by Gerri Hill
Lauren Voss has a nice, quiet, orderly life running her grandmother’s Heron Bay Resort on the Texas coast. Three years removed from a break-up that left her ex—and her life—behind in San Diego, she’s adjusted to the slow pace in Rockport, seeking out neither new friends nor lovers. Vandalism at the resort’s clubhouse—and a cryptic message written in blood—brings Detective Harley Shepherd, with her obnoxious Hawaiian shirts, into her life.
A tragedy sent Harley Shepherd running to the sleepy fishing village of Rockport, where violent crime is rare. So different from her life as a homicide detective in a large city, she embraced the quiet and easy-going attitude of the town, determined to put her past behind her.
Was it luck or fate that had her catch a case of simple vandalism? The lovely Lauren Voss made no attempt to hide her dislike of both her—she reminded Lauren of her ex—and her Hawaiian shirts.
Was the vandalism a prank, as Lauren suspects? When a body is found floating near the resort’s pier, Harley is convinced it’s related. As the formality and animosity between them changes and a friendship forms, the women find themselves growing closer as a killer terrorizes the peaceful town they both now call home.
GCLS Goldie Awards
Red Tide at Heron Bay — Finalist, Romantic Blend.
FROM THE AUTHOR
"I spend a lot of time in Rockport, so it’s become a setting for a few books, going all the way back to Gulf Breeze. Pelican’s Landing was set there too. The Midnight Moon was on the island as was Love Waits, and Moonlight Avenue was just down the way in Corpus Christi. I’m sure there will be more to come.
Red Tide at Heron Bay was conceived while sitting on a long pier that jutted out into the bay. I was watching the pelicans dive for food, camera in hand but forgotten. Something about the bay, the water, the sun…my mind wanders. The “guts” of this book came together in a matter of minutes, it seemed. The characters didn’t have faces or names yet, but I could picture them in this setting. Books come together easily like that sometimes.
I hope you’ll enjoy this one—set at one of my very favorite places."
The Lesbian Review
Gerri Hill writes wonderful mysteries, and this is no exception. I know I’m reading something special when I can’t put a book down. The mystery was full of tension, and as it ramped up the relationship between Lauren and Harley became closer. I was hooked. It was scary in parts and the exquisite prose pulled me right there, into the moment. But it was the characters that intrigued me the most. They had lives and backgrounds that rang true. They had been damaged by the past, but through their connection with each other, they began to heal.
Michele R. - This was a well-balanced book between the romance and the mystery. I recommend this book to other readers. Gerri Hill never disappoints.
Carol C. - One of the best things I love about Ms. Hill's writing is she takes the time to describe the environment and surroundings within the story, not so much as to stall the storyline but more to enhance the feeling of really being there with the characters…Ms. Hill does a wonderful job of blending mystery with a love story (reminds me of Devil's Rock and Hell's Highway) and she did it justice again in this book.
Kennedy O. - Love the Hawaiian shirts and the person wearing them. This romantic intrigue had my attention from the beginning. Detective Harley Shepherd, upbeat yet sad as she deals with the loss of someone close to her. Lauren Voss, resort manager, shying away from relationships as she continues to deal with a relationship that went off the rails. Both women "ran" to Heron Bay to heal. Little did they know that tragedy would be waiting for them right around the corner. I enjoyed the flirting and teasing. Some of the comments had me chuckling and laughing out loud.
Bonnie A. - Ms. Hill has certainly done it again. I was hooked from the beginning to the end. This is a murder, mystery, romance with loveable main characters who are fully developed and has great chemistry. You just can’t help but love Harley in her obnoxious Hawaiian shirts. The secondary characters are just lovely. Nana is by far my favorite SC. Ms. Hill just has a way with her writing style and I love how the sceneries are so clear. You can actually picture yourself in the setting watching the story unfold. This is now one of my favorite books. I definitely recommend getting a copy. It’s a must read. 5 stars
Claire E. - Another brilliant gripping crime thriller from Gerri Hill, couldn't put it down and read in one sitting! The characters are introduced with care so from the start you know who they are and like them and want to get to know them more. The setting is beautiful, I always really feel like I can see and smell the settings of her books and this is no exception, the geography is clearly laid out so I can imagine the connection. I have a sense of the beauty of the place too, this really adds to my enjoyment of the book and shows her skill as a writer, I would also add the backstory is also excellently explored and there are also fully fleshed out supporting characters which are so important, adding to the overall depth of the book. A gripping storyteller at her best.
Stephanie D. - This is exactly why Gerri Hill is a master in suspense and crime and romance books! Sooo good! This book was a brilliant slow burn in both ways, the romance and the crime. The suspense was also on point. This is the kind of book you do not want to put down. Both characters were incredible and complemented each other in unexpected ways. This book was entertaining, touching and unexpected. Definitely one of the author's best!
Deb M. - Hill has written over 30 novels since she began penning them in 2000, yet her stories are always fresh. Red Tide at Heron Bay is another fine example of this. The storytelling is meticulously plotted and the romance is interwoven with intrigue, drama and mystery. Clever little clues are nicely dropped, making it all quite compelling. All and all, this is an engaging, entertaining read, top to bottom. A big thumbs-up all the way.
Lauren paused outside her door to admire the flaming red bougainvillea that was in full bloom, then turned her face toward the bay, inhaling the familiar salty air. It was a cloudy morning, and the sunrise would go unnoticed, although it was still a few minutes away. The laughing gulls that soared over her head greeted her to the day and she smiled with contentment as she closed the gate to her walkway and headed to the small, paved road that would take her to the clubhouse and the cottages, all tucked into and between the coastal oaks that dotted the Rockport landscape. They had seventeen cottages on the property as well as a bank of rooms—mini-suites, her grandmother called them—that overlooked the pool and flower gardens. It had been her idea to paint the cottages all different colors—pastels of yellow, blue, lavender, mauve, and green. That was after her grandfather had passed, and her grandmother often said he would be “rolling over in his grave” at the sight of them. They were their signature now, though.
She opened the gate to the pool area and followed the sidewalk. Again, her gaze lingered on the colorful flowers—more bougainvillea, several colors of hibiscus, and an array of seasonal flowers. No one was about at this early hour and she pulled off her T-shirt and shorts, leaving her in the one-piece Speedo she normally wore. She went to the deep end and did a shallow dive, swimming underwater to the other side before surfacing. It was a ritual she did most mornings before heading to the office. She’d swim a few laps, then float on her back, mentally planning her day. Today, a day after the Fourth of July crowds left, she decided she’d do little more than tend to the flowers. They had a watering system set up for most of the gardens but some needed tending to by hand. It was a relaxing, therapeutic chore that she loved.
As she floated on her back, her gaze went to the clubhouse. An enclosed poolside entrance held the rack of towels and an icemaker. Through there, you could enter the kitchen and lounge. The clubhouse itself was used infrequently by the guests—birthday parties and such. The small workout room—with a treadmill, an elliptical, and a weight set—got more use. There were two large sofas in the lounge, separated by a bookshelf where guests were free to trade books. That was a popular thing years ago, before electronic devices took over. Now the books mostly collected dust. The game room saw a fair amount of traffic as couples would meet there to play board games or dominoes. The clubhouse was decorated much like the cottages, with coastal art and prints of shorebirds. A huge collage was dedicated to the aftermath of Harvey, the hurricane that decimated the oaks but surprisingly left little structural damage to the cottages.
She walked up the steps of the pool and dripped into the towel room, grabbing one and drying her long hair, then taking a second to dry her body. As she toweled off, something inside caught her attention. She frowned. The chairs around the table were toppled over.
She slung one towel over her shoulder and opened the door. She stopped in her tracks, her eyes darting around the kitchen and lounge.
“Oh my god,” she whispered.
The chairs were tipped over, yes. So were both of the sofas and even the bookshelf. Books and magazines lay strewn on the floor and the colorful prints on the walls had been slashed with a knife. Her eyes were drawn to the front door, seeing the gaping hole in the glass where someone had smashed it.
She backed out of the room, hurrying over to her clothes and her cell. Her hands were shaking as she dialed 911.
“Yes, I need to report a break-in.”