A feel-good read about family loyalties and second chances set on Canada’s picturesque Cape Breton Island, this book is perfect for those who enjoy sweet romances, countryside landscapes, and heartwarming endings.
Emma Copeland’s second marriage lasted only nine months. When Emma turned fifty, she rushed into a second marriage with smooth-talking Andrew Schönfeld. When he dies suddenly, Emma loses everything.
With her life in shambles, Emma turns to her first husband, Dr. John Havisham, the father of her two girls. John agrees to help Emma out by letting her stay in his cottage on Cape Breton Island.
As the beauty of Pleasant Bay and the peacefulness of Songbird Cottage begin to heal Emma, she gets more shocking news. Will she be able to piece her life back together?
Join Emma as she begins a new life on Cape Breton Island, and get to know her family and the friendly locals.
This is the first book in the Pleasant Bay series.
Targeted Age Group:: 45+
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I spent my teenage and young adult years in Nova Scotia, and I wanted to write a contemporary story that featured the beauty of Cape Breton Island. I've experienced a second chance romance myself, and I wanted that to be a major part of the story. I wanted the story to be a combination of getting to know the family as well as having some romance. I also wanted there to be a surprise ending!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The main character is sort of a version of myself. I decided to give her daughters even though I have sons since I wanted to make the mother-daughter relationship a big part of the story. The love interest was someone I developed as I thought about the type of men who would live in a rural area of Nova Scotia.
“Mommy! Can we please go back to the beach tomorrow?” Izzy tugged at Emma’s jacket sleeve as they walked in the front door. “I want to catch a fish. I want to see another whale. Maybe there’ll be moose!”
Emma was exhausted after a whole day outdoors with the girls. Between Claire’s intermittent teenage sulks and fits of boredom and little Izzy’s nine-year-old non-stop enthusiasm, all Emma could think about now was throwing some pasta onto the stovetop and sitting down with a nice glass of chilled white wine.
“Sure thing, Izz,” was all she replied. No matter how tired she got, Emma always kept in mind how short childhood was and that she would only have her girls for a brief time of their lives. In a few years, her two girls would be out in the big, wide world, and texts and emails would probably be the only contact with them she’d have left. Goodness knows when she’d married and left home at the age of eighteen, Emma had found the weekly phone calls and letter writing to her mother a bit of a chore. It was only when she’d seen how fast children grew up and became independent for herself that she was able to identify with her mother’s feelings much more.
Ending their day out at Pleasant Bay beach had been a good idea. The sunset had warmed the sky as they’d driven back home slowly along Cabot Trail Road. There was still one week left of their summer vacation on Cape Breton, and Emma knew the days would pass leisurely amidst the gentle haze of green treetops and golden dappled sunlight that surrounded Songbird Cottage. Perhaps she should give Sam a call this evening and ask him to join them again tomorrow. Or would it be too soon?
Sam MacAuley was a neighbor of sorts, although no one could truly be called a next door neighbor when you lived off one of the small, meandering country trails that crisscrossed Pleasant Bay Road. Sam had bought a large property a few miles up the road from Songbird Cottage about ten years ago. In between establishing his craft beer brewery and marketing his brand, he had renovated one of the old red barns on the outskirts of his land’s boundaries. When it was finished, he’d subdivided that half an acre of land from his property and put it up for sale. The bright red renovated barn ended up being bought by an elderly lady who created handcrafted pottery. She’d built a kiln outside and used the guest bedroom as her workroom. It was she who had painted and mounted the hanging sign next to the post box. It read in flowing letters, “Songbird Cottage.”
When the Cape Breton winters became too much for her arthritis to handle, the potter had put the cottage up for sale, sadly and reluctantly. It was snapped up by Emma’s ex-husband, John, and his new wife, Linette. When Emma and John realized Cape Breton was the perfect place for New York-based Emma and Nova Scotia-based John to holiday with their two daughters, it had become the Havisham family’s designated summer vacation spot. Emma would fly out to Nova Scotia every summer, pick up Claire and Isabelle from John’s medical practice, and the three of them would drive up to Cape Breton Island. That drive never failed to drain every single drop of stress out of Emma’s shoulders and neck.
There was something about the Ceilidh Trail oceanside road that made driving it a real pleasure. Sometimes they would choose to travel north along the Trans-Canada Highway that swept them past Bras d’Or Lake. The small family of three would feel the excitement of escaping civilization mount inside them with every passing mile. They would play car games to see who could spot the first Canadian goose or bald eagle.
Lately, Emma had to admit to herself that she would look forward to seeing Sam more and more each time she came here. His South African-born wife had upped and left him over two and a half years ago. His three sons would make the trip from Cape Town to stay with their father every summer. It just made so much sense for the MacAuley and Havisham families to spend a few days together every week. Sometimes Sam would join them if he didn’t have to oversee a fresh batch of craft beer or concoct a new seasonal ale recipe in his pilot brewery. Today had been so nice having him accompany them—Sam knew everything there was to know about Pleasant Bay, and he was a never-ending source of jokes and interesting anecdotes. The girls adored him, and Emma thought it was good for their children to spend time together. Being with Sam’s sons had helped Claire get over her awkward shyness towards teenage boys, and Izzy loved to go off on mini-adventures around the yard with Sam’s youngest son, Luke.
“Go and run a bath for yourselves, girls.” Emma shooed Izzy and Claire towards the stairs that led down to the sunken bathroom. “You both smell like fish bait.”
“Eew, Mom. I didn’t touch that stuff.” Claire took a lock of her long red hair and gave it a suspicious sniff. “I can’t smell anything.”
“It must be on your clothing then.” Emma moved to the kitchen nook in the corner of the cottage. She drew water into a battered pot from the cold-water faucet above the old porcelain sink, turned on one of the stovetop hotplates, and tipped in a tablespoon of salt. “Off you go, missy. Make sure your sister washes her hair, please. She might have sand in it.”
Claire followed her sister into the bathroom, and Emma heard the girls chattering together as the tub filled with water. Everything in the cottage was connected into one big open-plan space, but the bathroom and guestroom had doors that could be shut to separate them from the rest of the house. Despite the renovations, there was no mistaking that someone was inside a former barn whenever they visited. There was no ceiling, only vaulted natural pine beams that soared up from the supporting walls to touch the roof high above. The main bedroom was on an open mezzanine floor and exactly at eye level to Emma as she searched for a bottle of olive oil to glug into the pasta pot. She could see the double bed where she slept needed a vacuum underneath it.
After making sure the lid was slightly open to allow steam to build up, Emma wasted no time pouring herself the glass of white wine she had been promising herself since five o’clock that afternoon. She took a long sip and collapsed onto the sofa. She could feel the wine coursing through her veins and warming her up. The delicious swooning sensation increased with every sip. Soon the glass was empty. Emma sat up as she heard the pot come to a boil on the stove.
“Knock, knock! I hope I’m not interrupting anything.”
Sam stood in the doorway. Emma had left the front door open to catch the last of the summer evening breeze. His tall frame blocked out the setting sun’s rays, and Emma had to strain her eyes to see his face against the twilight’s shadows.
“Sam! No, you’re not interrupting anything. I was just about to throw spaghetti into the pot. Please come in.” Emma was always happy to see Sam. She had to admit to herself that she was beginning to think of him as more than a friend. He was everything a woman could wish for in a man: intelligent without being intellectual; ruggedly handsome without being intimidatingly drop-dead gorgeous. Claire and Izzy laughingly called him, “Sam the Man,” but in Emma’s mind, she would secretly call him, “Sam, THE man.”
“I found Izzy’s fishing rod on the rocks after you left. I thought I’d bring it around before she thought she’d lost it.” Sam moved into the cottage’s living room as Emma hauled herself out of the dusty old velvet couch that served as their favorite place to watch videos and DVDs. She waved her wine glass at Sam invitingly.
“Care to join me in a glass?” Emma asked as she moved to the stovetop and began to empty a box of spaghetti into the boiling water. She felt exhilarated that he was here. She wasn’t sure whether it was the wine or Sam’s presence, but her cheeks and chest felt flushed and tingly.
“Thanks for the offer, Em,” Sam said as he lowered himself down carefully onto the velvet couch, “but I’ve got to get back to the boys. I chucked a frozen lasagna into the oven for them before heading over here.”
“Your loss.” Emma came back and plonked herself down beside Sam with a sigh. “Speaking of Italian food, why don’t you all come here for dinner tomorrow? We can make fresh pizza in the kiln.” She twisted her body to the side so that her knees were touching the side of Sam’s thigh.
Fortune favors the brave. I’m going to tell him how I feel about him. Maybe it’s time to take this to the next level and see what happens.
Sam shifted his body so he could answer Emma’s invitation. She was staring at him with an expectant look on her face. He wasn’t sure whether it was because she was waiting to hear his reply to her offer for dinner, or something more. For a brief moment, the anticipation of what would come next filled the air between them. Then Emma closed her eyes, leaned forward, and kissed Sam gently on the mouth.
Nothing could have prepared her for his reaction. Sam jumped up off the couch and stood up straight. It was as if he’d received an electric shock. Indeed, his face had gone pale and he looked shocked, surprised, and bemused, all at once.
Humiliation and rejection flooded over Emma like a tidal wave.
“I’m sorry…I thought…” She stammered softly and made a grab for her wine glass.
It seemed as though Sam could think of nothing to say in response to her apology or actions. He backed away from the couch and stuck his hands in his jeans’ pockets as though he wanted to search for his truck keys and head out for the trail road as fast as he could.
“Just go, please,” was all Emma could think to say.
Sam stood there uneasily for a few seconds and then whispered, “Goodbye, Em.”
When he had left and Emma heard the sound of his truck disappear down the dirt track that served as the driveway, she had never felt so empty and ashamed.
“Goodbye, Sam,” she said quietly.
The next day, Emma left Songbird Cottage with Claire and Isabelle. She never went back.
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