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Book 2: The Paradise Plan (Hilton Head Island Romance)

Book 2: The Paradise Plan (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!

About 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?

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Read Chapter 1 Now!

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Cassandra Haslam waved to the woman in the white SUV, keeping her smile clipped in place until she’d gone. All the way around the corner and out of sight. Only then did Cass turn back to her house, a sigh falling from her lips and turning into a darker sound in the back of her throat.

She re-entered her house, the scent of her husband’s cologne always lingering just inside the door. He hung his jacket there, along with his scarf, and Cass gave them both a cursory glance as she went by. West was nothing if not regimented. He did the same thing at the same time every day. So tomorrow morning, when the clock struck eight, he’d shrug into his jacket and wrap that scarf around his neck, where both picked up earthy, musky notes of his cologne. Then he’d kiss Cass, who’d barely be out of bed, and head out the door to work.

Weekend mornings found him with the National Geographic magazine and coffee until noon. He couldn’t drink it past that, he claimed, or he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. 

She walked past the couch and all the clean, crisp lines in the living room. She’d just gotten new furniture and new rugs when she and West had put in new flooring. Cass loved updating old things, and she got called in for a lot of renovations around Sweet Water Falls, Beeville, and other surrounding small towns. 

As an interior designer, she could see beauty in things most people couldn’t. She could repurpose anything, and she could draw up a set of plans for a customer in only minutes. Her new software and tablet helped with that, and Cass glanced at it as she passed the built-in desk in the kitchen.

She paused there and hugged herself as she faced her friends. “So,” she said, and that brought Joy’s attention to her. Joy was an exceptional listener, and she and Cass had started walking this winter. It wasn’t really cold in the Coastal Bend of Texas, not like some parts of the country. Jacket weather for sure, but Cass had never even owned a coat or a snow shovel. 

“Guys,” Joy said, and that got Bessie and Sage to stop talking about herbs and poultices. Sage loved everything to do with homeopathic healing, crystals, and connecting her spiritual energy to the earth. Bessie had developed a rash, and Sage was sure this essential oil or that one would work to clear it up.

Lauren twisted away from Bea, who had a flight out of San Antonio at seven-fifty tomorrow morning. She’d been staying in Cass’s guest bedroom for two nights now, and Cass would miss her when she left.

True to her word, she’d come to Sweet Water Falls for their monthly Supper Club though she’d moved to Hilton Head Island over half a year ago. Right now, she shook her head, and Cass nodded, their silent conversation all Cass really needed.

She’d listen to the others too, but she suspected they’d all have the same opinion on Stacy. 

She wasn’t a fit for their Supper Club. 

“I liked her,” Sage said, getting up and taking her dessert plate with her. For their February meal, Cass had served Three Kings cake, though the holiday wasn’t for another couple weeks. Lauren had found the tiny plastic baby in her piece of cake, and Cass had crowned her queen for the day.

They’d laughed and talked, the food delicious and the wine flowing, all of them speculating what Lauren’s good luck would bring her. As Cass watched, she handed her plate—complete with the plastic baby on it—to Sage, who took it along with hers into Cass’s kitchen. The tiny toy got thrown away without much fanfare, the fun it had brought over now.

“I like her too,” Joy said with some false qualities in her voice. “I just don’t think…” She looked at Bessie, who definitely wouldn’t say they shouldn’t invite Stacy to be a permanent part of their Supper Club.

Bessie blinked at her. “What? What do you want me to say?”

“Do you think we should invite her back?” Lauren asked, her dark eyes blazing with fire. She was a passionate person, and that passion often clashed with Cass’s headstrong way of doing things. They both wanted to be right, and they both wanted to matter, and they both wanted to be in control of some things.

As a result, Cass clashed the most with Lauren, though she loved her dearly at the same time. The common ground between them had always been Bea, who brought harmony to their group of six.

“We should just keep the five of us,” Lauren said, turning her gaze to Cass when Bessie didn’t answer. 

Cass walked over to her seat at the head of the table and sank into her chair. “Yeah,” she said, her voice carrying wistful qualities she wished it wouldn’t. 

“I’m sorry,” Bea said, something she’d done a million times before.

“Don’t apologize,” Bessie said. “It’s not your fault.”

“It kind of is,” Bea said. “I want to keep coming. I do. It’s just…hard.” She stood too, picked up an empty bottle of wine, and went into the kitchen with it. 

Cass watched her, her guilt pinching down inside her gut. The last thing she wanted was to cause any unrest in Bea. She’d lived in Texas for her whole life—until last year when she’d fallen in love with her now-husband, Grant, and moved to Hilton Head, South Carolina.

“Six is just so neat,” Cass said. “We each host twice a year. It’s easy.”

“We could have a bye month,” Lauren said. 

Cass turned her gaze onto Lauren, not sure she’d heard her right. Yes, you did, her mind whispered at her. She simply didn’t want to have a bye month in their Supper Club. This event on the third Thursday of the month had been the highlight of her friendship with these women, and she adored her evening with them.

Yes, she saw them each outside of the Supper Club, and she could still do that. Cass literally planned changes for a living. But she had a very hard time accepting them in her personal life, especially without a lot of notice.

Bea had fallen in love with Grant in only a couple of weeks, and by her standards, that was very fast indeed. 

“A bye month,” Joy repeated. “That’s actually a good idea.”

It was, but Cass didn’t say so. 

“We’re always so busy in December,” Lauren said. “We could easily take that month off. And we’ve already decided we’re all going to Hilton Head for the Fourth of July every year, so we could take June off and do our Supper Club there instead.”

“Weeks later,” Cass said.

“Yes,” Lauren said coolly. “Just like you served Three Kings cake, though the holiday is ‘weeks later.’”

Cass’s jaw clenched, but she nodded. “It’s not a bad idea.”

“I like it,” Bessie said. “Then we don’t have to try to find someone new. I did like Stacy, but she…”

Cass wouldn’t want to be Stacy either. She wouldn’t want to try to come into a solid group of five people, who’d known each other for several years, and try to fit in. She wouldn’t even know where to start, and Stacy had worn a half-panicked look for most of the evening. She’d spoken too loudly, and laughed too long, almost a desperate attempt to show she was enjoying herself and everyone at the table.

“She didn’t quite fit,” Bea supplied, setting a cup of tea in front of Cass. She looked up and met her friend’s eyes, then lifted her hand and ran her fingertips along Bea’s forearm as she stepped away. Oh, how she missed her. The ache expanded every time they were together, because then Bea always left again.

Thankfully, this time, Cass had the Muller’s cabin-slash-farmhouse on her schedule, and she wouldn’t have time to wander listlessly around the house, sighing as she ran a duster over dust-free surfaces and thought about what Bea was doing on the beach.

Over the years of raising her children, she’d worked as a secretary on and off, and the last time they’d talked about her job, Bea had mentioned that she might simply go work for her husband in his property management office.

“I don’t think anyone will fit,” Sage said, settling at the table with her cup of tea. She gave Cass a warm smile, which Cass returned.

“I think you’re right.” Cass reached for her tea. She took a sip and sighed. “So we’ll take June and December off from the Supper Club.” She didn’t phrase it as a question, and she looked around the table to find everyone nodding.

Everyone except Bea, that was. She didn’t really have a vote, and she didn’t try to pretend she did. 

“All right,” Cass said. “That’s what we’ll do then.” She took another sip of her tea, ready to shake off this melancholy that had draped itself over the dining room. “So. I’ve got the floor plans done for the Mullers. Who wants to see?”

Bea gave her a smile and took a sip of her tea. “You and your plans.”

“It’s like you and your lists,” Cass shot back.

“I didn’t make a list with timelines for my life,” she said.

Cass waved her hand in dismissal. It wasn’t a crime to have plans for one’s life. She’d achieved a lot of the things she’d wanted to in her life, and whenever she felt lost, she got out her kitty cat notebook from fifth-grade and reviewed the goals and plans she’d penciled in for her life.

“I need a floor plan for my job,” she said. 

“But not for Sariah’s wedding,” Lauren teased. “She’s not even engaged yet.”

“She will be in the next month or so,” Cass said with confidence. Her daughter—her oldest twin—had called to say she and her boyfriend, Robbie, were talking about marriage and for Cass to block off some dates and start making plans. She knew her mother well, as Cass thrived on having a plan.

The evening wrapped up, and Cass hugged each woman as they prepared to leave her house. Joy held her tightly, and Cass said, “Let’s go to lunch next week.”

“Absolutely,” Joy said with a smile as she stepped back. “You don’t have to twist my arm.”

Cass grinned and said, “Let me check my schedule for the meetings I have next week, and I’ll text you.” She once again stood on the porch as the women left her driveway, waving and smiling. 

She returned to the house, left the dishes for morning—according to her plan, of course—and looked at Bea. “You’re okay tonight?”

“Yes,” Bea said. “Are you going to get up and see me off?” Her eyes twinkled, as she knew how much Cass hated early mornings.

“I suppose,” she said as she rolled her eyes. Bea embraced her, the two of them holding one another tightly. “Can you please book an afternoon flight next time?”

Bea giggled and ducked her head as she stepped back. But she’d cut her hair last year and she’d maintained the pixie look, so she didn’t have a veil of blonde to hide behind the way she had in the past.

Cass wore her straight brown hair clipped back, and she couldn’t wait to get everything unbuttoned, unbuckled, and unpinned. 

“We have a gala tomorrow night,” she said. “Sorry.”

“Yes, the gal-la,” Cass said, really playing out the last syllable. They laughed together again, and then Cass started toward the hall that led to the master bedroom. “See you in the morning, Bea.”

“Night, Cass.” 

Cass went into the master suite. West sat in the recliner in the reading nook, the lamp behind him providing the light he needed for the puzzles and games he did in a booklet. 

“How was it?” he asked, looking over his shoulder at her.

Cass bent her head to take out her earrings. She exhaled as she tossed them onto her dresser. “Really fun,” she said.

“And Stacy?”

Cass stepped out of her shoes. “Not a fit.” She pushed her hands through her hair and tried to shrug off the weight of the world. She unbelted her dress and walked over to West. “Unzip me, hon.”

She bent down and he reached up, and the zipper slid down. West let his hands linger on her waist, and Cass sank onto his lap and wrapped her arms around her husband’s shoulders. 

“Talk to me, sweetheart.”

Cass stared toward the closed bedroom door, not really focused on anything. “I want to start planning a vacation,” she said.

“All right,” West drawled, and Cass loved that he didn’t question her. “Mountains? Beach? Do I need to check my passport expiration date?”

Cass looked down at him, her love for him swelling. “Do you want to leave the country?” He wouldn’t have to check his passport. His job required him to keep it current, as he traveled for work. She thought of what June would be like once he’d retired, as his paperwork was all turned in now. 

“No,” West said with a gorgeous smile, his deep voice sending a thrum through her body. “But I think you do.”

“I just want…” Cass couldn’t finish, because she couldn’t say she wanted to go back in time eight months and reset everything. She leaned down and touched her mouth to West’s. “You.” 

He kissed her, and Cass let her discontent melt away as she kissed her husband. As long as he didn’t leave, Cass would be fine.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Loved story #2 in this series about the women of the Supper Club. Life happens and this story shows how these women support, encourage, and sometimes frustrate each other in life. Cass and Harrison navigate friendships and family and saying goodbye and hello all at the same time. Looking forward to book #3 in this series.” ~Gayle

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I loved this story so much! Elana takes you on a journey of dealing with loss, and learning to heal and move on. This is the perfect book to read on the beach or by the pool! 5 stars! This story is a beautiful one, as is this series so far! If you haven't read the first book (you don't need to this is a complete stand alone) but I recommend it! I can't wait for the third book to come out!” ~S.Abreau

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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

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O
Ona P.
❤️ these romances in Hilton Head

What fantastic reading !!! I have finished reading book 3 and can not wait to continue reading the rest of them!