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Book 3: The Heartwood Beach (Carter's Cove Beach Romance)

Book 3: The Heartwood Beach (Carter's Cove Beach Romance)

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The Heartwood Beach Formats
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Fall in love with The Heartwood Inn in Carter’s Cove…with 5 sweet romances, each featuring a Heartwood sister. You’ll get this complete series of heartwarming stories of sisterhood, friendship, and love that will leave you wanting to revisit Carter’s Cove over and over again. 

Each romance features a Heartwood sister navigating the potholes of romance with someone they DEFINITELY don't get along with...

About THE HEARTWOOD BEACH: She's not very happy about the ex-boyfriend who keeps showing up on her front step, following her around the expansive grounds at the inn, and scaring her. She hired Gage Sanders to be her "boyfriend" to keep the other man away. Can Sheryl tame her hired help into a boyfriend?

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Sample Chapter 1 Now!

Sheryl Heartwood checked through the peephole to find her best friends standing on her front porch. She unlocked the door and removed the chain before stepping back to face Abby and Tyler Bryan.

“Hey, guys,” she said, glancing behind them to find that truck still parked right on the edge of her property.

Ricky Van Nuy had been following her home for a couple of weeks now, and she seriously couldn’t sleep in this house for another night with that truck there. In an instance like this, she wished she lived with one of her sisters, the way Gwen and Celeste did. Or the hotel like Olympia. Alissa lived too far away from civilization, and she couldn’t imagine what it would be like to not have someone close enough to hear her scream.

She couldn’t see Ricky as her friends came in, their little chowchow on a leash, waddling in after them. “I just need to pull the pizza out of the oven,” she said. Sheryl didn’t cook often, and she rarely turned on the oven in the summertime. But she’d needed a reason to get her friends over here.

“Smells good,” Tyler said, bending to unclip the leash on All-Star’s collar. “You said you had a problem. Something to do with that truck parked out front?”

“Yes,” Sheryl said. “How did you know?”

“There was a guy there when we pulled up,” Abby said, pulling out a barstool and sitting down while Sheryl opened a bag of Caesar salad. “But he ducked down when we got out of the car.”

So Ricky was out there. Sheryl’s heartbeat bobbed around in the back of her throat. She cleared the emotion away and turned to get the pizza out of the oven as the timer went off. “My sister said I should hire someone to be my bodyguard. I was hoping you guys would know someone.”

Sheryl worked at her family’s hotel, resort, and spa, and her hours taking care of the grounds started well before dawn. Ricky hadn’t been bothering her before work. Only after. She wasn’t sure when Ricky left at night, because she refused to sit by the window and watch his truck.

“I’m sure we can find someone,” Tyler said. “Doesn’t Pops work at The Heartwood Inn?” he asked his wife.

“Pops works the swing shift,” Abby said. “Sheryl’s done early in the day, right?”

“Usually by two,” Sheryl said. It was too hot to do much after that, and she and her crew put in eight hours every day long before two o’clock came. She loved her schedule, as she could take a quick cat nap and then be rested for the summer evening activities on the island.

She loved Carter’s Cove and the nighttime energy that existed during the summer months. Some people found the tourists annoying, but Sheryl loved the surfing competition, the bonfire, the tennis and golf tournaments, the dog championship, the classic car parade, all of it.

But the thought of being out in public past dark had terrified her these past few days, and she’d missed a few things.

The bonfire was in two nights, and she was not going to miss it. Ricky was not going to keep her inside, behind locked and chained doors. Oh, no, he was not.

“I know a guy,” Tyler said. “But he has another job in the mornings.”

“I don’t need him in the mornings,” Sheryl said. “Just the afternoons and evenings. I can pay him to hang out with me.” She hated the way that sounded, but she had a legitimate reason this time.

Not that she’d hired a man to spend time with her before. Sheryl wasn’t desperate, and she hadn’t minded being a third wheel for her friends as one by one, they all found a man and got married.

Sheryl hadn’t really minded—until she didn’t have anyone to come sleep on her couch and make sure she was safe at night.

“His name is Gage Sanders,” Tyler said. “He’s ex-military, and he works security at the ferry in the mornings until at least noon.”

“Maybe he won’t have time,” Abby said. “You should text him.”

Tyler held up his phone. “I just did.” He reached for a plate and took a couple pieces of pizza. He held up one and grinned. “I think he’ll do it. Gage doesn’t have a lot going on in the afternoons, if you know what I mean.”

A few seconds passed before Sheryl got what he meant. “It’s not a date,” she said, rolling her eyes.

“Why not?” Abby asked.

“Why not?” Sheryl asked, her voice pitching up. “I’m not interested in dating.”

“But why not?” Abby scooped some salad onto her plate, only glancing at Sheryl as if she didn’t get why Sheryl didn’t want to involve a man in her life again. She wasn’t even sure she had all the pieces of her heart back from the last time she’d tried a relationship.

Chuck Goldsmith had left Carter’s Cove, and he’d taken Sheryl’s heart with him. It might have been a year or two—maybe three—but Sheryl had learned to find joy in her work, and she still had friends who invited her to do things with them.


Tyler’s phone chimed, and he practically lunged for it. “It’s Gage.”

Sheryl pretended like she didn’t care as she dug around in the lettuce for a crouton.

“What did he say?” Abby finally asked, swatting at Tyler. “You’re killing us.”

Tyler just grinned his goofy smile and swiped his blond hair out of his eyes. He looked a little like a surfer, though he ran a digital marketing company for the small businesses on the island.

Sheryl unconsciously reached up and patted her own blonde hair, her scalp suddenly aching from how she kept her hair in a perpetual ponytail. She pulled her hairband out, her own curiosity reaching epic proportions.

“He said he’s been thinking about getting another gig in the afternoon,” Tyler said as if he were reading from the screen of his phone. “He said he’s interested.”


Sheryl reminded herself he wasn’t interested in her. He was interested in the job.

“He wants to set something up,” Tyler said. “Should I give him your number, or do you want his?”

“Give me his,” Sheryl said. A moment later, her phone buzzed, and Tyler had forwarded the contact. “I’m going to text him right now.” She did, and Gage responded immediately with I can come over tonight.

Sheryl almost choked, and Abby heard and saw everything. “What?” she asked.

“He wants to come tonight.”

“Great,” Tyler said. “You need someone right away, right?” He took another big bite of his pizza.

Sheryl didn’t know what to say. She didn’t want Gage to come over while her friends were here. Or did she?

“Let’s go,” Abby said, though she hadn’t finished eating.

Tyler looked back and forth between the two women. “I’m missing something.”

“Nope,” Abby said, popping the P. “Sheryl needs privacy for her job interview. We can take our food with us.”

“Take it,” Sheryl said, glancing down at her phone. She quickly typed out, Sure thing, and added her address to the text before sending it.

Everything happened so fast after that. Abby and Tyler left, and Sheryl chained herself back in her house, the truck on the street inspiring more fear in her than she knew what to do with.

Gage had said he’d “be there soon,” but it felt like a long time until he pulled into her driveway on a sleek, shiny, black motorcycle. Sheryl’s view through the slats in the blinds was limited, but wow. Gage had long legs, and as he stood from his bike, he sported a broad pair of shoulders in a sexy, leather jacket.

He pulled off his helmet and didn’t look around, his confidence oozing off of him and hitting her in the chest, even through the glass.

He had dark hair and a rugged, handsome face that had her breath catching in the back of her throat. She watched him walk up the sidewalk and onto her porch. Still, when he knocked, she flinched.

“Get ahold of yourself,” she muttered as she scampered away from the window and tugged on the bottom of her shirt. Looking down, horror washed through her when she realized she hadn’t even changed out of her gardening clothes. Mud dotted her jeans from a repotting project earlier that day.

The kitchen was a mess too, and the scent of pizza hung in the air. Sheryl didn’t want to open the door, and she stepped over to the blinds again. Maybe she could just text him that she’d made a mistake. Didn’t need his private security services.

He knocked again, this time calling, “Sheryl, is everything okay in there?”

To her complete horror, Ricky got out of his truck and approached her house. For some reason, that had her sprinting over to the door. Her fingers fumbled on the chain and slipped on the lock, but she got the door open.

Gage stood there, half turned toward her and half watching Ricky cross the lawn. Ricky froze too, and Sheryl felt like she’d been dropped inside a movie where something was about to blow up. Everything moved in slow motion, but she managed to say, “Gage, hey,” in a casual, easy voice that betrayed everything she felt inside.

He turned back toward her, questions in those dark, dreamy, dangerous eyes.

“Who is this guy?” Ricky called to her, and Sheryl wanted the ground to open up and swallow him whole. He’d never approached the house before, and she’d had people over. Never a single man who rode a sexy motorcycle, but still.

“Kiss me,” she hissed, and surprise shot across Gage’s expression. Panic built inside her with every passing second, and she was sure the gorgeous man on her porch would scowl, stomp away, and leave her there with Ricky.

She stepped out onto the porch at the same time Gage’s arm slipped around her waist. “You need to leave,” she called to Ricky.

“Who is he?” Ricky asked again.

Before Sheryl could call to him that Gage was her boyfriend, he held her close, leaned down, and looked right into her eyes. “This isn’t a joke, right? He’s your problem?”

Oh, Sheryl had problems, but at that particular moment she couldn’t remember them.

She didn’t recall speaking. Acknowledging Gage’s question in any way. He must’ve been able to read minds or see something in her eyes, because he brought his mouth to hers and kissed her like she’d never been kissed before.

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I love this series! Fresh happy beach scenes that I can see as the words come alive! Love this series! Love this author! She makes every book fun to read!” ~Mona

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “I really do love a protector romance. The way this one started? Ooh. Got me hooked more than I expected before the first chapter was done. I enjoyed this “grumpy” ex-military man.” ~Michaela

View full details

Fall in love with The Heartwood Inn in Carter’s Cove…with 5 sweet romances, each featuring a Heartwood sister. You’ll get this complete series of heartwarming stories of sisterhood, friendship, and love that will leave you wanting to revisit Carter’s Cove over and over again.

Visit the South Carolina coast and The Heartwood Inn in these clean and wholesome beach romances. Each romance features a Heartwood sister navigating the potholes of romance with someone they DEFINITELY don’t get along with…

  • Book 1: The Heartwood Sea

    She owns The Heartwood Inn. He needs the land the inn sits on to impress his boss. Neither one of them will give an inch. But will they give each other their hearts?

  • Book 2: The Heartwood Inn

    She’s excited to have a neighbor across the hall. He’s got secrets he can never tell her. Will Olympia find a way to leave her past where it belongs so she can have a future with Chet?

  • Book 3: The Heartwood Beach

    She’s got a stalker. He’s ex-military with a loud bark. Can Sheryl tame her bodyguard Gage into a boyfriend?

  • Book 4: The Heartwood Wedding

    He needs a reason not to go out with a journalist. She’d like a guaranteed date for the summer. They don’t get along, so keeping Brad in the not-her-real-fiancé category should be easy for Celeste. Totally easy.

  • Book 5: The Heartwood Chef

    They’ve been out before, and now they work in the same kitchen at The Heartwood Inn. Gwen isn’t interested in getting anything filleted but fish, because Teagan’s broken her heart before… Can Teagan and Gwen manage their professional relationship without letting feelings get in the way?

This series spins off to 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!

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