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Book 1: The Day He Left Town (Hawthorne Harbor Romance)

Book 1: The Day He Left Town (Hawthorne Harbor Romance)

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The Day He Left Town
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Escape to the beach today with single moms, single dads, and that one old lady that knows everyone in town...

This sweet and clean romance series is sure to have the heartfelt love stories and heartwarming women's fiction you're looking for. Travel to Hawthorne Harbor for these hometown heroes without leaving your house!

START HERE! This is the first book in the Hawthorne Harbor Romance series.

About THE DAY HE LEFT TOWN: He’s waiting for a promotion to come through. She’s back in her hometown after a humiliating break-up. Can Tony and Cat make their second chance stick this time? Will they be able to work past the obstacles keeping them apart to find their off-beat brand of happily-ever-after?

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

Listen to a sample here!

Anthony Herrin tossed in another bottle of water and whistled for his beagle to come in from the backyard. If he moved to Oregon for the fire marshal position, he’d probably have to leave Alfie here. 

One of his brothers would take him, as they both adored dogs. Even his mom and stepfather would take Alfie.

Another wave of disquiet hit Tony, the youngest of the Herrin brothers. His oldest brother was the Chief of Police in their small beachside town of Hawthorne Harbor. Adam demanded and got respect from everyone, and it was well-deserved. Andrew had completed several trainings, paramedic medicine, fire safety, and others, and currently lived in Medina, where he served with the fire department there.

Tony had followed both of them into public service, and he had a post at Firehouse One here in town. Something nagged at him that he wasn’t meant to stay here, and he’d been applying to Forest Service jobs all over the Pacific Northwest.

When Alfie didn’t come inside, Tony moved over to the door and cracked it. “Alfred,” he bellowed. The beagle turned from the back fence and started sprinting toward him. He wore such a happy look on his little beagly face that Tony couldn’t stay angry at him for long.

“We’re going hiking today,” he told the dog as he leapt up the back steps. The tension in Tony’s shoulders softened with the arrival of the black, brown, and white dog. Alfie came right up to him and sat, and Tony crouched to give him a scrub.

“Hurricane Hill, boy,” he said. Sometimes he ran on the beach with his brother, but most of the time Tony took Alfie and headed into the National Park, the surrounding forests, and the local hikes. He didn’t mind being alone, as he’d spent four months in a twelve-by-twelve cabin with four walls of windows, looking for smoke. If he found it, he used a huge map in the middle of his house to locate the fire, and then he’d call it in.

He hadn’t been in the Forest Service for a decade, but he was trying to get back in. He picked up his pack and led the way toward the front door. He held it for Alfie, who bounded outside like they had a great adventure to get to.

Tony grinned at the dog, because perhaps they did. Several hikers had gotten lost on Hurricane Hill, and the emergency services department that coordinated efforts in Olympia National Park and the few surrounding towns hated the spring hiking challenges, as they had to send out crews to get people off Hurricane Hill every single year.

He’d personally hiked to the peak dozens of times, most of them alone. Most of what Tony did outside of the fire station, he did alone. He had a family in Hawthorne Harbor, but he’d always felt a couple of degrees away from them. His brothers at the station, however, had always provided that safe spot for him to be himself.

In fact, after he got behind the wheel of his shiny black pickup truck, he texted his two best friends on his fire crew: Alex Benson and Bennett Patterson. They both told him not to be late to Firehouse One, as Chief Carroll had sent out a mandated meeting for everyone at ten-thirty.

I got the message, Tony said, and then he dropped his phone into the cupholder and put his truck in reverse. He rolled down the window for Alfie and made the drive to the trailhead only a couple of miles inside Olympia National Park.

As he’d suspected, no other cars sat in the parking lot. It probably helped that today was Sunday, and most people had probably slept later than it was right now. Not only that, but now that summer had ended, Mother Nature blessed Hawthorne Harbor with rain most days. 

Tony looked up into the sky, finding it half full of clouds. Not the kind that dumped rain, at least not yet. The weather here had a way of shifting quickly, with new currents and storms coming off the Pacific Ocean faster than the weathermen could predict them.

Today’s air held promise, and Tony took a deep breath of it. “Maybe today,” he said to himself, as Alfie had run ahead of him on the trail. What today maybe held, he wasn’t sure, but he had a good feeling about it.

He had two applications out right now. He’d interviewed for each of them twice, and he expected a call from Cameron Morgan any day now. He managed the hiring for the Emigrant Creek Ranger District, and Tony would love to have the superintendent fire control position for the Malheur National Forest.

He had the qualifications, and he’d love a change of scenery. Sometimes he loved his gypsy soul, and sometimes it created an itch beneath his skin he couldn’t scratch.

He realized he hadn’t seen Alfie for a while, and he whistled for the little dog to come back to him. Rustling in the brush met his ears among all the silence, and Alfie burst out onto the path several paces ahead of him. The dog always expressed his joy, and Tony would hate to leave him behind.

“Then don’t,” he told himself. “You don’t even have the job yet.” He kept putting one foot in front of the other, just as he’d been doing his whole life, and before he knew it, he reached the pinnacle of the peak.

The world opened up before him, with his sightline above the tops of the pine trees, the rocks, above everything. He spread his arms wide and turned in a full circle, drinking in the energy of the earth. 

His mother hated it when he talked like that, but Tony didn’t know how else to explain it. The adrenaline from reaching the top always flowed through him like live electricity, and that felt like the energy of the earth. The sky. The water. All of it.

Tony loved it, and he’d always enjoyed spending his time outdoors. His brothers did too, and Adam had confessed to Tony a couple of weeks ago that the desk work his job required would probably suck the life right out of his soul one day.

He could admit he hadn’t spoken to Drew in a while, and Tony needed to be better about keeping up with his siblings. He’d always been somewhat of a lone wolf, and that got his thoughts moving to his last relationship.

A failed one, of course. Tony didn’t seem to have relationships with humans that lasted longer than a few months. Animals he could get along with great, and he’d had Alfie since Giselle had told him she didn’t even know him after they’d been seeing each other for four months. 

You tell your friends more than you tell me.

He’d wondered at that for a while, and in the end, he’d decided she was right. Alex and Bennett did know more about what Tony wanted than she had. He wasn’t sure why he couldn’t open up to a woman, only that it wasn’t the easiest thing for him. 

He’d tried dating a couple of the women he worked with, but nobody had ignited any kind of spark inside him. He needed to feel that spark, and since he loved fire—or, rather, putting out fires—it felt appropriate to categorize his romantic relationships in terms of sparks, embers, and infernos.

He hadn’t had any of those roar through his life, and Tony wasn’t quite sure how to ignite one. His only saving grace for remaining single in his thirties—as if such a thing was gasp-worthy—was that both Drew and Adam were still single too. Their mother had given up her lectures about finding someone they could each settle down with. 

Tony didn’t like putting himself in the same slot as “settling down,” and he didn’t know if that could ever happen.

“Maybe for the right woman,” he said, picking out a rock and perching on it, his eyes raking across the ocean in the distance. He loved the way it could look still from a distance and yet be in constant motion on the surface. Tony loved dynamic things that didn’t seem as dangerous as they really were—like fire. Like water. 

Like love.

Alfie barked, drawing Tony’s attention. His dog rarely used his voice, and Tony got to his feet, instantly scanning the area up here on top of the peak. He didn’t hear anything but his own thoughts and the breeze drifting by. Nothing came out of the scrub brush, but Alfie trotted over to the trail where it went back down. He yapped again, and Tony took a couple of strides in that direction.

“What is it?” he asked as Alfie’s tail started to wave like a flag in a stiff breeze.

A figure appeared there, and it wasn’t a what at all. It was a who.

Tony froze as the woman came further into view with every step she took. She hiked alone too, and Tony’s heart started to pump like he’d done a run up to this peak. He did that sometimes, when he had a particularly frustrating experience he’d like to get out of his head.

His breath caught as he recognized the woman now bending down to pet his dog. His mind blanked even as a chuckle started down in his stomach. He had no idea what the universe was trying to tell him or how hard he should pay attention to it if it was speaking.

The woman rose, her blond hair all scraped back into a ponytail. It seemed like it wasn’t quite long enough to reach, but she’d used a thin, stretchy headband to make it comply. Her bright blue eyes sought out his, and when their gazes locked, Tony’s whole body froze at the same time heat licked through him.

Catherine Magleby smiled and stepped past Alfie. The little beagle had been utterly charmed by her in less than five seconds, as most living things were. Tony had been, once. 

“Good morning, Tony,” she said as she approached.

Good morning? he thought. Really? She was going to lead with good morning after the way she’d dumped him a decade ago?

He shook his head, finally breaking their connection. He hid his smile. “Well, well. Look what the cat dragged in.”

Daggers filled her expression, and she cocked that gorgeous, curvy hip. “Really? You’re going to go to that?”

“Tell me everyone around here doesn’t call you Cat, and I’ll apologize,” he shot back.

She couldn’t tell him that, and they both knew it. Just because Tony had been in and out of Hawthorne Harbor over the past several years didn’t mean he didn’t know the happenings in the town. Triumph filled him when Cat remained silent, but that only allowed his heart to start beating things at him about how he and Cat could possibly, maybe, kind of, perhaps have a second chance at the relationship they’d tried a decade ago.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I really enjoyed this second chance romance between Tony and Cat. The way the author wrote the story made you feel like you were there. I definitely recommend reading this book.” ~Bonnie T.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I always enjoy this author’s books. She has a way of drawing me into a story that makes me feel like I know the characters and could be their friend. I loved Tony and Cat’s story. A really great book that I read straight through.” ~MJ

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Fall in love with hometown heroes in small-beach-town Hawthorne Harbor!

Escape to the beach today with single moms, single dads, and that one old lady that knows everyone in town... This sweet and clean romance series is sure to have the heartfelt love stories and heartwarming women's fiction you're looking for. Travel to Hawthorne Harbor for these hometown heroes without leaving your house!

  • Book 1: The Day He Left Town

    He’s waiting for a promotion to come through. She’s back in her hometown after a humiliating break-up. Can Tony and Cat make their second chance stick this time?

  • Book 2: The Day He Drove By

    A widowed florist, her ten-year-old daughter, and the paramedic who delivered the girl a decade earlier... Can Drew and Gretchen find their way toward true love?

  • Book 3: The Day He Stopped In

    A widowed park ranger, her twelve-year-old son, and the Chief of Police who's secretly kept an eye on both of them... Do Adam and Janey have the courage to take their relationship out of the friend zone?

  • Book 4: The Day He Said Hello

    A firefighter and his high school sweetheart who's returned to their beachside hometown...and doesn't want to be there. Can the day he said hello start a new relationship that will last this time?

  • Book 5: The Day He Let Go

    A K9 cop, the woman he hires to build him a deck, and the magic of Christmas that could bring Trent and Lauren together this holiday season... Can Trent learn to let go of the past so he and Lauren can find love and build a family?

  • Book 6: The Day He Came Home

    A wounded Marine returns to Hawthorne Harbor years after the woman he was married to for exactly one week before she got an annulment...and then a baby nine months later. Can Hunter and Alice make a family out of past heartache?

  • Book 7: The Day He Asked Again

    A Coast Guard captain would rather spend his time on the sea...unless he's with the woman he's been crushing on for months. If Dave asks just one more time, will Brooklynn give their second chance at romance another shot?

Meet your new best friends on Hilton Head Island!

Escape to the beaches of South Carolina with this Supper Club of ladies, each of whom is starting over in some way in their 40s. New loves, new lives, new businesses - and they're waiting for YOU, their new best friend!

Read this series if you like: 

✔ Second chance romance

✔ Later in life romance

✔ Pristine beach setting

✔ Island life

✔ He falls for her first!

✔ Walks on the beach

✔ Beach bonfire kisses

✔ Enemies to lovers

✔ Friends to lovers

✔ Single parent romance

✔ Women's friendship fiction

✔ Supper Clubs!

Customer Reviews

Based on 18 reviews

Great book


A very enjoyable read

Janice S.

It was a good book. My favorites are the Hilton Head series. All of Elana Johnsons books that I have read so far are really good.

Debbie N.

Really a good read.

Bonnie T.

I really enjoyed this second chance romance between Tony and Cat. The way the author wrote the story made you feel like you were there. I definitely recommend reading this book.

I received a free book, and this is my honest opinion.