About the Book:
Phoebe Ryan is Hollywood royalty, the grand-daughter of the infamous screen siren Savannah Ryan. All of her life, Phoebe’s been a California golden girl. But when Savannah dies and leaves her penniless, Phoebe finds her life going down faster than a sinking ship. Before she knows it, she’s been dumped, fired and evicted. All of sudden the glamour of Hollywood is starting to wear a little thin.
So when Phoebe discovers Savannah has left her a run-down house on the New England coast, she eagerly hops on a plane.
Savannah had always told her that the Ivy House was magical, but the rundown cottage that faces her isn’t what she expected. And neither is Chase Sanders, the one man whose past is linked inextricably to her own. Can a big town girl find love with a small town guy? Or is Chase only interested in her because of her famous last name? Phoebe knows that all that glitters isn’t gold, but will Chase be able to convince her that his love for her is the real thing?
Start Reading…Or Buy Now at Amazon — The Ivy House
Phoebe Ryan could feel the real estate agent eyeing her as she surveyed the house. “It has charm,” Sandy Miller said. “Perhaps if you added a fresh coat of paint, cleaned out the backyard…”
“Hmm.” Phoebe just made a noise, wishing the woman would be quiet and let her think. She was still bleary-eyed from the time difference. She had left Los Angeles yesterday morning, landed in New York, hit the lawyer’s office, rented a car, and finally found her way just after dark to the Connecticut shore. She had checked in at the Osprey Arms, the only hotel in town, and after a surprisingly delicious salad and a glass of wine, had curled up on the big four-poster bed and cried herself to sleep.
Now, less than twenty-four hours after she’d left California, she was getting her first view of it. Ivy House was a short walk up from town, at the end of a little lane that jutted off from the main road, commanding a prime piece of property on a bluff overlooking Queensbay Harbor.
Phoebe breathed in deeply. She could smell the fresh tang of salt, see the white caps that flecked the blue-green surface of the water, hear the gulls cawing as they wheeled around the clear sky. It was beautiful, and she could already see herself here, watching the boats come and go, enjoying the sunset while sipping a glass of wine. At least that’s how she had imagined it back in Los Angeles.
But if Queensbay Harbor and town were New England charm personified, Ivy House was not. It was the eyesore, the black sheep in the town’s collective spic-and-span family. It was Victorian in style, seeming taller than it was wide, with a steep slate-covered roof, pointed gables on either side, and a tall, thin square tower topped with the classic widow’s walk. A deep porch wrapped around the front, and a black iron picket fence separated the house from the street.
Paint peeled, the porch sagged, shingles were missing. Weeds choked the front yard, and the iron fence was rusted through. The flagstone path was uneven and while there had once been an extensive garden, now everything was wildly overgrown. The plant that had given the house its name covered one side almost completely, even the windows. Everything about it screamed genteel decay and Phoebe took a moment to ruminate about the prospect of fully renovating the place. It wasn’t as she had imagined it. But then, things seldom were.
Phoebe had only glanced toward the side yard, but she could see stuff. Some old wicker furniture, perhaps a refrigerator, plastic jugs, maybe even a beer keg. It was hard to imagine the late, great Savannah Ryan having anything to do with this place. The thought of her grandmother threatened a fresh onslaught of tears, but Phoebe forced them away.
“The major appliances are all there,” Sandy said and then corrected herself, “I think.”
“Electricity? Water, heat?” Phoebe asked. If she focused on the details, the little things, she could avoid thinking about the big things. She closed her eyes briefly, ready to sense the possibilities. That was her gift, a vivid imagination, a mind that saw things in pictures, one that could turn those pictures into reality. She envisioned the house as Savannah had described it to her, as it had been, when the sun set across the expanse of the harbor and the backyard, with the sloping lawn leading to the sandy bluff.
“You’ll have to have all the utilities switched to your name, but I have the numbers for you to call. Shouldn’t take more than twenty-four hours for it all to come on once you do,” the agent assured her.
Phoebe nodded, ready to walk up and into the house. She put a foot on the first step to the porch, tested it with her weight, and was pleased to find that it was solid. Good bones, she thought. All the house needed was some TLC.
“Here are the keys,” Sandy said, dropping them in Phoebe’s outstretched hand. Phoebe closed her hands over them tightly, afraid perhaps that it wasn’t true, that the house wasn’t hers.
“I did a walk-through after the tenants left and there are some scrapes and scuffs and a hole in the wall. They left it broom clean, though, if you want, I can give you the name of a local cleaning service I use. In my opinion, you’d be better off gutting the place first.”
“Gutting it?” Phoebe tried to keep the horror out of her voice. How could you consider destroying a masterpiece like this? The house was living history and she could already feel herself falling in love. Visions of fairy lights in the trees, the setting sun, a table set up outside, and some friends to share it with. Still, she shouldn’t get too attached yet. Her home, her life was three-thousand miles away. Imagination couldn’t always overcome reality.
“Oh, well,” Sandy blinked, then resettled her oversized sunglasses more firmly on top of her head. “I mean, you’ll see. As I said, everything’s perfectly sound, but things haven’t been updated in a while.”
Phoebe smiled. All the better, she thought. So many people ruined old houses by trying to update them too much, trying to drag them kicking and screaming into the modern world, while not respecting their expert craftsmanship and clean, simple lines.
“I like old houses,” Phoebe said. “They have character.” In California, old was a relative term, but here she was dealing with a jewel built in the nineteenth century, before planes, cars—electricity, even. It would need to be respected, cherished. And more so because it had belonged to Savannah.
Sandy was about to say something when her phone rang. Holding up a finger, she checked the screen and then excused herself to take the call.
Relieved to be alone, Phoebe moved up the porch, imagining how it would look with some fine old wicker rockers, instead of those hideous, rusty folding chairs. She stood in front of the door. It was the original: a fine wood-paneled door, painted a bright blue. Cheerful, but to her trained eye, a little too bold. Something softer, duskier would suit. She tried to peer through the sidelights on either side, but they too were original and the glass, wavy from age, made it difficult to see inside.
She put the key in the lock and turned. The lock was stiff from disuse, but she wiggled until finally it opened. Perhaps there wasn’t much cause to lock your door here and that thought pleased Phoebe immensely, who lived in the city and always made sure to triple-lock the door.
Swinging slowly back, the door opened with a scream on its hinges, a slow, protracted squeal. It was a sunny day, but as Sandy had mentioned, there was no electricity and the sun only just touched the interior.
Phoebe took a step in, smelling mustiness and dampness, the scent of a closed-up house. Her eyes poked through the gloom and she was finally able to see.
“Oh, my…” she said out loud.
“I told you.” Sandy had come up behind her, her phone call done. “In my business, it’s what we call a tear down.”
Buy Now at Amazon – The Ivy House