A Beach Lane Novel
Ballantine Books (April 25, 2017)
A successful woman with a sweet life discovers even the best laid plans are no match for unexpected passion—as award-winning author Laura Moore kicks off a captivating new series set in New York’s hottest seaside paradise.
As the overly responsible daughter of an irresponsible socialite, Dakota Hale practically raised herself. Now she’s turned her talent for placating the whims of the rich and spoiled into a lucrative concierge business in the swanky Hamptons. Meticulous and determined, Dakota has her life mapped out with one goal uppermost in mind: never, ever be like her mother. Surfing the waves of the Atlantic keeps Dakota steady when the drama on land gets too outrageous. But when sexy mogul Max Carr hires her, it rocks her balance in a big way. When Max makes it clear that he’s interested in more than just her organizational skills, Dakota is flattered – and attracted - but she refuses to allow an avowed playboy to interfere with her life plans.
Max works hard, but he’s never had to put any effort into winning over a woman—until now. With her stunning beauty and keen intelligence, Dakota is worth the effort. But it’s plain she has no interest in a casual fling, and that’s all Max with his grief-stricken heart can offer.
An emotionally charged night changes everything, with consequences neither Dakota nor Max anticipated. Now they must navigate the rough waters of society gossip and devastating secrets that threaten their fragile relationship. If they can trust in the strength of their growing feelings, they’ll find the dreams they’ve been chasing are close enough to embrace . . . together.
Read the Reviews
"Moore’s charming contemporary, which launches the Beach Lane series, follows two unlikely lovers along the road from ambition and lust to romance and marriage amid a whirl of wealth and luxury. Dakota Hale makes up for her awful mother’s chaotic, privileged life by being the excessively responsible and dependable owner of Premier Service, a concierge service for wealthy New Yorkers with Long Island beach houses. Dakota has everything under control—until she’s swept into an affair with her newest client, handsome businessman Max Carr. They split up after a couple of months, but when Dakota discovers she’s pregnant, the odd couple reconnect and decide to marry. Their unexpected decision is greeted with malicious gossip and family and business awkwardness, and they also have to sort out their own feelings. The posh setting is vivid and the pace is deliberate. This plot-driven story of independent lovers determined to resist drama and societal expectations will resonate with romance readers, especially those who are also fans of reality television."
“Laura Moore never fails to create a story that’s complex, emotionally compelling, and beautifully written. Making Waves had me from page one and stayed with me long after I finished.”
New York Times Best-selling author Kristan Higgins
“Maniac” blared from the front pocket of Dakota Hale’s zipped hoodie. She ignored it. Whoever had invented designated ringtones was a veritable genius.
“That’s call number four,” Rae observed, exchanging a sponge for a micro-duster. Rae was doing the Friday shift with Dakota, a marathon of house preps, errands, and inspections before the owners arrived for the long weekend.
It was the fifth time Piper had called, and that wasn’t including the quick conversation they’d had earlier this morning, but who was counting?
Dakota replied with a noncommittal hmm and continued stocking the Ellsworths’ kitchen from the grocery bags that were next to her sock-clad feet. Ron and Myrna and their three kids had a weakness for Doritos and huge bottles of Diet Coke. She hoped their diet was healthier in New York City than when they came out to their East Hampton country home.
“You suppose it’s an emergency?”
Rae Diaz, the oldest of six children, had a heart of gold.
“Of course it is.” Dakota opened the cupboard next to the refrigerator and placed two boxes of spaghetti—never linguini, because Ron had a thing about only eating spaghetti—next to a bag of white rice. “Everything’s an emergency with Piper. She can’t find her new sunglasses. It’s an emergency. She’s forgotten her password to her favorite shopping site. A major crisis. Her favorite dress isn’t hanging where it should be. Time to call the cops.” She kept her tone light and amused as she rattled off a carefully edited list of items that Piper routinely treated as an SOS.
“You’d think she’d figure out that Fridays are our busiest days.”
Dakota shrugged. “The concept of work doesn’t register with her.” She placed a bag of Italian-roast coffee beans front and center on the shelf, where it would be easily spotted. “If it’s really urgent, she’ll leave a message.” She shut the cabinet door firmly. “I’m teaching her the concept of boundaries.”
“Good luck with that, girlfriend. We have three more houses to go. She may set a personal record just to show you what she thinks of boundaries.”
As if on cue, “Maniac” began again.
With an I-told-you-so lift of her brows, Rae shimmied her hips, twirled her dust cloth in the air, and pranced across the ceramic-tile floor in a fairly decent imitation of Jennifer Beals to give the gleaming glass doors of the double wall oven a final swipe. Rae had been dancing a lot today.
And Dakota had been gritting her teeth and refusing to press the answer button on her phone. The obvious solution would have been to turn it off, except then she’d have been unavailable to the people who did need to reach her—her employees and clients. Premier Service, the concierge business Dakota had started four years ago, was founded on the premise of being available to clients and providing exceptional service. If they wanted something, Premier Service was there to provide it. For Dakota, solving any problems her staff might encounter on the job was equally important. Impossible to do if she couldn’t answer their calls.
Repeating the word “boundaries” to herself, she opened the refrigerator door and scanned its contents, double-checking that in addition to the Diet Coke there were two bottles of champagne chilling to accompany the appetizers she’d picked up at Loaves & Fishes, a gourmet food shop in Sagaponack, which sold everything from flaky croissants to boeuf bourguignon to assorted salads and sides for the beach crowd.
Next she inspected the freezer and made sure the pints of cookie dough and chocolate ice cream for the kids were fresh—no freezer-burned contents to gross out the young Ellsworths—and aligned neatly on the top shelf.
She’d brought up two bottles of a Bordeaux from the temperature-controlled wine cellar in the basement—Ron’s pride and joy—to go with the entrée and the dessert of chocolate mousse—Myrna’s favorite.
All good with the food and booze.
Turning around, she adjusted one of the daisies in the vase she’d placed in the middle of the counter, then surveyed the rest of the kitchen. Everything was in its place and spotless, as with the other rooms in the sprawling home.
“Our work is done here. On to the Morrisseys’,” she told Rae.
While Rae stored the dust cloth and cleaning products in the utility closet, Dakota scooped up the empty canvas shopping totes and from her leather hobo bag fished out the bundle of keys for the day’s visits. Together they walked to the front door, where Dakota stepped into her Uggs and Rae her clogs. Then Dakota punched in the security code she knew by heart; the Ellsworths were long-standing clients. The alarm system on, Rae opened the front door, and she and Dakota stepped out of the house, whose design always made Dakota think of children’s building blocks stacked haphazardly and then held together with clear packing tape. It was not an uncommon architectural style for the Hamptons. After all, fabulous wealth didn’t mean good taste. But at least the Ellsworths’ home was hidden by trees and not sitting exposed, smack dab in what used to be a potato field, like so many other Hamptons properties.
“Maniac” sounded again.
“Will she never quit? You know, I used to love that song.” Rae’s tone was mournful.
“I’ll find another tune for her,” Dakota promised.
“Don’t bother. Piper and ‘Maniac’ are forever linked. Besides, switching ringtones will only ruin another great tune.”
It was one thing to ignore people who couldn’t control their speed-dial impulse. Annoying her smart, dependable employees was not good business practice, and Rae was her very best.
With an inward sigh, Dakota resigned herself to her fate. She’d simply have to stay calm and refuse to get swept up in whatever drama Piper was currently starring in.
Wise words, but often difficult to put into practice.
“Right. You drive to the Morrisseys’, I’ll call Piper.”
She tossed Rae the keys to her old Toyota Land Cruiser. Rae caught them and climbed in behind the steering wheel while Dakota settled herself in the passenger seat.
“I can only imagine what it’s like, dealing with her,” Rae said. “But she does have her good points. She can be funny as hell.”
“I know she can.” Maybe she’d luck out and catch Piper in a humorous mood. One that wasn’t cringe-worthy.
“But,” Rae continued, “if she’s calling because she wants to wheedle another free cleaning out of Premier, you hand that cell over to me, stat. I’ll set her straight. Because that is just wrong.”
Dakota pretended to laugh along with her.
Since Piper often spent the day with a phone attached to her ear, she answered immediately. “Hello?”
“It’s me. I saw you called.”
“Dakota, I’ve been trying you for ages!”
“I know, I’m sorry. I’m at work.”
“Your clients, they take up so much of your time.”
“Yeah, they can be funny like that.” Dakota stared out the window as the car sped past oak scrub with the occasional spindly pine breaking through the brown canopy. Every few thousand feet a driveway cut into the woods, a pebbled or sandy drive marked by a small white wooden sign with black lettering—hands down the Hamptons’ favorite style—and the house number. Rae was driving east. Soon she cut across Route 27 to the coveted area known as “south of the highway,” where tall elms stood and, closer to the ocean, the narrow roads were bordered by potato and corn fields and privet hedges screened the multimillion-dollar houses within. Whether north or south of the highway, every house she and Rae passed represented potential customers. Dakota was determined to add as many of them as she possibly could and expand the business she’d built.
But it was October. Already the Hamptons had an abandoned feel to them. While she loved the uncongested roads and quieter tempo of the off-season, the businesswoman in her worried about making payroll.
Her mind on the upcoming slow months, she went on, “There’s nothing wrong with being busy when you run a business, Piper. It’s much better than the alternative.”
Piper made a sound that conveyed her complete disinterest in the topic of Dakota’s work—successful or not. “Have you tried that eye cream I told you about?”
Piper’s new favorite serum made Iranian beluga caviar look cheap. “No, not yet.”
“I’m sure it would help. You look so—”
Since she really didn’t want to hear how tired she looked, Dakota quickly asked, “Was there a reason you called?”
“Oh God, yes! It’s the worst, Dakota. I can’t believe it. What will everyone say?”
Dakota pressed the acupressure points below her brows. “And we’re talking about . . . ?”
“Elliott, of course. He sold the house without even telling us. Mimi’s fit to be tied. How could he do this? What was he thinking?”
Elliott was Piper and Mimi’s older brother. Upon their mother’s death, he’d inherited the family manse, Windhaven, a six-bedroom shingled “cottage” near the end of West End Road in East Hampton that came with a guest house, pool, manicured lawns and mature plantings. The property was further graced with sweeping views of the ocean on one side and the tranquility of Georgica Pond on the other. In the hotbed of the Hamptons real estate world, Windhaven would command top dollar.
“Well, he did say maintaining Windhaven was becoming too time-consuming.“ Which was Elliott-speak for the house being too great a financial burden. Admitting that something was no longer affordable wasn’t in the family’s vocabulary.
“Yes, but I didn’t believe he’d actually go and sell our family home! Surely he could have come up with an alternative.”
Not if he needed a large infusion of cash. The stock market had taken some serious hits recently, and that might have shaken the investors in the Templar Group, the hedge fund Elliott managed. If they’d grown nervous and decamped, he might have been left scrambling. But mentioning the topic of Elliott’s finances, his unlucky investment strategies, or anything that hinted at the waning of her family’s fortunes would only ramp up Piper’s agitation. Better to stick to the immediate mini-crisis at hand.
“I’m sorry. Really I am,” she said, opting for a palliative response. “I know you liked the house.”
“I loved it. There’s no place like Windhaven on the East End. Or anywhere. An enduring symbol of my family’s history is gone, gone forever.” Piper was obviously in a Scarlett O’Hara kind of mood. “Mimi’s beside herself, absolutely furious.”
“Yes. You mentioned that. Do you know who bought it?”
“Elliott may have told me. Some nouveau riche type.”
Dakota’s sympathy dipped toward the empty mark. “Well, again, that’s too bad about the house. I’ll call tomorrow—”
“You have to come over today. Mimi’s driving out. You know what she’s like. After five minutes I’ll be exhausted, and I have a dinner with Duncan tonight. I want to be at my best for him.” Duncan Harding was Piper’s latest lover. They’d met at the Southampton Social Club, a trendy restaurant and dance club.
Dakota’s surfboard was strapped to the Land Cruiser’s roof. A gear bag holding her wetsuit and neoprene booties sat in the trunk. She’d been hoping to head out to Montauk after work and catch some waves.
“Pretty please, Dakota? I need you,” Piper said with a sweetness that never failed to exasperate, since it was only employed for one purpose.
And yet she gave in. Again. Irritated with herself as much as Piper, she asked in a clipped tone, “What time?”
“I’ll try to make it.”
“Oh, good. I knew I could count on you. I love you, sweets.”
Even though it was expected and tacitly demanded, Dakota’s reply was nonetheless sincere. “Love you, too, Piper.”
“Oh, one more thing. Can you pick up a bottle of vodka? Mimi will be wanting her martinis.”
“Sure.” As Piper’s requests went, this one was easy.
Disconnecting, Dakota stared at the blank screen and wondered how long she would have to hear about the latest family tragedy.
Rae’s voice jolted her out of her abstraction. “So, how was Mommie Dearest?”