Abandoned by her lover after a quarrel, Dougless Montgomery is stranded in rural England, but with the sudden appearance of Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck--who died centuries ago--a passionate affair begins, in a special hardcover edition of the classic romance, featuring a new foreword by the author.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Jude Deveraux is the author of twenty-seven New York Times bestsellers, including The Summerhouse, Temptation, High Tide, The Blessing, An Angel for Emily, Legend, and A Knight in Shining Armor. She began writing in 1976, and to date there are more than thirty-Þve million copies of her books in print. Ms. Deveraux lives in Connecticut.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Dougless Montgomery sat in the backseat of the rental car, Robert and his pudgy thirteen-year-old daughter, Gloria, in the front. As usual, Gloria was eating. Dougless shifted her slim legs to try to make herself more comfortable around Gloria's luggage. There were six large pieces of matched leather luggage to hold Gloria's belongings, and since they wouldn't fit in the trunk of the little car, they were piled in the back with Dougless. There was a makeup case under her feet and a big wardrobe on the seat beside her. Every time she moved, she scraped against a buckle, a welt, or a handle. Right now, she had an itch under her left knee, but she couldn't reach it.
"Daddy," Gloria whined, sounding like an invalid four-year-old, "she's scratching the pretty suitcases you bought me."
Dougless clenched her fists, closed her eyes, and counted to ten. She. Gloria never said Dougless's name, but just called her She.
Robert glanced over his shoulder at Dougless. "Dougless, could you please be a bit more careful? That luggage is quite expensive."
"I am aware of that," Dougless said, trying to keep the anger out of her voice. "It's just that I'm having a difficult time sitting back here. There isn't much room."
Robert gave a great sigh of weariness. "Dougless, do you have to complain about everything? Can't you even allow a vacation to be pleasant? All I asked was that you make an effort."
Dougless opened her mouth to reply but closed it. She didn't want to start another argument. Besides, she knew that it would do no good. So, instead of replying, she swallowed her anger -- then rubbed her stomach. It was hurting again. She wanted to ask Robert to stop to get something to drink so she could take one of the tranquilizers the doctor had prescribed for her nervous stomach. "Keep this up and you'll give yourself an ulcer," the doctor had warned her. But Dougless wouldn't give Gloria the satisfaction of knowing that she'd yet again managed to upset Dougless and to, yet again, drive a wedge between Dougless and Robert.
But when Dougless glanced up, she saw Gloria smirking at her in the makeup mirror on the sun visor. With determination, Dougless looked away and tried to concentrate on the beauty of the English countryside.
Outside the car window she saw green fields, old stone fences, cows and more cows, picturesque little houses, magnificent mansions, and...and Gloria, she thought. Dougless seemed to see Gloria everywhere. Robert kept saying, "She's just a child and her daddy has left her. It's only natural that she's going to have some hostility toward you. But please try to show some sympathy for her, will you? She's really a sweet kid when you get to know her."
A sweet kid, Dougless thought as she looked out the window. At thirteen, Gloria wore more makeup than Dougless did at twenty-six -- and Gloria spent hours in the hotel bathroom applying it. Gloria sat in the front of the car. "She's just a kid and it's her first trip to England," Robert said. "And you've been to England before, so why not be generous?" That Dougless was supposed to read the road map when she could hardly see around Gloria's head didn't seem to count for much.
Dougless tried to concentrate on the scenery. Robert said Dougless was jealous of his daughter. He said that she didn't want to share him with anyone else, but that if she'd just relax, they'd be a very happy threesome. "We could be a second family for a little girl who has lost so much," he said.
Dougless had tried to like Gloria. She'd tried hard to be an adult and ignore, and even understand, Gloria's hostility, but it was more than Dougless could do. In the year she and Robert had been living together, Dougless had made every possible effort to find that "sweet kid" that Robert had told her of. Several times, she'd taken Gloria shopping and spent more money on Gloria than Dougless's small elementary school teacher's salary allowed her to spend on herself. Several Saturday nights Dougless had stayed at the house she shared with Robert, babysitting Gloria while he went to professional functions, usually cocktail parties or dinners. When Dougless had said she'd like to attend with him, Robert had said, "But time alone is what you two need. You need to get to know each other. And, remember, babe, I'm a package deal. Love me, love my kid."
Sometimes Dougless had started to believe that it was beginning to work because she and Gloria were cordial, even friendly, to each other when they were alone. But the minute Robert appeared, Gloria changed into a whining, lying brat. She sat on Robert's lap, all five foot two inches, one hundred and forty pounds of her, and wailed that She had been "awfully mean" to her.
At first Dougless had laughed at what Gloria was saying. How absurd to think she would ever harm a child! Anyone could see that the girl was just trying to get her father's attention.
But to Dougless's utter disbelief, Robert believed every word his daughter said. He didn't accuse Dougless. No, instead, he just asked her to be a "little kinder" to "the poor kid." Immediately, Dougless's defenses had gone up. "Is that supposed to mean you don't think I'm a kind person? You do think I would mistreat a child?"
"I'm just asking you to be the adult and have a little patience and understanding, that's all."
When Dougless asked what he meant by that, Robert had thrown up his hands and said that he couldn't talk to her; then he'd walked out of the room. Dougless had taken two of her stomach tranquilizers.
After the arguments, Dougless had wavered between guilt and rage. She had a classroom of children who adored her, yet Gloria seemed to hate her. Was Dougless jealous? Was she somehow unconsciously letting this child know she didn't want to share Robert with his own daughter? Every time Dougless thought of her possible jealousy she vowed to try harder to make Gloria like her, which usually meant she bought Gloria another expensive gift. And she'd again agree to babysit on the weekends when Gloria stayed with them. While Gloria's mother had a life, Dougless thought with bitterness.
At other times, all Dougless felt was rage. Couldn't Robert just once -- one time -- take Dougless's side? Couldn't he tell Gloria that Dougless's comfort was more important than the blasted suitcases? Or maybe he could tell Gloria that Dougless had a name and wasn't always to be referred to as she or her? But every time Dougless said something like that to Robert, she ended up apologizing. Robert said, "My God, Dougless, you're the adult. And I only see her on alternate weekends, so of course I'm going to favor her over you. You and I are together every day, so why can't you stand to play second fiddle now and then?"
His words sounded right, but at the same time, Dougless fantasized about Robert telling his daughter to "be more respectful" toward the "woman I love."
But that didn't happen, so Dougless kept her mouth shut and enjoyed the time she and Robert had when Gloria wasn't around. When Gloria wasn't with them, she and Robert were perfectly suited, and she knew, through age old intuition, that very soon she was going to receive what she wanted so much: a marriage proposal.
Truthfully, marriage was what Dougless wanted most in life. She'd never been burning with ambition the way her older sisters were. Dougless just wanted a nice home and a husband, and a few children. Maybe someday, after the kids were in school, she'd write children's books, something about talking animals, but she had no desire to fight her way up a corporate ladder.
Already, she'd invested eighteen months of her life in Robert, and he was perfect husband material. He was tall, handsome, well-dressed, and an excellent orthopedic surgeon. He always hung up his clothes, and he helped with the housework; he didn't chase after women, and he always came home when he said he would. He was reliable, dependable, faithful -- but, most important, he needed her so very much.
Not long after they met, Robert had told Dougless his life story. As a child, he hadn't been loved very much, and he told Dougless that her sweet, generous heart was what he'd been looking for all his life. His first wife, whom he'd divorced over four years ago, was a cold fish, a woman who Robert said was incapable of love. Just three months after he met Dougless, he told her he wanted a "permanent relationship" with her -- which she took to mean marriage -- but first he wanted to know how they "related" to each other. After all, he'd been hurt so badly the first time. In other words, he wanted them to live together.
What he said made sense to her, and since Dougless had had a number of "unfortunate" previous relationships with men, she happily moved into Robert's big, beautiful, expensive house, then set about doing everything she could to prove to Robert that she was as warm and generous and loving as his mother and wife had been cold.
With the exception of dealing with Gloria, living with Robert had been great. He was an energetic man and they often went dancing, hiking, bicycle riding. They entertained a great deal and often went to parties. She'd never lived with a man before, but she had easily settled into a domestic routine, feeling as though it was what she was made for.
They had problems other than Gloria, of course, but Robert was so much better than any of the other men Dougless had dated that she forgave him his little quirks -- most of which revolved around money. True, it was annoying that when they went to the grocery together he nearly always "forgot" his checkbook. And at the ticket window of theaters and when the check was presented in restaurants, half the time Robert found he'd left his wallet at home. If Dougless complained, he'd talk to her about the new age of liberated women and how most women were fighting to pay half the expenses. Then he'd kiss her sweetly and take her somewhere expensive for dinner -- and he'd pay. And Dougless forgave him.
Dougless knew she could stand the small problems -- everyone had idiosyncracies -- but it was Gloria that sent her screaming. When Gloria was with them, their life turned into a battleground. According to Robert, his daughter was perfection on earth, and because Dougless didn't see her that way, Robert began to see Dougless as the enemy. When the three of them were together, it was Robert and Gloria on one team and Dougless on the other.
Now, on this holiday in England, in the front seat Gloria offered her father a piece of candy from the box on her lap. Neither of them seemed to think of offering any to Dougless.
Still looking out the window, Dougless gritted her teeth. Perhaps it was the combination of Gloria and money that was making her so angry, because, with this trip, Robert's little "money quirk" as Dougless had always thought of it, had turned into something more.
When Dougless had first met Robert, they had talked for hours about their dreams and they'd talked many times of taking a trip to England. As a child, she had often traveled to England with her family, but she hadn't been back in years. When she and Robert had moved in together, in September of last year, Robert had said, "Let's go to England one year from today. By then we'll know." He hadn't elaborated on what they would "know," but Dougless was sure that he meant that, in a year, they'd know whether or not they were compatible for marriage.
For a whole year, Dougless had worked on planning the trip, which she'd come to think of as their honeymoon. A "pre-honeymoon," she called it in her mind. "The decision maker," she said to herself, then smiled. She made reservations at the most romantic, most exclusive country house hotels England had to offer. When she had asked Robert's opinion of a hotel, he'd winked at her and said, "Spare no expense for this trip." She had ordered brochures, bought travel books, read and researched until she knew the names of half the villages in England. Robert's only stipulation had been that he wanted an educational trip as well as fun, so she'd compiled a list of many things to do that were close to their lovely hotels -- which was easy to do, since Great Britain is like a Disneyland for history lovers.
Then, three months before they were to leave, Robert said that he had a surprise for her on this trip, a very, very special surprise that was going to fill her with joy. His words had made Dougless work even harder on the plans, and she found their little game of secrecy exciting. As Dougless planned, she thought, Will he propose here? Or maybe here. This place would be nice.
Three weeks before they left, she was balancing Robert's household-accounts checkbook when she saw a canceled check for five thousand dollars made out to a jewelry store.
As she held the check, tears of happiness came to her eyes. "An engagement ring," she'd whispered. That Robert had spent so much was proof that even though he was a tad stingy on small things, when something really counted, he was generous.
For the next few weeks Dougless had walked on clouds. She cooked wonderful meals for Robert and had been especially energetic in the bedroom, doing everything she could think of to please him.
Two days before they were to leave, Robert punctured her bubble a bit -- not enough to burst it, but it had certainly been deflated. He had asked to see the bills for the trip, plane tickets, advance reservations, whatever she had. He had then added the amounts and handed her the calculator tape.
"This is your half of the cost," he'd said.
"Mine?" she'd asked stupidly, not understanding what he was saying.
"I know how important it is to you women today to pay your own way, so I don't want to be accused of being a male chauvinist pig," he'd said with a smile. "You don't want to be a burden to a man, do you? You don't want to add to all my responsibilities at the hospital and to my ex-wife, do you?"
"No, no, of course not," Dougless had mumbled, feeling confused, as she often did when confronted with Robert's reasoning. "It's just that I don't have any money."
"Dougless, baby, please tell me that you don't spend everything you make. Maybe you should take a course in accounting." He lowered his voice. "But then your family has money, doesn't it?"
That was one of the times Dougless's stomach had begun to hurt, and she remembered the doctor's warning about giving herself an ulcer. She had explained to Robert about her family a hundred times. Yes, her family had money -- lots of it -- but her father believed his daughters should know how to support themselves, so Dougless was on her own until she was thirty-five; then she'd inherit. She knew that if there was an emergency, her father would help her, but a pleasure trip to England hardly counted as an emergency.
"Come on, Dougless," Robert had said with a smile when Dougless didn't reply to his question. "I keep hearing what a paragon of love and support that family of yours is, so why can't they help you now?" Before she could speak, Robert raised her hand to hi...
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Pocket Books, 1989. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110671678574
Book Description Pocket Books, 1989. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Brand New!. Bookseller Inventory # VIB0671678574