Laguna Beach is one of those places that you never forget, once you’ve been there. Tucked between Los Angeles and San Diego on the beautiful Pacific Coast, it’s a small, beachy community that has—over the years—become a must-visit every summer for Southern Californians. With its perfect waves, tide pools and touristy festivals, my family made this trip every summer. In fact, my mother-in-law had a second home in Laguna Niguel, on the cliffs above the beach and that was our price-is-right vacation for many happy years. I finished many a book manuscript there, too, all by myself.
When we first went there, thirty-something years ago (e-hem!) there were still bare hillsides not covered in red tile roofs and there was parking on the Main Street. Now, it’s a little more crowded. But no matter. Laguna’s charm is constant and most of us are willing to brave the parking issues to loll on the beaches there.
My husband and I recently moved out of California to the mid-west, and leaving Laguna behind is one of our big regrets. So when I was invited by the lovely Kaira Rouda, author of the Laguna Nights series, to write a novella for her Laguna Beach Kindle World Series, I leapt at the chance. RECKLESS IN LAGUNA (debuting July 7th on Amazon) gave me the opportunity to visit that awesome town in my imagination again, since I won’t make it there this summer.
The place rushed into my senses as I started to write this book: the sound of the ocean, the crimson bougainvillea spilling over every portico and blue lilies of the Nile swaying on every walkway—in short, my sense memories of the way the whole town makes me feel crashed in on me like a wave. (A friendly, hip-deep kind of wave.)
Laguna Beach is home town for my two protagonists: Nio Reyes (the brother of Trey Reyes from my The Canadays of Montana series) the gardener’s son and who disappeared from Laguna without a word ten years ago, only to return successful, and Becca Howard, the rich girl who loved him, whose family has lost it all. It’s a second chance at love story. These two who were ripped apart under mysterious circumstances, are coming back together for one hot summer weekend in Laguna Beach for a friend’s wedding. Though their circumstances have changed, their feelings for each other lie just under the turbulent surfaces of their complicated lives. Can Nio make things right after breaking her heart? Will revealing the truth about what really happened finally heal both their hearts?
Here’s a little snippet of RECKLESS IN LAGUNA for you:
Becca backed up against the restroom sink, bumping her hip, then edged toward the wall. “Nio. Wh-what are you doing in here?”
“What’s it look like? Talk to me, Becca. What’s going on?”
She straightened. “I’m fine. Nothing’s going on. You shouldn’t be in here.”
He locked the door behind him.
“They can wait a minute. Don’t tell me you’re fine. You’re not. I can see that.” He took a few steps toward her, then stopped when she flinched. He held his palms up. “You’re crying.”
“No. No I’m not.” The words came out in a half-sob. Horrifyingly, snot squirted out of her nose and she clapped a hand over her face.
A sympathetic grin twisted his mouth and he tugged a paper towel from the dispenser, handing it to her. “That’s snot exactly true, is it?”
“Oh, God.” Against her will, she laughed and blew her nose. “How positively mortifying.”
“It was kinda charming, actually,” he said, brushing a strand of hair from her eyes.
Just that, his small touch, sent a paroxysm of longing through her. Damn him! Remember your vow to swear off men. Especially this one! She glared up at him past the paper towel. “Don’t be nice to me. It goes against everything I believe about you.”
“Well, that is a problem,” he agreed. “I guess I need to redeem myself somehow. Let me drive you home.”
“You forget, my fiancé is right outside those doors.” Ex. My ex-fiancé.
“Yeah.” Nio glanced back in that direction. “You don’t really want him to drive you home, do you?”
Fresh out of lies for the night, she sniffed and shook her head. She really, really didn’t.
“That’s what I thought. So splash some cold water on that beautiful face of yours and let’s get out of here.”
“It won’t look right. I can’t leave with you.” She swayed against the sink, feeling lightheaded. “And I definitely shouldn’t leave with you. I’m a little bit drunk, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
“That’s why I’m driving. For right now, what do you say we put aside our past and whatever you feel about me and let me help you? No strings. I’ll just take you home.”
Home. The thought of prowling around that empty place tonight until she fell asleep did not appeal. In fact, she couldn’t think of anything she wanted to do less.
“I—” she began, turning back to the mirror, “I don’t want to go home. Will you take me somewhere else?”
He blinked. “Name it.”
“Anywhere. Where’s your car?”
She considered, then did the exact opposite of what good sense dictated. “Give me five minutes.”
* * *
I hope you’ll join me on July 7, 2016 for the launch of RECKLESS IN LAGUNA. Because, hey, it never hurts to spend a little bit of your summer in Laguna Beach!
Where’s your favorite go-to place in summer? I’d love to hear. One lucky commenter will win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.