Title: THE HIDEAWAY
Category/Genre: Adult, Women’s Fiction
Word Count: 85,000
My main character would prefer to live in:
Having never lived more than 200 miles from the Gulf Coast, Sara has made peace with the Deep South’s hot summers and temperate winters. While cool weather does make her hair smoother than the usual 90 degrees and 100% humidity will allow, anything cooler than 60 degrees makes her shiver. On warm breezy days, she props open the French doors of her vintage home décor shop on New Orleans’ Magazine Street and lures customers in with the promise of cool AC and a dish of pralines.
1960. Fed up with the humiliations of her cheating husband and the restrictions of her well-to-do family, Margaret Van Buren, known to many as Mags, tosses her mother’s expectations to the wind and her suitcase in the backseat. When she arrives at The Hideaway, a B&B in the secluded town of Sweet Bay, Alabama, she has no way of knowing that the house, and a certain man inside it, will change her life in all the best ways. Or maybe the worst, according to who you ask.
2010. Eager to escape Sweet Bay and her eccentric grandmother Mags—her only remaining family—Sara flees. Almost ten years after settling in New Orleans and opening a Magazine Street antique shop, Sara learns Mags has died. Not only that, Mags has left her ramshackle B&B to Sara and tasked her with renovating it.
Back in Sweet Bay, nothing turns out the way Sara expects—from the motley crew of senior citizens living at The Hideaway, to the charming contractor she hires to renovate the B&B, to the pieces of Mags’s real life she uncovers from a box in the attic.
When a land developer with an eminent domain contract threatens to seize The Hideaway and replace it with a string of trendy condos, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but lonely life in New Orleans.
Told in alternating points of view between Sara and Mags, THE HIDEAWAY combines a present-day narrative with a mystery from the past similar to Sarah Jio’s Morning Glory. It also brings to mind the Southern spunk and humor of Joshilyn Jackson’s Between, Georgia.
First 250 words:
Mother had a look she reserved just for me. As an only child, I shouldered all her expectations about how children of a woman in her position should act and dress. “Her position” was nothing more than the wife of a bank executive, but the way she talked, my father was the king of the South, and she the queen. As the daughter of Mrs. Helen Taylor Livingston, I was the lucky recipient of her frequent displeasure.
While I seemed to always do something to disappoint her—a hemline a quarter-inch too short, lipstick the wrong shade of red (“too Marilyn, not enough Audrey”), curly hair not adequately flattened into submission—disappointment was never my goal. It may have ended up that way, but not at the beginning.
Before any event, even something as simple as dinner with her and Daddy, I’d step out onto the wide veranda of Magnolia Manor—of course, it was Mother’s idea to name our old Greek Revival home in the Oakleigh district of Mobile, Alabama—and wait for her assessment. She’d be sitting in her favorite wicker lounge chair, an inch of icy Old Fashioned in a glass on the table next to her, the ceiling fan circling in slow loops above.
With just the slightest tilt of the head and a barely discernible narrowing of one eye, her look meant, “Not good enough. Try again. Please don’t embarrass me.” She never said the words, but she didn’t have to.