What would you do if you were thirty-seven, good-looking, and single with no family ties and a bad girl rep that you can’t live down? That’s exactly the situation Elle McLarin finds herself in as my new novel, A Girl Like That (112,000 words) opens. Mean girl Elle McLarin desperately needs to reinvent herself. Growing up with her grandparents in their small North Carolina mountain community after her teenage mother, who named her for a fashion magazine, ditched the idea of motherhood and disappeared, Elle found her upbringing to be tougher than most. Add to that a near-tragic mistake—drugging high school hunk Kyle Davis at a party, which landed her in prison for a year—and Elle has long since paid her debt to society. Nineteen years after being dubbed Badass Barbie in high school, and with her grandparents now passed away and her illegitimate son joining the Army, Elle is ready to pull up her bootstraps—and her roots—and go where no one will know her, or what she did.
In coastal Wilmington, Elle opens a bakery called Bake My Day with the proceeds from selling her grandmother’s cabin. Bent on turning her life around, she is constantly driven by her comical Good Elle/Bad Elle inner dialogue. But Elle’s budding relationships with a handful of eclectic and unlikely new friends help her to move outside of her head to grow the possibilities that surround her if she can prune away her transgressions. Nate, an unexpected white-hot neighbor and fishing show producer appears with just the kind of naughty smile Elle likes, reminding her too vividly of the past she’s left behind. Then, right when her new life begins to take root, and love could be a tenuous possibility for Elle, a remarkable event brings Elle into the limelight, causing a jealous bystander to uncover her sordid past, threatening to expose her and drag her under once more. But has this woman met her match? Sometimes, in situations like this, Bad Elle is needed and it’s a good thing she hasn’t gone far!
Told in the first person, readers will get to hear Elle’s side of the story that began in the pages of my first novel, The One. Elle makes cameo appearances in the next two books of the series, though A Girl Like That is a stand-alone novel. If you are meeting Elle for the first time, you may hate her initially, and possibly grow to love her, but it is quite likely that you will not forget her!