Fiction Judith O'Brien Maiden Voyage

ISBN 13: 9780671502195

Maiden Voyage

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( 33 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780671502195: Maiden Voyage

Imaginative and wonderfully gifted, Judith O'Brien has delighted readers and reviewers alike with her time-travel novels. "Romance of any genre doesn't come any better," says Publisher's Weekly. Now she journeys across the sea to Ireland, where a young, thoroughly American woman has inherited an eighteenth-century townhouse, and an unforeseen destiny.

Maura Finnegan is utterly taken with the quaint, romantic nature of her new home on Merrion Square ... as well as the dashing, elegant ghost who lives there. Lingering to solve the mystery surrounding his death, the apparition appeals to Maura for help in his desperate quest, and unknowingly leads her to Donal Byrne -- the extraordinarily handsome man who holds the long-buried secret. Maura's about to discover the compelling history behind her own Irish roots...and a love that transcends the barriers of time.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Review:

Judith O'Brien says the idea for this story came while "researching" in Irish pubs. If so, she must have had her pubmates in stitches. Judith's fresh writing style and charming, wonderful characters will keep you chuckling right to the last page. The oh-so-American, Maura Finnegan can't believe her good luck when she inherits a classic Irish townhouse and furniture shop, but when she visits her property, she discovers it is derelict and comes with a ghost, a bumbling solicitor, and an arrogant Irishman with ulterior motives.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

Maura Finnegan cleared her throat, indicating to the rest of the board that the meeting was about to begin. Conversations were hastily concluded, papers were shuffled. A secretary silently refilled coffee and water cups. All eyes were now focused on Maura Finnegan.

To the casual observer, she seemed too young to be seated in the oversize chair at the head of the oblong table. Her complexion was fresh as a child's, luminous and free of obvious cosmetics. Her long red hair was pulled back into a severe French twist, and she wore no jewelry other than a plain watch. Although her teal suit was expertly cut, it, too, was simple.

"Good morning." She smiled, glancing around the table at the faces of men and women old enough to be her parents. There was a general murmur of greeting, brief return smiles before she looked down at the agenda before her.

Maura was exhausted, far too tired to lead the meeting. She had passed the entire night in a fruitless quest for sleep, paging through paperback novels, flicking past television channels, listening to the radio. Nothing seemed to soothe her. It had been that way for over a month now, ever since Roger had dumped her.

Someone was speaking.

Maura blinked and focused in the direction of the voice.

And again she thought of Roger.

He had seemed so perfect. Everyone who met him had invariably pulled her aside.

"What a great guy!"

When they first met, she had been intimidated by his overpowering air of success. He arrived in Milwaukee like a bolt of lightning, fresh and clean and wonderful. If not exactly handsome, he was indeed well-groomed, with an exceptionally fine set of teeth. She had noticed his teeth when they first met.

It had been at a Christmas party, a dull affair hosted by the advertising agency that handled her father's company. Later no one could remember why he was at the party, since no one could recall meeting him before the event, much less inviting him to the party.

With his blond hair combed straight back and wearing a black overcoat, he had walked directly to where she was seated, a handful of peanuts cupped in his hands. To her astonishment, he siphoned the peanuts into her lap.

"I wish they were emeralds," he whispered. "They would match your eyes."

She could not respond for two reasons. One was that everyone in the tinsel-festooned lobby was staring at them. The other was that she had seen a PBS special the week before, and a variation of the "wish they were emeralds" line had been uttered over seventy years before by playwright Charles MacArthur to Helen Hayes. She did not mention that she had seen the same show, for it was the meaning of his words that was so important. The line had worked on Helen Hayes, and it sure worked on Maura.

Their romance began at that moment, a whirlwind affair full of flowers and red wine and evenings spent by the roaring fireplace of her parents' home. She had felt so alone after the death of her father, following less than two years after her mother's death. In one fell swoop she had been robbed of her remaining family and forced into the uncomfortable position of running the family business.

And then came Roger. With little hesitation, she had allowed herself to be swept into his capable arms. Clever, strong Roger seemed a godsend.

Then an odd thing happened: People stopped commenting on what a great guy he was. She attributed it to jealousy. On the part of the women it was because their own mates could never hope to compare to Roger. With men, it was because Roger was effortlessly all they longed to be. Of course, that had to be the reason, simple and understandable jealousy.

Roger seemed to know everything, from the best restaurants to the finest wine. The waiters had even been impressed, she could tell, when he sipped a glass of burgundy and proclaimed it "a pretty little wine."

It didn't matter that she no longer saw most of her friends or that they spent more and more time alone, isolated from the rest of the world. Nor did it matter that he never introduced her to his own family or friends.

"I'm jealous of the time you spend with other people," he had said, and she, of course, felt the same way. Although he wanted her to meet his family, a large brood that seemed to have come straight from an idealistic sitcom, his brothers, all lawyers or doctors or architects, were always jetting around the world. His parents, old-fashioned -- his father was a retired judge, his mother president of the garden club -- stayed back east, but he had told them all about her, and they eagerly awaited meeting their boy's girlfriend.

Someone was still speaking at the meeting. Maura made all of the practiced motions of appearing to pay attention. Her green eyes seemed to flash with intelligence every few moments, but the reaction was to her own tortured thoughts, not to the actual speaker.

Although he was a man's man in every way, Roger had been free to show his soft side to women. Once she even saw a tear in the corner of his eye when they were watching The Pride of the Yankees. Later he claimed the moisture had been the result of new contact lenses, but Maura knew better. He was sensitive and tender, her Roger. The kind of man she had always dreamed of meeting. The kind of man she had always dreamed of marrying. Someone to help her with the company.

For in reality, Finnegan's Freeze-Dried Cabbage was not the moneymaker it once had been. By the time of his death, her own father, sidelined for the last six months, had no idea how bad things had become. Maura had seen all of the books, the black-and-white balance sheets that added up to a company on the brink of collapse, and hid the truth from her father.

He had established the company twenty years before, convinced that Finnegan's Freeze-Dried Cabbage would pave the way to a freeze-dried vegetable empire.

But freeze-dried cabbage had never really caught on. As a side dish it tasted like salty wood shavings. Their biggest clients now were dry soup and sauce manufacturers, who buried the product safely under other ingredients. Unless a new use for Finnegan's Freeze-Dried Cabbage could be found, it was only a matter of time before the business went under.

The company had inched forward with her father at the helm, but with Maura it had stalled. It had been her dad's forceful personality that had propelled Finnegan's Freeze-Dried, not the product.

Maura, at the age of twenty-seven, did not have that winning personality. Instead, she had a business degree from Notre Dame and, for the past year and a half, Roger.

Without Roger, she was absolutely nothing.

Her hand clenched, and she squeezed her eyes shut for a moment, forcing the tears to go away. Not now. She couldn't cry now. Later, back home, she could again close the door and give way to her grief. But not at a business meeting.

The small slip of paper in her hand was damp from her moist grasp. It didn't matter that the ink had been smeared. She knew the sum total penned by her secretary, knew the numbers with a scalding accuracy.

In a neat, precise hand, it said "Final Account -- Overdraft $98,872."

Only five weeks before, Maura had confided in Roger, showing him the company books, allowing him to go over the figures at his leisure. He was a financial adviser, a term etched on his business card. If anyone was in need of financial advice, it was Maura and Finnegan's Freeze-Dried.

Roger had an idea. He would save the company. But in order to do so, he would have to be given complete autonomy. No one should be told of their plans, of his authority. Otherwise, the mere hint of financial distress would destroy the company. Creditors who had been polite would become demanding, and the law was on the creditor's side.

"Let me handle this," he had said, chucking her under her chin.

It had been so e

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