After the Loving (Harringtons Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview


In the much anticipated follow-up to Once in a Lifetime, full-figured caterer Velma Brighton is constantly comparing herself to her thin, beautiful sister, Alexis, who seems to have everything. On Alexis's wedding day, Velma's insecurity kicks into overdrive when she puts on a formfitting maid-of-honor gown that reveals all of her curves. Worse still, the man who makes her heart race will be escorting her down the aisle. How will he react to her very shapely physique?

Rugged, ...

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After the Loving (Harringtons Series)

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Overview


In the much anticipated follow-up to Once in a Lifetime, full-figured caterer Velma Brighton is constantly comparing herself to her thin, beautiful sister, Alexis, who seems to have everything. On Alexis's wedding day, Velma's insecurity kicks into overdrive when she puts on a formfitting maid-of-honor gown that reveals all of her curves. Worse still, the man who makes her heart race will be escorting her down the aisle. How will he react to her very shapely physique?

Rugged, tough and a loner, Russ Harrington is every woman's dream. And Velma is his type of woman. He fell for her—beautiful curves and all. But he has little patience with her lack of self-esteem. Setting aside his concerns, Russ pursues Velma…until she tries to undergo a complete makeover. Ironically, Velma's attempt to attract Russ could cause her to lose the very thing she wants the most—his love.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459205437
  • Publisher: Kimani Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2011
  • Series: Harringtons Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 196,935
  • File size: 365 KB

Meet the Author



Gwynne Forster was born in North Carolina, grew up in Washington, D.C., and has lived, studied and worked in New York City ever since she became voting age. She considers herself a humanitarian, a perspective that she inherited from her mother, a high school principal, and which she also attributes to her work and education in the social sciences, more specifically, demography. Her fiction writing reflects her training in the sociology of the family and her understanding of interpersonal relations. It should not be surprising, then, that quite a few of Gwynne's novels and novellas are set within the context of the family.

Gwynne Forster is a national bestselling and award-winning author of six novels of general fiction, twenty-eight romance novels and six novellas. All of her mainstream novels and several of her romance novels have been featured in Black Expressions magazine. When Twilight Comes,her first mainstream novel, was featured on the magazine's cover, and it also remained on the Essence magazine list of bestsellers for several months. Her mainstream novel, Getting Some of Her Own, was published in August 2007 to excellent reviews, and Romantic Times magazine nominated the book for an award as best African American romance 2007. eHarlequin.com's weekly newsletter listed Gwynne's romance, Forbidden Temptation, as one of Harlequin's ten best books of 2007. She receives fan letters daily, praising her Kimani Press romance, Drive Me Wild. The highly acclaimed mainstream novel, When You Dance With the Devil, published in August 2006, attracted media attention.

Among her many awards and forms of recognition, Gwynne is most proud of her election in 2006 to the Affaire de Coeur magazine Hall of Fame, the Lifetime Achievement Award given to her by Romantic Times magazine in 2007 and her selection by Harlequin to participate in their Warm Hands, Warm Hearts project with the St. June Children's Research Hospital.

The following novels were nominated by Affaire de Coeur magazine for "best romance novel of the year with an African American hero and heroine:" Ecstasy, Obsession, Naked Soul, Against the Wind, Fools Rush In, Swept Away, Secret Desire, and Scarlet Woman. Winners of the award were: Ecstasy, Naked Soul, Fools Rush In, Swept Away, and Against the Wind.

Readers of Affaire de Coeur magazine named Gwynne one of Top Ten Favorite Authors for the years 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2006, and one of five outstanding achievers in 1998.

Rendezvous magazine voted Secret Desire "Rose Bud of the month" for November 2003.

The 2001 Gold Pin Award from Black Writers Reunion and Conference went to Beyond Desire, one of Gwynne's most celebrated books. Doubleday Book Club and Literary Guild selected Beyond Desire and used the book to start the Black Expressions Book Club.

Romance in Color Web site gave its 1999 Award of Excellence to Against the Wind and voted Gwynne author of the year. The site voted Flying High runner-up to best romance of the year, 2003, and gave it honorable mention.

Romance Slam Jam 2000 nominated Gwynne for the Vivian Stephens Lifetime Achievement Award. Romance Slam Jam 2001 gave Gwynne an Emma Award for her novella, "Learning to Love," in the anthology Going to the Chapel. Romance Slam Jam 2003 nominated Blues From Down Deep for an Emma Award as best mainstream novel.

Fiction writing is Gwynne Forster's second career. She holds bachelors and masters degrees in sociology, a masters degree in economics/demography and has additional graduate credits in journalism. As a demographer, she is widely published. She is formerly chief of (non-medical) research in fertility and family planning in the Population Division of the United Nations in New York and served for four years as chairperson of the International Programme Committee of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (London, England). These positions took her on official business to sixty-three developed and developing countries. Gwynne sings in her church choir, loves to entertain and is a museum hopper, gourmet cook and avid gardener. She enjoys classical music, opera, jazz and blues with her husband with whom she lives in New York City.

She is represented by the Steel-Perkins Literary Agency, 26 Island Lane, Canandaigua, NY 14424.
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Read an Excerpt


Velma Brighton zipped up the mauve-colored, strapless silk-and-lace gown, fastened a strand of eight-millimeter pearls at her neck, and forced herself to look in the floor-length mirror that leaned against the wall. Grimacing at the sight of her more than amply rounded figure in the fitted gown, she cringed with embarrassment.

"Now, he'll know what I really look like," she said to herself, lamenting the fact that she couldn't wear her usual caftan and wishing that she was tall and slender. As she stared at the mirror, she saw not only her own likeness, but a reflection of the groves of snow and icicle-laden trees on the north side of Harrington House that created an idyllic dream world. For a better look, she walked over to the window of the guest room she occupied and fixed her gaze on the broad expanse of snow-covered beauty, shaking her head in wonder at the sunlight dancing against the icicles. No bride could ask for a more beautiful wedding day.

This was her fifth or sixth visit to Harrington House, an enormous red-brick colonial set off by a great circular driveway, dominating John Brown Drive in Eagle Park, Maryland. She first visited it in order to be with her sister, Alexis, but on each subsequent trip to visit her sister, her heart had fluttered wildly in her eagerness to see Russ Harrington again. And though he always welcomed her, often being especially attentive, she didn't think she'd made much headway with him.

She checked her hair and make-up and went downstairs to the rooms her sister occupied with her five-year-old daughter, Tara.

"How do I look, Aunt Velma?" Tara asked the minute Velma walked into the room.

"Beautiful. You'll be the perfect flower girl."

Smiles enveloped Tara's face. "My mummy said I looked, uh…spec…spec… what, Mummy?"

"Spectacular."

Velma regarded her sister—tall, willowy and beautiful in the ivory-colored silk-satin-and-lace wedding gown. "I was a little surprise when you said you'd wear white, but I'm glad you did."

"Telford asked if I would—he wanted a traditional wedding. I wasn't going to deny him because of a foolish convention that a divorced or widowed woman shouldn't wear white at a subsequent marriage. Brides wore white traditionally because they were virgins. Honey, that was then. Telford's never been married, and he deserves a good old-fashioned wedding if that's to his liking."

"You're the most beautiful woman I ever saw," Velma said. "Just wait till Telford sees you. The poor man's heart will jump right out of his chest."

"I certainly hope not," Alexis said, adjusting her tiara. "I haven't seen him since last night, and it seems like years."

"You're not supposed to see the groom on your wedding day until you meet him at the altar. You know that."

"I do know it. I just wish I could see him. Velma, I can't believe this is happening to me. I'm.I'm so happy. If I'm not careful, I'll bawl."

"You won't. It's not your style." She reached up to Alexis with open arms. "I'm happy for you, sis. After all you suffered with Jack, you deserve this wonderful man. Turn around and let me fasten these buttons. I never could figure out why they put these tiny things on the back of a wedding dress, unless it's to frustrate the groom when he tries to get the gown off the bride."

She loved Alexis's low, sultry laugh when she said, "I hope to have him in such a state that he'll rip 'em off."

Velma stopped her task and wondered aloud, "Would he do that? Good Lord, how exciting! I would never have believed him capable of it."

"Can't judge a book by its cover, hon, nor a man by his height. And that's gospel. Seen Russ today?"

Velma shrugged as if didn't matter, but it did. "Not since last night. If he ate breakfast, he did it before I went downstairs. That man is an enigma. Last night, he laughed, joked and teased with me, and this morning, he acted as if I wasn't in the house."

Alexis placed a hand on her sister's arm. "Understanding Russ may prove to be a full-time job, Velma. He's tough and sometimes he seems cynical, but dig deeper. He's loving, caring and if he tells you he'll do something, he does it."

"I believe that, but—"

In the act of inspecting the long white leather gloves she planned to wear, Alexis stopped, threw them on the bed and stared at her older sister. "I want you to listen to me. No buts. Russ is straight. What you see is exactly what you get. Don't bother to look for hidden meanings either in his words or his actions. There won't be any. What you see is exactly what you get."

"Not many people are like that. I guess he's too ornery to be dishonest."

"No," Alexis said. "Russ is too self-assured to lie or to be devious. Pay attention to him if you want him, otherwise forget it. When it comes to Russ, those notions about how to get a man aren't worth the mental energy required to remember them."

"I know he's special," Velma said. She finished buttoning the dress, checked its hem and train. Her happiness for her sister was boundless, but she couldn't help wishing for Alexis's beauty, her flawless figure and her self-confidence.

"I've been a bridesmaid half a dozen times," Velma said, "each of which was increasingly painful for me. This is the last time I'm doing it. It hurts too badly."

"Aunt Velma, has Grant come yet?" Tara asked of Grant Roundtree, her friend and the son of Adam Roundtree and Melissa Grant-Roundtree.

"I didn't see him, but don't worry—it's a bit too early for the Roundtrees."

"My mummy said he's the ring bearer. Can Mr. Telford and my mummy get married if Grant doesn't bring the rings?"

"He'll be there," Alexis said. "Anyway, we can get married without rings, although I wouldn't like to. But relax. Grant will be here on time."

"Yes, ma'am. You already told me to relax four times. How do I do it?"

"Excuse me for a few minutes," Velma said, and made her way down the corridor toward the stairs.

"Well, now don't you look real special?" Henry said as he met her near the bottom of the stairs.

"Thanks, Henry. What about you? You look great. With that tux on, you could snare a princess."

"Yeah? If I believed you, I'd get out of this monkey suit fast as I could."

"Did…er…re—" Velma began tentatively, so that Henry wouldn't think her question important.

He second guessed her anyway. "The boys ate breakfast in town this morning. Drake and Russ had to keep a lid on Tel. Never saw anybody so shook up about getting married as Alexis and Tel." With an expression of reverence, he glanced toward the ceiling, then smiled, a rarity for him. "They're meant for each other sure as my name is Henry Wooten."

Velma started up the stairs. "What are you going up there for?" he asked her. "Ain't gonna be nobody up there but you. Stop worrying about him. Can't nobody second-guess Russ."

"I'm not worrying about him."

"You are so, and he won't appreciate it. You listen to what I say. You hear?"

First Alexis and now Henry lectured her on how to deal with Russ. Life didn't revolve around that man; not so far, anyway. "Thanks, Henry. I'll…uh…see you later."

Inside her room, she closed the door and, for a minute, had an urge to lock it. Fighting back moroseness, she admonished herself sharply.

It's her day, so put a smile on your face and grin if it kills you. For years, you've gone alone to the movies, theaters and concerts. You're used to it, girl, used to having no one to hold you when you hurt, no one to love you when you can't stand being alone. Nothing has changed. Not one damned thing.

No. Everything remained as it had been. Except the joy, the happiness Alexis radiated when she mentioned Telford's name. She wanted that joy, that happiness, that knowledge that she belonged to a man who belonged to her.

"I gotta snap out of this," she told herself as she got a small lavender-colored handkerchief and folded it into the palm of her left hand. She dabbed some Hermes perfume behind her ears and at her wrists, inhaled its elegant scent and went back to Alexis and Tara. She entered the room as Alexis picked up the telephone receiver.

"Hello. Alexis speaking."

"Hello, sweetheart. Russ, Drake and I are leaving for the church. The stretched-out white Lincoln Town Car out front is for you, Velma, Henry and Tara. The Roundtrees will meet us at the church. Can you believe that in an hour and a half you'll be my wife? Baby, I can't wait."

"Me, neither. Drive carefully."

"Russ is driving, and you know he wouldn't consider breaking the speed limit."

Alexis treated him to a deep, throaty laugh, a happy laugh. "I know. Tell him I said he's carrying precious cargo, so he shouldn't go beyond sixty."

"I'll tell him that, for all the good it'll do. I love you, woman. See you."

"And I love you."

Velma listened to that side of the conversation and couldn't do one thing about the ache that settled inside of her. An ache that would vanish for all time if she had Russell Harrington and three children who looked just like him.

Henry met them at the front door, handed a bouquet of mauve and pink calla lilies to Velma and a bouquet of white ones to Alexis. "From Tel and Russ. You can figure out who sent what to whom," he said, and added: "Thank you, Alexis, for the honor of letting me escort you and give you to Tel. You're my daughter now, and it'll be the proudest moment of my life."

An hour and a half later, bells of the Eagle Park Presbyterian Church in Eagle Park, Maryland, began to peal, and Velma stepped behind Alexis, straightened the train of her dress, adjusted Tara's mauve-pink hat and Grant's bow tie, kissed her sister's cheek and headed toward the altar.

Walking up the aisle that was banked on both sides with white calla lilies, she knew her face was devoid of emotion, reflecting neither her happiness for her sister nor the loneliness that was her interminable visitor. She took her place at the altar, made almost surrealistically beautiful and magical with dozens of lighted white candles, white calla lilies and white rosebuds. When she could no longer avoid it, she let her gaze find Russ who, as Telford's older brother, served as best man. Drake served as groom.

She knew Russ heard her audible gasp, for a slow-moving smile formed around his mouth seconds before he greeted her. Granted it was a solemn occasion, but there was no need to behave as if they were in a morgue. Her composure once more in order, she let the smile that came from her heart light up her face.

To her, Russ stood out among men, tall, tough and handsome, but in that black tuxedo and mauve-colored accessories—the uniform for every male in the wedding party, including Grant—he took her breath away. Although he stood with his brothers, themselves imposing men by any standard, she barely looked at them. And when Russ caught her ogling him and winked at her, she lowered her gaze in embarrassment.

Russ shifted his glance from her face to a spot somewhere below her left elbow. She looked down and realized he wanted her to know that Tara and Grant stood beside her solemnly holding hands. She heard the tune, "Here Comes the Bride," held her head up and smiled at Telford, for her heart seemed to overflow with joy.

"Who gives this woman to be wed?" the minister asked.

Henry's voice, strong and not quite steady, replied, "I do." He kissed Alexis, placed her hand in Telford's and took his seat beside Adam Roundtree.

Velma watched Telford and her sister exchange their vows, speaking directly to each other and looking at each other as if they were alone. She realized that in their hearts, they were alone. The minister asked for the rings so that he could bless them, and Grant released Tara's hand, walked up to the minister and said, "Here they are, sir."

Velma's eyebrows shot up. She forced back a grin, took pains to avoid looking at any of the adults who stood around the altar, for no one told Grant to say that. Yet, it seemed so appropriate. He stepped back to Tara, reached for her hand and held it. Finally, the minister pronounced Telford and Alexis husband and wife. They enfolded each other in a joyous embrace as they laughed, hugged and cried.

As if she didn't want to be left out, Tara tapped on Telford's leg. He looked down at her, grinned, and lifted her into his arms to the applause of the wedding guests.

"Is this what you meant by 'working it out,' Mr. Telford?"

He hugged her. "This is exactly what I meant."

"And we can be together now, you and Mummy and me?"

"Yes. That's what it means."

Her arms tightened around Telford's neck, then she kissed his cheek. "I have to tell Grant I was right." He set her on her feet, and she went back to Grant who immediately reached for her hand. With Tara and Grant walking ahead of them, the bride and groom smiled and waved to their guests as they walked away from the altar. Her eyes glittering with tears of happiness, Velma looked up into Russ Harrington's face as he held out his arm to her, his smile as radiant as she knew her own had to be. She nearly tripped, but he tightened his grip.

"It was the most moving thing I've ever experienced," he said in low tones. "I'm happy for them."

"I am, too. It was… I can't describe it." She said silent thanks that he didn't see her face, for she knew that all she felt—happiness, pain and loneliness—were mirrored in her eyes.

I'll be back on track as soon as I can get away from Eagle Park and this man whose arm I'm holding. I don't want his casual friendship. I want him.

Russ held the door of his car, seated Velma in the front passenger's seat, and left Henry and Drake to make themselves comfortable in the back. Tara and Grant rode with the bride and groom.

"You want to offer the first toast, Drake?" Russ asked as he moved the Mercedes away from the curb and headed for the reception.

"That's your job, brother," Drake said. "I'll do the honors when you tie the knot."

"If that ever happens," Henry put in. "You both shoulda seen how happy Tel is. Now maybe you'll figure out how to get some of that happiness for yourselves."

"Don't bring that up, Henry," Drake said. "I'm not interested in walking the remainder of the way to the reception."

"Would he put us out?" Velma asked with a tone of wonder in her voice.

"Maybe not you. I'm taking no chances," Drake said.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 25 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2005

    well-written and easy to relate to

    This is an excellent book. As I read, I could relate in many ways to Velma Brighton, the protaganist. It helped me to realize that I am beautiful and have value and it was a joy to read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    Excellent!

    I loved this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2012

    Great Book

    This is actually one of my favorite books. I love the characters and their relationship as well as using a full size woman ad oppose to a perfect size 6.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2012

    Not enough focus on the main characters

    This is a long slow read. There is more description in the scenery/food than the main characters. It takes way too long to get to the point in this story. How many times do you have to read "Russ is direct..." or "I'm too large for you/not what you want"....this could have been condensed to make a better read. I don't care to finish this book. Should request a refund.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 23, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    I love the Harrington series and I have read all of them. I enjoyed the love that the brothers shared with each other. The camaraderie and the discipline for knowing what they want and how to go after it. Tara is a treasure. I felt like it was a true story. I highly recommend the Harrington Series. I plan to read them over the holidays.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is One Romance Worth Reading more than once

    Once again Ms. Forster has shown her great talent as a writer. After the Love is one of those novels you don't/can't put down and will have no problem rereading. This book has a permanent place in my collection.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2007

    after my reding

    this book was great i love the way she uses a full size women instead of the perfect 120 lb women like every other romance book i read i would recommend to any and every one

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