Salty Key Inn Series, Book 4
Date Published: September 22, 2018
Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing
Sheena Sullivan Morelli and her sisters, Darcy and Regan, work to complete their Uncle Gavin’s challenge of turning his rundown hotel into a profitable operation within one year. Winning means earning a share in their uncle’s sizable estate. More than that, it determines how they’ll spend the rest of their lives. Sheena wants to stay on at the hotel, overseeing the hotel operation. But Darcy and Regan want to move on with their lives—Darcy writing a novel and Regan going into the interior decorating business with Mo. But life has other plans for them. And in the end, all three realize that the only thing that really matters is finding—and keeping—family.
Other Books in the Salty Key Inn Series:
Salty Key Inn Series, Book 1
Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing
Sheena Sullivan Morelli and her sisters, Darcy and Regan, receive the unexpected news that their Uncle Gavin Sullivan, the black sheep of the family, has left them a hotel on the Gulf coast of Florida. The gift comes with a twist. They must live together for one year at the hotel and prepare the hotel to receive guests within a year. Sheena, eager to escape her role of unappreciated wife and mother, can’t wait for the opportunity to find herself. Dreams of sitting on the beach sipping margaritas are shattered when they see the property in need of renovation. But they begin their work of meeting the challenge. If they succeed, the bulk of Gavin’s estate will be theirs. Facing the unexpected, working together, the three sisters learn a lot about each other and the gift of family love.
Salty Key Inn Series, Book 2
Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing
Darcy Sullivan and her two sisters continue to work hard at the Salty Key Inn, the small, Florida hotel they unexpectedly inherited. In order to inherit the rest of Uncle Gavin’s sizeable estate, they must meet his challenge to open the neglected hotel by the end of the year. Darcy figures once they meet the challenge, she’ll take off, travel the world, and maybe, just maybe, begin writing the world’s best novel. When she meets Nick Howard, an older man who is a reporter for the local newspaper and takes over his weekly column, her life changes. Under his tutelage, she writes about local residents, learning to see people in a different way—especially after meeting a cousin no one knew about. Her joy at having the part-time job that’s always been her dream is shattered when she learns Nick is dying. For support, she turns to Austin Blakely, whose grandmother is terminally ill, and through their growing relationship, comes to understand what true love is.
Salty Key Inn Series, Book 3
Publisher: Wild Quail Publishing
As Regan Sullivan continues to work with her sisters, Sheena and Darcy, to meet their Uncle Gavin’s challenge to make the Salty Key Inn a success, she wonders why she can never find the man of her dreams. Her sisters are happily settled with men they love. Why can’t she do the same? When she’s involved in a motorcycle accident with Brian Harwood, Regan learns to think differently about both her appearance and herself. And as she deals with her injuries and helps Brian recover from the accident she feels guilty about causing, Regan discovers that the love she’s always sought has been there all along.
Sheena Sullivan Morelli stood outside Gavin’s, the new restaurant at the Salty Key Inn on the Gulf Coast of Florida, feeling as festive as the mini-lights wound around the trunks of the palm trees that softened the outline of the building. She was dressed in her finest on this unusually warm, mid-December night, and the tropical Gulf breezes felt good as they caressed her skin.
From among the hibiscus planted around the perimeter of the restaurant, lights twinkled like the stars in the inky sky above and lent a sense of peace to the area. That, and the fact that Petey, the pesky peacock Rocky Gatto had rescued and brought to the hotel, had decided not to bother with this celebration and was hanging out down by the bay.
“Let’s make this an evening to remember!” said Sheena, giving her younger sisters, Darcy and Regan, an encouraging smile.
Named after their uncle, the restaurant would, they hoped, bring in enough revenue for them to be considered successful in meeting the terms of his will. With less than a month before their final meeting with Gavin’s estate lawyer in Boston, they were trying their best to prove to him that they had succeeded in beating the challenge of turning his rundown hotel into a profitable operation within one year. Winning meant they would inherit Gavin’s sizable estate along with the hotel. More than that, it would determine how they’d spend the rest of their lives.
Sheena brushed an imaginary crumb off her blue linen dress and studied her sisters. Darcy was wearing a green sheath that offset her red curls nicely. And Regan, beautiful as ever, even with the scar on her face she couldn’t quite hide, had chosen a violet, flowy dress that matched her striking eyes. Funny, Sheena thought, how she hadn’t really known her sisters until the three of them had been forced to live and work together at the hotel. And when Regan and Brian Harwood, now her fiancé, were in a serious motorcycle accident a few months ago, frightening everyone, they’d become even closer.
“I hope everyone likes what they see,” Regan said. “Mo and I did our best decorating the interior with the budget we had.”
“Don’t worry. It’s gorgeous,” said Darcy, giving Regan an impish nudge with her elbow.
“The restaurant is stunning,” said Sheena, “and the food is great. We were lucky to get Graham Howard as our chef.” She turned as a stream of people headed their way from the parking lot, which was filling up fast.
“Here we go! Make it good,” said Sheena softly, prompting Darcy and Regan to roll their eyes at the big-sister moment Sheena couldn’t help.
They’d invited county commissioners, members of nearby city and town councils, other government officials, news people, owners and managers of other hotels in the area, and even the governor of Florida to join them for this grand opening. It had been a bold move on their part, but it had already paid off in publicity, even though the governor and some county commissioners had politely declined. The fact that Darcy had been writing a column for a local newspaper helped them. She was acquainted with the ins and outs of generating publicity and had invited several writers of local social columns, travel bloggers, and magazines.
Sheena was soon swept up greeting people and ushering them inside to enjoy drinks and to taste the delicious-looking food displayed in the bar and on a long buffet in the dining room.
The dark wood paneling on the walls of the main dining room supplied a rich background for the brass and crystal wall sconces that spread a soft glow along the room’s edges. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling, casting their own warm light. White linen cloths covered the tabletops, which were set with sparkling wine goblets and silverware that reflected the light from the chandeliers and sconces. Flickering battery candles sat among tasteful, holiday greenery, adding a pine perfume to the mouth-watering aroma of the hors d’oeuvres being passed by staff.
Upstairs, the large function room held another bar and more food to sample, drawing people through the entire restaurant. A buzz of conversation enhanced the sense of excitement. The crowd was a pleasing mixture of people who, hopefully, would be a source of future business.
Kenneth Cochran, better known as Casey, was a Cornell Hotel School grad and manager of the restaurant. Tall and thin, he was a natural at his job with his ever-present smile and alert blue eyes. Tonight, he seemed to be everywhere, overseeing staff, and greeting people. Sheena observed him with satisfaction as guests responded to his attention. If she and her sisters won the challenge, they hoped to hire Casey as the hotel manager to help Sheena, who would remain an active overseer of the property.
Sheena looked up as her husband, Tony, appeared with their two children. Tears stung her eyes when she noticed the effort Michael, at eighteen, and Meaghan, at fifteen, had put into their appearance. After initially being against her plan to come to Florida, they now embraced their new lives and were proud of all she was doing.
“Hi, Mom,” said Michael. His brown eyes, so like Tony’s, sparkled. “Okay if I help myself to some of the food?”
She laughed at the typical, teenage hunger of a still-growing, young man. “Of course. Enjoy.”
“You look pretty, Mom,” Meaghan said. “Thanks for letting me wear your necklace. It’s great with my new holiday dress.” She twirled in front of Sheena. Her auburn hair, like Sheena’s, swung above her shoulders and brought out the hazel in her eyes.
“You look pretty, too, sweetheart,” Sheena said. Her little girl was growing into a beautiful young woman.
Tony gave her a smile that warmed her heart. His smile had been one of the reasons their marriage had been prompted by the unexpected creation of Michael all those years ago. And though they’d always loved each other, their relationship had grown even stronger during their time in Florida.
He kissed her. “See you later. I’m going to mix with the crowd a little. Brian and I are hoping to pick up some new business.”
She gave him a heartfelt smile. Following Brian Harwood’s motorcycle accident with Regan, Tony had agreed to become a partner in Brian’s construction company and was now settled into his new life in Florida. As Tony walked away, Sheena noticed Blackie Gatto headed in her direction.
Blackie was Uncle Gavin’s financial advisor and a great supporter of her and her sisters as they attempted to do as their uncle wished by transforming what had been a small, run-down, family hotel into the upscale, full-service resort property he’d envisioned.
“Welcome to Gavin’s,” Sheena said to him, giving him a quick hug. “I’m so glad you could make it.”
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” he replied, lifting her hand, and kissing it in a gallant gesture. He indicated their surroundings with a sweep of his arm. “I think Gavin would be very pleased with this.”
“We hope it brings in enough new business and revenue for us to complete our challenge here the Salty Key Inn.”
He nodded and settled his gaze on her. “I hope so, too. The downside of borrowing the money from Gavin’s estate to complete the restaurant could be difficult for you and your sisters if you fail.”
Sheena’s stomach curled inside her, but she didn’t want Blackie to see how worried she was. For the sake of her sisters and her family, she had to remain upbeat. With only a few weeks remaining to accomplish everything they had left to do, self-doubt could ruin them.
About the Author
Judith Keim was born and raised in Elmira, New York, and now makes her home in Idaho with her husband and their two dachshunds, Winston and Wally, and other members of her family.
Growing up, books were always present being read, ready to go back to the library, or about to be discovered. Information from the books was shared in general conversation, giving all of us in the family a wealth of knowledge and a lot of imagination. Perhaps that is why I was drawn to the idea of writing stories early on. I particularly love to write novels about women who face unexpected challenges and meet them with strength.
A hybrid author who both has a publisher and who self-publishes, Ms. Keim writes heart-warming stories of strong women who face challenges and find love and happiness along the way. Her books are based, in part, on many of the places she’s lived or visited and on the interesting people she’s met, creating believable characters and realistic settings her many, loyal readers love.