Before the Storm

( 14 )

Overview

The Deveraux clan is a powerful and imposing New Orleans family. So when Maya Simpson married the eldest son, Julian Deveraux, the union quickly succumbed to the social pressures surrounding the young couple. Convinced of her husband's infidelity, Maya filed for divorce and later learned that she was pregnant.

Four years later, Maya, now a successful physician, runs into her former sister-in-law who insists on reuniting her and Julian, and the daughter he doesn't know exists. ...

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Overview

The Deveraux clan is a powerful and imposing New Orleans family. So when Maya Simpson married the eldest son, Julian Deveraux, the union quickly succumbed to the social pressures surrounding the young couple. Convinced of her husband's infidelity, Maya filed for divorce and later learned that she was pregnant.

Four years later, Maya, now a successful physician, runs into her former sister-in-law who insists on reuniting her and Julian, and the daughter he doesn't know exists. Set against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, will the reunion bring the family together or tear them apart?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373830022
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 1/1/2007
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 4.21 (w) x 6.62 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

Melanie Schuster started reading when she was four and believes that’s why she’s a writer today. She believes in love and romance with all her heart. She finds fulfillment in writing stories about compelling couples who find true, lasting love in the face of all the obstacles out there. She hopes all of her readers find their true love. If they’ve already been lucky enough to find love, she hopes that they never forget what it felt like to fall in love.

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Read an Excerpt

On what seemed to be the hottest day Chicago had ever experienced, Paris Deveraux, soon to be Paris Argonne, made a discovery that would forever change the lives of her entire family. The discovery certainly wasn't the perfect fabric for her wedding dress, although that's why she and her friend Ruth Bennett were shopping like there was no tomorrow. The dress was being made by another friend of Paris's, but time was of the essence since the wedding had been moved up from December to August. Ruth lived in Chicago and knew where all the wholesalers were, so she suggested Paris come up from Atlanta to look for material. Paris agreed at once since she adored Ruth and loved to spend time with her. But the heat was starting to get to both women and something cold to drink seemed like a great idea. "Ruth, that place looks cute, let's try it," Paris said, gesturing to a small café with an awning and window boxes full of flowers.

Ruth looked where Paris was pointing and agreed. "They have good food, I've been there before. Let's go before we melt right here in the street."

Soon they were seated in the cool dining room sipping iced tea while they looked at the menu. "What looks good, Paris?"

Paris didn't answer, as she was staring across the dining room with a dazed expression on her face. Ruth looked at her and waved her hand in her direction. "Hello, hello, are you in there? What are you looking at? You look like you've seen a ghost."

She still didn't answer; she just picked up her glass of tea and tried to drink it all at once. She put the glass down and blushed as a tiny hiccup escaped. "That's what I get for guzzling that tea, but I couldn't help it. There's someone here I haven't seen in a long time. I didn't even know she was in Chicago," she said distractedly.

Ruth turned in her chair as she tried to see what Paris was seeing. "Well, who is it? Is she visiting royalty or something? You look like Beyoncé or Fantasia just walked in. If it's somebody really important get me an autograph. Ooh, look, they have crab salad," she said.

"It's not anyone like that," Paris said softly. "Her name is Maya and she was married to my brother Julian. She was like a sister to me."

Ruth raised her eyebrows. "I always think of your brothers as bachelors, I forget that one of them was actually married once."

"Yes, Julian is the only one who married. It ended so abruptly we were all shocked because they seemed so happy together," Paris said sadly. "We all loved Maya and it was hard to accept that she wasn't a part of our family anymore. But now..." Her voice trailed off.

"Now what, sweetie?" Ruth's voice was full of concern.

"Now everything is about to change," Paris said with determination in her eyes.

"How are things going to change, sweetie? Just because you saw your brother's ex-wife, something's going to change?"

"No, it's not because I saw her, Ruth, but because I saw the person with her." Paris put her napkin on the table and pushed back her chair. "Order the chicken salad sandwich on black bread for me and a cup of fruit salad. I'll be back in a few minutes."

Ruth watched her walk across the restaurant and suddenly it became clear where Paris was headed. She dropped her menu as she watched Paris reach her destination. Ruth saw everything and she knew at once that Paris was right. Everything was about to change all right; the Deveraux family was in for a big upheaval.

There's never a dull moment with this family, Ruth thought. And from what she was seeing across the small restaurant, there would be a lot of not-dull moments for some time to come. I just hope they can handle this one.

Five months ago...

"Aunt Ruth, you look fabulous. Are you sure this is just for Paris's benefit?"

Ruth Bennett looked at the smiling face of her niece, Benita Cochran Deveraux, and gave her a crooked grin in return. Ruth traveled frequently since her early retirement from her nursing career and one of her favorite stops was her niece's spacious and beautiful Atlanta home. She had just entered the great room of the house where Benita was relaxing with her husband Clay and playing with their five children.

"I admit that I agreed to this meeting with Paris's father just so that I could get her to invite Titus. Yes, it was interfering of me, but everyone knows those two belong together and I thought a little push in the right direction wouldn't hurt anything," she said. "But I have to confess that the prospect of meeting her father is intriguing me for some reason. Me, the original I-hate-blind-dates woman," she laughed. "Mark my words, this could be the worst mistake of my life and I have no one to blame but myself. I should have just said no when Paris invited me to dinner to meet her father, but I had to try and get cute by telling her I'd come if she invited Titus Argonne. And she was woman enough to take me on, too! So now I'm stuck," she said ruefully. "But I'm still, oddly enough, intrigued. What could that possibly mean, do you suppose?"

"It means you're going to enjoy yourself tonight," Clay drawled in the deep voice that often startled people hearing it for the first time. "The judge is a great guy. You'll like him, I guarantee it."

Ruth looked at her beloved niece curled up on the oversized sofa with her handsome husband while their children played a noisy board game on the coffee table. Benita was radiant, as always, and it was obvious that her husband was a major part of that joy. Every Deveraux man Ruth had ever met was handsome to a startling degree, possessed of a keen intelligence and completely devoted to his mate. A sudden tremor went down her spine as it hit her that she was about to meet yet another Deveraux man and she wondered if he could possibly be as potent as his nephews.

Benita accurately read her aunt's thoughts and gave her a look of contrived innocence. "It's just dinner, Aunt Ruth. Paris is a good cook and you love her company. And you really will like her daddy, that is, if you like handsome men who also happen to be brilliant and charming," she said teasingly.

If Trey, the oldest son of Benita and Clay, hadn't brought her coat at that very moment, Ruth might have bailed on the whole evening. Instead, she slipped her arms into the cream-colored cashmere coat that Trey held out to her. She patted him on the cheek, thinking that he represented the next generation of gorgeous, engaging men of the Deveraux clan.

"Thank you, darling. You all have a wonderful evening, because that's what I plan to have," she said with her usual aplomb. Trey walked her out to the car she was using that night. He'd been schooled in proper behavior by his parents, but he didn't have to be told to do things like that—it was just part of his nature now. His manners were excellent, even at his young age. He also had a word of advice for his great-aunt.

"You're going to have fun tonight. The judge is the coolest guy I know, outside of my dad and my uncles. And he's really going to like you, Aunt Ruth, you're just his type." Making sure she was comfortably seated in the car, Trey kissed her on the cheek and said good-night, then watched as Ruth drove down the long driveway.

Now what does that youngster know about some-body's type? Trey is too wise for his years, she mused as she maneuvered the Jaguar down the long drive. Ruth shivered a little as she drove, and it wasn't just because of the cold winter night. As much as she hated to admit it, she was uncharacteristically anxious about the dinner party. Paris was a wonderful young woman and Ruth was very fond of her even though she knew Paris to be an enthusiastic and unrepentant matchmaker. Ruth had told herself that the only reason she'd agreed to the dinner was so she could make Paris invite the young man she was in love with. They'd had a spat and it seemed that the only way they were going to get back together was if the issue were forced. In truth, however, Ruth was rather looking forward to meeting a single, age-appropriate man, and Paris's widower father certainly fell into that category. Why she was as giddy as a teenager she couldn't fathom.

Ruth was fifty-four years old and looked ten years younger. She had resigned her commission as an army officer to care for the children of her late sister. After the last one was safely in college, she had resumed her nursing career. She had interesting hobbies, friends all over the globe, a condo in Chicago—which was her home base—and a beachfront home in Hawaii. She was absolutely in her prime and there was no reason whatsoever for her to be having butterflies at the thought of meeting a new man. She laughed out loud at the very notion. "I'm too old for this mess. That's what I get for trying to be cute and getting in Paris's business. And now I'm talking to myself. Whoever said no good deed goes unpunished was right," she murmured as she turned the volume up on the car stereo to hear her Bonnie Raitt CD better.

Paris was busy preparing the salad greens for the meal when her father entered the kitchen. He turned around so she could view him from all sides, smiling as he did so. "Well, do I look to suit you?" he asked dryly. "I can go change if I don't." He struck a pose like Ben Stiller in Zoolander and got the expected laughter from his only daughter.

"You look wonderful. Nice pleated trousers, nice Italian loafers, very nice sweater. Is that the cashmere one I gave you for Christmas?"

Mac Deveraux looked down at the dark green pullover with the polo-styled collar and nodded. "Right on all counts, except the shoes came from Payless."

"They did not," Paris contradicted him. "Can you lend me a hand so I can run and get changed?"

"You're right about the shoes. Kmart was having a sale," he replied, ducking as Paris shook a fist at his silliness. Mac obligingly took over setting the table, although he pointed out that Paris looked perfectly lovely in what she was wearing, which was a pair of flannel drawstring pants and a Tulane sweatshirt.

"Ha-ha. I look like a train wreck and you know it. Give me twenty minutes and you won't know me. I want this dinner to be really nice, and that means I have to look good, too." She looked at her father with contrition in her eyes. "You're sure you don't mind that I invited some people over?"

Mac leaned against the doorway that separated the kitchen from the dining room. "Not at all, cupcake, although I sense that your matchmaking proclivities are coming to the fore again. You're trying to hook your old man up, aren't you? When are you going to give it a rest? You're a terrible matchmaker, baby."

Paris blushed pink as she protested. "That's not true, Daddy. I'm an excellent matchmaker. Look at Marcus and Vera, see how happy they are? That was all due to me, thank you very much. And Maya and Julian, they were a perfect match," she said with a sad look in her eyes.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2007

    PERFECT READING

    this book was great it capture the true writing of this authur. it made me laugh, cry, and just beleive in true love that can come to two people who have both lost love ones. love is night for the young, ms shcuster is truley a gifetd writer.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2007

    A little confused

    I read The Closer I get to you and really enjoyed the book. It was the first time that I had read anything of Ms.Schuter's work so I was really looking forward to this one. The back of the book allued to the story of Paris' oldest brother so I figured that would be what the story was about. So you can imagine my confusion when the book contiune to talk about Ruth and Julian Sr, not Julian Jr. and Maya. While the their story did pick up where Closer I Get to You left off I was look for more of the plot to be about the Jr, not the Sr. I enjoyed the book for the most part just wished the storyline between the younger Julian would have been played up more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2007

    horrible

    I was so upset with this book. I bought it expecting one thing and got another. I was totally not interested in the love story of two old people. I was deceived and I want my money back!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2007

    Two For the Price of One

    I have to agree the back of the book was a little deceptive. But it was still a good read and you got two romances for the price of one. And boy do those Deveraux men know how romance and sex a woman up. I enjoy reading about all of them and their loves.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2007

    A little deceptive

    Ms. Schuster did a good job but I do have one gripe. The backcover only alluded to Maya and Julian Jr.'s story so that is what I was looking for. That story didn't even start developing until the 14th chapter. At first I was turning every page looking for their story to begin. I re-read the back to make sure of the contents. I even flipped through the back chapters to make sure I wasn't trippin'. Then quite honestly I put the book down and read something else. I did enjoy the story but I felt like I had been hoodwinked into purchasing it though. There was nothing wrong with either story and I would recommend this novel to anyone to read. But don't just go by the backcover. This book has taught me a new lesson. If I hadn't liked the story I would've been p.o.'d.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2007

    Melanie Schuster does it again!!

    I love Melanie Schuster and she did not disappoint. I love the Deveraux clan and how they just love!!! It was great!!! I read it in a few hours and cannot wait to read it again. Melanie, please keep those wonderful stories coming!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2007

    True love crosses all barriers

    I have read several books by this author and have enjoyed them. However, I found this book exceptionally entertaining. Ms. Schuster took several circumstances, several couples and kept me involved and reading non-stop. This is a good book and I hope you will also read and enjoy the latest book on the Deveraux's.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2007

    Is very good

    She done it again. I love Melanie Schuster. She keeps you into her books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2007

    LOVED IT!!!!

    I LOVED this book!!! I am a big fan of Melanie's and had been waiting for this one. Mac and Ruth's story was especially good because it puts your belief back into love and that you can find it at any age and even twice. Can't wait till the next one!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2006

    Before the Storm

    Love for the family, Father and son have to recapture love and family. The two Julians are incredible men and are blessed with love of a lifetime. Julian Sr. gained love through a family connection and the journey is wonderful. Julian Jr. had love and it was lost and it was found again with an added blessing of his daughter. The stories were wonderfully written and an enchanting read. Ms. Schuster delivered a great addition to the unforgettable Cochran and Deveraux families.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2006

    Before the Storm

    Love for the family, Father and son recapture love and family. The two Julians are incredible men and are blessed with loves of a lifetime. Julian Sr. gained love through a family connection and the journey is wonderful. Julian Jr. had love and it was lost and it was found again with an added blessing of his daughter. The stories were wonderfully written and an enchanting read. A great addition to the unforgettable Cochran and Deveraux families.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2006

    Buckle up for an awesome read.

    Deveraux love times 2, Julian and Julian father/son discover and reclaim love that is destined to be. Ms. Schuster is a delightful and insightful writer and a joy to read. I think this is one of her best works to date and she consistently tops herself. I have become a 'can't wait' for the next one type of reader.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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