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Book 1: The Love List (Hilton Head Island Romance)

Book 1: The Love List (Hilton Head Island Romance)

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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!

START HERE! This is the first book in the Hilton Head Island Romance series.

About THE LOVE LIST: Beatrice Callahan loves lists. Sometimes she even makes a to-do list of things she’s already done, just to go check, check, check and feel accomplished. So it’s easy to understand why, when her divorce is finally final and her ex is all moved out, Bea takes a cool, close look at her life…and makes a list. But when things get confusing and her life morphs once again… Can she add fall in love at age 45 to the list and check it off?

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

Listen to a sample here!

Chapter One:

Beatrice Callahan’s steps sent vibrations up her legs and through her core. The mailman had just arrived, and she may or may not have been standing at the window for the past several days, watching for a particular piece of mail.

She’d seen it, and the large, official letter had triggered something inside her. What, she didn’t know. She simply felt different now than she had before she’d seen that envelope. Then she’d grabbed her keys and purse and gone into the garage.

“Afternoon,” the man called from down at the end of her drive, and Bea lifted her hand in a wave. After all, he wasn’t the one who’d taken his sweet time signing the divorce papers. He wasn’t the one who’d insisted that Bea could have either alimony or her car, but not both. He wasn’t the one who’d wanted to go through their assets one by one and make sure everything came out fair.

Fair. She scoffed as she got behind the wheel of her SUV—the same one she’d had for the past three years, thank you very much. Norton, her now-ex-husband, if that envelope meant what Bea thought it did—had filed for divorce fourteen months ago. He’d moved out the day before that. He’d been fighting with her over ticky-tack things every day since.

There was no fair after twenty-five years of marriage. Not in Bea’s book—and thankfully, not in the State of Texas either. She had plenty of friends around the Sweet Water Falls area in Texas, and one of them happened to be a fantastic divorce attorney. 

Vera had gotten the alimony and the SUV, and before Bea had seen her brilliance in front of a judge, she hadn’t understood why Nort wanted to “settle things on their own.”

Oh, she knew now, and it had nothing to do with him being fair to Bea.

She went down the dirt lane and past the mail truck, where the mustached man who came every afternoon still stuffed flyers and other useless mail in her box. She didn’t wave this time, her memories of when her oldest son, Ted, had built the red-brick pillar for the mailbox. He’d been fifteen and trying to earn his Eagle Scout award. He’d called friends and neighbors to come help; he’d gone to the local hardware store and talked to the owner to get the supplies donated; he’d built not only their mailbox tower, but five others along the highway north of Sweet Water Falls—one for everyone who hadn’t yet been able to fund their own construction.

Tears pricked her eyes at her sweet Teddy Bear. He wasn’t so young anymore, and he’d listen to her tell him the news that the divorce was final later that day. He wouldn’t like it, but he’d listen. 

Then he’d ask her what she was going to do next.

Bea wondered that herself, her eyes drying up before any real tears fell. Thankfully. She couldn’t show up at the salon with red-rimmed eyes and a crazy demand for the hairstyle she’d been planning for the day when the divorce papers arrived.

“You don’t need to wonder,” she told herself. “You made a list.”

And she had. The list of things Bea had put together hung on her refrigerator, and she hadn’t grabbed it in her haste to leave the house. She’d stuffed her feet into the first pair of shoes she could find, grabbed her purse, and strode out of the house.

She’d get the mail later. Get the proof that the nightmare she’d been enduring for over a year was really done. 

Then, she’d get her life back.

* * *

“All of it,” she said a half-hour later. Her slate-blue eyes met the hazel-green ones of her stylist, Mae. 

Mae’s expression showed shock, and she released Bea’s as she kept running her fingers through her hair. “It is starting to go gray in some spots.”

“I don’t want to color it anymore,” Bea said. Her part-sandy, part-golden blonde had been coming from a bottle for decades. She’d done it mostly to keep up appearances at church, be the arm-candy Nort required for his ritzy financial firm, and to keep the other women in her Thursday Night Supper Club from guessing her true age.

All idiotic reasons, in Bea’s opinion. And seeing as how Bea was now single, and all three of her children were out of the house, living their lives at various colleges and in towns across Texas, she didn’t have to dye her hair anymore.

“And yes,” she said, smoothing her hands down her thighs under the drape that would become very important once Mae started cutting. “I want it all gone. I want that.” She nodded to her phone, where she’d brought up a cute, classy, and sophisticated cut. One she’d seen on older actresses as they aged.

At forty-five, Bea wasn’t heading into a retirement home, but she was the second-oldest in her Supper Club. They’d all been guessing her age for years, and when they got together later this week… Well, Cass would be thrilled to know she was younger than Bea by five months.

“We can do a pixie,” Mae said, looking up into the mirror again. She kept smoothing her hands through Bea’s hair. “You have beautiful hair. It’s not too thick, so it won’t poke out strangely.”

“That sounds like a plus,” Bea said with a small smile. At this point in her life, she’d take all the positives she could get. 

“Bangs?” Mae asked. “I think you have a great face-shape for short hair. But I think we should go easy on chopping off too much up here. We can always take more off. I can’t put it back on.”

“Okay,” Bea said, admiring the shape of her jawline. She did have a nicely shaped face, with jawbones that tapered into a soft point at her chin. She usually wore makeup to accentuate her cheekbones, but today wasn’t one of those days. 

“You can do an up style, or down,” Mae said, holding her longer hair closer to the scalp. “I’ll show you how to style it both ways.”

“That would be fantastic,” Bea said, and Mae got to work. Without having to color her hair first, Bea simply watched as Mae sprayed it down with a water bottle and started cutting. Ten inches hit the floor, and then Mae got out the clippers. 

Bea swallowed hard. There really was no going back from this. Like so much else in your life right now, she thought. 

She took a steeling breath, because she didn’t want to go back to the life she’d had with Norton. She didn’t want to go back to the woman she’d been before the divorce papers. The woman who always dressed right, who always had dinner on the table at six-thirty, who had literally never cut her hair shorter than her shoulders, even when she’d had children and it had turned dry and brittle and should’ve probably been shorter to preserve the health of it.

Norton liked showing her off in her clothes. He liked eating right when he returned home, so he could spend evenings in his office. He liked her long hair.

Mae switched on the clippers, and the buzzing, rumbling noise of them suddenly represented a brand-new day for Beatrice Callahan.

The hair on the back of her head fell away and though she couldn’t quite see it, Bea could definitely feel it.

And it felt amazing.

When she returned home a couple of hours later, she stopped by the mailbox first. After gathering all the mail—which seemed like an unusually large load, though she supposed they had just come out of a holiday weekend—she sat behind the wheel again, the air conditioning blowing softly and the radio volume low.

She put everything else aside, keeping the legal-sized envelope in her hands. It couldn’t be more than a centimeter thick, and most of that was probably the cardboard envelope. The seal for the State of Texas sat on it, and Bea took a deep breath.

“It has to be the finalized divorce,” she said to herself. Norton hadn’t contacted her for some weeks now, and neither had his lawyer. Her lawyer hadn’t either, and when Bea had inquired about it, Vera had said he’d most likely agreed to their terms—finally—and would be signing soon. 

“Watch your mail,” she’d said, and that had started the afternoon vigils in Bea’s beautiful farmhouse. She lived out in the middle of nowhere, her closest neighbors one-point-nine miles away. Everyone out here had a farm or a ranch, even Bea, though she didn’t use her land the way the other families did.

Norton had wanted to “move to the country” once he’d gotten more well-known in the area. He had always existed on the wrong side of paranoid, and since Bea loved the more wild parts of Texas, she hadn’t protested. She could get to town easily, and sometimes the drive actually soothed her. 

She found the courage to open the envelope, and sure enough, the front page on the packet of papers she pulled out told her that her divorce from Norton Bailey Callahan was now final.

Bea sighed as she sagged into the seat behind her. “Finally,” she said, more relief and…happiness than she’d expected flowing through her. She pressed her eyes closed and thanked the Good Lord above for releasing her from this burden, and then she pressed the papers back into the envelope and tossed it over to the passenger seat along with the rest of the junk mail.

After trundling down the dirt lane to the house, she parked in the garage, gathered all the mail, and went inside. She stepped through the mudroom, saying, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a little dog to greet me when I got home?” and deposited the mail on her kitchen counter.

Without another glance at it, she turned to the fridge and got down her list. 

It wasn’t a to-do list. Not really.

“It’s a bucket list,” she said, her eyes catching on the top item. 

Finalize divorce.

She didn’t know anyone in their right mind who would actually add that to a bucket list, so she amended her thoughts.

“No,” she said, hating how loud her voice sounded in her quiet, empty house. She and Nort had raised three children, all of them having lived in this house for at least a decade before they’d grown up, graduated from high school, and gone on their own adventures.

“It’s not a to-do list.” She opened the drawer on the end of the bank of cabinets and pulled out a pen. Lord knew she had plenty of to-do lists—the fridge did too, as it practically groaned under the weight of the many and varied lists she kept there.

She needed one for the front yard, one for the backyard, one for the schedule of when the town services came out into the county to collect recycling and trash. 

She needed a list of what she had in the fridge that would expire soon, and items she needed at the grocery store that she was currently out of. 

A list for Monday, one for Tuesday, and one for what she needed to take to church that week so she could talk to the pastor’s wife about their upcoming Summer Faire. 

So she had a lot of lists. Over the years, her husband and children had teased her about them, but no one minded when Bea had every single thing they needed when the family took trips to the beach. She even remembered the ice packs and the aloe vera for her youngest son, who always thought he didn’t need to wear sunscreen.

“Not a to-do list,” she mused. “Not a bucket list.” 

She crossed off the top item, another dose of comfort, of satisfaction, of pure respite making her feel warm and sleepy. She’d done it. She’d endured, and she’d won. Maybe not everything she’d wanted to keep, but she hadn’t been beaten, and that alone felt like a victory.

She scanned the items on the list. Go for a walk and get lost.

Visit the beach and listen to the ocean.

Fly a kite you don’t think you can control.

Visit ten National Parks.

Cut your hair short.

She crossed that last one off too, a new measure of happiness stealing through her. Mae had styled her bangs up, and Bea felt like a Rockstar. A middle-aged rockstar, but a celebrity nonetheless.

Her heartbeat picked up speed as she picked up the pen. She scrawled, Get a puppy onto her list, grinning at the new item with renewed vigor.

Her refrigerator hummed, adding some ambient noise to the house. As she poured herself some sweet tea, continued to ignore the mail, and instead looked over her list again, she knew what it was.

“It’s a love list.” She laughed. “A list of all the things I’d love to do in my life, now that I’m…well, now that I’m in this new stage of my life.”

With that, she returned the list to the fridge, bypassed the mail once again, and headed for her back porch. After all, a day or two ago, she’d put, Spend more time in your porch swing to her newly named love list, and she needed to do exactly that.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I love this book for I have been to Hilton Head so many times for vacation. This island brings out the best of things. Elana wrote a wonderful story about losing love and finding it again, about a group of ladies living in Texas getting together one a month to have supper and lift each other up. Can't wait to read the other books.” ~Barbara W.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “This was awesome. I liked the author's writing style: engaging and believable characters, a fascinating setting in Texas and the scenic beach scene in South Carolina, vivid details which incorporated lots of imagery, and a heartfelt storyline that made me misty-eyed towards the end with a smattering of laughter throughout. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the amusing narrative.” ~JG

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Indulge in a delightful journey to the Lowcountry and visit Hilton Head Island to fall in love!

For fans of heartwarming women’s fiction, beach romance, and feel-good stories, immerse yourself in these later-in-life romances and found family friendships of the Hilton Head Island Romance series!

  • Book 1: The Love List

    Beatrice Callahan loves lists. Sometimes she even makes a to-do list of things she’s already done, just to go check, check, check and feel accomplished. So it’s easy to understand why, when her divorce is finally final and her ex is all moved out, Bea takes a cool, close look at her life…and makes a list. But when things get confusing and her life morphs once again… Can she add fall in love at age 45 to the list and check it off?

  • Book 2: The Paradise Plan

    Cassandra Haslam loves plans. Lunch plans, wedding plans, and floor plans—they all bring her joy. But then her husband dies suddenly, right when she’s about to enjoy the fruits of all of her hard work and planning, leaving Cass reeling and…well, without a plan. So, with one of her best friends now living in Hilton Head, Cass makes a move and purchases a piece of waterfront property on the island. Can she find her new life and a new love, all without any plans at all?

  • Book 3: The Seaside Strategy

    Lauren Keller understands strategies. She adores them and never enters a marketing meeting without Strategy A, B, and C tucked away in the back of her mind. She’s one of the top executives at her firm…until it all comes crashing down with the news that her boss has been stealing money from their clients for almost a decade. So she strategically decides she’s had enough of the high-profile, corporate life, and she makes the move to Hilton Head Island – and the man who’s asked her out before. Can she strategically insert herself into Blake’s life without compromising her seaside strategy and finally get what she really wants…love and a lasting relationship?

  • Book 4: The Beach Blueprint

    Joy Bartlett needs a blueprint before she takes a single step in any direction. She loves seeing what she's getting into before committing, and just because half of her Supper Club has moved 1200 miles away doesn't mean she's going to start packing boxes. Can she figure out how to arrange all of the pieces in her life in a way that makes sense? Or will she find herself cut off from everyone who's ever been important to her?

  • Book 5: The Tropical Ticket

    Bessie Clifton adores baking. With her daughter Wynona by her side, she's turned her passion for the perfect loaf of bread into a dream for a bakery. They move to Hilton Head Island and work to get their shop open with the help of Bessie's five best friends. Enter Oliver Blackhurst, the grumpy owner of The Mad Mango smoothie shop. Bessie's sunshine and warmth seem to clash with his prickly exterior. Will Bessie's journey to self-discovery lead her to the love she's always craved? Can Oliver let go of his past and embrace the warmth that Bessie brings to his life?

  • Book 6: The Waterfront Way

    Sage Grady is a master of transformation. She's a seasoned hairstylist who's perfected the art of change, one cut and color at a time. Ty's made a fortune flipping properties and developing luxury resorts. Yet beneath his polished exterior is a man who's been burned by love, and he's built walls higher than any of his skyscrapers. As Sage snips, styles, and sashays her way into Ty's heart, she discovers that her way of life isn't the only transformation happening. Can Sage and Ty navigate their contrasting worlds to create a happily-ever-after? Will they find that the path to true love doesn't always follow the path most trod, but might just be discovered through...the waterfront way?

Fall in love with the hometown heroes of 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!

Read this series if you like: 

✔ Second chance romance

✔ Sweet Beach Reads

✔ Contemporary romance

✔ Later in life romance

✔ Friends to lovers romance

✔ Enemies to lovers romance

✔ Small-town romance

✔ Military romance

✔ Single-dad romance

Customer Reviews

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T
T.R.
Loved Bea and Grant’s story

Beautifully written. So enjoyed the laugh out loud moments!

C
Carrie

Great book