Shore Leave Cafe (Book One)
Joelle Gordon is leaving Chicago and her cheating husband to head for her hometown of Landon, Minnesota. There, she returns to the Shore Leave Café, the lakeside diner the Davis women have run for decades. Joelle's family, including her three teenaged daughters, Camille, Tish, and Ruthann, is made up of strong women who have long believed in a curse upon them - a curse that robs them of the men they love.
This summer has plenty in store for Joelle. Finding herself confronted with the reality of single motherhood, the last thing she expects is gorgeous, passionate Blythe Tilson, a summer employee at Shore Leave, with an uncertain past. Can Joelle resist the temptation of a younger man, and does she dare to consider loving someone again, or will the Davis family curse prove all too true?
ISBN Trade Paperback: 978-1-77168-105-6
FICTION | Romance | 224 pages
List Price: $13.95
Praise for Abbie Williams
"...a definite must keep reading the rest of the series..." — A Soccer Mom's Book Blog
"...I’m waiting breathlessly for the next book!" — The Reading Cafe
**Independent Publishers Awards Gold Medalist 2015** (Heart of a Dove)
"Set just after the U.S. Civil War, this passionate opening volume of a projected series successfully melds historical narrative, women’s issues, and breathless romance with horsewomanship, trailside deer-gutting, and alluring smidgeons of Celtic ESP." ~ Publishers Weekly (Heart of a Dove)
We are a family of women.
In my childhood and early teens, there was the dual force of our grandmother Louisa Davis (with her denim overalls rolled to mid-calf, long white braid tucked under a battered, wide-brimmed straw hat), and Great-Aunt Minnie Davis, her older sister (who fastidiously kept her own long hair dyed its original shade of cornsilk blonde until the day she died). Both women contentedly smoked homegrown tobacco plucked from the sprawling garden behind Shore Leave, kept their nails trimmed short, could catch, clean and delectably prepare any fish that shimmered beneath the silver-blue surface of Flickertail Lake, in general disdained the company of men and were adamant about the giving of advice.
Though Gran was married for a time, long enough to produce both Aunt Ellen and my mother Joan, my grandfather reeled in his fishing line, snapped the clips on his tackle box and hiked out of Landon before Mom was quite a year old. At that time, in the late 1940s, Gran and Great-Aunt Minnie’s own mother Myrtle Jean was still living and, according to every version of the story I’ve ever been told, agreed that Gran was better off without the thick-skulled son of a bitch anyhow. My grandfather’s name? Lost to time, no doubt, though the womenfolk would tell me if I ever asked. I haven’t yet, though I do know my own father’s (Mick Douglas) despite the fact that he too made an early and entirely voluntary departure the summer I was eight months old and Mom was carrying Jillian.
Jilly was born when I was one year and one day old, in August of 1968; I cannot recall a time without the knowledge of her. People forever asked if we were twins, to which we sometimes replied yes, then laughed about it later, wondering if we could get away with the pranks that real twins were able to pull; we certainly resembled each other, with fair, freckled skin, long, straight hair and wide smiles, the image of our mother.
Jilly, however, had eyes of which I was jealous, very direct and intensely blue, the color at the bottom of a candle flame, framed in lashes too dark for a blonde. It was a parting gift from the father we never knew. I inherited my eyes from Gran and Mom: the Davis family eyes, a blend of gold and green, with the pale lashes Jilly should have possessed. My oldest and youngest daughters have my eyes, but my middle girl opened hers a few moments after birth and stared up at me with the eyes of my sister and my long-gone father, true indigo. Jilly always joked that the stork brought me Tish by mistake; Jilly is the only one of us to have produced a son, and likewise is the only one of us whose man was lost accidentally.
I left Landon, the only home I’d ever known, the August after high school to follow my simultaneous boyfriend of four years and husband of two weeks, Jackson Gordon, to the teeming wilds of Chicago. Trouble was I was already pregnant, a discovery made a month after senior prom, in April of 1985, and so for me Chicago’s nightlife consisted of carrying a screaming infant through our tiny one-bedroom apartment, snow hurtling against the rattle-trap windows while Jackie attended freshman year at Northwestern. Flash forward a decade and a half and his high-school educated home-making wife was a step away from being a completely hollowed-out crazy woman who, after bearing three children and raising them virtually alone (not that my genes hadn’t prepared me for it, really), discovered my husband screwing a lovely young colleague at his law office’s otherwise prestigious Christmas party, which I unexpectedly attended. I stormed in on them going at it on Jackie’s desk, suspicions horrifically confirmed; a sight so sickening I could have vomited there on the plushy taupe carpet. I wanted to kill him with my bare hands. My bare hands wrapped around a functional weapon, anyway.
I scanned the room with a vengeance, hearing Gran and Great-Aunt Minnie in my head, egging me on, telling me to grab the weighty bronze sculpture of a cat near Jackie’s elbow and smash it over his cheating skull. Trouble was, I couldn’t ruin that head, connected to the man whose broad shoulders I used to grip with both hands, around whose slim hips my own legs used to wrap possessively, whose hair I clutched in my hands like dark, curling treasure. Jackie straightened up, attempting to look as shameful and dignified as a man with designer slacks around his ankles and a pair of long, gleaming legs around his waist can possibly contrive. He said, “Jo, I’m sorry, I am so sorry,” while I felt the earth shift beneath my feet like fresh spring mud and melting-hot blood flood my face with the heat of scorn. I had guessed the truth all along, but like a fool I refused to heed my gut instinct, Gran and Great-Aunt Minnie’s most vehement advice.
Jackie was mine for so long, my connection to past, present, and future. He was the father of my children, my husband and companion in this enormous gaping mouth of a city we called home since leaving Landon. We, and eventually our daughters, lived in what amounted to a parade of ever-increasingly expensive and well-furnished properties; together we’d spent exactly as much time here in Chicago as we had in Landon. It seemed to mean something. I fled Jackie’s office and hailed a taxi home, far too numb with shock to drive. Camille would be seventeen years old in just a few days, on December twenty-seventh, the baby I carried on my shoulder and nursed to sleep in the dim, multi-colored glow of our first Christmas tree, alone, as my husband hit happy hour with his college buddies. I was only eighteen then, smooth-skinned and blindly naïve, my long hair tied back in a ragged braid most days, washing dishes by hand and trudging at least three loads of laundry a day down to the basement of our apartment building, while my baby girl shrieked.
By Abbie Williams