Ford Maddox was running from his past when he came back to Blueberry Cove, Maine, where he'd tasted both heartache and comfort. With feisty Delia O'Reilly there to cheer him on, he couldn't have picked a better place to start over--even if he's determined to do it alone in his island tree house, working to save endangered seabirds... and himself. But when he finds Delia fighting to hold on to her local diner, and all that's best about their little seaside town, Ford has to lend a hand. Suddenly two fiercely independent people are building something sweeter than they ever imagined... together.
DIY is so much better with two...
Includes an easy do-it-yourself restoration project!
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By DONNA KAUFFMAN
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Donna Kauffman
All rights reserved.
If you ever truly cared about her, you need to do something.
Ford Maddox stared at the message that had popped up on his laptop screen and scowled. When, exactly, had he lost command of his oh-so-carefully controlled world?
He looked away from the screen, back to the entire summer migratory season's worth of notes he was steadily working his way through, but it wasn't so easy to turn away from the request. That only served to deepen the scowl. There was no question whom the note was in reference to. Not because he was aware that Delia was in need of something, particularly something he might be able to provide, but because, with the lone exception of the person who'd sent the message, there simply wasn't anyone else it could be about.
He'd come to Blueberry Cove to get a grip on his life, and on himself. At the time, those two things had been synonymous. He'd arrived in Maine having narrowed his life down to one person who required his care, one person whose well-being he was responsible for: himself. At the time, he hadn't been at all certain he could even pull that off.
That had been thirteen years ago.
In the intervening years, he'd done everything in his power to keep that list from growing. He'd only been marginally successful where his work was concerned; any number of seafaring critters, both flippered and feathered, relied on him to preserve their continued existence. But where people were concerned ... that population he'd maintained strict control over. No one gets close, no one gets hurt. Or dead. Simple math for the not-so-simple life he'd lived.
Granted, the only thing bombing him these days were bird droppings, but it had been the real deal for enough years that he knew he could no longer be the go-to guy when things got rough. Not personal things, anyway. He had no problem being the guy in charge on Sandpiper Island. Out on his patch of rocky, sea-locked real estate, perched at the outer edges of Pelican Bay, the only battle he fought these days was the one against the relentless forces of nature.
Other than the twelve weeks every summer when the annual crop of interns invaded his sanctuary to help study and record the various nesting populations, it was just him, the wind, the sea, and the tides. His troops these days consisted of a few thousand migratory seabirds, along with whatever harbor seals found their way to the tumble of boulders and rock that hugged his shores. That he could deal with. That was what he preferred to deal with. The animals he'd devoted his life to were simple creatures, relatively predictable and, most important, minded their own business. Human animals ... well, that was an entirely different story.
Getting involved in the personal matters of that particular breed, especially in a small town like Blueberry Cove, and even more particularly in matters of any kind that involved one Delia O'Reilly? "Pass," he muttered under his breath, steadfastly ignoring the twinge in his chest. The Cove had saved his life, no argument there, but he was giving his life back to it, in the only way he knew how, the only way he could.
Of course, if he were being honest, Delia had played a pivotal role in that rescue as well. And one thing he was, to a fault, was honest. Most critically with himself. The truth in this case, however, was that he definitely wasn't the man for the job. Or any job that had Delia's name on it. And he was pretty damn sure she'd be the first one to agree.
He went back to the painstaking and often frustrating task of deciphering his notes on the recently completed nesting season, reluctantly looking up again when a ping indicated another incoming message.
I've only known her a few months, Ford, and I can already state with fair certainty that she's never going to come out and ask for help. Not from me, and most definitely not from you.
"My point exactly," he retorted, even though the note sender couldn't hear him. He and Delia had a past, a distant and some might say a complicated one. They weren't on bad terms. More like they weren't on terms of any kind. Hell, he hadn't seen or talked to her in ... longer than he cared to figure out, much less admit. Because figuring it out would mean admitting he'd been intentionally avoiding her. Which meant there was something between them that needed avoiding. Only there was nothing between them. Good, bad, or otherwise. Other than her brother, and Tommy had been gone a very, very long time.
That didn't stop a mental scrapbook of photos from flipping through his mind's eye. It had been quite some time since he'd thought about Tommy, at least in any specific kind of way. Tommy O'Reilly would always be with him, in the ways that mattered, every day. Over the past several months, however, memories of the most specific kind had popped up. Tommy, fresh out of boot camp, being assigned to Ford's small platoon, and to Ford personally as his battle buddy. Tommy had been a few years older, but in all other ways, Ford had been the mature one, the one with more experience. In battle, and in life.
Coming from a small town in the northern coastal reaches of Maine and being about the most unworldly person Ford had ever met hadn't kept Private O'Reilly from being a cocky know-it-all around his fellow grunts. Around Ford, however, he'd been almost tongue-tied. Ford remembered how annoyed he'd been by that, especially since he'd done his damnedest to be more—how had his CO put it?—accessible. Less threatening. Ford had had enough self-awareness even then to know he was intense, focused, motivated. It was why he'd been groomed early on for the army's special forces unit, the rangers. But he'd never threatened anyone. Well, not anyone on his side of the trigger, anyway.
He forced his thoughts away from Tommy, away from the grinning kid who'd weaseled his way under Ford's skin with wisecracks and sheer force of will and, eventually, even into Ford's good graces. More shockingly, Tommy O'Reilly had managed to do the impossible. He'd found a way to be a friend. Ford hadn't had many of them. A choice he'd made very early in life. Life, he'd discovered at a very young age, was simpler when you didn't need people. Or even like them all that much. Especially in his line of work. Didn't mean he wouldn't have risked his life for O'Reilly, friend or not, battle buddy or not. He had. More than once. Tommy had saved his sorry ass, too, ultimately sacrificing his own while doing just that.
It was for all of those reasons, as well as the ones that Ford had been careful not to examine too closely, that he'd accompanied Tommy's body home to Blueberry Cove, intent on making sure his family knew he'd not only died a hero but a damn good soldier, and an even better human being. Those last two things didn't always go hand in hand. Ford knew that to be true every time he'd looked in the mirror.
Ford? I know you're reading this because the little green dot is next to your name. If you don't want me messaging you, then make yourself invisible.
Ford tossed his pen on the desk, leaned back in his chair, and scrubbed a hand over his face, wishing he could scrub away the message screen and the voice he heard behind it just as easily. He'd spent the past thirteen years being deliberately invisible. He wasn't used to anyone caring whether or not he was accessing the Internet, much less feeling compelled to communicate with him whenever the mood struck. The folks he needed to communicate with as part of his work knew that when information and data needed to be shared, he did so via e-mail or fax and responded in kind. Suited them, suited him, don't fix what's not broken.
Don't make me come out there.
"Dammit, Grace." Even as he barked the words, he felt the corners of his mouth briefly twitch upward. She was impossible to ignore when she wanted something and made a nuisance out of herself until she got her desired result. She'd been like that from the time she could stand upright and string more than two words together. She was a lot like him. In more ways than he wanted to admit, much less think about.
One thing was certain, that name flashing on the screen next to the message bubble was exactly the reason he'd lost control of his carefully contained world.
Grace Maddox. His baby sister. Not that there was anything baby about her these days. She might be thirteen years his junior, but she was thirty-two now, had a law degree, and was currently the proud new owner of an eighteenth-century boathouse she was converting into an inn. In Blueberry Cove. Where she'd moved, lock, stock, and stray dog, four months ago, specifically so she could be near her only family. Namely, him.
Grace had been another one of those things he'd carefully removed himself from. He'd told himself at the time he'd done it for her own good, which, he supposed even then was something he'd known would come back to bite him on the ass. It was one thing to join the army at age eighteen, certain he was doing what was right for him, telling himself his five-year-old only sibling would eventually understand, and even be better off without him. Their mother had finally passed away, so he no longer needed to play protector, shield his baby sister from the disaster that was their only known parent. Neither he nor Grace knew who their respective fathers had been—it was unlikely their mother had even known—and he damn sure knew they were better off for that, too.
The same friends who had been loyal to Sara Maddox the last few years of her life, for reasons that had never been clear to Ford other than some folks just needed to be needed, would see to Grace. That he knew, that he trusted. It had been the only thing he'd trusted back then. Not much had changed.
It had been quite another thing, however, to see just how wrong he might have been on his first return home again. Grace had been shuttled around to quite a few of those caretakers in that short time, and though their hearts had been in the right place, and they'd managed to keep her out of the government-controlled foster care system, the result wasn't all that different at the end of the day. It wasn't the life he'd have chosen for her, thought he had chosen for her. He'd already re-upped for another four, though, and was heading into the kind of training that precluded toting along family members, so there hadn't been a damn thing he could do to fix it.
By the time he and the army had parted ways ... hell, he could barely fix himself. By then it had been too late for him to mount any kind of rescue, and even if he could have, Grace had hardly needed it, not from the likes of him, anyway. She'd gotten herself through primary education, four years of college, and on into law school. She'd made something quite good out of the crap deal life had handed her.
Staying away, letting her start her life on her terms, do things her way, had been the right thing to do at that point. He'd abandoned her, for God's sake. Why the hell would she want anything to do with him? He'd taken the only chance he had, gone down the only path he'd seen available, to make a life for himself. She'd deserved no less than the chance to do the same. So, he'd kept track, but he'd stayed away. For her own good.
You 're so full of shit, too, he thought, then and now. He reached out to flip the screen off, but his hand paused mid-reach.
Both Maddox siblings had made their way in the world, chosen their own paths, but only Grace had had the balls to reach out for what she really wanted, for what really mattered: family.
He curled his fingers into his palm and let his hand drop to the top of the desk, her words still staring him in the face. What he saw wasn't the words, but her face, those eyes, that stubborn chin, the way she lifted one eyebrow as if to say "Seriously? You expect me to buy that?"
Grace was his one weakness. When confronted personally, there was no way he could deny her anything she wanted. Even if what she wanted was to rebuild a relationship with him. But that didn't change the fact that he sucked at it, that he was supremely uncomfortable with it, that allowing even the tiniest chink in his damaged and beat-up armor to be revealed was the single most terrifying thing there was for him, because being vulnerable in any way, on any level, put his carefully constructed new self at risk. He'd survived a lot, more than most men could and still lay claim to their sanity, if not their souls. He wasn't sure he could survive letting her down. Again.
She'd given him no choice in the matter. She'd simply shown up, made it clear she wasn't going away again ... and then she'd wrapped her arms around him, hugged the life out of him, and told him she loved him. Loved him. After all he'd done. After all he hadn't done. How was that even possible? He didn't even know what the hell love was anymore.
He only knew he couldn't tell her no.
And now she wanted to drag him into other people's lives. Namely Delia's. But while Ford owed a debt he could never adequately repay to his one and only sibling, he and Delia were square. Ford would figure out how to continue to manage his world and have his sister somehow be part of it, but he'd be damned if he'd open himself up to anything—or anyone—else. Delia knew better than anyone—anyone—even Grace, that that was, by far, the best for everyone concerned.
He shoved his chair back and stood, too restless now to simply sit there and let the thoughts, the memories dive-bomb him like a sitting duck. He strode across the corner of the open loft space he used as an office and climbed down the ladder to the open space below that comprised kitchen, dining, and living area. He crouched down to check the pellet stove that squatted, fat and happily chugging out heat, in the center of the home he'd built himself, but it was going along just fine, which he'd known it would be since he'd just reloaded it that morning.
Swearing under his breath at his uncustomary restlessness, he straightened. Then, skirting the corner area that was both kitchen and dining room, he gave the rough bark of the heavy white pine tree that formed the far corner an absent rub with his palm before pushing open one of the triple-paned double doors. He stepped out onto the side deck. The dense, coniferous tree canopy provided year-round shade as well as much-needed protection against the elements. But the unseasonably brisk, late August sea breeze blowing inland through the treetops didn't bring him the peace of mind it usually did.
Back when he'd been working toward his degree, he'd spent almost every minute of his spare time researching alternate living spaces. Initially it had simply been a brain puzzle, a way to keep his thoughts occupied when he wasn't studying so they wouldn't veer into territory better left in the past. But that particular puzzle—off-grid living—was more than a distraction. In fact, it had captured his attention so completely that he'd eventually admitted it was the best possible solution for someone like him. Someone for whom the term "normal" didn't apply.
The first time he'd laid his eyes on a drawing of a sustainable, livable tree house, he'd known, instantly, that that was what he'd been searching for. After spending his school hours studying the habitats of the various endangered species he was learning about, he'd understood in that moment that he'd also been studying his own environmental habitat and that, being endangered himself, he'd needed to find the right home where he could, if not thrive, at least survive.
He'd already begun his work out on Sandpiper then, as an intern to Dr. Claude Pelletier, a man he'd greatly admired, and whose wisdom and formidable intellect he missed very much. It had been his first summer on the island when Ford had discovered the exact right spot, deep in the thick thatch of white pine forest that filled the center of the heart-shaped surge of boulders, soil, and rock that comprised Sandpiper Island.
The whole of Sandpiper was like a fortress, hugged entirely—barring the indent of the natural harbor—by a rocky, boulder-strewn shoreline, then surrounded by sea. There, deep in the tall, old forest—in the heart of the heart—he'd found his home.
By the time he'd graduated and taken over operations on the island full time after Pelletier had taken ill, Ford had long since figured out every last detail of how his tree house would be constructed. Multileveled at the core, then spread out to satellite structures he'd added over time, connected by a series of rope bridges, decks, and ladders, through a sturdy group of perfectly matched pine, naturally spaced, so as not to overly burden any one of them. It had taken him eighteen months to complete the main structure, and that had been with a relatively mild winter by Maine standards tossed in the middle of it. He'd hewn every log, cut every board, driven every nail, so he knew and understood its every strength and weakness. It was both his aerie and his bunker. It had given him the one thing he'd known he needed to survive, the freedom to feel completely safe for the first time in his life.
Excerpted from Sandpiper Island by DONNA KAUFFMAN. Copyright © 2014 Donna Kauffman. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
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
This is the type of story that makes a reader want to pack up their things and move there. I have never been to Maine, but after reading this story, I have this sudden urge to chuck it all and move there. Ford and Delia are both in their 40s and know each other from some time ago when Ford, still in the military, escorted her brother's body back home to be buried. He is broody and is still feeling the loss but has a sister who is trying to draw him out of his solitary. Delia took over the running of the diner in town after her grandmother passed away but a local developer wants to take it away from her. Here you take two people, with painful pasts, who start to depend on each other and fall in love. Loved both characters but the story began slowly for me and then I was pulled into it and couldn't stop reading.
I have read pretty much every book Donna Kauffman has written and they never disappoint! I think I found my favorite of her characters until I read her next book!
Wow! I absolutely LOVE Sandpiper Island!!! The story unfolded throughout the book and I could not stop reading. Loved Ford and Delia - such a great pair!! This is my most favorite yet!!! Thank you Donna!!
There is a smooth & easy flow to this story. It flows along like the waves on the coast. At times it’s larger than life, but in general, it’s beautiful & draws you to it. The wildlife and coastal scenery that Kauffman describes is absolutely breathtaking. The wildlife aspect of the novel was very intriguing. It definitely added an intellectual level to the novel that is rarely seen in contemporary romances , and made me appreciate it all the more. Kauffman also had my emotions engaged. My heart was on the line throughout. Her brilliant storytelling allowed me to connect with the turmoil and upheaval of the story, keeping me enraptured. The characters in this novel are the type of people that you instinctively want to know. Seeing what they were going through, and how they were dealing with it made me instinctively want to help them. That said, I didn’t necessarily feel sorry for them, nor did I pity them. Their strength of character combined with the flaws that Kauffman presents in them allows you to relate to and identify with these characters. It was a phenomenal feeling. Kauffman is the author that got me hooked on the romance genre. I always look forward to her work, and this novel is no exception. Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this work in exchange for an honest review.
A must-read romance of the heart and spirit Don't be surprised to hear that I'm moving to Maine. Once again Donna Kauffman has written a siren song about a small coastal Maine town that has me jonesing not just for a vacation, but a life-changing move. If you're looking to lose yourself in a romance for a few hours, pick up the third book in Donna Kauffman's The Bachelors of Blueberry Cove series, Sandpiper Island. The only problem with this book is that after the last page is turned, I don't want to leave Blueberry Cove. I. Don't. My one wish is that Sea Glass Sunrise, the first book in Kauffman's new Brides of Blueberry Cove would be published before June 2015! Oh, does that sound like I love Sandpiper Island? If that was a resounding yes, you're right. I've been longing for the story of the reclusive Ford Maddox and hoped for some happiness in diner owner Delia O'Reilly's life. From hints in the previous two titles, I had guessed that Ford and Delia had a history that might extend a bit beyond friendship. Well, it does. And this is one sexy read. But this isn't really a book about hot bedroom scenes (though it does have some), but it's truly about love in all its many guises. Ford's love for his sister, his love of the migrating birds, his care for Delia, and love of his hometown of Blueberry Cove. Ford rides to the rescue when Delia's diner - the town center in many ways - is threatened with closure. But will he be able to save it and does Delia want it saved? I could not put this book down and found myself in tears several times. Don't worry, there is also plenty of humor laced through the story, but this is really one of the more serious Kauffman titles. The ghosts that haunt Ford and the fear of love that Delia face seem almost insurmountable. Their relationship with one another is so fragile that at times I found it almost painful - in the way when people share their innermost secrets - painful. Yes, this is a book that grabs your heart and won't let go. I don't want to share any spoilers, but a puffin stole my heart. Plus I found the blueprint for a home of my dreams. I'd love to live in Ford's self-sustaining treehouse on Sandpiper Island. If you've ever dreamed of the perfect place to live, this ranks right up there. Truly magical! If you haven't read the other two titles in the Bachelors of Blueberry Cove series, don't worry. Sandpiper Island is a stand-alone story. But be warned, you'll be hooked and an will WANT to read Pelican Point and Half Moon Harbor - and you should! Bachelors of Blueberry Cove is just a wonderful small-town romance series that feels as authentic and unique as the coastal Maine towns that inspired it. That's one of the main attractions of Maine, the flat-out generosity and authenticity of its full-time residents. Donna Kauffman's books capture these qualities perfectly. Donna Kauffman's Sandpiper Island is a must-read for me and I hope for you too. It's a romance of the heart and spirit that I'll be rereading for years-to-come. (I received an eARC from the publisher for use in this review.)
Seastar is this clan discontinued. Are we going to scatter i was Eaglefeather
This was a really cute book to read. 258 pages.
The book started out slow for me; but it soon picked up and I was hooked. The characters and the setting of the small Maine town were well done. Donna did a wonderful job in introducing new readers to this series to the local characters that live in Blueberry Cove. I have never been to Maine; but Donna's description of Blueberry Cove and the residents who lived there brought it to life for me. Ford and Delia are both in their 40's and I really enjoyed reading a story about a couple that is older (and supposed to be wiser). Ford and Delia/Dee met years ago when Ford was in the military. He took on the unenviable task of bringing back Dee's brother after he was killed in service to his country. They had one one night together sharing passion and grief and then Ford returned to his military service. Ford now works for a conservation project that is located on Sandpiper Island studying and recording the different bird species that nest and breed on the island. The information that Donna shared regarding the study of the bird species on the island was interesting to me and it added something to the story that I haven't seen before in a contemporary romance. Ford's home on the island is a "tree house" and I would love to see it since the description makes it sound awesome. Ford was stoic and self-contained when a reader first meets him. Once Ford became involved with helping Dee, he warmed up and became more open - at least to Dee. He really became romantic and started to actually smile. Dee runs the local diner which has been in her family for many, many years. But now, thanks to a millionaire, it's in danger of closing because he wants a yacht club on the land that the diner is built on. Delia has lost everybody that she has ever loved and is alone except for her diner and her customers in Blueberry Cove. She is feeling lost and confused about what her future will hold without the diner. She has walled herself away from others because of her fear of losing someone again. She doesn’t want Ford’s help but he won’t take no for an answer and wants to help her. Ford and Dee slowly find their way back together. It was fascinating to see them become friends first, then lovers and at the end in love. The chemristy between them was there from the very beginning so I knew that there would be an HEA but it would be a road of twists and turns. I found the character development to be in depth and made them more relatable. I was given an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
A wonderfully heartwarming story that I didn't want to end. After years of hiding away on Sandpiper Island, Ford Maddox is back in the Cove to help the one person who has ever touched his heart. Delia is about to lose her diner but Ford is determined to stop it. When these to extremely independent people finally see how working together can be so much better their live are changed forever. This is a fantastic book that everyone should read. I highly recommend it!
Result 1 is the camp and beach.