Emerald Coast: A Novel

Emerald Coast: A Novel

by Anita Hughes

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Overview

Emerald Coast: A Novel by Anita Hughes

Set on the glamorous Italian island, Anita Hughes's Emerald Coast is a touching and humorous story about marriage and the difficulty of finding love and happiness at the same time.

Lily Bristol arrives at a luxurious resort in Sardinia for the grand opening of her newest home furnishing store on the Emerald Coast. She’s a successful business woman with an international chain of stores from San Francisco to Milan. Thirty-two and newly divorced, she’s ready to handle things on her own. At least until her private butler, Enzo, escorts her to a beautiful suite where she notices a suspiciously familiar pair of men’s slippers and shaving kit.

Lily is horrified. Her ex-husband Oliver moved out of their restored Connecticut farmhouse six months ago, but they booked this trip when they were trying to save their marriage and never cancelled the reservation. Oliver, a food critic for the New York Times, is here covering Sardinia’s hottest new restaurant. The only other available room is the adjoining suite; and worse, Oliver isn’t alone. He’s brought a twenty-something named Angela with him.

Lily is determined to make do and enlists Enzo to find her a suitable man. But it’s not as easy to find new love as they both expected. When Lily and Oliver find themselves alone on a very important night, they turn to each other. Sparks begin to fly, but can they be together without breaking each other’s hearts?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250130877
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 08/01/2017
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,186,031
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Anita Hughes is the author of Monarch Beach, Market Street, Lake Como, French Coast, Rome in Love, Island in the Sea, Santorini Sunsets, Christmas in Paris, and White Sand, Blue Sea. She attended UC Berkeley’s Masters in Creative Writing Program, and lives in Dana Point, California, where she is at work on her next novel.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Lily pressed her face against the glass and saw the white sand beach and azure Mediterranean, and La Maddalena Archipelago in the distance. The Porto Cervo marina was lined with gleaming yachts, and above her, Sardinia's green hills were dotted with myrtle bushes and juniper trees.

The taxi pulled up in front of Hotel Cervo, and Lily poked her head out the window. It was like an impossibly glamorous movie set, with men wearing dark sunglasses and pastel colored shirts and women draped in caftans and gold jewelry. She half expected James Bond to appear and ask her to climb into his sports car or take a ride on his Jet Ski.

The driver pointed to the fare box, and Lily opened her purse. She rummaged through her lipsticks and had a sinking feeling. She couldn't have misplaced her credit cards. They must be buried under the paperback book she bought for the plane or the extra pair of stockings rolled up in the side compartment.

The driver tapped impatiently on the dashboard, and Lily's stomach turned. Perhaps she'd left the credit cards on the metal counter when she went through customs. The customs officer had been so intimidating, tossing her underwear in the air. Lily had been tempted to leave her ivory slip behind and rush to the exit.

She picked up the phone to call Oliver and then put it down. Oliver had moved out of their restored Connecticut farmhouse six months ago. She could hardly ask his advice as if she were wondering if he could refill the espresso maker or see if they were out of chocolate croissants.

Anyway, she was a successful thirty-two-year-old businesswoman with home furnishing stores on three continents. She didn't need her ex-husband to help her pay the taxi driver. She fiddled with her leather pump, the way she did when she was nervous. The sole was lumpy, and she peeled it back curiously. She felt a sharp edge, and a smile crossed her face. A Visa card was taped inside!

She hadn't worn the pumps in months; Oliver must have taped it inside her shoe. She was notoriously absentminded when she traveled. Oliver insisted the only way to guarantee she didn't get stranded at Heathrow Airport or the train station in Paris was to hide a credit card where she couldn't forget it.

Now she peered at the hotel's stucco walls and Moorish patio and wondered if she should be in Sardinia at all. She had only signed the divorce papers a week ago. All the magazines said she should be tucked under a down comforter with a stack of novels and a box of tissues.

And how could she leave Louisa? Louisa was six years old; surely she needed her mother. But Louisa was used to Lily being away. Lily often went on buying trips to discover a set of Chinese end tables or one perfect French armoire.

Lily's parents were staying on the farm for a week, and Louisa adored being with her grandparents. Lily pictured them picking apples and baking sugar cookies and had to smile. Louisa was in heaven and wouldn't miss her at all.

And she had been looking forward to this trip for months! In six days, her newest store, Lily Bristol Sardinia, was having its grand opening, and she had to be there. A silver cocktail dress was carefully folded in her suitcase, and she'd bought a new sequined evening bag.

The valet opened the car door, and Lily stepped onto the pavement. The breeze lifted her skirt, and a man whistled. Lily opened her mouth and then closed it. Why shouldn't a man whistle? She had to start thinking differently; she was a young divorcée on one of the sexiest coastlines in the world. She shot him a brilliant smile and strode into the lobby.

"Oh, it is gorgeous," Lily breathed, setting her purse on the ground.

The white marble floors were scattered with blue love seats. Floor-to-ceiling windows looked out on the harbor, and it was as if she had entered an underwater cave. The wood shutters were blue, and the tiles behind the concierge desk were blue, and the abstract paintings on the walls were splashed with turquoise and gold. And the people! Women with metallic sandals and dangling earrings, and arms and legs the color of pennies. The men had cheekbones you only saw in magazines, and skin like honey.

"Hello, I'm Lily Bristol." Lily approached the front desk. "I have a reservation."

"Of course, Mrs. Bristol," a man in a gold uniform greeted her. "Welcome to Sardinia's Emerald Coast. I trust you had a pleasant trip?"

Lily flashed on her credit cards that were probably sitting in a bin at Olbia Airport and reminded herself to cancel them and order new ones.

"Yes, thank you. It was an eleven-hour flight, and I'm terribly thirsty." She nodded. "I would do anything for a bath and a glass of orange juice."

"Enzo, your butler, will escort you to your suite. He just started his shift, he'll be here in a minute." He consulted his computer. "You have the finest accommodation, with a private terrace and a view of the marina."

"I don't need a butler." Lily shook her head. "I have a daughter and I'm used to putting things away. All I want is a soft bed and perhaps a piece of fruit."

"Enzo will only do what you ask." The man rang a silver bell and smiled. "You are our guest. We want everything about your stay to be perfect."

*
Enzo opened the door of the suite and Lily walked straight to the terrace. The lush grounds were filled with lime trees and beds of daisies. Fishing boats bobbed in the harbor, and speedboats scudded over the waves. And the air! It was balmy and sweet and smelled like the most exotic perfume.

She turned back inside and glanced at the rounded walls and sea foam sofa and window seat scattered with silk cushions. There was a coffee table set with a ceramic fruit bowl and a pitcher of iced water.

"My daughter would love this suite. She would line all her dolls on that sofa and serve them lemonade and cookies," she said to Enzo. "Do you have children?"

"Two girls." Enzo nodded, setting her suitcase on the tile floor. "Maria is five and Gia is seven."

"Louisa is six. It's a wonderful age." Lily slipped off her pumps. "One minute they're curled up in your lap, reading Anne of Green Gables, the next they're commenting on your shade of lipstick." She paused. "That's the thing you don't realize you'll miss in a divorce. It's not the romantic dinners or the fact that there's someone else who knows your health insurance information, it's not having someone to talk to about your child.

"But we both tried to make it work. I've never tried so hard at anything since I played water polo in high school. No matter how much I practiced, every time I spiked the ball I felt like I might drown." She peered into the bedroom.

"We're going to have one of those terribly civilized divorces, where you spend holidays together and comment 'how well you look' and 'being single must agree with you,'" she continued. "Louisa is going to have the undivided attention of each parent, and we're both free to be happy. It is important to be happy, isn't it? I mean, that's what we teach our children. How can they learn from us, if we don't show them how to do it?"

"I'm sure your daughter will be very happy," Enzo offered.

"I'm behaving like a guest on an afternoon talk show." Lily laughed. "It must be the dark coffee I drank at the airport. I've never tasted anything so strong. No wonder Sardinians swim in the ocean all day and dance at clubs at night.

"I'm not going to talk about my divorce anymore. You'll help me, won't you? If I mention divorce, you can give me a terse look; like when I was sixteen and borrowed my mother's Mercedes without asking her."

"That's not exactly my place." Enzo fiddled with is bow tie. "I make sure the water pitchers are full and you have fresh flowers and warm towels."

"It would be so helpful," Lily urged. "I'm not even going to think about divorce. I'm going to watch the yacht races at the Yacht Club and listen to music in the piazzetta and eat suckling pig and fish stew." She paused. "God, I'm starving! I haven't eaten anything since somewhere over Greenland. I'd give anything for some bread and cheese."

"Of course." Enzo beamed. "I will bring it right away."

"I'm going to take a shower and put on something cool and pretty." She stopped, and a smile lit up her face. "Thank you, Enzo. Having a private butler might be just what I need after all. I feel better already."

*
Lily turned on the faucet and stepped under the hot water. The bathroom was gorgeous, with a mosaic ceiling and a tile counter lined with luxurious lotions. She rinsed her hair and noticed a man's razor near the sink. She looked more closely and saw a jar of shaving cream and a leather case.

Perhaps the previous guest had forgotten his toiletries. It was so easy to leave things behind when you traveled. She had lost so many things: a bottle opener in a field in Tuscany where she and Oliver had a picnic, a raincoat in Brussels because the sun finally came out and she was so thrilled she tossed it on a bench and forgot it.

But Hotel Cervo was a five-star hotel. Surely the maids would have given the items to the front desk. She noticed a navy robe flung over the towel rack and pair of men's slippers nestled on the bath mat.

What if she was in the wrong suite, and a German banker burst in while she was shampooing her hair? She turned off the shower and pulled on a cotton robe. She padded into the hallway to search for Enzo, and the door closed behind her. She turned the doorknob and gasped. She had locked herself out and would have to go down to the lobby with bare feet and a towel wrapped around her head.

"Mrs. Bristol," the front desk manager said when she approached the desk. "Did something happen to your luggage? I'll send Enzo to the gift shop to pick out a blouse and skirt."

"I'm afraid I'm in the wrong suite," she explained, pulling the robe around her waist. "There was a man's shaving kit on the sink, and a silk robe hanging on the towel rack."

"How strange, Mr. Bristol didn't mention anything was amiss. He checked in three hours ago. He specifically requested a suite with a private terrace." He showed her a registration card. "If it is not to your satisfaction, Enzo can bring extra pillows for the bed or replace the lotions in the bathroom."

"What did you say?" Lily gasped.

She leaned forward and glanced at Oliver's wavy signature on the ivory card. The lobby started spinning, and she clutched the marble counter,

"Are you all right?" he inquired. "Perhaps you should sit down."

"It must be the jet lag," Lily replied. "If I could have a glass of water, I'll be fine."

Lily's heart raced, and she tried to think. Oliver had made the reservation months ago when they still thought their marriage could be saved by romantic dinners and trips to exotic destinations. And the dates were perfect! Lily's new store was opening in Sardinia the first week of August, and Oliver had been asked to review the grand opening of Nero's, Porto Cervo's hottest new restaurant.

They had imagined lounging beside the infinity pool and swimming at the private beach and lingering over plates of scallops and tiramisu. They would rent a car and drive along the coast, and their tension would drift away like bark at high tide.

How could she not have known Oliver planned on using the reservation? But that was the thing about divorce. You went from being two people who stayed awake all night shelling pistachios and discussing the latest episode of Homeland, to strangers who stood silently on the front porch while Louisa tied her tennis shoes.

*
Lily had been in the attorney's office the week before. She was flipping through a copy of Architectural Digest, when she looked up and noticed a man with dark curly hair and freshly shaved cheeks. He wore jeans and a blue blazer.

"Oliver!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing here?"

Thank goodness she always dressed up when she took the train into Manhattan. Her white linen dress was paired with a navy tote. Her dark hair fell smoothly to her shoulders, and she wore Tory Burch sandals.

"You look well," he said. "That color agrees with you."

"It's white." She glanced down at her skirt. "It looks good on anyone."

"I suppose you're right." He nodded, as if remembering where he was. "I'm doing the same thing you're doing. I'm signing our divorce papers."

Lily flushed and recalled when they had separated and agreed to use the same attorney. Why should they fund two attorneys' tastes in Italian shoes and French wines, when they agreed on everything? Lily would buy Oliver out of the farmhouse, and Oliver would get Louisa on the weekends and every other Wednesday.

"Oh," Lily said and tried to laugh. "This is awkward, isn't it?"

"Getting a divorce is supposed to be painful. It's like going to the dentist," Oliver answered. "If the drill didn't hurt, you wouldn't be reminded that if you avoided M&M'S and Milk Duds, you wouldn't be there in the first place."

"Oliver, please." Lily's eyes darted around the reception area. "We promised we wouldn't do this."

"Do you remember our wedding day? You were so nervous you couldn't eat a bite. I said you had to swallow something or you'd faint during the first dance. We went to a café in Big Sur, and I fed you cream of potato soup and French bread."

Lily's parents had wanted to hold the ceremony at Saints Peter and Paul Church in San Francisco, followed by a sit-down dinner at the Bohemian Club. But she and Oliver spent a weekend in Carmel and fell in love with a chapel on Ocean Avenue. It had a stone floor and stained-glass windows, and when you stepped outside you could smell the ocean.

"What's your point?" Lily asked.

"It was so spectacular, with the waves crashing on the sand, we said maybe we should stay for dessert and get married another day," Oliver continued. "I'm supposed to review a new tapas bar in Chelsea. Why don't we go out to lunch and get divorced tomorrow?"

"Louisa's summer camp has a field trip tomorrow. We're going crabbing."

"You do know we pay the camp counselors almost the price of their college tuition to go to the beach? You don't need to accompany them."

Lily noticed Oliver was wearing a pair of loafers she had never seen before, and he was using a different aftershave. She opened her mouth to say something and then changed her mind.

"I have to go to my appointment." She approached the reception desk. "I'll see you later."

*
Now Lily glanced at the vases filled with calla lilies and thought she and Oliver couldn't possibly stay at the same hotel. But she had been looking forward to playing tennis at the tennis club and shopping in the hotel's boutiques and drinking Mirto at the Cervo Bar.

"I'm afraid there has been a misunderstanding," she said to the manager when he returned with a glass of water. "I must find another hotel."

"It's high season, all the hotels are booked." He studied Lily's slender cheekbones and gold necklace. "There isn't a room available on the entire Emerald Coast."

"I suppose you're right." Lily sighed, thinking she was being silly.

The Hotel Cervo had dozens of suites and rooms scattered over the grounds. She wouldn't have to see Oliver at all. And there were so many ways to keep busy. She wanted to see the ancient stone towers and take the ferry to La Maddalena and visit the town of Arzachena high in the hills.

"Do you have a room in another wing? It doesn't have to be a suite, anything will do. You see, my husband and I just got divorced. We can't possibly share the same suite," she said and gulped. "I'll even give up Enzo."

"My apologies." He shook his head. "We are fully booked."

She leaned forward, and her brown eyes glistened. "There must be something. All I need is a bed and a shower."

"We had one cancellation." He glanced at the screen. "It's a one-bedroom suite with a view of the harbor."

"Oh, that's wonderful!" Lily beamed. "If I could have the key, I'll go there right now."

"It will be Enzo's pleasure to escort you." He handed her a metallic key. "Suite 233."

"But I was in 231." Lily wavered.

"That is correct, Mrs. Bristol." He nodded. "233 is the adjoining suite."

*
Lily sat on the cotton bedspread and thought everything had gone wrong. First she'd arrived without her credit cards and now she was practically sharing a wall with Oliver. She wished she were in the farmhouse's sunny kitchen, preparing waffles with blueberries for Louisa.

But she couldn't live her life avoiding Oliver. They were going to have to attend sports days and piano recitals and graduations. And really, there was nowhere she wanted to be right now more than Sardinia. When she gazed at the turquoise ocean, she felt excited and alive.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Emerald Coast"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Anita Hughes.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Emerald Coast 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Maybe this book is meant for summer-reading; I couldn't finish it in mid-March. The main characters are too fluffy, whiny and ditsy. Hard for me to take after 187 pages; couldn't make it to 291. It looked to be a fun way to pass the time until Spring. Too bad
girlfromwvaKY More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Lily and Oliver Bristol. Lily has arrived in Sardinia at a luxury resort. She is there for the opening of her new home furnishing store. She has a chain of stores from San Francisco to Milan, so she is excited for her latest shop to be open. The Emerald Coast is beautiful and Lily is looking forward to exploring for a few days before business starts. What Lily doesn't count on is going into her shower to refresh and seeing a familiar shaving kit when she is toweling off. She and Oliver scheduled this reservation for the trip when they were still married & together. The have both forgotten and neither one of them cancelled! Lily has no choice but to move into the only available room, which is an adjoining one! Oliver is a food critic and is in Sardinia to review a new restaurant. He has brought his new girlfriend, Angela, with him. Lily tries to not run into Oliver, but it seems like their paths keep crossing. She enlist in her butler's help in finding someone to tour the island with. As Lily enjoys her trip with Ricky, it seems like Oliver keeps entering her day, and her thoughts. On a very important night, they find themselves alone, but in each other's company. They turn to each other for support, and the old sparks that never left begin to fly. Can the lies that tore them apart be forgiven? Can they be together without breaking each other's hearts? I loved the descriptive writing of the beauty of the island, the hotel, the food, the clothes and the people. It took me there, and i could visualize everything in my mind. It was touching, humorous, and a different type of love story.
KrittersRamblings More than 1 year ago
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Each time I go into a Anita Hughes book, I am pretty sure I am going to either love it or hate it. Her writing varies from story to story and her characters are either really interesting and I love or I just can't handle them. Surprisingly I am completely on the fence about this book. The chapters flip back and forth from Lily Bristol and Oliver Bristol's point of view as they both end up on the Emerald Coast shortly after their divorce is final and they each have work reasons to be there and keep running into each other.
bookloverfl12 More than 1 year ago
Thanks to this book, I am booking the next flight to the Emerald Coast! This book makes you wonder about the irony in how if things are meant to be and the paths that you cross play an important part in that destiny. I couldn't believe that in all the places to travel, Lily and her ex end up not only in the same city but the same resort! If that isn't a sign, then I don't know what is! Relationships become difficult when kids are involved because it makes you wonder if there was not a child involved, would you still be with that person? Bring your sunblock to the beach with this one because you won't want to stop reading!
whatsbetterthanbooks More than 1 year ago
Sweet, uplifting, and romantic! Emerald Coast, the latest novel by Hughes, takes us into the lives of the recently divorced Lily and Oliver and reminds us of the complicated ups and downs of marriage, the importance of appreciating what we have, accepting the things we can’t change, and understanding that honesty and trust truly are the backbone of love and happiness. The prose is exceptionally descriptive. The characters are successful, driven, and quirky. And the plot is a charming mix of life, friendship, family, introspection, jealousy, forgiveness, drama, courage, new love, old love, sex, and mouth-watering cuisine. Emerald Coast is the second novel I’ve read by Hughes and even though I would have liked to connect with the characters a little bit more when it comes to writing a lighthearted, easy read set in a tropical paradise and full of all the glitz and glamour of the rich and famous she nails it.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
A pretty good read but a little predictable for my taste. This author has a nice writing style. It's very descriptive and brings to setting to life for the reader. The characters were interesting but I never really connected with them. The story is about a couple, Lily and Oliver Bristol, who recently divorced yet find themselves at the vacation spot they had planned before things went bad. The only available room is the adjoining room next door. They spend quite a bit of the time together reflecting on their marriage, the good times and bad, and talking about the future. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a nice easy read.
CatmomJD More than 1 year ago
Marriage is not always perfect. It is something you have to work on every day. When it comes to a strong relationship, there has to be trust and no secrets. Lily and Oliver Bristol found this out the hard way and it cost them their marriage. In this book we learn what happened to cause their divorce and how they have moved on. But, is there still something between them? Are they still in love or is it just the memories that make it seem so? When Lily goes on a business trip to Sardinia, she had forgotten the reservation was originally made for her and Oliver. When she finds a man’s shaving kit in her room, she thinks there is a mix up in the reservations. She quickly asks for another room. The only room available is the adjoining room. Lily gets the surprise of her life when she finds out Oliver is the man who was using the room. He was also there on a business trip, but he brought his girlfriend Angela with him. Lily decides it’s time for her to move on and is introduced to Ricky, a local boutique owner. They hit it off really well and spend a lot of time together. Lily and Oliver still seem to bump into each other often and their thoughts are flooded with memories. Will either be able to really move on and find love again?