Before you can fix it up, you might have to tear it down...
Embroiled in a battle to regain control of their renovation-turned-reality TV show, Do Over, Maddie, Avery, Nikki, and Kyra find themselves holding tight to the frayed ends of their friendship and relationships.
Maddie must face the realities of dating a rock star once again topping the charts and dealing with her hapless ex-husband, while Avery is caught up in family drama even as she attempts to transform a tiny cottage into a home for the newly impoverished heiress who helped bankroll their last renovation. Put on bedrest, a hugely pregnant Nikki can’t quite believe love can last, or trust in her own maternal instinct. And Kyra, who has secretly put Bella Flora at risk in an attempt to salvage Do Over, must decide whether to accept a desperately needed bail out from her son’s famous father that comes with far too many strings attached…
But friendship is made for times like these, to keep each other—and their dreams—from crumbling.
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***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected copy proof***
Copyright © 2017 Wendy Wax
Midlife crises come in all shapes and sizes. They can manifest in the form of a shiny red sports car, a distant mountain peak demanding to be scaled, a new head of hair, or a plastic bottle of little blue pills. Bertrand Baynard’s starred an exotic dancer named Delilah with whom he fell in love, fathered a child, and ran away.
His wife, Bitsy, discovered this late one January afternoon when their private banker called to confirm that Bertie had transferred the last of their holdings to an offshore account in the Cayman Islands. And to let her know that the mortgage Bertie had taken out on their Palm Beach estate was seriously in arrears. Which was when she realized that Bertie was not actually in Aruba fishing as he’d claimed, but on his way to a shiny new life that did not include her.
Stunned and silent, she wandered the huge house and its lush grounds trying not to remember that it was Bertie who’d fallen in love with the aging Palladian villa and then overseen every detail of its three-year restoration. At night she lay awake in the bed they’d shared, staring up into the high shadowed ceiling, her cheeks and pillow damp with tears. Bertie. Whom Nicole Grant of Heart Inc. had found for her. Whom she had married and loved. And who had genuinely seemed to love her back, was gone. And he’d taken her money with him.
As a child, Bitsy had been slightly embarrassed by the size of her fortune and the fact that neither she nor her parents had had a hand in making it. In her teens she’d felt twinges of guilt that there were so many who had so little when she had so much. But while she had been an earnestly philanthropic adult, the millions she’d donated had been but droplets from the Amazonian-size river of money on which she’d floated. That river had lubricated all wheels, opened any door she’d chosen to walk through. Like a soft focus lens, it had tempered the adjectives used to describe her. Turned her horsey face “long,” her too narrow nose “aristocratic,” her scrawny body “fashionably slim.”
She’d been so certain of Bertie’s affection that she’d refused to let him sign the prenup he’d suggested. In their decade and a half of marriage, he had validated her faith in him and had even protected their financial reservoir from Malcolm Dyer’s Ponzi scheme. When others had lost everything, her fortune had remained intact, free-flowing, and bottomless. She had never imagined that it could dry up or disappear. Or that the very person who had safeguarded it might simply walk away with it.
The sun was painfully bright and the sky a too cheery blue as she watched her possessions inventoried, tagged, and carried away by the auction company. She kept her chin up, her face carefully blank, and her eyes dry as the Lalique chandelier that had belonged to her grandmother and the Louis IX chairs that had been her mothers were loaded into the van.
It took two days to empty the house. When it was done, she felt the hollow ache of loss; a cessation of who she’d always been. Despite her philanthropy, her attempts to see herself as more than just a rich woman, it had always been her money that defined her.
Who was she without it? Where would she go? How would she live? She had an Ivy League education, a million volunteer hours, and no actual work experience. She knew how to throw a party, how to hire good help, how to make conversation, how to have a good time. She did not know how to be poor. And she had a sinking feeling she was not going to be good at it.
“Are we there yet?” Madeline Singer turned from a mango-streaked sky to look at the man beside her.
“Almost.” William Hightower’s eyes were dark, his tone mischievous, as he drove the Jeep south on US 1, which snaked through the Florida Keys and separated the Florida Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.
In her former life it had been Maddie’s children, strapped into the backseat of her minivan, who’d asked if they were “there” yet. Somehow, and she still wasn’t sure how, her life had rearranged itself. One minute she’d been a suburban housewife and mother facing the end of a quarter-century marriage and the world as she’d known it. The next she’d landed on Fantasy Island, aka Mermaid Point, a small private island in Islamorada that belonged to the recently rehabbed rock icon known as “William the Wild.”
“That is so not an answer.”
Will took one hand off the wheel to mime the zipping of his lips. Just shy of the 7 Mile Bridge, he took a right onto a sand-strewn road that led toward the bay. She laughed when she realized where they were. Another turn and the Jeep jounced across a rutted parking lot filled with cars. Music and light seeped out of a thatched-roof building built atop a series of docks.
“Bless you,” she said as he parked facing the Keys Fisheries Market and Marina. “How did you know I needed a stone crab fix?”
“The entire population of the Florida Keys and everyone on Mermaid Point know about your addiction. I’m thinking there should be a seven-step program to help you get over it.” Although Lifetime had sent Maddie, Avery Lawford, Nicole Grant, and the crew of their renovation-turned-reality TV show Do Over to turn Will’s private island into a B & B, he’d managed to turn it into a sober living facility.
“I have no interest in getting over stone crabs. And it’s not my fault the season’s so short.” Though she’d had an occasional stone crab claw in her lifetime, it wasn’t until she’d come to the Keys and tasted her first that had been pulled from one of Will’s own traps that she’d understood what the fuss was about.
A low building hugged the dock that stretched out into the bay, but Will led her up a narrow set of stairs to a large square of a room packed with people. The atmosphere was roadhouse honky-tonk. The material of choice was wood. A life-size tarpon hung on one wall. Another fish she could not identify dangled from a wooden rafter that spanned the pitched thatch ceiling. In keeping with the fish theme, people were packed in like sardines. The lucky ones sat at high tops; others hovered, drinks in hand, chatting while they waited for a table or chairs to open up.
They stood for a moment in the narrow entrance. To the left, mounds of stone crab claws sat in bins of ice while a young man precracked shells and filled cardboard baskets a dozen at a time. To the right, a lone guitar player perched on a stool, his bearded face grizzled, his fingers gnarled yet agile on the strings. A bar ran along the wall beyond him. The signage was belligerently instructive. One read simply, Claws and Straws. Another listed rules for stone crab claw ordering and eating that ended with, No kids. No TV. No butter. No exceptions.
“Hey, Will.” The musician nodded at Will then smiled at Maddie as they passed. Eyes noted and followed their progress, but no one yelled or aimed a phone at them. “Looks like a mostly local crowd,” he said quietly. “I doubt anyone will bother us.”
Maddie didn’t ask how he knew this, but her shoulders began to relax. She had never aspired to being the center of attention and had already experienced far more than her fifteen minutes of fame.
A skyscraper of a man leaning on the bar shook Will’s hand. “Good to see you, man.”
“Likewise.” Will placed an order for a dozen claws and a Coke. “Wine, Maddie?”
“Thanks.” She still marveled at his strength; the way he’d come out of rehab two years ago then reclaimed his life and rejoined the world. Their gazes got tangled up in each other’s and she had to force herself to look away. At sixty-two, William Hightower was, as her daughter, Kyra, had pointed out more than once, “hot as hell.” The black hair that brushed his broad shoulders was threaded with gray, but his features were still sharp and angled. His dark eyes missed little. Exactly why he was in a relationship with her—well, she’d promised she would stop asking herself this question—but even roughhewn fish-themed honky-tonks had shiny surfaces.
He found a half-empty table in a corner and asked the couple if they could join them. The man, a retired New York policeman, nodded amiably and introduced himself as Jake. His wife, Ingrid, stuttered hello in almost exactly the same way Maddie had when she’d first arrived on Mermaid Point and discovered it belonged to the Southern rocker whose poster had once hung on her bedroom wall. Only Maddie’s stutters had been captured by a Do Over cameraman and broadcast to a television audience.
Will talked fishing with Jake for a few minutes then shifted slightly so that his back was to their tablemates. Maddie sipped her wine and did her best not to notice the number of women who watched Will as he went to retrieve their order. He returned with a container of claws, which he placed between them. Despite the precracking, a certain amount of effort and skill was required to get every last centimeter of crab. The process was messy but worth it. Maddie wiggled the joints, extracted a good-size bite, dipped it in the mustard sauce, and placed it in her mouth. She closed her eyes in unfeigned ecstasy. “God, that’s good.” She finished the claw then reached for another, making quick work of each one and celebrating whenever she pried free a large, intact piece. The claws gave up their sweet meat under their determined assault. Will was a far more experienced claw cracker and eater. The mound of shells grew. She looked up to find him watching her in amusement. “What?”
“It’s nice to see a woman who isn’t afraid to have an appetite.”
She met his eyes as heat spread across her cheeks. William Hightower had brought out all kinds of things in her that would have been downright shocking if she hadn’t been so busy enjoying them.
“You up for another dozen?”
She considered the offer as she inserted a tiny fork into a crevice to get the last bit of crabmeat. “I’d say yes except then I might not have room for key lime pie.”
“Now that would be a tragedy.” He watched her set down the fork and lick her fingers. His eyes darkened the way they did when he was taking off her clothes, pulling her into bed. He handed her a wet nap. “You have about two seconds to wipe that sauce off your mouth. Or I’m likely to kiss it off.”
This time the heat spread a lot farther than Maddie’s cheeks. Ingrid whimpered then looked Maddie up and down, clearly searching for some explanation of what William Hightower saw in her. Maddie, who understood her confusion, took the wet nap and dabbed at the corners of her mouth. She and Will said their good-byes and carried their trash to the container. Moments later they were out on the docks. The music and noise fell away. Boats bobbed gently at their moorings. Light glittered on the dark surface of the water. They ordered a piece of pie to share and carried it outside to a favorite picnic table overlooking the water. She leaned on the dock railing to look down at the spotlit water. The dark shapes of fish moved beneath the surface.
They sat side by side and dawdled over the pie—an everyday activity heightened by his nearness and made perfect by the soft breeze off the water, the occasional splash of a fish, the soft clank of lines against a mast.
“They’re sending us out on a bigger tour to help support the album.”
When they’d met, he’d been virtually hiding out on Mermaid Point, his career in tatters, unable to make music. Then he’d written “Free Fall,” put together a band, and begun playing local gigs. His old record label had come calling. They’d thrown enough money at him to fund the sober living facility he’d named in honor of the younger brother who’d lost his life to the same excesses that had almost claimed Will.
“They were happy with the response in the small venues we played and seem to feel we can draw bigger crowds.”
She heard the hesitation in his voice, saw the uncertainty on his face. She had her own misgivings, which she was trying her best not to telegraph. She was happy for his success and wished him more, but as much as she enjoyed being with him, she couldn’t imagine their relationship surviving the Rock God status Will was on his way to reclaiming. “Don’t you want to go?”
“Part of me is thrilled. Part of me doesn’t want to have anything to do with it.” His smile was crooked. His tone was rueful. “I know what it’s like on the road. And it doesn’t bear any similarity to real life.”
“I’ve seen articles about performers who travel with personal trainers and chefs and, you know, whatever they need,” she said. “It could be different this time around.”
“Yeah. I have the file you’ve been amassing,” he said lightly. “I know it must be possible. For some.”
“You can do anything you set your mind to, Will. You’ve proved that already.” She looked down at the shadowy fish, the pie crumbs on the plate. Once he was back at the top, evenings like this would be a memory. “Not everyone gets a second chance like this.”
“No,” he said softly. “They don’t. I’m lucky to be alive. Alive and making music? That’s a total miracle and way more than I deserve. But . . .”
“But we’re looking at three to four months of nonstop travel and performing. I’d like . . . I’d like you to come with me. You know, for the whole tour. I trust myself.” He swallowed and met her eyes. “But I trust myself more when I’m with you.”
She saw what the admission cost him. He’d gotten sober and stayed that way through sheer dint of will and what might have been millions of laps in the swimming pool. But addictions didn’t disappear; they were overcome and fought off forever.
Maddie dropped her eyes to the empty plate, the taste of key lime tart on her tongue. The mother in her, the nurturer/caregiver wanted to say yes, wanted to be there for him. But she’d spent most of her life being there for others. For her husband. For her children. More recently for her grandson and the women who’d become her closest friends. She’d learned a lot of things about herself when her husband lost everything, including his job and himself, to Malcolm Dyer’s Ponzi scheme. She’d become far stronger than she’d ever imagined. What she had never learned to do was to put herself first.
“I don’t see how I can be gone that long.” She’d been here for two weeks and knew she had to get back to Bella Flora, the castle-like beachfront home that was all she, Avery, and Nikki had left after their losses to Malcolm Dyer and which now belonged to Maddie’s daughter, Kyra. The network they’d quit so publicly on Mermaid Point was suing them for breach of contract and claiming that the name Do Over did not belong to them. “We have the lawsuit to deal with and Kyra is trying to edit the special on the Sunshine Hotel together so it can be sold. And Nikki’s twins are due next month. I promised I’d be there to help. She and Joe are moving into his new cottage at the Sunshine Hotel soon.”
“I get it,” Will said. “Four months on the road is a lot to ask.”
She looked into Will’s eyes and wished once again that she could see herself the way he seemed to see her. But at midnight this New Year’s Eve, she had made a resolution. She had promised herself that she would learn to be more than an appendage. That she would live her own life and not just live to support others’.
She reached for his hand and squeezed it. “I love being with you, Will. And I’m happy to come visit you here or on the road as often as possible. I want you in my life.” She swallowed and almost whispered, “But I can’t let you be my life. I’m fifty-two years old and I think it’s time I finally figure out who I am and what I want to be when I grow up.”
Will nodded but said nothing. It took every ounce of willpower Maddie possessed not to change her mind or her answer. It seemed that growing up could be painful no matter when you chose to do it.
Nicole Grant no longer recognized herself. Her body had ballooned into a blimp-size storage facility for the two babies that floated inside it, fighting for elbow room. Her skin stretched tight across the massive protrusion that had once been her stomach. Her breasts were the size and consistency of overinflated basketballs, her face red and splotchy and dotted with pimples. Her auburn hair hung dull and lifeless while the brain it encased had taken to misfiring and short-circuiting without warning or apology.
And then there were her moods, which had stabilized during the middle months of her pregnancy, but which now swung this way and that like a metronome sprung from its housing. With a groan of effort, she attempted to roll onto her side. She was halfway there when a muscled arm reached out to pull her up against a rock-hard abdomen. That abdomen belonged to Special Agent Joe Giraldi. Whose gold medal sperm had found and fertilized the eggs she’d believed were way beyond their expiration date. His large hand curled protectively against her stomach as he placed a kiss on the top of her head. “Are you okay?”
“I’d be better if I could actually turn over on my own. Or think. Or stop peeing every two minutes,” she murmured. “Seeing my feet would be nice.”
“It won’t be long now,” he said, his hand lightly stroking her stomach, his tone meant to reassure.
But then Joe had none of the fears or doubts that stalked her. She was eight months pregnant. If nothing went wrong, she would be the thing she’d given up on long ago and failed at so spectacularly as far as her younger brother was concerned. She would be a mother.
As if in response to the thought, a soccer-strength kick landed beneath Joe’s hand. A second came swift and sure from the side. “They’re fighters.” His breath was warm against her ear. She could feel him smiling.
“They’re girls,” she reminded him.
“All the more reason for them to know how to fight,” he said. “Like their mother.”
“Do you have to see the bright side of everything?”
“Can’t help it,” he replied easily. “I can’t think how things could be better.”
“That’s because you aren’t carrying them around in your stomach. And they’re not sitting on your bladder.”
“True.” But he smiled as he said it.
Being married might be better, she thought but did not say. Because she had refused him one too many times and he’d taken the offer off the table with no sign of renegotiation.
Today they would drive up to Pass-a-Grille, a trip that would have only taken about four and a half hours if she didn’t need so many potty breaks. There they would move into the two-bedroom cottage Joe had purchased at the Sunshine Hotel, which she, Madeline and Kyra Singer, and Avery Lawford had recently renovated for what they’d hoped would be their own version of Do Over.
Joe slid out of bed naked and gorgeous. Not for the first time she wished that men carried the babies. That it was their skin that stretched to the breaking point and then sagged. She pulled on her robe as she struggled to sit up. She saw him bite back a smile as he reached out a hand to help her to her feet.
“It’s not funny.”
He headed to the kitchen while she padded into the bathroom to wash her face and brush her teeth. And, of course, to pee. When she got to the kitchen, her juice and prenatal vitamins awaited her. She downed the juice and the horse-size pills looking enviously at the cup of fresh-brewed coffee in Joe’s hand. She wasn’t a caffeine addict like Avery and had typically preferred a morning run to a morning coffee, but there was something about knowing you couldn’t have a thing that made you want it desperately. She sighed and barely resisted cozying up to him in order to steal a sniff of the dark roast.
“How long do you need to get ready?”
“Not long.” In truth she had no idea if this was true or not. Her sense of time and timing had decamped along with her brain cells. She’d spent the last two days dithering over what to take and what to leave behind. Often she got lost mid-thought or mid-task. She looked around Joe’s living room, at the spot where the Christmas tree had stood. At the dining room table where his large Italian family had gathered for large pasta-filled meals. His parents were excited about their new grandbabies; his Nonna Sofia had looked smug, as if it had in fact, been her fertility curse that was responsible for Nikki’s pregnancy. Everyone had fed her and pampered her. Only Joe’s sister, Maria, had watched her carefully as if trying to understand how her brother had chosen Nikki and whether or not something should have been done about it.
She’d felt her guard slipping on occasion, imagining how it would feel to be a part of a large, loving, involved family like his. Her own childhood had been spent in poverty, and when her father had died, her mother had worked multiple jobs to keep a roof over their heads. Nicole had “mothered” her brother, Malcolm, while their mother worked. Thereby creating a conscienceless human being who currently resided in a correctional facility for the criminally greedy.
“Nikki?” Joe said, taking her by the shoulders and turning her gently toward the bedroom. “Why don’t you go finish packing? I’ll start loading the cars.”
“I think we should have just towed the Jag,” he said an hour later when both cars were ready. He’d wanted to leave the Jag in his garage, but she’d refused. The ’74 XKE had been her first splurge when Heart, Inc., had become successful, one of the few things she hadn’t sold when she was bankrupted by her brother’s Ponzi scheme. It had become a symbol for all that she’d achieved and who she’d managed to become. She’d vowed they’d have to pry the keys out of her cold, dead fingers. More than that, she needed to keep it for when things went south and she lost everything, including Joe and the life he envisioned for all of them.
“Seriously, Nikki. I’d feel better if we drove together.” He opened the door of the shiny new SUV and waited for her to get situated.
“I’m not an invalid. I’m capable of driving.” In truth, the SUV he’d insisted on buying had so many buttons and features, it could have launched a lunar probe and could undoubtedly have driven itself. “We’re caravanning. It’s not like I’m taking off to climb Kilimanjaro on my own.”
She saw the set of his jaw war with the flicker of amusement in his dark eyes. As an FBI agent, he’d sworn to protect and defend. The day he’d found out she was pregnant, which was far later than it should have been, his protective instincts had warped into overdrive. “I really think we should have planned to move directly into the cottage,” he said. “We could have furnished it ahead of time so it would be ready for us.”
“We can stay at Bella Flora as long as we like and take our time furnishing and moving in,” Nikki said for what might have been the hundredth time. “There’s no rush.” Kyra had made it clear they were always welcome. It was as close to a home as Nikki had at the moment.
“You’re thirty-two weeks, Nik. Most twin pregnancies don’t go past thirty-five or thirty-six.” Mercifully, he didn’t add that at forty-seven, she was unlikely to go even that long. Joe had read her copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting cover to cover as if it were a training manual, which she guessed it was. “We should at least furnish the nursery.”
She busied herself rearranging the things on the passenger seat. She was afraid that furnishing a nursery would tempt fate, that it would somehow trigger the ultimate karmic payback for all her failings. Because deep down she didn’t see how this could all work out. Not the babies. Not Joe’s love. Not having a real family of her own. These were things that she’d only seen from afar, things that other people had and that she did not deserve.
Once Nikki had had her brain, her body, and a seemingly unlimited supply of ambition and persistence. She’d parlayed them into a career as an A-list matchmaker and dating guru with offices on both coasts. She’d excelled at assessing personal attributes and attraction. She’d brought people together, brokered their relationships, and paved their way to the altar. A belief in “Happily Ever After” had not been part of the job description. And she had never imagined that those words could ever apply to her.
Avery Lawford dropped the screwdriver into its slot in the worn leather tool belt that had belonged to her father. As she stepped back to look at the cabinet door she’d just rehung, she drew the scent of freshly sawn wood into her lungs then tilted her head to better hear the whir of the electric saw slicing through a two-by-four. Others might meditate, strike a happy baby pose on their yoga mat, or pour a stiff drink. Avery had grown up on her father’s construction sites. For her, the aromas and sounds of construction were automatic stress busters. Sometimes when Chase Hardin was nearby, those scents and sounds qualified as foreplay.
“You okay?” Chase turned off the saw and set it aside then removed his goggles. His bright blue eyes narrowed.
“Um-hmm.” She brushed a stray blond curl out of her eyes and had to crane her neck to meet his gaze. In her mind she might be tall and lanky, but in reality she was short and curvy, with a bust that was too large for the rest of her. That bust combined with Kewpie doll features caused strangers to automatically deduct IQ points and talk reeeeaaaal slowwwwllly.
“I know that look,” he said, taking a step toward her.
“You’re a smart man.”
Interest flared in his eyes. “Hmmm. A compliment. That can only mean . . .” He closed the distance between them and slid his arms around her waist. His hands cupped her bottom. “If Do Over doesn’t get figured out, I think we should move forward with the construction-scented perfume and cologne line.”
She tried to push the words Do Over out of her mind so that she could focus on the way he was nuzzling her. His lips nibbling her earlobe. The press of his body against hers.
But if construction scents were a turn-on, thinking about the remodeling-turned-reality TV show that seemed to be slipping through their fingers and could cost them what little they had was the anti-aphrodisiac. So was the slam of the front door and the heavy footsteps that thudded through the hall and toward the kitchen, where she and Chase had been lowering cabinets to accommodate his father’s wheelchair.
Jason, Chase’s youngest son, stomped into the kitchen. At sixteen he was even taller and broader than his father. Over the last months his open face had closed, his once sunny personality had turned increasingly dark and unpredictable. He snorted when they pulled apart, his expression making it clear that he thought them far too ancient to be caught in lip-lock.
“Where have you been?” Chase asked quietly, keeping one arm around her.
Chase said nothing, but he’d gone still.
“Where else would I be?” Jason taunted. “Isn’t that where I always am?”
Jason and his older brother, Josh, had been in love with baseball practically from birth, or so family lore went. Jason had made varsity as a freshman and was now Hamden High School’s most efficient closer. Josh, a senior and first baseman, had been awarded a full ride to Clemson next fall.
“There was a time when I would have said yes,” Chase replied through tight lips. “But Coach Jenkins called. He wanted to see if you were feeling better. Given that you haven’t been at practice all week. A scout from Clemson was there today to watch you.”
Jason’s jaw clenched. His look said, “So what are you going to do about it?’
Avery put a cautioning hand on Chase’s arm. The blowups between father and son had become more frequent and explosive. Chase seethed with tension. “Whether you continue playing or not is up to you,” he finally said. “But you’re a member of a team and it’s wrong to let your coach and teammates down. If you want to quit, quit. Don’t go to college.” He shrugged as if it didn’t matter to him one bit. She might have bought it if it weren’t for the quivering of his muscles. His jaw had gone hard and his eyes had darkened to navy. “You have enough experience to work construction pretty much anywhere. But as long as you’re under my roof, you will be civil and you will keep your commitments.”
“And if I don’t want to live under your stupid roof anymore?” The challenge came out in a rush of anger. Jason’s chin shot up. His hands fisted at his sides.
“Chase . . .” She grasped his arm more tightly.
He shook her off.
“He’s my son,” he snapped. “I’ll deal with him.”
“Yeah, just like you deal with everything,” Jason taunted. “Just like you know what’s best for everybody all the frickin’ time.”
She took Chase’s arm again and this time she held on to it as she watched the hurt and anger suffuse his face. She wanted to take him in her arms and comfort him almost as much as she wanted to shake the two of them. But she knew from experience that this might only make things worse. She stood, feeling helpless, unable to help, unable to leave.
“Who died and put you in charge?” Jason sneered out his fury.
“Your mother,” Chase said, slowly spearing his son with his eyes. “And this is the first time I’ve been glad she’s not here to see how the baby she loved so dearly is turning out.”
Reading Group Guide
1. When the book opens, Bitsy Baynard is dealing with the fact that her husband stole all of her money and ran away with another woman. Do you think Bitsy should have made Bertrand sign a prenup? Do you believe in prenups?
2. Bitsy and Bertrand were initially introduced by Nicole Grant of Heart Inc., who worked as a matchmaker. Do you think matchmakers can be a successful way to find love? Would you ever hire a matchmaker?
3. William Hightower could have any woman he wants. Why do you think he is attracted to Madeline Singer? Will asks Maddie to go on tour with him, and Maddie is reluctant to do so. Do you understand her reluctance? Why do you think women often have such a hard time putting their needs first?
4. Nicole is terrified that Joe no longer wants to marry her, that something will go wrong during her pregnancy, and that she’ll fall short as a mother. Why do you think Nikki feels this way? Have you ever been in a situation where you knew your fear wasn’t warranted, but you were terrified anyway? How did you handle it?
5. Avery Lawford is an architect and licensed contractor who finds the aromas surrounding construction relaxing. She attributes this to spending time on her father’s construction sites as a child. What is your stress buster? When and how did you discover it?
6. Chase and his son Jason are at odds for most of the book, and Avery finds herself caught between them. Do you think she handles the situation well? How do you feel about Chase’s behavior? Why is he so tough on Avery?
7. What do you think Bella Flora symbolizes for Maddie, Nicole, Avery, and Kyra? Is there a family home or a place like Mermaid Point that holds particular significance for you? Why? Would you risk losing it for the chance to achieve a lifelong dream or goal?
8. Kyra has to decide whether or not to let her son, Dustin, star in a move with his father. What do you think she should do? Would you let your child star in a movie? Is that kind of pressure and attention good or bad for a child?
9. What do you think of the tiny house movement? Would you want to live in a tiny house? How many square feet would you need to feel comfortable?
10. At the end of each day, Maddie, Nicole, Avery, and Kyra share one good thing to toast at sunset. What—or who—is your one good thing today? Wendy Wax would love to know, so be sure to share your #OneGoodThing on Twitter or Instagram, or on Wendy’s Facebook wall!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Another winner for wendy wax
A really good continuation of the series. I'm wanting the girls to finally get one over on the TV network.
I’ve so enjoyed this series and look forward to more. Need to find out who rented Bella Flora.
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings nother installment in this series and although I still haven't read book one or two, I absolutely adore this series, these characters and the mischief they get into! This book starts just right where the last ends and there are quite a few series you can read and enjoy out of order or can skip a book or two, I would say you need to start at square one or book one in this series. The characters story build from book to book so it is best to just start at the very beginning.
Wendy Wax delivers yet another vibrant read in her latest title, One Good Thing. Maddie, Avery, Nikki and Kyra were well on their way to getting their respective lives in order. Maddie’s love, William Hightower, has made a tremendous comeback with his music and is going on tour. Much to Will’s chagrin, Maddie can’t seem to pry herself away from the notion she is responsible for everyone else first before it is her turn. Nikki is pregnant with Joe’s twins; yet, Joe stopped asking for her hand in marriage after not one, two, but three definitive ‘no’s’ from her. In due time, perhaps. Avery has her own struggles with paramour Chase. While it’s abundantly clear their feelings for each other are true and deep-seeded, it would seem his teenaged son Jason has other plans for their happily ever after. To compound the friction, Chase seems quite comfortable when it comes to reminding Avery she is not a parental figure when it comes to raising his children. Kyra has her own tangled web to unweave. When baby (and somewhat absent) daddy, movie star Daniel decides he would like to play a more active role in his son’s life, Kyra isn’t so sure she likes what he has in mind. And last but certainly not least, when Bitsy Baynard arrives unannounced it’s more than strange that her hubby Bertrand is nowhere to be seen. After the crash of Do Over (a cable do-it-yourself makeover show) and renovations of the Sunset Beach property, the ladies have quite the mountain to climb toward solvency. Condo’s aren’t’ moving and time share sales are non-existent. There is also that loan that Kyra took out (leveraging Bella Flora) that is about to become due and not only does she not have the balloon payment, but Maddie, Avery and Nikki have no idea they could potentially lose the property. Fortunately for all the ladies, there are the nightly spectacular sunsets on the Gulf and the commitment to share ‘one good thing’ about the day before the sun kisses it good-night. In perfect Wendy Wax style, she has delivered yet another engaging and captivating beach read just in time for summer. Her characters continue to intrigue her audience and Ms. Wax is not at a loss throughout for the perfect teasers of drama to complement the wonderfully delicious flow of this novel. Her dialogue is believable and having read Sunset Beach, it was a wonderful treat to revisit with the women of Bella Flora. I applaud Ms. Wax for keeping her storyline ‘real’ within the premise of ‘fiction.’ It makes the story that much more enjoyable. I look forward to her next novel and (hopefully) the next chapter of the life and times of the women of Bella Flora. Well done Ms. Wax! I thoroughly enjoyed One Good Thing. Quill says: One Good Thing is a delicious novel one can take along on vacation, sink down into a comfy chair, and enjoy the art of turning the pages of a truly terrific read.
I have enjoyed all of Wendy Waxs books, especially this series
Have loved this whole series. I am hoping there will be more to come because I do want to know where the ladies go from here.
A worthy successor to the previous books. Great characters! True, they did not solve their problems in this book but the gals did move ahead. Looking forward to the next installment and their next project.
The women are amazing in this book. Their friendship, support, and love are more family like than friends. Without a question they accept each other’s faults and problems. They worked together to help each other out of the problems they were each experiencing. My only struggle with the book is that this was the 5th book in the series and I had not read the first 4. Throughout the entire book I felt like I was missing a piece of the story. I wanted to know the background, the history, and the reasoning that each character was acting the way they were. Wendy Wax did her best to catch the reader up without spending a ton of time and words on it but I was still missing some parts of the story. There were a lot of characters to keep track of and it was sometimes confusing. Overall this is a fun beach story. One Good Thing is an easy read that I enjoyed. I do recommend reading the first books in the Ten Beach Road series. Thank you to Danielle Dill at Berkley/NAL and NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I have enjoyed Wendy Wax's novels. Her last book is nothing new. Same old story line. No real plot to the story. I hope this is the last installment of this series