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Book 8: Rebuilding Friendship Inn (Five Island Cove)

Book 8: Rebuilding Friendship Inn (Five Island Cove)

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Take a vacation any time of year in the seaside town of Five Island Cove!

Meet five best friends as they reunite after years apart and rekindle their strong bond with one another, weather storms, and uncover secrets that have been lying dormant for decades...

About REBUILDING FRIENDSHIP INN: Clara Tanner has lost it all. Her husband is accused in one of the biggest heists on the East Coast, and she relocates her family to Five Island Cove–the hometown she hates. Will these women in Five Island Cove rally around one another as they've been doing? Or will this finally be the thing that breaks them?

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Clara Tanner knelt in front of her daughter, pressing the busyness of the airport out of her peripheral vision. “Lena,” she said. “Look at Mom.”

The twenty-year-old clutched her stuffed elephant, her eyes blitzing all over the place. This man. That woman. The television screen with the news playing on silent, the captions running along the bottom. 

Everywhere but at Clara.


Her daughter had been born with Down Syndrome. She possessed the chubbier cheeks classic of those with the mutated gene, and she was lovable, bright, and still very much a child. So much of her world had been upended in the past couple of weeks, and Clara reached way down deep for her extra reserve of patience.

“Lena, we have to get on the plane soon. I need you to look at me.”

Lena finally brought her hazel eyes to meet Clara’s dark brown ones. She gave her daughter a kind smile and reached up to brush her bangs back off her forehead. “It’s like going to see Grandma. Uncle Reuben and Aunt Jean will be at the airport to meet us.”

“Dad’s coming,” Lena said, and Clara nodded encouragingly.

She refused to make her voice higher pitched. She’d never talked to Lena like she was an infant. She had a disability; she wasn’t stupid. “Yes,” she said. “Dad’s getting the pretzels you asked for. He’s coming this time too.”

Their whole family was making the move from Montpelier to Five Island Cove. Clara had arranged with Jennifer Golden to rent a house on the island. It waited in a sleepy, old neighborhood that Clara told herself would be perfect for all of them. It would be away from the news crews, the cameras, and the rumors. The house would offer them far more than protection; the new location, with a new address, would give them anonymity.

Neither she nor Scott would be looking for a new job. They’d managed to get the sale of Friendship Inn to go through with her mother’s generous donation for the down payment. Scott’s only remaining friend in Vermont had financed the loan. Otherwise, they never would’ve been able to do it.

As it was, he was probably putting their soft pretzels on a credit card right now. She’d have to figure out how to pay them off later. 


The word ran through Clara’s mind, as it had been one she’d been seizing onto for a while now. She’d be able to pick up the pieces of her life later, once she figured out where she’d be living.

She’d be able to provide a sense of safety and normalcy for Lena later, once they’d left Vermont and settled in the cove.

She’d be able to find a way to forgive her husband later, once all the dust had finally settled from the indictments, the bankruptcy, and the nervous looks from friends and neighbors.

“Here you go, Lena-Lou,” Scott said.

Clara looked up at her husband and got to her feet, a pinch in her back telling her she was getting too old to crouch down. Her knees testified of it too. 

Scott still made her world light up, and Clara turned away from him physically, almost wishing he didn’t. His light hair made her think of California, and his blue eyes had spoken to her soul the first time she’d met him.

She clenched her arms across her midsection, feeling how much weight she’d lost recently. Only fifteen pounds or so, but it was enough to make her clothes baggy and her ribs a bit more pronounced.

Since she didn’t have money to buy new blouses and shorts, she wore her old ones, the belt loop just one or two tighter than before. 

Clara was a master at cinching everything tight. Life hadn’t been horrible to her; she felt like she’d taken the good with the bad, rolled with the punches, and survived some of the worst storms. She’d been able to do so, because of the man at her side. 

Scott Tanner had always given Clara strength. He was rational when she was emotional, and when he needed to vent, their roles reversed. He’d been kind and attentive to both Clara and Lena as the girl grew up, and heaven knew how many challenges the three of them had faced as they dealt with counselors, therapists, and doctors. 

Lena’s disability would challenge anyone, but when Clara had found out about the Down Syndrome, her first reaction had been peace. It would be okay. She and Scott could dedicate their lives to their daughter—who’d turned out to be their only child.

She’d felt like that because of Scott. The man had a larger-than-life personality, which had attracted Clara as well. From small-town Five Island Cove, where everyone knew everyone else, she’d been looking for excitement and adventure once she’d finally gotten out from underneath her father’s thumb.

Scott had provided that. She’d fallen in love with him so fast, and she still loved him now, as she sat down in a hard airport seat a couple away from Lena. Their carryon luggage took up the space between them, and Scott sat to her immediate right, holding the cup of soft pretzel bites for their daughter.

Clara’s thumb moved to her ring finger, where her wedding band should be sitting. She still hadn’t put it back on. She wondered how she could learn to forgive faster. She puzzled through how to feel betrayed and broken and still in love with the man who’d done that to her. 

She riddled through when she’d put the band back on, and how she’d feel when she finally did.

* * *

A few hours later, Clara’s well of patience had dried up. They couldn’t fly a car over from Montpelier. Couches and beds, all the Christmas decorations, the treadmill, even dishes had remained in Vermont. 

Clara had the clothes, toiletries, and essential papers in her carryon, with more shoes, clothing, and other necessities in her checked bag.

Times three, that’s what the Tanner family currently possessed. The rest of their stuff would arrive on a ship in four to six weeks, and that was only if Clara managed to find the funds to pay for it.

She couldn’t look through couch cushions or strategically move money from one account to another. Not anymore. She had no couch, and the federal government had seized and frozen all of their bank accounts.

They’d gotten one back after the first couple of months, and without the help of a few kind souls in Montpelier who’d been Clara and Scott’s closest friends, along with Scott’s father, they’d survived. 

Her phone chimed several times as Reuben maneuvered the SUV into the parking lot at the beachside condo where their mother lived.

The house which Scott and Clara had rented wouldn’t be ready for another three weeks, and they’d been forced to ask for more help. A weight of exhaustion pressed against the back of Clara’s skull, sending shockwaves of pain through her brain to her eyes. 

She told herself over and over that it was okay. Everyone needed help at some point in their lives. She’d been there with meals, babysitting, and money for others over the years. Service brought her joy, and she needed to seize onto that word instead of the one that had been rotating through her mind lately.

“All right,” Reuben said, pulling into an uncovered parking space. “This is as close as I can get you.” He smiled at Scott in the front seat, his eyes moving to the rearview mirror to flash a grin in Clara’s direction too.

She didn’t want to seem ungrateful for the free ride, so she quickly curved her lips up. The cost to do so took the minute amount of energy she had left, so she moved just as rapidly to open the back door. 

“Lena,” she said across Jean, who sat in the middle. “Please come to the back and help with your bag.”

The girl wouldn’t, and Scott would have to ask her again. Jean would probably be the one to get Lena to do what she’d been asked to do, because Jean was gentle and powerful at the same time. 

Clara glanced at her before she slid out, and she found the stress around her sister-in-law’s eyes. Compassion filled her, making tears flood her eyes.

She couldn’t hide them, so she simply let them fall down her face as she stood and faced her brother.

“Oh, come on,” he said, his voice infused with kindness. He took her into a hug, and Clara clung to her big brother now as a forty-two-year-old the same way she had as a child. “It’s not so bad here. Especially in the summer.”

They shifted out of the way as Jean exited the car, and Clara nodded as she stepped away from Reuben. “It’s not that.” She grabbed onto Jean and hugged her too. “Thank you guys for helping us. It means so much to me. To all of us.”

She couldn’t see what was happening on the other side of the SUV, and it didn’t matter. Clara didn’t say thank you enough, and she needed to do better at that. Heck, simply the fact that Reuben thought she’d been crying about being back in the cove told her what her brother thought of her.

She told herself it wasn’t a crime to be strong. She was allowed to have her own opinions, and to voice them. It wasn’t her job to make anyone else feel good about their choices, though she could lend a listening ear.

“You’re welcome,” Jean said. “If you’re dying here, come to the lighthouse.”

“Or we’ll help pay for a hotel room,” Reuben said, his dark eyes filled with concern. He flicked a glance toward the back of the vehicle as the hatch opened. 

“Mom,” Lena said at the same time Clara wiped her face.

“Thank you,” she said again. “We’ll be okay. I’m okay.” She took a deep breath, willing the oxygen to make the okay-ness she wanted to simply appear.

She wasn’t sure if it did or not, but she was able to step to the back of the car to help Lena and Scott with the bags. Reuben and Jean came too, and the five of them towed their six pieces of luggage across the lot and down the sidewalk.

“I’m sure Kristen will have coffee waiting,” Jean said.

“She’s been cooking for a couple of days, I know that,” Reuben added.

A hot meal sounded like a slice of heaven to Clara, but she said nothing. What she really wanted was a room where she could be alone. Where she could cry as much as she wanted. Where she could scream until her throat ripped and all of the negativity inside her fled.

Then, she’d be able to rejoin her family with a better attitude and without tears.

They went past the dog park, where a couple of pooches played with one another while a man watched, and on to her mom’s building.

She wasn’t sure she could take another step, and then she did. One after the other, she did.

Reuben reached the door first, and he twisted the knob. Or tried to. “Huh.” He looked down and then over to Clara. “It’s locked.”

He reached to ring the doorbell, and the cling-clang-clong of it reverberated through the condo, loud enough for everyone to hear outside on her porch.

She didn’t come to the door. No one called from inside.

Reuben’s eyebrows furrowed at the same time Clara’s panic rose. “Where is she? She knew we were coming. I texted her.”

Clara leaned closer to the door, trying to edge past a huge bag they’d checked. “Mom?” she called.

No answer.

Frustration piled on top of Clara’s already frayed nerves, and the scream she needed to let loose migrated up her throat.

“I’ll check the patio,” Jean said, leaving behind the luggage she’d been carrying.

Reuben leaned toward the door too. “Mom?” He tried the doorknob again. “It’s Reuben and Clara. Are you okay? We can’t get in.”

Clara dropped her carryon, her shoulder aching. Tears slipped down her face again, the thought of not having her mother for support as she transitioned her family from life in Vermont to life in Five Island Cove completely overwhelming.

And also selfish, she thought. But that didn’t erase the fact that they couldn’t get in the condo.

There was no relief from the heavy baggage and hot sun.

Her mother wasn’t there, so that only left one question in her mind—and which she found in Reuben’s eyes—where was their mom?

What Readers are Saying

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “The people of Five Island Cove feel like family. They are real. Their joys are real, their struggles are real! In this book we meet new characters. The circle of friends is growing! I highly recommend this book! Can't wait for the next installment!” ~Laura M.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ “Rebuilding Friendship Inn is another wonderful book by Jessie Newton. This is the eighth book of the Five Island Cove series involving a group of women who grew up together and their family and friends. This story revolves around Clara, her husband and daughter and buying and restoring the Friendship Inn. I love how Jessie Newton writes on how tight the relationships of all the women, family and friends are weaved throughout the story. It’s a heartwarming, emotional about their relationship and their loves. It is a very good read.” ~Nettie

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Take a vacation any time of year in the seaside town of Five Island Cove!

Meet five best friends as they reunite after years apart and rekindle their strong bond with one another, weather storms, and uncover secrets that have been lying dormant for decades...

This series is best read IN ORDER, as each book builds on the other and there are open storylines throughout. Each book features these amazing friends as they reunite and bring others into their fold, addresses the woman's journey later in life, and shows sweet, closed-door romance!

  • Book 1: The Lighthouse

    After the death of a childhood loved one, 5 best friends reunite in the small coastal town of Five Island Cove. One doesn't expect to find love with a high school crush. Another isn't prepared to find the strength she needs to take control of her life. And none of them are ready for the secrets they'll uncover at the lighthouse...

  • Book 2: The Summer Sand Pact

    Get ready for more secrets to come to light in Five Island Cove, and for these five women to show each other what it means to love and support someone through thick and thin.

  • Book 3: The Cliffside Inn

    With their different personalities and in their different states of mind, none of these best friends are prepared for the secret contained within the walls of The Cliffside Inn. They've survived tough situations before, but this might be the thing that tears them apart for good...

  • Book 4: Christmas at the Cove

    Secrets are never discovered during the holidays, right? That's what these five best friends are banking on as they gather once again to Five Island Cove for what they hope will be a Christmas to remember.

  • Book 5: The House on Seabreeze Shore

    Join best friends, old and new, Robin, Alice, Eloise, Kelli, Laurel, and AJ as they learn about themselves, strengthen their bonds of friendship, and learn what it truly means to thrive.

  • Book 6: Four Weddings and a Baby

    Four weddings and a baby are on their way to Five Island Cove! Join Alice, AJ, Kelli, Robin, Kristen, Eloise, and Laurel as they learn how strong they really are, and the great power they hold as women, and as friends, in any circumstance.

  • Book 7: The Seafaring Girls

    When someone returns to the Cove no one ever expected to see again, old wounds open just as they'd started to heal. This group of women will be tested again, both on land and at sea, just as they once were as teens.

  • Book 8: Rebuilding Friendship Inn

    A single phone call changes everything.

    Will these women in Five Island Cove rally around one another as they've been doing? Or will this finally be the thing that breaks them?

  • Book 9: The Glass Dolphin

    With fresh challenges and ever-deepening bonds, these incredible women remind each other, and themselves, of the enduring power of friendship, love, and the resilience of the human spirit. As the truth unravels, the limits of their courage and the strength of their sisterhood will be tested in ways they never imagined.

  • Book 10: The Bicycle Book Club

    When Tessa decides to look into the past to help shape the future, what she finds in the Five Island Cove library archives could bring them closer together…or splinter them forever.

Get more romance & women's fiction in Getaway Bay!

Join the wedding planners, billionaires, and hometown heroes that live in small-town Getaway Bay! It's the perfect blend of sun, sand, beaches, and sweet romance.

Read this series if you like:

✔ Beach reads

✔ Forced proximity

✔ Billionaires

✔ Military heroes

✔ Fake dating tropes

✔ Friends to lovers

✔ Rockstar romance

✔ Single dads

✔ Perfect small town beach settings

✔ Sweet & Steamy kisses

Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
Kathleen S.
The Cottage on Nantucket

WOW! What a great book!!! Loved all the twists and turns in the story. Kept me guessing and questioning some things. Looking forward to reading next book in series.