Splendid Summer captures San Diego during the Roaring Twenties with its glorious Hotel del Coronado, Coronado Tent City, Dance Pavillion, Speakeasies, and Bathing Beauty Contests.
Grace Wentworth’s plans for a splendid summer go awry when her guardian uncle dies and her trust fund disappears. She’s been rich and she’s been broke. You’re right — rich was better. It’s the Roaring Twenties and the only thing a London Finishing School taught her was that men earn money and women spend it.
Detective and Aviator Jack Brewster doesn’t want a dame’s help with his investigation of Grace’s guardian uncle’s death. He’ ll learn that the difference between Grace and a pitbull is a pitbull eventually lets go. Jack’s magical white cat, Tatania, solves mysteries without ever missing a nap.
Excerpt from Splendid Summer:
“Who then can so softly bind up the wound of another as he who has felt the same wound himself?” Thomas Jefferson
When Grace saw her parents dead bodies, she knew the rest of her life would be a performance. That was the first truth. Before the grief, the anguish, and the crushing pain of separation, came the knowledge, that her mere existence would never be simply enough for anyone again. She might feel happy again. But to live life, in the company of someone for whom her mere existence meant joy, wouldn’t happen. Everyone else would require a performance of beauty, intellect or wit. She’d tap dance for the rest of her days to merely survive.
Without siblings, her parents’ will provided for guardianship to pass to her Uncle Charles and Aunt Alice. Aunt Alice hated Grace’s mother. Uncle Charles acquiesced to his hostile wife’s commands that he avoid those who loved him. Estrangement ran in Grace’s family. It ran marathons.
Still, Uncle Charles had warmly welcomed Grace, and kept her in the finest boarding schools before sending her on to Finishing School in London. She’d adored London. On the ship home from England to New York, Grace dreaded parting with her best friends, Ruth and Emily.
“She’s a few dances short of a full card.” Grace mocked Aunt Alice to Ruth and Emily. At Grand Central Terminal, people slowed to look at them, a brunette, a blonde, and a redhead. They could even make men pause on their way into the Stock Exchange.
“I don’t think your Aunt Alice knows it’s the 1920s.” Emily said.
“I don’t think she even knows it’s the 20th century.” Ruth replied.
“Thanks for coming with me to the station.” Grace said.
“ Bees Knees. I wouldn’t have missed it. Adored the attendant leaping to open the taxi and take your luggage. And you’re coming back to New York for my Debutante Ball.” Ruth said.
“You two couldn’t lose me if you tried. You’re like my only family.” Grace replied.
“That’s all wet. You know your Uncle Charles loves you.” Ruth reminded her.
The train whistle blew and attendants rolled out the red carpet with its proud logo, “20th CENTURY LIMITED.”
“I want to go too. I’ve heard Rudolph Valentino takes the 20th Century Limited.” Ruth said.
“You’ll be at my own ball in California soon. And we’ll write, won’t we?”
“Yes. We’ll make a pact. Round Robin letters.” Ruth said.
Emily nodded in agreement.
Grace, feeling very regal, strolled along the red carpet and entered the train.
She stopped at the train’s lending library and reached up for a copy of Letters of Thomas Jefferson, tripping slightly. Another hand covered her own.
“Are you alright?” A deep masculine voice asked.
She looked up and saw green eyes that mirrored her own.
“Sure. Just practicing a little gymnastics.” Like a cat, she pretended she meant to do that.
“Falling for me already?” He asked.
He smiled and she noticed the dark mustache that matched his dark hair. He looked about six foot two. The hand that still held her felt strong.
“I’m Grace.” She said shyly.
“Really? I’m Jack Brewster.”
She would have slapped him but his hand caught her wrist. And she wanted to take Letters of Thomas Jefferson with her.
“Thank you.” She said, certain that everyone was staring at them, and suddenly grateful that he didn’t look like anyone who’d be at a Debutante Ball. He wore a black leather jacket over a white shirt.
“Anytime. I’m a Pinkerton Detective. I never sleep. And you’re taking the book I want.”
“Surely there’s a bedtime story for you here, Jack.”
“Miss Wentworth? Shall I show you to your suite?” The Pullman Porter bowed slightly. “Of course.” She felt grateful for the opportunity to slip away.
Her suite included a drawing room and a sleeping berth where the Porter busied himself plumping pillows. Magazines filled with advertisements lay on the drawing room’s table. She picked one up. Your Face is Your Future, proclaimed the Pearl Facial Cream advertisement that promised she’d lead a wrinkle free life if she applied it nightly. And to think she’d been wasting time on French, Piano and Etiquette lessons.
She checked her appearance in the floor length mirror. Brunette bobbed hair, alabaster skin, a nose she’d been told was adorable all her life, and red lips that didn’t require lipstick. She changed into a red dress for dinner. She brushed her hair quickly, and slipped on new May Jane pumps hoping to get to the Dining Car and never see Jack Brewster again.
In the compartment across from her, she saw him, standing by a berth. A white cat sat against his pillows, grooming a paw.
“Do you sleep with her?’
“No, we’re just good friends.” he replied.