Hi, y’all!!! I know, it’s been awhile 🙂 But, I’m back, with a new release (and another one, Siren’s Call, a sensuous short story, that serves as a bridge before the next Southern Breezes release, right on its heels.) But that’s for the next blog post.
I’m in here today with a brief summary of the first book in the Southern Breezes series, The Verandah. I’m opening with a small setup, followed by a short excerpt from inside the book. And as something a little different, you can also have a listen to me read the blurb for The Verandah when you get to the bottom of my post….. view the video.
I’ll also be offering a free Kindle copy of The Verandah to one lucky person who signs up for my contact list and leaves a comment. May 5th will be the last day to leave your comments, and email, to be a part of the drawing.
So post away! Tell me what you think. Or ask me a question. Questions don’t just have to be about the book, they can be about my writing life, or about any of my books. Or whatever strikes your fancy. As long as you keep your fancy, PG. J
Here’s The Set Up
It’s spring on Galveston Island, and everything’s running full tilt. Spring breakers’ swim in high curling waves, turquoise umbrellas line the sand, and the Pleasure Pier is lit like a bejeweled princess, her lights flashing with temptation.
Shelby Alexander, a New York Times Bestselling author, has come back to the island to live. She and her friends came every summer when they were young and daydreamed often of living there when they were grown. Good to their word, all of them have now returned.
But Shelby is finding that even though she’s thrilled to own a part of her Aunt Sookie’s house, the excitement’s only just begun…because a gorgeous guy has also arrived along with a scruffy dog named Charmin’. And fast on their heels is a ghost—a ghost who seems quite comfortable lounging on her verandah, blowing smoke from its cigarette—and who is always, always surrounded by a deliciously, sensuous fragrance.
And Here’s The Excerpt From The Verandah
The streets were almost empty. Only a few tourists remained, identifiable from the islanders by the street maps they carried as they wandered past the shops or stopped to have a last minute coffee.
The gulf breeze wound its way between the buildings, snatching at a few pieces of paper, twirling them around like mad dancers, before high-kicking them in pirouette’s between the shops.
The historical atmosphere of The Strand was even more charming than Shelby remembered. It was filled with boutique stores that beckoned, tempting passersby with their wares which were highlighted by all types of lighting.
The street lamps switched on, and the charm level went up a hundred percent. Quaint, Shelby thought, heartbreakingly quaint.
She bet it left one breathless during the holiday season, especially when they performed Dickens on the Strand. The setting would encompass that old world feeling of Charles Dickens beautifully. It was all she could do to keep from flinging her arms out, embracing the feel. And now, it was finally her permanent home. The place where her heart had always longed to be.
Dusty interrupted her reverie. “Well, walking from Carmel’s has worked off part of dinner. We’re probably better off that she wasn’t open. We would’ve had to walk all night to burn up the extra calories from one of her desserts. Susan’s place is just ahead. If she’s in, she’ll probably want us to come inside, even if she’s closed. She loves looking at the treasures as much as we do. Heck, Shelby, she even said we’d have a dress-up night after you arrived. Try on the clothes we like and play with all the jewelry, like we used to.”
Shelby glanced at Dusty’s animated face and laughed, catching her excitement. Dress-up. Like they were girls again. Who’d have thought something they’d done as kids would hold as much excitement when they were grown? But she had to admit, it did. It sounded like outrageous fun.
They wandered past two other stores, the second one displaying some of the most beautiful antiques and furniture Shelby had ever seen. She paused, lingering near the windows.
“That, sugar, is Roth’s place. It hasn’t been open long, that’s why you haven’t seen it on your recent visits.” Dusty gave Shelby the eye. “He’s Boone’s brother.”
Shelby did a double take. “Oh, really?” She looked back at the store. “Nice. Very nice. As a matter of fact, one of the nicest places I’ve seen in a while.” She leaned backwards, trying to see the shop’s name. There was a blank spot above the door.
“The sign’s due to arrive soon. Who knows, it may already be here and Roth hasn’t hung it yet. He was thinking of naming the shop something elegant, a little reserved. But after talking with the group, that’s us, by the way, Susan, Carmel, and me, he opted on a little campier name. He decided on The Treasure Chest, caption below to read, Worldly Bounty for the Discriminating Eye.”
Dusty cocked her head. “It’s a big change from what he had in mind, but he was able to slide in, for the Discriminating Eye. So that seemed to placate him.
“Huh…” Shelby wasn’t sure how it struck her. It did sound a little like the shops near the pier. “What’s the name of Susan’s shop?”
“Hold on to your britches.” Dusty paused, flung a hand behind her head and slid into her sexiest voice. “Siren’s Call. Subtitle below—All Your Heart Desires—”
Shelby shoved her hands in her hair and shook her head. “You are jokin’ me!” A laugh burst out of her and she threw her hands wide, leaving her hair tousled, looking as if it had caught a gust of wind. “What are y’all doing? Acting out your fantasies?” Still shaking her head, she lowered her voice. “You know that almost sounds like it’s a porn shop? And it’s down here on The Strand, for God’s sake.”
“Playing, Shelby. We’re playing and having an absolute ball. Remember how it was when we were here during the summers? When we were young? We made up the most outrageous stories for our futures; decided we weren’t going to box ourselves in. We weren’t going to turn out like everyone else.”
Dusty grinned. “Well, we’re all here, and we’ve decided to say, what-the, and play. And it’s working! Business is booming.” She grabbed Shelby’s arm. “Come on, Susan’s is right next door, past the alley. I can’t wait for you to have a look at the mermaid that sits in her window. It’s even more eye-candy, and this particular eye-candy seems to have the strongest pull. The tourists are photographing that fishy woman like crazy. The townspeople are amazed that everyone’s ogling her so much. Susan can barely keep the place stocked with merchandise. It’s all high quality too, no junk, just like Roth’s place. And the beauty is its all working! I tell you what, gal; evidently people want to play as much as we do.”
Shelby glanced at Dusty. It was all fun, like she said, and the whole thing made her want to laugh, almost hysterically. She never would have thought they could cut loose, throw adulthood in the air and just play…and have it run like a house afire. Who’d have thunk it?
Dusty squeezed Shelby’s arm as they moved past the small alley, then she made a sweeping gesture with her other arm. “Viola’! There she blows, in all her sensuous splendor. Every man’s fantasy and every young girl’s dream. The siren of the strand.”
Shelby stood still and then gaped at the gorgeous, storefront. Brass-lined double doors offered beveled glass insets for passersby to peer though, banked on either side by large picture windows, framed with the same brass work.
The windows were filled with feminine treasures, everything from gorgeous blouses, to all types of jewelry and accessories, surrounded by drapes of fabric mimicking the roll of the sea. But the thing that held her attention, claimed center stage in the left window. Out of folds of fabric rolling like ocean swells, rose the most elaborate sculpted mermaid Shelby had ever seen. The mermaid’s back was arched, gold hair falling in waves down her back and across her shoulders. Her arms and torso were perfect, alabaster white, touched by the glow of mother-of-pearl. The swell of her breasts were hidden behind two iridescent starfish, which clung suggestively to the tips, a tendril of hair draped enticingly over each one.