Ask Mariah

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Overview

AN UNFULFILLED HEART
Joanna Wingate knows something is missing from her life, something she never dreamed she.d find in an handsome stranger.s children--mischievous six-year-old twin sisters who look up at her adoringly. . .and call her .Mama..

AN UNSPOKEN NEED
Since his wife.s accidental death, Michael Ashton has struggled with his many responsibilities as a single parent to twin daughters who, though they ...

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Ask Mariah

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Overview

AN UNFULFILLED HEART
Joanna Wingate knows something is missing from her life, something she never dreamed she.d find in an handsome stranger.s children--mischievous six-year-old twin sisters who look up at her adoringly. . .and call her .Mama..

AN UNSPOKEN NEED
Since his wife.s accidental death, Michael Ashton has struggled with his many responsibilities as a single parent to twin daughters who, though they clearly love him, refuse to speak to him. Then he meets Rose and Lily.s new teacher, and his emotions spin out of control. For Joanna Wingate is the mirror image of his late wife.

MARIAH.S MAGIC
Bizarre coincidence, a strange destiny. . .or something altogether different has joined these four lives. The twins believe Mariah--a magical fortune-teller in a crystal ball--has the answers. But only Joanna and Michael.s willingness to confront long-buries secrets can guide their families back to wholeness. . .and unite them in a love that seems meant to be.

An Unfulfilled HeartJoanna Wingate knows something is missing from her life, something she never dreamed she'd find in a handsome stranger's children -- mischievous six-year-old twin sisters who look up at her adoringly...and call her "Mama."

An Unspoken NeedSince his wife's accidental death, Michael Ashton has struggled with his many responsibilities as a single parent to twin daughters who, though they clearly love him, refuse to speak to him. Then he meets Rose and Lily's new teacher, and his emotions spin out of control. For Joanna Wingate is the mirror image of his late wife.

Mariah's MagicBizarre coincidence, a strange destiny...or something altogether different has joined these four lives. The twinsbelieve Mariah -- a magical fortune-teller in a crystal ball -- has the answers. But only Joanna and Michael's willingness to confront long-buried secrets can guide their families back to wholeness...and unite them in a love that seems meant to be.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
When Mariah, the magical fortune-teller in the crystal ball, tells them to go to school to find their mother, who has died in a boating accident, six-year-old twins Lily and Rose do just thatand find a teacher whose uncanny resemblance to their mother elates them and unnerves Michael Ashton, their unsuspecting architect father. But there is more to Johanna Wingate's resemblance to the late Angela Ashton than just coincidence; and as Johanna and Michael begin to look for answers, old sins and long-kept secrets rock the happiness of everyone involved. Compelling and well written, this multilayered romance promises appealing characters, a dash of humor, and a bit of unexplained magic to a story with a serious theme. Freethy's Daniel's Gift Avon, 1996 is a 1997 Rita finalist; she lives in the San Francisco area. KR
Library Journal
"Compelling and well written, this multilayered romance promises appealing characters, a dash of humor, and a bit of unexplained magic to a story with a serious theme."
Romantic Times Magazine - Romantic Times
"Barbara Freethy does it again! This highly talented author puts her own unforgettable twist on an emotional and complex drama."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780380785322
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/1/1997
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 375
  • Product dimensions: 4.19 (w) x 6.84 (h) x 1.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Freethy is a #1 NY Times Bestselling Author, a distinction she received for her novel, SUMMER SECRETS. Her 28 novels range from contemporary romance to romantic suspense and women's fiction and several other titles have appeared at #1 on the Barnes and Noble Top 100 bestsellers, including DON'T SAY A WORD and ALL SHE EVER WANTED, and other titles have made appearances on the NYT and USA Today Bestseller Lists. Her books have won numerous awards - she is a four-time finalist for the RITA for best contemporary romance from Romance Writers of America and her book DANIEL'S GIFT won the honor and was also optioned for a television movie.

Known for her emotional and compelling stories of love, family, mystery and romance, Barbara enjoys writing about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary adventures. She is currently writing a contemporary series for Pocket books, entitled ANGEL'S BAY, set along the fictional coast of California. The latest book in the series, GARDEN OF SECRETS will be released in September 2011. She is also writing a book that will be released as an e-Book first in the fall.

Barbara has lived all over the state of California and currently resides in Northern California where she draws much of her inspiration from the beautiful bay area. Barbara loves to hear from readers so please feel free to write her.

For a complete listing of books, as well as excerpts and contests, and to connect with Barbara:
Visit Barbara's Website at www.barbarafreethy.com
Join Barbara on Facebook at www.facebook.com/barbarafreethybooks
Follow Barbara on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barbarafreethy
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Michael Ashton beat the fire engines to his house by thirty seconds. Smoke poured from the kitchen window of the old Victorian as he jumped out of his car and ran up the walkway. His daughter's favorite teddy bear lay abandoned on the top step. Cups from a tea party were scattered across the welcome home mat as if the participants had left in a big hurry, as if they had smelled smoke and run inside to see what was wrong.

Michael's heart raced as he reached for the door knob. Locked! He fumbled with his keys, swearing, sweating each second of delay. His children were inside. He had to get to them. The keys slipped out of his grasp and fell to the ground. He stepped back ward, crushing a tiny pink teacup.

To hell with the keys. Panicked, he slammed his body against the door, forcing it open.

All he could think of were Lily and Rose, his six year-old identical twin daughters. If anything happened to them, he would never forgive himself. They were all he had left.

"Please, God, let them be all right," Michael whispered as he entered the house. Smoke drifted through the hall and dining room, darkening the white walls, covering the hardwood floors with dust. "Lily! Rose!" he shouted as he moved toward the thickest area of smoke. "Where are you?"

The girls burst through the kitchen door, two whirling, smoky figures in blue jean overalls. Michael swept them into his arms, pressing their heads against his chest for one thankful second. "You're all right. You're all right," he muttered. "Let's get out of here." He ran toward the front door. Two firemen passed him on the steps.

"Anyone else inside?" one of them asked.

"Mrs. Polking, our nanny." Michaeldidn't stop moving until he reached the sidewalk. Then he set the girls down on the pavement and tried to catch his breath. Lily and Rose stared back at him.

They didn't appear to be hurt. Nor did they seem overly concerned about the fire. In fact, on closer inspection there was a light of excitement in Lily's dark eyes, and Rose looked guilty, so guilty that her gaze seemed fixed on the untied laces of her tennis shoes. At that, Michael's panic began to fade.

He squatted in front of them so he could look directly into their eyes. Their long brown hair was a mess. Lily's pigtails were almost completely out. Rose still had one rubber band clinging desperately to a couple of strands of hair, while the rest swung free past her shoulders. There were no bumps or bruises on their small faces, no scratches to mar their tender skin, no sign of blood. "Are you hurt?" He ran his hand down Rose's arms, then did the same to Lily.

Lily shook her head, then Rose. Neither one said a word. Not even now. Not even in the midst of a crisis would they speak to him. Michael sighed, feeling the tear in his heart grow bigger. Since their mother, Angela, had died almost a year ago, the girls had refused to speak to him. No one had been able to tell him why. Thousands of dollars of family therapy had not helped him get to the root of their problem.

The doctors said the children, for whatever reason, didn't trust him. They were supposed to trust him. He was their father, their protector. He would die for them, but he couldn't seem to convince them of that fact.

"This is not my fault," a woman said from behind him.

Michael straightened as their nanny, Eleanor Polking, came down the steps, assisted by one of the fire men. Eleanor was a short, robust woman in her late fifties who carried an extra forty pounds.

"What the hell happened?" he asked.

"The girls set the kitchen on fire. That's what happened," Eleanor said in obvious distress.

She tried to push her hair away from her eyes, but the sweat from her forehead glued it in place. There was a wild light in her eyes. She looked as if she wanted to run as far away from them as possible, if she could just figure out an escape route. Michael had seen that expression before, on the faces of the four nannies who had previously served time in his home.

He glanced at Lily, then at Rose. They wouldn't look him in the eye. Damn.

"We were just making pasta, Mrs. Polking," Lily said defiantly, directing her explanation to the nanny. "Like Mama used to make."

"For our tea party. We didn't mean to cause a fire--" Rose darted a quick look at her father. "We didn't know you had to put water in the pot. When the pot got all red and smelled funny, we threw it in the trash."

Michael groaned. "Let me see your hands. Did you burn them?" Lily and Rose held out their hands. Their pudgy little fingers were covered with streaks of red and green paint, but thankfully there were no burns.

"We used a hot pad, Mrs. Polking," Lily said. "Just like you told us."

"Why were the girls alone in the kitchen?" Michael asked. "Don't I pay you to watch them?" He knew his anger was unreasonable and misplaced, but he had to yell at someone, dammit.

"I was in the bathroom, cleaning the paint off my dress." Eleanor turned around, revealing a circle of green paint on her ample bottom. "Do you want to know how this happened?" she demanded, her anger matching his.

Michael sighed. "Not really, no."

"The girls painted the chair in my bedroom green."

He scowled at Lily and Rose. "You've had a busy day, haven't you?"

"Too busy for me," Eleanor declared. "This is the last straw. I'm leaving just as soon as I get my suit case packed."

"Yea--" Lily's spontaneous cheer ended with Michael's glare. "I mean, that's too bad. Come on, Rose, let's look at the fire engine."

"You can't just leave, Mrs. Polking." Michael ran a hand through his hair in frustration. "You agreed to stay the summer. I know the girls are difficult, but they just need a little extra attention."

"That's not all they need."

Michael ignored her comment. "I'm in the middle of a bid for a very big job. At least give me a week or two to make other arrangements."

"I'm sorry, Mr. Ashton," Eleanor said, not sounding a bit sorry. "I think the girls have made it clear that they want you."

"I can't work full-time and take care of the girls. I'm only one person."

Mrs. Polking softened just a bit. "I understand. That's why I took the liberty of making you a list of summer school programs. You'll find it on the credenza in the dining room."

"When did you decide to do that?"

"This morning, after the girls glued my shoes to the floor. Perhaps they'll do better in a more structured environment." Eleanor checked her watch. "It's not yet five. If you hurry you may be able to find one for Monday. Good luck," she said, turning away.

Good luck? Since when had he ever had good luck?

Ask Mariah. Copyright © by Barbara Freethy. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 261 )
Rating Distribution

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(118)

4 Star

(79)

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(39)

2 Star

(8)

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(17)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 262 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 3, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Good read

    This is a delicious, brilliant, emotionally engaging romantic novel a moving, feel good read.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    I thoroughly enjoyed this lovely and well written story that had plenty of emotion and a few twists and turns also. It's not just a romance. There is a lot of story involving a few other women and I found those relationships to be just as fascinating. Lots of depth to this book. Recommended.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    Barbara Freethy is a relatively new author for me. Although this author is found in the romance genre, her books are stories that pull on your heart strings and make you live as the characters. This story is about finding love and finding yourself. Very hard to stop reading once you start. After Ask Mariah, check out Daniel's Gift, you won't be sorry.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2011

    Good simple read

    Easy to get into and stay into. Good characters and interesting story line. I recently found this author and enjoy her style. I am glad she has more books i can read!

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2011

    Love Barbara Freethy books!

    If you like Nora Roberts, but thinks there is to much sex in her books, you will love Barbara's books. Always a good story line. When I finish one of her books, I always have another in my Nook to start right away. Her books are also long, which I really like. Some books are to short and by the time you really enjoy it, it is over. Every one of Barbara Freethy books have been very entertaining. I have reat about six of them now. I am on one right now! Enjoy! LKS of Toledo, Oh.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2011

    Really good

    Fun romance, great characters, tender moments. I loved it. Can't wait to read more books by this author.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2011

    Loved it!!

    I loved this book. This author is actually one of my favorite!!!!!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    Enjoyed it

    This was a nice light read. Lots of family dynamics mixed with a little mystery, romance and magic. I have read several of her books (Ryan's Return, Summer Secrets, Some Kind of Wonderful) and actually I was hooked with this author as a fav after reading Daniel's Gift. So far I haven't been disappointed with any of her books!

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2011

    I would highly recommend this book.

    I enjoyed this book very much. It kept my interest throughout. Was not sure where it would take me next. I will read more books by this author. I would recommend that this book be discussed in a book club, as I found several aspects of it very true to life matters.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 5, 2011

    This is one of my favorites

    I loved it.. loved it.... loved it.. spme kind of wonderful..

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 27, 2011

    Great read.

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Posted April 26, 2011

    A Geat Book! Don't miss it.

    Ask Mariah has it all, love, charm, and aome unforgettable characters.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2012

    Loved it

    A great book that pulls you in n makes you care about each character

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2011

    The twins

    I really enjoied this book because of the story of the twins. I love how Barbara describes the passion that the characters have, it may be fictional but real love like this has to exists! Yeah mariah was somewhat far feched but not as much as Daniels gift....p.s i loved that one too, starting book#8

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2011

    Like Barbara Freethy? Must read

    Enjoy everything Barbara Freethy writes

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 16, 2011

    Good read!

    Good story line, keeps you interested from page one. I wish i had a mariah to ask!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 31, 2011

    Another great Freeethy book!

    I can't believe I never heard of Barbara Freethy before I started buying her ebooks. What a great author, amazing story lines and likeable characters.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2011

    Super great

    Recommended very good could not put it down

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A good ready...

    Ask Mariah was a good read! =)

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2011

    GREAT STORY

    This book was good from the beginning to the end. Jusy enough of s mystery!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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