The House on Mermaid Point

Book 3, Ten Beach Road Series


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In this new novel from the author of Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach, three unlikely friends who were thrown together by disaster get a do-over on life, love, and happiness . . . 

Maddie, Avery, and Nikki first got to know one another—perhaps all too well—while desperately restoring a beachfront mansion to its former grandeur. Now they’re putting that experience to professional use. But their latest project has presented some challenges they couldn’t have dreamed up in their wildest fantasies—although the house does belong to a man who actually was Maddie’s wildest fantasy once . . .

Rock-and-roll legend “William the Wild” Hightower may be past his prime, estranged from his family, and creatively blocked, but he’s still worshiped by fans—which is why he guards his privacy on his own island in the Florida Keys. He’s not thrilled about letting this crew turn his piece of paradise into a bed-and-breakfast for a reality show . . . though he is intrigued by Maddie. Hard as that is for her to believe as a newly single woman who can barely manage a dog paddle in the dating pool.

But whether it’s an unexpected flirtation with a bona fide rock star, a strained mother-daughter relationship, or a sudden tragedy, these women are in it together. The only thing that might drive them apart is being trapped on a houseboat with one bathroom . . .

“I enjoyed The House on Mermaid Point . . . the story is clever and entertaining . . . a spectacular backdrop . . . equally fine are her characters, particularly her female characters, strong, creative women who are gutsy, likeable and determined with just the right amount of savoir faire . . . Bottom line? The House on Mermaid Point is the easy,breezy novel of the summer. A perfect beach side read for the dog days of August.”
–Linda Fasulo, NPR station WGCU-Radio (Southwest Florida)

“Wendy Wax does a good job in The House on Mermaid Point of catching readers up on her varied cast, which includes now-divorced Maddie’s grown daughter and toddler grandson. There’s tension, romance, sudden loss and satisfying details of rehabbing a resort.”
—On A Clear Day I Can Read Forever

?”Like getting together with old friends . . . a great summer beach read; these ladies will make you laugh, make you cry, but most of all want to hold all of your friends close. ?Avery, Maddie, Deidre, Kyra, and Nikki all face their troubles head on, even if it is with a little push from? their friends.  These ladies are ready to take on the next big challenge, and readers will be ready to go with them on their next adventure.”
–Savvy Verse and Wit?

“[The House on Mermaid Point] will be hungrily devoured by readers.”
—RT Book Reviews

”These books are great summer reads and every year I look forward to the next one. I only wish I was down in Florida with the ladies.”
—5 Minutes for Books

“Romance, celebrity, friendships, and mother-daughter relationships all play key roles in this quick summer read.”
–Library Journal Xpress Reviews

“This is a great summer read of friendship, family and transformation. It begs to be read by the beach.”
–Parkersburg News (WV)

“Wendy Wax brings back the friends of “Ten Beach Road” for another beach adventure that will keep you reading at the pool until you need to turn on the lights. It will take you away to the Keys, so get ready for a refreshing “mini-getaway” . . . Ms. Wax gives you everything you want in this warm and witty novel. This Florida native knows her territory and thoroughly enjoys taking you there.”
–The Free Lance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA)

“This seasons’ perfect beach read! . . . soft island breezes, warm sandy beaches and gorgeous sunsets, what more could a reader want? . . . be sure to put your sunscreen on before you sit in the sun to read THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT because you will lose all sense of time as well as yourself in the witty banter and crazy goings-on of these amazing ladies.”
—Single Titles

“The perfect beach read . . . a great book about friendship and perseverance and overcoming obstacles . . . I love how the women grow and discover things about themselves . . . will inspire you to break out of your comfort zone and discover your hidden talents.”
—As the Page Turns

“A summer must read! . . . William Hightower is my all-time favorite character created by Wendy Wax. . .  a great book to read by the pool . . . this series is by far one of my all-time favorites to date, the story line is fresh and the characters have grown even more endearing and interesting with each new book . . . Happy Reading, this is not a book to miss out on.”
–All About a Book

“Intriguing characters . . . glorious descriptions . . . reader[s] will relish this book as a sequel to Ten Beach Road but also as a stand-alone lovely novel.     Nicely done again, Wendy Wax!!!”
—Crystal Book Reviews

“I loved The House on Mermaid Point . . . I loved how Wendy Wax brought the women back together and through the project . . . an entertaining novel that packs an emotional punch and left me hoping for another Florida project for the women ASAP.”

Wendy Wax is a fabulous author with a captivating writing style and a true talent for storytelling . . . a great group of characters . . . strong and intriguing women . . . a thoroughly enjoyable and well-written novel, perfect for a day at the beach.”
–Chicklit Club

Wendy Wax has written a love story/stories set in the Florida Keyes . . . a paean to the sea, the land, the skies, the place . . . I’ve been to the Keys and loved it. Wax revels in it! . . . a good beach read, in all ways.”
–Book Dilettante

“I loved The House on Mermaid Point and how the author brought back the women, while adding new interesting characters to the mix. In the end, I felt a rush of mixed emotions at the unexpected resolution that came to them all, while throwing wide the windows on a fresh new beginning.”
–Curl Up and Read

“The ladies from Wax’s Ten Beach Road series head to the Florida Keys for a new opportunity but clash with rock star “William the Wild” Hightower in this perfect beach read.”
–The Avenue News (Aberdeen, MD)

“Wendy Wax is a fabulous author with a captivating writing style and a true talent for storytelling. I easily warmed to all three leading female characters in the novel . . . strong and intriguing women . . . the novel had me interested from beginning to end . . . a thoroughly enjoyable and well-written novel, perfect for a day at the beach, and part of a book series I can’t wait to check out!”
–A Spoonful of Happy Endings 

“I LOVED the sparks between Maddie and William the Wild Hightower . . . but what I really liked is that . . . [Wendy’s} characters . . . are still finding and making their lives better. These ladies are proof that when life knocks you down, pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and have fun!
–Traveling with T

“I’ve read Ten Beach Road and am in the midst of Ocean Beach and love the characters! I’m so excited that I now will have the opportunity to spend more time with them in [The House on Mermaid Point] . . . The series is full of fun characters and is wonderful summer
reading material . . . perfect for reading on the beach!!!”
—The Aha! Connection (Dunwoody, Sandy Springs GA)

“I just loved it! I have completely fallen in love with this motley crew of women . . . [the book] has a little bit of everything – funny situations, a new romance brewing, friendships strengthened, and a surprising ending that you probably won’t see coming. I only hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of these ladies as I think their stories have only just begun!”
–Always with a Book 

“Complex characters . . . fun . . . surprises at the end of the book that you probably won’t see coming . . . the setting will make you want to pack your bags and head to the Keys. I think you’ll enjoy this book! It’s a perfect summer beach read!”

“Wendy Wax has proven to be a great author. The House on Mermaid Point just adds to her record of great chick lit!”
–Book Reviews R Us

“I’ve read the two previous books, Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach, with these characters and loved them. Reading The House on Mermaid Point was like visiting with old friends after too long an absence . . .  Wax is so adept at creating a sense of place . . .  I can’t wait for the next book in the series.”
–Pudgy Penguin Perusals

“I couldn’t have picked a better beach read! . . Wax doesn’t disappoint . . . the setting couldn’t be more perfect for a summer read . . .  an excellent job of describing life and the landscape on the Keys . . . Mermaid Point should make its way into your beach bag and into your heart.”
–A Worn Path

“The women from and are back! . . .I already can’t wait for the next book in the series! I wonder where this unique group of women can go from here, and reading about them feels like reading about people that I actually know. This book would make an excellent addition to your beach bag this summer.”
–The Book Chick

“Enthralling . . . rich descriptive details bring the setting alive, the character development was deeply satisfying.”
–Book Date

“Perfect for the chick lit lovers. It has all of the components we love; strong women, a strong story and great guys . . . the author has a lovely writing style that flows easily through the book . . .the storyline is unique and fun plus it is the quintessential summer must have read!”
—Two Classy Chics

“I LOVED the sparks between Maddie and William the Wild Hightower . . . but what I really liked is that . . . [Wendy’s} characters . . . are still finding and making their lives better. These ladies are proof that when life knocks you down, pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and have fun!”
—Traveling with T

“[I] have read every book in this incredible Ten Beach Road series and each, a 5-Star Winner; however, I believe THE HOUSE ON MERMAID POINT is my favorite . . . these characters grab you by the heart and do not let go . . . kick ass, talented, and smart women you will grow to love . . . a story of redemption, loss, and love—priceless! . . . the banter between sweet little Dustin and William, melts your heart! Wendy, please do not let the series end!”
—Judith D Collins Must Reads

There had been a time, many times actually, when William Hightower would have left rehab in a limo. That limo, sent by his record label, would have had tinted windows, a fully stocked bar, and an eager woman with long legs, big breasts, and a talented mouth perched on the back seat.His release would have been celebratory and newsworthy with photographers and fans jostling each other outside the gates so that they could snap photos and scream his name as the limo sped by.

The articles and news stories would run for weeks after his release. Each would begin with pictures of him on a stage surrounded by a vast, undulating sea of enraptured fans. Back when the braid that hung down his back was darker than the night sky over a Florida swamp. When he’d swaggered across a stage as if he owned it. As if he were a real Seminole warrior and not a scared kid from a dusty no name town who had two drops of Native American to every gallon of Florida Cracker blood in his veins.

Back then the alcohol and drugs were just part of the gig. They hadn’t yet slowed his fingers or marred his voice, or eaten away the muscle and sinew that held him together, like termites gnawing on a wood shanty. The pain of watching his little brother leave their band, the aptly if offensively named Wasted Indian, in a hearse, hadn’t yet been carved into his face like a name slashed into a tree trunk. Back then the roar of the crowds had convinced him that he was alive. And destined to be young forever.

Today the car that whisked him away from rehab had not been sent by a record company and did not contain drugs, alcohol or a woman, eager or otherwise. It was a muddy brown BMW driven by his angry, tight jawed son whom he barely knew. The only one left from that once-vast sea, the only one bound by the obligation of blood.

“Thanks for picking me up,” Will said.

A grunt was his only answer. Which was perhaps more than he deserved.

“And for arranging my … stay.” It was as close as he could come to admitting that he, William Hightower, who had made and blown millions, couldn’t have afforded the month spent at Three Palms Whole Health Center, which practiced an holistic and adventure based approach to beating one’s demons. Not even if he’d wanted to go there.

There were no gates to drive through. No waiting press. No screaming fans. Just a clean modern building sandwiched between a lake where he’d paddled a kayak until his muscles burned and a pool where he’d numbed his mind and his body with lap after lap. He was leaving far fitter than he had arrived. Fitter than he’d been since he’d played his first gig at seventeen. He’d give the Three Palms folks one thing; they’d forced him to clean up his outside while they’d hammered away at his interior. As if there were anything left in there.

The hair that had once hung down his back barely brushed his shoulders; the glossy black was streaked with gray. His face, bruised and battered by 61 years of hard living was still dominated by a hatchet of a nose and high harsh cheekbones that the camera had once loved. His dark eyes were framed by a spider’s web of lines, but they were clearer than they’d ever been; allowing him to see the world around him as it really was; stark and unrelenting.

They drove south from the hermetically sealed town of Westin, Florida in silence, palm trees sliding by, bold blasts of tropical color climbing walls and snaking up tree trunks. The flat morning light was unforgiving, leaving only the stingiest triangles of shade.

In Florida City the turnpike emptied onto US-1 then onto the two-laned eighteen mile ribbon of asphalt that locals called ‘the stretch.’ It was here that the real world began to dissolve while paradise crooked its finger just ahead. Even on the crappiest day ‘the stretch’ could cause heart rates to slow, stress levels to drop, and brain synapses to fire less frantically. But today Will’s mind flitted at random as Tommy drove sedately, his eyes fixed straight ahead.

Despite the open windows the silence between them hung hot and heavy, stuffed with things that had never been forgiven and which Will sincerely hoped would never be discussed.

A chain link fence was all that held back the scrub and brush as they skirted the Everglades and crossed over the Monroe County Line. Will stole the occasional surreptitious glance at his son, who had inherited his size and coloring and who looked so much like the younger brother he’d been named for that it hurt to look at him. He thought about the boy’s mother, who’d been a casualty of the life they’d lived, too. So many people gone for no good reason.

From the top of the Jewfish Creek Bridge sun glinted off the impossibly turquoise water that flanked them and a warm salt breeze tinged the air and rifled Will’s hair. In Key Largo scuba and bait and tackle shops began to fly by. A strip mall sign promising Pilates in Paradise caught his eye.

The silence spooled out. Will’s eyelids grew heavy. He was close to nodding off when Tommy said, “I talked to the bank. Then I brought in a Realtor to look at Mermaid Point.”

Will’s eyes blinked open. This was what happened when you gave your only blood relative power of attorney. In case of emergency. Never thinking that you might be thrashing it out in rehab when they decided to declare one.

He’d bought the tea-table shaped key on a whim back in the early eighties when Key West had ceased being a place to hide out, kick back and chill. When cruise ships began to arrive and depart daily and crowds longing to be wild and eccentric planted a flag and declared Key West their capital of crazy. Everyone he cared about had fled. Will had only made it seventy-nine mile markers up US-1.

“I’m not interested in selling Mermaid Point.” Not his island. Not ever.

They were passing through Tavernier. Mariner’s Hospital and McDonald’s flashed by and then they were crossing Tavernier Creek. Soon they’d be on Upper Matecumbe, the third of Islamorada’s four keys.

Almost home.

“Even if you wanted to, you couldn’t sell the island without doing something about the house and the outbuildings,” his son said. “Not in the condition they’re in.”

It was Will’s turn to grunt. When he’d bought Mermaid Point it had been one of many homes Will owned. Now it was all he had left. All he wanted to do when he got there was stretch out in a chaise by the pool and zone the hell out. Which wouldn’t be anywhere near as easy without a drink or a joint in his hand.

At the moment he was trying not to think about how he was going to live the next week, let alone the rest of his life, without numbing up. He wasn’t sure his pool—or even the Atlantic Ocean, which his pool overlooked—were big enough to swim the number of laps it would take. He didn’t know if there were enough laps in this world to make the need to detach go away.

“The thing is if the house and grounds could be renovated it would make a great place for an island vacation or a corporate retreat. And you could keep the rooms rented out all the time — I mean you’re still a name. People would pay a fortune to come stay in a property owned and operated by William the Wild.” The tone was derisive. As if he were relating something that he didn’t understand but he knew to be true. “You could make a living as the ‘genial host’ of the Rock n Roll Bed and Breakfast. Or, I don’t know, maybe we should just call it the Wild House.”

“You’re joking.”

Will kept his voice even. He wasn’t even home yet. He was not going to get worked up. Hadn’t he just spent a month trying to learn how to stay calm and in control? “And it’s not like you’d ever get approval for a Bed & Breakfast. There’s an ordinance against them. And a moratorium on building.”

Tommy shook his head dismissively. “That’s just semantics and small town politics. And I never joke about money.” Of course, he didn’t. The kid was a damned Investment Banker with a calculator for a brain. If he didn’t look so much like a Hightower Will might have doubted the paternity test. “Unless you want to end up on the sofa sleeper in my living room? Or an old age home for former rock stars?”

Will crossed his arms over his chest and turned an eye on Tommy. He’d used this look to good effect with record people who’d wanted to turn him into some fancy boy crooner when he was a rocker through and through. And with fans who didn’t understand boundaries or personal space. “That won’t be happening.” If he’d earned anything in all the decades played out onstage, it was privacy. “There’s no way in hell I’m sharing my island or my home with strangers.” He shuddered when he thought of wide-eyed honeymoon couples or worse, sad-eyed retirees in the bedroom down the hall.

You didn’t own a slab of coral rock barely tied to land if you wanted strangers anywhere near you.

His son turned and looked at him. “Well, I’m afraid you don’t really have a choice. You don’t have enough money to live on without using your sole remaining asset one way or the other. You can sell Mermaid Point and the structures on it and live frugally for the rest of your life.” His tone indicated he didn’t believe William had the ability to do any such thing. As if he’d been born to wealth and hadn’t earned his fortune one damned song at a time. “Or you can renovate, play the host to anyone willing to spend the money, and at least keep a roof over your head.”

William’s throat was so parched he could barely swallow. He didn’t know how he’d made such an obscene amount of money and ended up with so little. Or how the son who despised him had come up with such a horrifying plan.

A drink would have smoothed things out. Would at least allow him to pretend he wasn’t a broke, recovering alcoholic. Slowly, he reached in his pocket and pulled out a tootsie roll pop. He unwrapped it carefully and placed it in his mouth as they passed Whale Harbor Marina. The Lor-e-lei whizzed by on his right. Pretty soon they’d see Bud n’ Mary’s Marina which would make him as good as home. He sucked on the thing in silence refusing — in a ridiculous test of will— to give in and bite into its chewy center like he wanted to.

Danielle, his favorite group leader at the facility, had given him a large bag of the pops as a going away present. Idly, he wondered why no one had ever invented a whiskey-flavored version with a shot of Jack Daniels in the center. Maybe that’s what he should do to get back on his feet. Invent an alcoholic version of the Tootsie Pop.

He turned his head to hide his smile, concentrating on the hard, sweet candy in his mouth. Maybe an alcoholic but sugar free version so all the poor alcoholics didn’t become diabetic on top of everything else. He crossed his arms on his chest and let his eyes skim over the familiar surroundings as he sucked on that candy shell.

He could tell by the position of the sun that sunset was only a few hours away. From Mermaid Point he could watch the sun rise over the Atlantic in the morning and see it set over the Gulf every night; both were sights he hadn’t gotten tired of seeing yet.

Back in the day he could have scribbled down a hit song on a napkin between sets in a bar. But that was then. Before he’d turned as old as the fucking hills and lost most everyone he’d ever cared about. This was now. And he was pretty certain that he didn’t have so much as half a melody hidden anywhere inside him.

Discussion Guide

Download a printable discussion guide for The House on Mermaid Point.

Discussion Questions

1. We see William Hightower’s house transform in the hands of the Do Over crew: from cleaning the floor-to-ceiling windows to making the house amenable to guests. How does William’s transformation mirror the changes of his house? How much of this is a result of the crew?

2. The book’s setting almost functions like the layers of an onion: the American South, the Florida Keys, Mermaid Point, and Hightower’s home. How does the mood change and tension increase as the team travels through these “layers?”

3. On the houseboat one night, Avery is ruminating on the nature of the team’s trials: “Success wasn’t necessarily about crossing the finish line first. Sometimes success was about managing to stay afloat.” At what points in the story is the team trying to “stay afloat?” What challenges threaten this ability?

4. As Maddie’s romance with William Hightower develops, we often hear her inwardly worrying about her physical appearance. How are romance and physicality different for middle-aged women than they are for men of the same age? How have society, and other influences, affected Maddie’s body image?

5. Hightower’s song about a “mermaid who’d left him to return to sea” is referenced several times in the story. What female characters are most like Hightower’s mermaid who “left” him?

6. When Maddie runs the boat aground on the way home from dinner, the women spend the night in the boat. They later realize that the men knew and chose to remain uninvolved. Hightower calls it an “important rite of passage.” What emotions did that episode evoke? Did you think it was all right to leave the women stranded? Were there other “rites of passage” on the island?

7. The cyclical nature of sunrise and sunset offers a natural, rhythmic structure for the novel. What might the mportance of sunrise and sunset indicate about the characters’ lives?

8. Consider how William and Tommy’s relationship has similarities to the parent-child dynamic between Avery and Deirdre. What is the arc of these parent-child relationships, and how does redemption factor into their stories?

9. The characters in the book have a fraught relationship with exposure and celebrity because of their jobs on Do Over. How do we all, in the age of the Internet, have a changing relationship with exposure and celebrity? How does the possibility of “being exposed” affect the characters’ behaviors—Kyra and Nicole in particular— and our own?

10. During her time alone with William, Maddie observes the beauty of her surroundings and comments: “I can understand why you wouldn’t want to give this up or share it with strangers.” How is he able to eventually find peace with the new plan for his home?

11. Do Over is the show at the core of the story. Full of absurdities and frustrations, it also is a source of a great sense of accomplishment and bonding for the crew. What characters are experiencing a “do over” of their own in The House on Mermaid Point?