
Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “love, laughter and a leap of faith”. Growing up Kristin devoured books like bags of Dove Dark Chocolate. Her first Golden Book led to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, C.S. Lewis and the Sweet Valley High series. Later, she discovered romance novels and fell in love all over again. It’s no surprise that she would one day try her hand at writing them. Kristin is the author of the Covington Falls Chronicles, inspirational romances set in a fictional Southern town, as well as the
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