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Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter: Halcyon Beach Chronicles 1 Kindle Edition

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Length: 65 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

          They're getting the Ferris wheel ready for winter today. I've been standing by the sink watching out the window as a gang of men with enormous arms unbolt the carriages and stack them on the flatbed of a truck to take away for storage. The wheel itself will stay in place until Spring looking like a giant skeleton against the gray sky.
          "We're running low on gin and bourbon," Joel calls from behind the bar.
          He pushes through the swinging doors and frowns at me. "Gin and bourbon, put them on your list and I'll make a run to Stateline Liquor for more. What are you looking at?"
          I nod toward the window. "They're taking all the seats off of the Ferris wheel. It looks naked."
          He peers over my shoulder as two roustabouts with biceps the size of Sunday dinner hams hoist another carriage onto the truck.
          "They have to," Joel says, "if they leave them up and we get a bad storm they could do a lot of damage."
          "I know." I lower my eyes and continue unloading beer mugs, Pilsner glasses, rock glasses - all kinds of glasses - from the dishwasher. They are scorching hot and my fingers burn as I touch them. 
          "How are we ever going to get through this?"
          Joel takes a deep breath. "Come on, Layla. How many times have we discussed this? It's only for a few months so I can work on my book. You hated living at St. Basil's. I thought you'd like being somewhere quiet and ..."
          He pauses but I know what he is thinking. He is thinking "someplace like what you're used to"-- meaning in a bar among people who are the polar opposite of the faculty and their spouses at St. Basil's Preparatory Academy where Joel teaches literature and composition. When I met Joel he was a horny egghead just past thirty and pathetically ignorant of women like me. I wasn't far from thirty myself but I looked lots younger, which was a good thing. Working in a casino takes its toll on a woman. I knew my looks were getting harder and harder to maintain. The only reason a guy like Joel was even in a place like Mohegan Sun, where I waitressed, was because his cousin was getting married and all the guys had taken him there for a final fling before tying the knot.
          "... low key," he concludes. He puts his arms around me and turns me to face him. 
          "Stop worrying, Layla, it'll be fun. Just the two of us. No faculty parties. No high teas. No volunteer projects that drive you crazy." He nuzzles my neck. "Just the two of us and the Geezers, what could be more romantic?"
          The Geezers are a bunch of local guys who hang out at the pub that we - mostly I - will keep open all winter. 
          Halcyon Beach, probably the most ironically named beach town in the world, is a popular tourist spot for people who like a lot of noise and kitsch and who have a strong sense of nostalgia. During the summer it is loud, bright and busy twenty-four hours a day. But by the end of September all the tourists leave and most of the business owners board up their ice cream stands, arcades, souvenir shops, and cocktail lounges and head south for the winter. The families who packed themselves into the little bungalows behind the dunes shutter their windows and lock their doors unless they've managed to find a winter renter. Mostly artists and itinerants, the renters are willing to put up with the drafty windows and poor insulation in exchange for cheap rent and proximity to three sandy miles of beach on the other side of the dunes.
          A few of the locals stay around though, which is why the owner of the Snuggle Inn and Pub, where Joel and I will spend our winter, keeps it open. Halcyon Beach is just a few minutes off of Route 95 North in an area where motel rooms are scarce in the off-season and the owner, who also happens to be Joel's Great-uncle Fitz, never one to pass up the opportunity to make a nickle, has kept the place open through the winter both for the locals looking for a place to get a meal and some company, and for the random travelers in need of food and rest. Which is how I got stuck with this job.

About the Author

Kathleen Valentine was born and grew up in the Allegheny highlands of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Penn State with a degree in The Arts and worked for over twenty years in the art/marketing departments of high-tech corporations. Since 2003 she has run her own design business, She is the author of  Fry Bacon. Add Onions, a cookbook/memoir of growing up Pennsylvania Dutch, as well as 3 novels, several novelettes and short story collections, and knitting instruction books.  Her blog at has been read by thousands of readers since its beginning in July 2005. She currently lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America's oldest seaport, and is writing every day.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1164 KB
  • Print Length: 65 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Parlez-Moi Press (October 8, 2011)
  • Publication Date: October 8, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005U31RPY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #429,202 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Kathleen Valentine is the award-winning author of four novels, many novellas & short stories, books of knitting patterns, & a cookbook/memoir about growing up Pennsylvania Dutch. She has been listed as an Amazon Top Selling Author in Horror and in Mystery/Suspense. As a writer her primary interest is delving into the psychology of her characters. Her stories are sometimes mysterious, sometimes funny, usually romantic, and frequently frightening. Her characters range from lost children and grumpy old folks, to mysterious men and women who are not to be trifled with.

She lives in Gloucester, Massachusetts, America's oldest seaport.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Bookworm on October 30, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I really enjoyed this short story. I loved the mystery throughout this book and was surprised by the ending, I really didn't see it coming.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mel Comley on October 23, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I loved this story from beginning to end, and what an ending.

Loved Layla's character, she certainly had to put up with a lot from her old man!

Great settings and an enchanting tale.

Looking forward to reading more from this author.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Regina Niesen on October 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the first of Kathleen Valentine that I have read and what a great read! The book was given to me by the author to read and review and even though it is very short I enjoyed it. It immediately reminded me of The Shining but with a twist. I would love to see it fleshed out into a full novel and hear more about Layla's character and the backstory of Muriel, Fitz, Herc, and the Geezers. I always love a book set in New England. Not many books are set in Ohio, which is where I currently live, but I did live in the Boston area for a few years and its fun reading about places that I am familiar with. The north shores are a perfect setting for a story like this. I can't wait to dive into her other stories.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Douglas C. Meeks TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Well I was not sure exactly what to expect from Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter and so I was surprised by how quickly you become involved in the characters in the story. You pretty much knew a couple of things as the story moved along but the proper amount of misdirection and intrigue has you guessing wrong at the end :) It was a enjoyable way to spend a day reading this novella and although I would have preferred a bit more detailed ending I know this is the way a lot of authors do endings (no you got to read it to understand :). The question you keep asking about ghost or not ghost along with the banter of the secondary characters made this enjoyable but overall it evolves into a more dark story as it goes along. Well written with a couple of very minor editing flaws that do not disturb the story and you have a story you can sink yourself into combined with an ending that is a bit of a surprise all work together for a decent 4 Star reading experience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Warfield on June 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a novella that I enjoyed very much because of the characters and the feeling that something was strangely not quite right in the almost deserted seaside town in winter. With all of the rides closed and most of the businesses boarded up for the cold season, the town itself became a character and a ghost of itself with so few people there.

Joel and his wife, Layla, have come to Halcyon Beach for the winter months so that Joel can finish the book he's writing, and Layla is to run the pub that is staying open for the few people who stay for the winter in cottages beyond the dunes. Artists and others who need cheap lodging rent the places and manage to keep Layla company during the bitter cold winter months with their stories of the old days when the town was thriving and new. Layla finds herself becoming attracted to a very quiet and handsome man who visits the pub on occasion and also goes for walks with her. It isn't long before Joel begins to be suspicious and angry about her walks and time spent away from the pub during the day.

I was captivated by this story that has an otherworldly feeling to it. It is well-written and has a twist at the end. I highly recommend this novella.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Caleb Blake on January 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
This novella is what I'd call a ghost story romance. Layla moves into the rather desolate Halcyon Beach for the winter, tending a pub during the off-season so that her husband can work on his first novel. We soon see that Layla (at least) finds her relationship with Joel incongruous based on their rather different backgrounds. Joel is a literature professor used to academic circles, whereas Layla is an under-educated barmaid unaccustomed to academia and its trappings.

I initially received the impression that Joel was devoted but almost condescendingly protective of Layla and Layla herself seems to suffer from some sort of depression. However, I did not get the impression that either was unhappy in marriage.
Over the course of this short novella, we see some pretty significant changes in these two characters and how they relate to each other. I found this quite problematic as the transitions did not feel naturally paced. In a shorter work there are basically less words to travel from `A' to `B', but that doesn't mean that the journey shouldn't feel logical.

In the case of this novella, Layla seems to fall suddenly in lust with one of the locals completely and willingly ignoring any obligations she might have felt towards her husband. The leap was so sudden and so total that I felt totally lost. Joel seems to rapidly deteriorate towards a disturbed and violent breakdown. I was equally blindsided by this change. One might argue that one character's transition could cause or influence the other, but in this case they both seem to be reached independently. It's not that I don't think either outcome is possible, it's just that I didn't feel it progressed in a way I could swallow.

"Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter" is also a ghost story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Klawitter on April 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Ms Kathleen Valentine writes with style and grace, and knows how to move a story forward. If ghosts exist, they should be honored to show up in one of her tales. If they do not, Ms. Valentine will convince you otherwise.
John Klawitter, author of [...]
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