Welcome to Hope Beach
A place of intoxicating beauty . . . where trouble hits with the force of a hurricane.
Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the Outer Banks could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of the family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams.
But Libby soon realizes that the only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island. The father who willed her the inn has died before she could meet him, and her newfound brother and sister are convinced she’s there to steal their birthright. Worst of all, her best friend and business partner has been kidnapped before her eyes, and Libby’s under suspicion for the crime.
Libby’s dream come true is becoming a nightmare. Her only option is to find her friend and prove her innocence, or lose everything on the shores of Hope Island.
About the Author
Colleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series. Connect with Colleen online at colleencoble.com; Instagram: colleencoble; Facebook: colleencoblebooks; Twitter: @colleencoble.
Read an Excerpt
Tidewater InnA Hope Beach Novel
By Colleen Coble
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2012 Colleen Coble
All right reserved.
Chapter OneLibby Holladay fought her way through the brambles to the overgrown garden. She paused to wave a swarm of gnats away from her face. The house was definitely in the Federal style, as she'd been told. Palladian windows flanked a centered door, or rather the opening for a door. The structure was in serious disrepair. Moss grew on the roof, and fingers of vine pried through the brick mortar. The aroma of honeysuckle vied with that of mildew.
She stepped closer to the house and jotted a few impressions in her notebook before moving inside to the domed living room. The floorboards were missing in places and rotted in others, so she planted her tan flats carefully. She could almost see the original occupants in this place. She imagined her own furniture grouped around the gorgeous fireplace. She'd love to have this place, but something so grand that needed this much repair would never be hers. The best she could do would be to preserve it for someone else who would love it. She itched to get started.
Her cell phone rang, and she groped in her canvas bag for it. Glancing at the display, she saw her partner's name. "Hey, Nicole," she said. "You should see this place. A gorgeous Federal-style mansion. I think it was built in 1830. And the setting by the river is beautiful. Or it will be once the vegetation is tamed." Perching on the window seat, she made another note about the fireplace. "Nicole? Are you there?"
There was a long pause, then Nicole finally spoke. "I'm here."
"You sound funny. What's wrong?" Nicole was usually talkative, and Libby couldn't remember the last time she'd heard strain in her friend's voice. "Are you still in the Outer Banks? Listen, I heard there might be a hurricane heading that way." She dug into her purse for her jalapeño jellybeans and popped one in her mouth.
"I'm here," Nicole said. "The residents are sure the storm will miss Hope Island. The investor is really interested in this little town. And we have the chance to make a boatload of money on it. It's all in your hands."
"My hands? You're the one with the money smarts."
Nicole was the mover and shaker in Holladay Renovations. She convinced owners to dramatically increase the value of their historic properties by entrusting them to Libby's expertise. Libby had little to do with the money side of the business, and that was how she liked it.
"I think I'd better go back to the beginning," Nicole said. "Rooney sent me here to see about renovating some buildings in the small downtown area. He's working on getting a ferry to the island. It will bring in a lot more tourism for the hotel he's planning, but the buildings need to be restored to draw new business."
"I know that much. But what do you mean 'it's in my hands'?" Libby glanced at her notes, then around the room again. This was taking up her time, and she wanted to get back to work. "We're doing the lifesaving station for sure, right?"
"Yes, I've already seen it. We were right to buy that sweet building outright. After you get your hands on it, we'll make a bundle and have instant credibility here. I've started making notes of the materials and crew we'll need. But I'm not calling about the renovations. I'm talking a lot of money, Libby. Millions."
That got Libby's attention. "Millions?"
"I stopped by the local attorney's office to see about having him handle the paperwork for our purchase of the lifesaving station. Horace Whittaker. He's got both our names on the paperwork now."
"The secretary gasped when she heard your name."
"She knew me?"
"The attorney has been looking for a Libby Holladay. Daughter of Ray Mitchell."
"That's my dad's name."
"I thought it might be. I'd heard you mention the name Ray, but I wasn't sure of the last name."
Libby rubbed her head. "Why is he looking for me? My father has been dead a long time—since I was five."
"He died a month ago, Libby. And he left you some valuable land. In fact, it's the land Rooney thought he had agreed to purchase. So we're in the driver's seat on this deal." Nicole's voice rose.
Libby gasped, then she swallowed hard. "It's a hoax. I bet the attorney asked for a fee, right?"
"No, it's real. According to the secretary, your father was living in the Outer Banks all this time. And Horace has a box of letters Ray wrote to you that were all marked Return to Sender. It appears your mother refused them."
Libby's midsection plunged. Throughout her childhood she'd asked her mother about her father. There were never any answers. Surely her mother wouldn't have lied. Libby stared out the window at two hummingbirds buzzing near the overgrown flowers.
"Do you have any idea how much money this land is worth?" Nicole's voice quivered. "It's right along the ocean. There's a charming little inn."
It sounded darling. "What's the area like?"
"Beautiful but remote." Nicole paused. "Um, listen, there's something else. I met a woman who looked like you a couple days ago."
Libby eased off the window ledge. "Who is she?"
"Your half sister, Vanessa. You also have a brother, Brent. He's twenty-two."
"My father married again?" Libby couldn't take it all in. This morning she had no family but a younger stepbrother, whom she rarely saw. Why had her mother kept all this from her? "What about my father's wife?"
"She doesn't seem to be around. But there's an aunt too."
Family. For as long as she could remember, Libby had longed for a large extended family. Her free-spirited mother was always wanting to see some new and exciting place. They had never lived at the same address for more than two years at a time.
"You need to get here right away," Nicole said. "There are a million details to take care of. This is the big deal we've been praying for, Libby. You will never want for anything again, and you'll have plenty of money to help your stepbrother. He can get out of that trailer with his family."
The thought of buying her stepbrother's love held some appeal. They weren't close, but not because she hadn't tried. "I can't get away until tomorrow, Nicole. I have to finish up here first. We have other clients."
How much of her reluctance was rooted in the thought of facing a future that was about to change radically? She never had been good with change. In her experience, change was something that generally made things worse, not better.
Her partner's sigh was heavy in Libby's ear. "Okay. Hey, want to see Vanessa? She'll be here in a few minutes. There's a beach cam out by the lifesaving station, and I'm supposed to meet her there. I'll send you a link to it. You can see her before you meet her."
Libby glanced through the window toward her car. "I have my computer in the car." She tucked her long hair behind her ear and gathered her things. "What does Vanessa think about our father leaving prime real estate to me?" She left the house and started for her vehicle.
Nicole cleared her throat. "Um, she's pretty upset."
"I would imagine. What did you tell her about me?"
"As little as possible."
"I don't know if that's good or bad."
"I wouldn't worry about them. She and her brother are fishing for info though. She mentioned lighthouse ruins and I asked for directions. She offered to show me, but I went out there by myself yesterday. I'm still meeting her today because I knew you'd want to know more about her."
It sounded like a disaster in the making. "I have so many questions."
"Then come down as soon as you can and get them answered. Wait until you see Tidewater Inn, Libby! It's really old. It's on the eastern edge of the island with tons of land along the beach. The inn was a house once, and it is a little run-down but very quaint. It's hard to get out here. Until Rooney gets the ferry approved, you'll have to hire a boat. You're going to love it though. I love this island. It's like stepping back in time. And I've even seen some caves to explore."
"No road to it from the mainland?" Libby couldn't fathom a place that remote.
"Nope. Boat access only."
Her phone still to her ear, Libby opened her car door and slid in. The computer was on the floor, and she opened it. "I'm going to have to get off a minute to tether my phone to the computer. Send me the link to the harbor cam. Don't tell Vanessa I'm watching."
"When can you get here tomorrow?"
"It's about two hours from Virginia Beach?"
Libby doubted she'd sleep tonight. It would be no problem to be in the shower by six. "I'll be there by nine."
She ended the call, then attached the cord that tethered the phone to the computer. She would use the cell signal to watch Nicole's video feed on the larger screen. Then she could watch and still take any calls that came in. Her skin itched from the brambles. She established the connection, then logged on to the Internet. No e-mail yet.
She owned property. The thought was mind boggling. No matter what condition it was in, it was a resource to fall back on, something she hadn't possessed yesterday. The thought lightened her heart. She stared at the grand old home beside her. What if there was enough money from the sale of the inn to allow her to buy a historic house and restore it? It would be a dream come true. She could help her stepbrother. She could buy some Allston paintings too, something she'd never dreamed she could afford.
A woman pecked on Libby's car window, and Libby turned on the key and ran down the window. "Hello. I'm not an intruder. I'm evaluating this gorgeous old place for the historic registry."
The woman smiled. "I thought maybe you were buying it. Someone should restore it."
"Someone plans to," Libby said. What if it could be her instead of her client?
The woman pointed. "I'm taking up a collection for the Warders, who live on the corner. They had a fire in the kitchen and no insurance."
Libby had only two hundred dollars in her checking account, and she had to get to the Outer Banks. "I wish I could help," she said with real regret. "I don't have anything to spare right now."
"Thanks anyway." The woman smiled and moved to the next house.
Libby ran the window back up and clicked on her in-box. An e-mail from Nicole appeared. She stared at the link. All she had to do was click and she'd catch a glimpse of a sister she had no idea even existed. Her hands shook as she maneuvered the pointer over the link and clicked. The page opened, and she was staring at a boardwalk over deep sand dunes that were heaped like snowdrifts. In the distance was a brilliant blue ocean. A pier extended into the pristine water. The scene was like something out of a magazine. She could almost feel the sea breeze.
She clicked to enlarge the video and turned up the speakers so she could hear the roar of the surf. Where was Nicole? The pier was empty, and so was the sea. A dilapidated building stood to the right of the screen, and she could just make out a sign over the door. Hope Beach Lifesaving Station.
Then there was a movement on the boardwalk. Nicole appeared. She smiled and waved. "Hi, Libby," she said. The sound quality was surprisingly good. The sound of the ocean in the background was a pleasant lull.
Libby had to resist the impulse to wave back. Her partner's blond hair was pulled back in a ponytail under a sun hat, and she wore a hot-pink cover-up over her brown bathing suit.
Nicole glanced at her watch and frowned. "Vanessa is late. Like I started to say earlier, I didn't want to wait on her to see the lighthouse ruins, so I went out there alone. I have to show it to you. Wait until you see what I found. You'll seriously freak! Hey, give me a call. This pier is one of the few places where my phone works. Isn't that crazy—an entire island without cell service. Almost, anyway."
Libby picked up her cell phone, still connected to the computer. They could talk a few minutes. Before she could call, a small boat pulled up to the shore. Two men jumped out and pulled the boat aground. Nicole turned toward them. The men walked toward her. There was no one else in sight, and Libby tensed when Nicole took a step back. Libby punched in Nicole's number. She watched her friend dig in her bag when it rang.
When Nicole answered the phone, Libby leaped to her feet and yelled, "Get out of there. Go to your car!"
Nicole was still watching the men walk toward her. "It's just a couple of tourists, Libby," she said. "You worry too much." She smiled and waved at the men.
Libby leaned closer to the laptop. "There's something wrong." She gasped at the intention in their faces. "Please, Nicole, run!"
But it was the men who broke into a run as they drew closer to the boardwalk. As they neared the cam, Libby could see them more clearly. One was in his forties with a cap pulled low over his eyes. He sported a beard. The other was in his late twenties. He had blond hair and hadn't shaved in a couple of days.
Nicole took another step back as the older man in the lead smiled at her. The man said, "Hang up." He grabbed her arm.
"Let go of her!" Libby shouted into the phone.
The man knocked the phone from Nicole's hand and the connection was broken. The other man reached the two, and he plunged a needle into Nicole's arm. Both men began dragging Nicole toward the boat. She was struggling and shouting for help, then went limp. Her hat fell to the ground.
Barely aware that she was screaming, Libby dialed 9-1-1. "Oh God, oh God, help her!"
The dispatcher answered and Libby babbled about her friend being abducted right in front of her. "It's in the Outer Banks." She couldn't take her eyes off the boat motoring away from the pier. "Wait, wait, they're taking her away! Do something!"
"I told you, the Outer Banks." Libby looked at the heading above the video stream. "Hope Beach. It's Hope Beach. Get someone out there."
"Another dispatcher is calling the sheriff. I have an officer on his way to you."
"I'm going to Hope Beach now."
"Stay where you are," the dispatcher said. "We've got the sheriff on the line there. He's on his way to the site. Don't hang up until an officer arrives."
She had to do something. Anything but run screaming into the street. Libby looked at the computer. She could call up the video, save it for evidence. But the stream had no rewind, no way to save it. If she could hack into the site, she could get to the file. The police could save time and get the pictures of those men circulating. With a few keystrokes, she broke through the firewall and was in the code.
Then her computer blinked and went black. And when she called up the site again, the entire code was gone. What had she done?
Chapter TwoSmog hung over the New York skyline and matched Lawrence Rooney's mood. He studied the expansive view from his penthouse office on Fifth Avenue. The senator sitting in the chair on the other side of the gleaming walnut desk had better come through with the promised plum after all Lawrence had done for him.
Lawrence kept his attention away from the senator long enough to make sure the other man knew who was in charge, then turned from his perusal of his domain and settled in his chair. "You have news for me?"
Senator Troy Bassett tugged on his tie, then pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and blotted his damp forehead. "The city is like an oven today," he muttered.
In his fifties now, he had once been handsome, but his blond good looks had been replaced by flab and gray hair. Lawrence had known him since they went to Harvard together. They knew each other's weaknesses all too well. Lawrence had funneled a fortune into getting Bassett elected. But the rewards were coming—now.
"The vote?" Lawrence prodded.
The senator nodded. "Came through. The ferry system will be added next year."
"Excellent." Lawrence sat back in his leather chair. "I will have possession of the land by the end of the summer."
"I thought the old man refused to sell it."
"Luckily for us, he died." How he wished he could have seen Ray Mitchell take his last breath.
Bassett lifted a brow. "Natural causes?"
Lawrence laughed. "Of course. We both know I like to have my own way, but I've never stooped to murder. I've found money talks well enough that it's not necessary." A smile tugged at his lips. "Though there's always a first time for everything."
You'd met your match in Mitchell though. He was adamant."
"True enough. But his son has no such scruples. He knows when to take a good offer and run with it."
"So he's agreed to your price?"
Excerpted from Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble Copyright © 2012 by Colleen Coble. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have read almost all of Colleen Coble's novels and this one is just as wonderful as the others!!! Filled with lots of suspense, Godly inspiration and of course romance, makes for a great read!!! Couldn't put it down!!!!! Can' t wait for the next in the series!!
Others have summed up the story, so I won't do that here. I just wanted to say Colleen Coble knows how to write a great story, full of suspense and romance. I love the Outer Banks setting she's using for the Hope Beach series. Get this one! You won't regret it!
I really enjoyed this book. To my own surprise I couldn't put the book down. When I started it I thought I would be bored but I kept finding myself looking for the book and comfy place to sit down and read it. It was a good read and would make a great book to take on vacation. I've read other books by Colleen which I have enjoyed. I like her writing and I think she does contemporary fiction well. I received my copy as a review blogger through Litfuse.
This was the third book I’ve read by Colleen Coble and I loved it just as much as I loved the others. She has a way of combining mystery, suspense and adventure and wrapping a love story right up in the middle of it. Her stories aren’t usually predictable unlike many others in the genre; just when I thought I knew where she was going, she threw another twist into the story. The characters in the story are lovable and their quirks and personalities really help make the story enjoyable and interesting. This was another book that left me wishing there was a sequel, I’m always interested to know what life is like for the characters after the last page is read. Thankfully I just realized that this is the first book in a new series by Coble, the Hope Beach series. Maybe that means I’ll get to catch up with some of these characters in the future! I highly recommend this book as well as the other novels I’ve read by Coble, Lonestar Angel and The Lightkeeper’s Ball. Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review by Thomas Nelson Publishers. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.
Tidewater Inn is Colleen's first book set on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The setting plays a strong role in this book -- I can't imagine the story taking place anywhere else. Libby inherits a hotel from a father she thought died years earlier. The problem is her friend has disappeared and now the cops are looking at her. A Coast Guard lieutenant tries to find her friend, but isn't sure what to think about Libby. The plot twists and turns through a hurricane and the race to fine her missing friend. Through in love, sibling rivalry and the decision whether she can keep the inn keep the plot moving. This is a cast and locale that I loved and can't wait to return in another book. Please?!?
Another compelling story from Colleen Coble. It has mystery as well as character development and interactions that make you think. There are relationships to solidify as well as the theme “What Would Jesus Do.” It does have an ending with closure.
I loved this book. Read it on the plane to and from vacation. Hard book to put down!
I would highly recommend this book. It kept my interest & didn't want to story to end when it did.
Easy to read, good mystery and romance. Clean.
First time reading this author, and I was very impressed.
This was well written, filled with suspense and romance. I didn't love or hate the story-an easy somewhat predictable read.
first time I read anything from Colleen Coble. I loved this book. I have since read 5 more of her books and love them all. Romance suspence her books have it all. Plus they're Christian based too. She is now one of my favorite writers!!!
This was better than average for a romance novel. The characters have morals and principals, something you usually do not see in romance novels. I was actually able to enjoy the whole book without feeling dirty.
My first read of this author. Interesting and a surprise enfimg. Will read amother of her books.
It was only an OK book; not terrible, but the story was like I came in , in the middle of it. I kept reading, thinking it would get better. Def not one of my favorites.
I read the whole book, even though the story was trite, and I often caught myself rolling my eyes. Too predictable. Not enough character development. I didn't really like any of the characters, and felt no interest in their lives. Felt like I was reading a junior high novel.
The reviews said that this was a mystery. Well it is a mystery to me how anyone could say this is a good book. Poorly written and just silly. Would not recommend. Story is about a young woman who disappears and her friend comes to find her. She finds out that she has a family living on the island. Terrible plot and terrible writing.
Good beach read.
Excellent book, really great read!!
Very good book
I am only half way through this book, but find it very interesting. A must read.!
You need to see past the preaching. Loved the setting, story & charachters though a couple of parts seemed a bit unrealistic. Overall a good read.
Just finished reading and i absolutly loved this book once i started it i couldnt stop till i finished. Definetly will read more from this author
I enjoyed the story and the plot kept me guessing. The romance and the sibling love developed to quickly, but yet the emotions about the "mystery parts" were not expressed like they would be in real life (sadness, shock, fear, etc). I say "mystery parts" so i dont give anything away. I also think that the flow of the writing made for a slightly difficult read. A well written book flows along very smoothly as you read and you can picture what is happening in your head. This book had to much repeating of "He said", "She said", "Libby said", etc. To much of the same phrases after dialog, so that you notice you are reading the same phrase over and over again so that the book feels choppy as you read. I enjoyed the story but the book has the feel of a NEW author, not an experienced one. DEJ