Table of Contents
“Jill is an amazing talent with an ability to draw you in and create a world that not only seems absolutely real but makes you hate to see the story end.
will make you laugh, cry, and sigh with contentment as you read the last page.”
New York Times
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF JILL GREGORY
“Jill Gregory gifts us with a perfect romantic suspense story complete with complex and vivid characters, family intrigue, a fast-paced plot, and unexpected twists and turns.”
“Gallops out of the starting gate . . . Gregory expertly weaves the various plot threads together, creating a tight, well-balanced story that packs an emotional punch.”
“A transfixing blend of fiery romance and spine-tingling suspense.”
“For tales of romance and adventure that keep you reading into the night, look no further than Jill Gregory.”
“A first-rate romance. Gregory . . . writes the stuff that romance readers yearn for. If you haven’t yet read her, you’re missing out on a great treat.”
“Riveting . . . The ultimate seductive read . . . Unforgettable.”
“A page-turner extraordinaire.”
“Stirring and imaginative. A tense, intelligent, and surprising thrill. Drum tight in execution, fueled by imagination, the plot is as sharp as a broken shard of glass.”
“With her usual style and gift for characterization, the always great Gregory gives readers a tale of intense emotion spiced with the thrill of danger.”
RT Book Reviews
“The excitement is palpable. The story is priceless.”
—M. J. Rose
“Convincing characters and a rapidly moving plot . . . Enjoyable.”
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author
Berkley Sensation mass-market edition / October 2011
Copyright © 2011 by Jill Gregory.
Excerpt on pages 287–296 by Jill Gregory copyright © by Jill Gregory.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ISBN : 978-1-101-54479-2
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
To my wonderful sister Peggy
and my dear friend Debbie,
with love and appreciation.
LONESOME WAY, MONTANA
A charcoal and rose dusk streaked above the Crazy Mountains as Sophie McPhee turned her Blazer onto the private gravel drive that would lead her home.
The drive was called Daisy Lane, and the rambling two-story timber house looming a half mile in the distance was the Good Luck ranch house built by her mother’s grandfather more than ninety years ago.
Three generations of her mother’s family had called it home, and it had been
home the first eighteen years of her life. Sophie wondered with quiet desperation as darkness stole over Lonesome Way if it truly could be her home again.
Would this house or this town
like home, after all this time, after everything that had happened? Would any place ever again feel like home?
She swallowed, hoping it would. But the emptiness inside her seemed as if it would never go away, never allow her to feel anything but loss and anger ever again.
Back in San Francisco, friends had told her she wouldn’t always feel this way, that things would get better. The platitudes sounded nice and Sophie knew they were well-meaning, but they bounced off her like drops of cold water hitting a sizzling skillet.
Her throat tightened as she neared the head of Daisy Lane and the Blazer’s headlights caught the gleam of the big white house and the familiar landmarks of the now empty Good Luck barns and sheds and paddocks. The same-old, same-old words of encouragement weren’t doing a thing right now to help her fight the fist of pain squeezing her heart.
She didn’t have any idea what—if anything—ever would.
All she’d been able to think to do was to leave her old life with all its tears and mistakes behind, and to start over.
And here in her hometown of Lonesome Way was the only place where she’d imagined having the strength to try.
As the flaming rose sun slipped behind the mountains, and darkness swallowed the foothills, a tiny flicker of hope made Sophie catch her breath. The sage-scented air, the vast miles of rugged rolling land, were familiar. Comforting.
On that thought, the kitchen window suddenly glowed with a bright, cheerful light. Her mother was expecting her. Sophie had called from the road. Next on was the living room lamp, gleaming with welcome. And then the porch light sprang to life, illuminating the old white wooden swing and her mother’s carefully planted rosebushes.
A crystal wind chime tinkled sweetly, swinging in the night breeze, and there were the wide porch steps where she’d perched on countless summer afternoons as a girl, playing jacks with Lissie and Mia.
A rush of emotion filled her as she switched off the ignition and climbed down from the Blazer on tired feet. Even as she grabbed her purse, the front door of the house swung open and her mother appeared in the doorway. Not quite as tall as Sophie, she was thin and angular, wearing a loose blue cotton top and jeans, her feet bare in the summer night.
Diana McPhee hurried out onto the porch. Her chinlength fair hair was peppered with gray, her eyes reflected a mixture of eagerness and concern. Sophie was struck by the fact that nearing sixty, her mother was still a strikingly pretty woman.
“Sophie! Thank heavens. I was starting to get worried.”
As Sophie moved toward her, her throat ached with unshed tears.
“I’ve been holding dinner. Guess you must’ve hit some major traffic on—”
Then her mother saw her face and broke off. Sophie knew how she must look—pale, sad, tired, with the tears that were always close shimmering in her green eyes. She was so sick of the tears. She blinked them back and forced a smile.
“Sorry to keep you waiting, Mom. There was construction, and at one point, believe it or not, I was so distracted that I took the wrong turn and had to backtrack.”