Birthright

Birthright

4.2 140
by Nora Roberts, Bernadette Quigley
     
 

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When five-thousand-year-old human bones are found at a construction site in the small town of Woodsboro, the news draws archaeologist Callie Dunbrook out of her sabbatical and into a whirlwind of adventure, danger, and romance.

While overseeing the dig, she must try to make sense of a cloud of death and misfortune that hangs over the project-fueling rumors… See more details below

Overview

When five-thousand-year-old human bones are found at a construction site in the small town of Woodsboro, the news draws archaeologist Callie Dunbrook out of her sabbatical and into a whirlwind of adventure, danger, and romance.

While overseeing the dig, she must try to make sense of a cloud of death and misfortune that hangs over the project-fueling rumors that the site is cursed. And she must cope with the presence of her irritating-but irresistible-ex-husband, Jake. Furthermore, when a stranger claims to know a secret about her privileged Boston childhood, she is forced to question her own past as well.

A rich, thrilling, suspenseful tale from a "storyteller of immeasurable diversity and talent" (Publishers Weekly), Birthright follows an inspiring heroine, an intriguing hero, and a cast of fascinating characters whose intertwined lives remind us that there is much more going on under the surface than meets the eye.

Author Biography: Nora Roberts is the first writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America's Hall of Fame. One of the most popular and bestselling writers in the world today, since 1999 every Nora Roberts book has been a New York Times bestseller. She has had 17 number-one New York Times bestsellers, and has hit number-one on the USA Today, Publishers Weekly and countless other bestseller lists. In 2001, her books appeared on the New York Times list for every week of the year except one. According to USA Today, in 2001 Nora was the second bestselling author in the country, following only J. K. Rowling. There are now more than 145 million copies of her books in print.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in and around rural Woodsboro, Md., a small town drawn with affection and familiarity, Roberts's latest is the literary equivalent of a big delicious meal whipped up by a talented home cook. She offers a dash of exoticism and innovation-a Neanderthal settlement is discovered on the site of an unwanted housing development, prompting gorgeous young archeologist Callie Dunbrook to race to Woodsboro to take charge of what promises to be the dig of her career. After dollops of detail about archeological work, Roberts dishes up huge servings of comfort food, and it is all the more satisfying for being so straightforward. When the owner of the Antietam Creek development turns up murdered on the site, Callie is thrown into closer contact than she'd like with her ex-husband, who also happens to be the anthropologist sharing responsibility for the dig. Jacob Greystone is a hunk-"long bones, long muscles, all covered in bronzed skin...." Meanwhile, Suzanne Cullen, the hugely successful proprietor of a Mrs. Field's-like baked-goods business, tracks down the archeologist after seeing her on the evening news. Callie, the woman claims, is the baby daughter who was snatched from her stroller when she was just a few months old. Callie hires a beautiful young lawyer, Lana Campbell, who happens to be involved with Doug Cullen, Callie's long-lost brother. Another murder, arson and attempted murder heat up the chase until all the young lovers are drawn in. As in other delectable entertainments by Roberts, it is not the wild denouement but the pursuit itself-studded with scrumptious romantic encounters-that is the real dessert. Expect the usual huge sales. Author tour. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Archaeologist Callie Dunbrook believes she is responsible for bringing the past to life. So when she is confronted with her own possible past, she approaches the mystery the same way she would her work: she digs. The suspicion that she may not be Callie Dunbrook rocks her world. When people start dying, she must discover if the truth is always worth unearthing. Unfortunately, narrator Bernadette Quigley is not up to the task of bringing this novel's subtleties to life. She has one male voice-deep, gruff, and ancient, hardly ex-husband and hero material. She is also so focused on her diction that each word is given equal weight, making a mockery of the actual tone of the story. A solid work that deserves airplay even with a subpar narration; Roberts is too popular not to purchase.-Jodi L. Israel, MLS, Jamaica Plain, MA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Archaeologist finds a lost tribe: hers. Callie Dunbrook goes up against developer Ron Dolan, whose housing project has come to a halt because a bulldozer uncovered human remains. Though the site is near Antietam, Maryland, the bones predate the Civil War by thousands of years and are most likely from the burial ground of an unknown Neolithic tribe. The authorities force Dolan to lay off his crew, whose workboots and carelessness have already contaminated the site, before more damage is done. An excavation is planned, a process that will take months. So Callie makes the local news—and her face is seen by Suzanne Cullen, who’s sure that Callie’s triple dimples are identical to those of her long-lost baby girl. The sleeping infant was snatched from her stroller at a shopping mall only a few days after Callie was born, and, paying an unexpected visit, Suzanne insists that Callie is her child. Knowing that Suzanne is the CEO of a national firm reassures Callie that the woman is not a crank—though wrong. But a peek into a desk at her parents’ house uncovers adoption papers dated two months after her mother’s devastating miscarriage and a few days after little Jessica Cullen disappeared. Callie confronts her parents, who fess up at last, though insisting that the adoption was perfectly legal. Marcus Carlyle, a distinguished Boston lawyer, had arranged everything. He couldn’t possibly be a baby-seller and certainly not a kidnapper. Or could he? Callie looks for clues, with the help of her sexy ex, Jake Graystone. The trail leads back to nosy Nurse Poffenberger, who tells all; and then to Richard Carlyle, Marcus’s equally distinguished son, who isn’t talking. The plot thickens, withsuspects appearing—and supporting characters disappearing—as fast as mechanical ducks in a shooting gallery. Improbable plot is kept humming smoothly by Roberts (Midnight Bayou, 2001, etc.), whose fans oughta love it.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590863374
Publisher:
Brilliance Audio
Publication date:
03/31/2003
Edition description:
Unabridged, 10 cassettes, 16 hrs.
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 7.28(h) x 2.63(d)

Meet the Author

Nora Roberts is the number-one New York Times-bestselling author of more than 190 novels, including The Search, Black Hills, Tribute, High Noon, and many more. She is also the author of the bestselling futuristic suspense series written under the pen name J.D. Robb. Roberts has more than 400 million copies of her books in print.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Keedysville, Maryland
Date of Birth:
1950
Place of Birth:
Silver Spring, Maryland
Website:
http://www.noraroberts.com/

Read an Excerpt

BIRTHRIGHT


By Nora Roberts

G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS

Copyright © 2003 Nora Roberts
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0399149848


Chapter One

The Antietam Creek Project came to a rude halt when the blade of Billy Younger's backhoe unearthed the first skull.

It was an unpleasant surprise for Billy himself, who'd been squatting in the cage of his machine, sweating and cursing in the vicious July heat. His wife was staunchly opposed to the proposed subdivision and had given him her usual high-pitched lecture that morning while he'd tried to eat his fried eggs and link sausage.

For himself, Billy didn't give a rat's ass one way or the other about the subdivision. But a job was a job, and Dolan was paying a good wage. Almost good enough to make up for Missy's constant bitching.

Damn nagging had put him off his breakfast, and a man needed a good breakfast when he was going to be working his tail off the rest of the day.

And what he had managed to slurp up before Missy nagged away his appetite was sitting uneasily in his gut, stewed, he thought bitterly, in the goddamn wet heat.

He rammed the controls, had the satisfaction of knowing his machine would never bitch his ears off for trying to do the job. Nothing suited Billy better, even in the god-awful sweaty clutch of July, than plowing that big-ass blade into the ground, feeling it take a good bite.

But scooping up a dirty, empty-eyed skull along with the rich bottomland soil, having it leer at him in that white blast of midsummer sunlight was enough to have 233-pound Billy scream like a girl and leap down from the machine as nimbly as a dancer.

His co-workers would razz him about it unmercifully until he was forced to bloody his best friend's nose in order to regain his manhood.

But on that July afternoon, he'd run over the site with the same speed and determination, and damn near the agility, he'd possessed on the football field during his high school heyday.

When he'd regained his breath and coherency, he reported to his foreman, and his foreman reported to Ronald Dolan.

By the time the county sheriff arrived, several other bones had been exhumed by curious laborers. The medical examiner was sent for, and a local news team arrived to interview Billy, Dolan and whoever else could help fill up the airtime on the evening report.

Word spread. There was talk of murder, mass graves, serial killers. Eager fingers squeezed juice out of the grapevine so that when the examination was complete, and the bones were deemed very old, a number of people weren't sure if they were pleased or disappointed.

But for Dolan, who'd already fought through petitions, protests and injunctions to turn the pristine fifty acres of boggy bottomland and woods into a housing development, the age of the bones didn't matter.

Their very existence was a major pain in his ass.

And when two days later Lana Campbell, the transplanted city lawyer, crossed her legs and gave him a smug smile, it was all Dolan could do not to pop her in her pretty face.

"You'll find the court order fairly straightforward," she told him, and kept the smile in place. She'd been one of the loudest voices against the development. At the moment, she had quite a bit to smile about.

"You don't need a court order. I stopped work. I'm cooperating with the police and the planning commission."

"Let's just consider this an additional safety measure. The County Planning Commission has given you sixty days to file a report and to convince them that your development should continue."

"I know the ropes, sweetheart. Dolan's been building houses in this county for forty-six years."

He called her "sweetheart" to annoy her. Because they both knew it, Lana only grinned. "The Historical and Preservation Societies have retained me. I'm doing my job. Members of the faculty from the University of Maryland archaeology and anthropology departments will he visiting the site. As liaison, I'm asking you to allow them to remove and test samples."

"Attorney of record, liaison." Dolan, a strongly built man with a ruddy, Irish face, leaned back in his desk chair. Sarcasm dripped from his voice. "Busy lady."

He hooked his thumbs in his suspenders. He always wore red suspenders over a blue work shirt. Part of the uniform, as he thought of it. Part of what made him one of the common men, the working class that had made his town, and his country, great.

Whatever his bank balance, and he knew it to the penny, he didn't need fancy clothes to show himself off.

He still drove a pickup truck. American-made.

He'd been born and raised in Woodsboro, unlike the pretty city lawyer. And he didn't need her, or anybody else, to tell him what his community needed. The fact was, he knew better than a lot of the people in the community about what was best for Woodsboro.

He was a man who looked to the future, and took care of his own.

"We're both busy people, so I'll come straight to the point." Lana was dead sure she was about to wipe that patronizing grin off Dolan's face. "You can't proceed on your development until the site is examined and cleared by the county. Samples need to be taken for that to happen. Any artifacts excavated won't be of any use to you. Cooperation in this matter would, we both know, go a long way toward shoring up your PR troubles."

"I don't look at them as troubles." He spread his big workingman's hands. "People need homes. The community needs jobs. The Antietam Creek development provides both. It's called progress."

"Thirty new homes. More traffic on roads not equipped to handle it, already overcrowded schools, the loss of rural sensibilities and open space."

The "sweetheart" hadn't gotten a rise out of her, but the old argument did. She drew a breath, let it out slowly. "The community fought against it. It's called quality of life. But that's another matter," she said before he could respond. "Until the bones are tested and dated, you're stuck." She tapped a finger on the court order. "Dolan Development must want that process expedited. You'll want to pay for the testing. Radiocarbon dating."

"Pay-"

Yeah, she thought, who's the winner now? "You own the property. You own the artifacts." She'd done her homework. "You know we'll fight against the construction, bury you in court orders and briefs until this is settled. Pay the two dollars, Mr. Dolan," she added as she got to her feet. "Your attorneys are going to give you the same advice."

Lana waited until she had closed the office door behind her before letting the grin spread across her face. She strolled out, took a deep breath of thick summer air as she gazed up and down Woodsboro's Main Street.

She refrained from doing a happy dance-too undignified-but she nearly skipped down the sidewalk like a ten-year-old. This was her town now. Her community. Her home. And had been since she'd moved there from Baltimore two years before.

It was a good town, steeped in tradition and history, fueled by gossip, protected from the urban sprawl by distance and the looming shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Coming to Woodsboro had been a huge leap of faith for a born and bred city girl. But she couldn't bear the memories in Baltimore after losing her husband. Steve's death had flattened her. It had taken her nearly six months to find her feet again, to pull herself out of the sticky haze of grief and deal with life.

And life demanded, Lana thought. She missed Steve. There was still a hole in her where he'd been. But she'd had to keep breathing, keep functioning. And there was Tyler. Her baby. Her boy. Her treasure.

She couldn't bring back his daddy, but she could give him the best childhood possible.

He had room to run now, and a dog to run with. Neighbors and friends, and a mother who'd do whatever needed to be done to keep him safe and happy.

She checked her watch as she walked. It was Ty's day to go to his friend Brock's after preschool. She'd give Brock's mother, Jo, a call in an hour. Just to make sure everything was all right.

She paused at the intersection, waited for the light. Traffic was slow, as traffic was meant to be in small towns.

She didn't look small-town. Her wardrobe had once been selected to suit the image of an up-and-coming lawyer in a major urban firm. She might have hung out her shingle in a little rural dot of less than four thousand people, but that didn't mean she couldn't continue to dress for success,

She wore a summer blue suit in crisp linen. The classic tailoring complemented her delicate build and her own sense of tidiness. Her hair was a straight swing of sunny blond that brushed the jawline of a pretty, youthful face. She had round blue eyes that were often mistaken for guileless, a nose that tipped up at the end and a deeply curved mouth.

She swung into Treasured Pages, beamed at the man behind the counter. And finally did her victory dance.

Roger Grogan took off his reading glasses and raised his bushy silver eyebrows. He was a trim and vigorous seventy-five, and his face made Lana think of a canny leprechaun.

He wore a short-sleeved white shirt, and his hair, a beautiful mix of silver and white, exploded in untamed tufts.

"You look pretty full of yourself." His voice was gravel spilling down a steel chute. "Must've seen Ron Dolan."

"Just came from there." She indulged herself with another spin before she leaned on the counter. "You should've come with me, Roger. Just to see his face."

"You're too hard on him." Roger tapped a fingertip to Lana's nose. "He's just doing what he thinks is right."

When Lana merely angled her head, stared blandly, Roger laughed. "Didn't say I agreed with him. Boy's got a hard head, just like his old man did. Doesn't have the sense to see if a community's this divided over something, you need to rethink."

"He'll be rethinking now," Lana promised. "Testing and dating those bones is going to cause him some major delays. And if we're lucky, they're going to be old enough to draw a lot of attention-national attention-to the site. We can delay the development for months. Maybe years."

"He's as hardheaded as you. You managed to hold him up for months already."

"He says it's progress," she mumbled.

"He's not alone in that."

"Alone or not, he's wrong. You can't plant houses like a corn crop. Our projections show-"

Roger held up a hand. "Preaching to the choir, counselor."

"Yeah." She let out a breath. "Once we get the archaeological survey, we'll see what we see. I can't wait. Meanwhile, the longer the development's delayed, the more Dolan loses. And the more time we have to raise money. He might just reconsider selling that land to the Woodsboro Preservation Society."

She pushed back her hair. "Why don't you let me take you to lunch? We can celebrate today's victory."

"Why aren't you letting some young, good-looking guy take you out to lunch?"

"Because I lost my heart to you, Roger, the first time I saw you." It wasn't far from the truth. "In fact, hell with lunch. Let's you and me run off to Aruba together."

It made him chuckle, nearly made him blush. He'd lost his wife the same year Lana had lost her husband. He often wondered if that was part of the reason for the bond that had forged between them so quickly.

He admired her sharp mind, her stubborn streak, her absolute devotion to her son. He had a granddaughter right about her age, he thought. Somewhere.

"That'd set this town on its ear, wouldn't it? Be the biggest thing since the Methodist minister got caught playing patty-cake with the choir director. But the fact is, I've got books to catalogue-just in. Don't have time for lunch or tropical islands."

"I didn't know you'd gotten new stock. Is this one?" At his nod, she gently turned the book around.

Roger dealt in rare books, and his tiny shop was a small cathedral to them. It smelled, always, of old leather and old paper and the Old Spice he'd been sprinkling on his skin for sixty years.

A rare bookstore wasn't the sort of thing expected in a two-stoplight rural town. Lana knew the bulk of his clientele came, like his stock, from much farther afield.

"It's beautiful." She traced a finger over the leather binding. "Where did it come from?"

"An estate in Chicago." His ears pricked at a sound at the rear of the shop. "But it came with something even more valuable."

He waited, heard the door between the shop and the stairs to the living quarters on the second floor open. Lana saw the pleasure light up his face, and turned.

He had a face of deep valleys and strong hills. His hair was very dark brown with gilt lights in it. The type, she imagined, that would go silver and white with age. There was a rumpled mass of it that brushed the collar of his shirt.

The eyes were deep, dark brown, and at the moment seemed a bit surly. As did his mouth. It was a face, Lana mused, that mirrored both intellect and will. Smart and stubborn, was her first analysis. But perhaps, she admitted, it was because Roger had often described his grandson as just that.

The fact that he looked as if he'd just rolled out of bed and hitched on a pair of old jeans as an afterthought added sexy to the mix.

She felt a pleasant little ripple in the blood she hadn't experienced in a very long time.

"Doug." There was pride, delight and love in the single word. "Wondered when you were going to wander down. Good timing, as it happens. This is Lana. I told you about our Lana. Lana Campbell, my grandson, Doug Cullen."

"It's nice to meet you." She offered a hand. "We've missed each other whenever you've popped back home since I moved to Woodsboro."

He shook her hand, scanned her face. "You're the lawyer."

"Guilty. I just stopped in to tell Roger the latest on the Dolan development. And to hit on him. How long are you in town?"

"I'm not sure."

A man of few words, she thought, and tried again. "You do a lot of traveling, acquiring and selling antiquarian books. It must be fascinating."

"I like it."

Roger leaped into the awkward pause. "I don't know what I'd do without Doug. Can't get around like I used to. He's got a feel for the business, too. A natural feel. I'd be retired and boring myself to death if he hadn't taken up the fieldwork."

"It must be satisfying for both of you, to share an interest, and a family business." Since Douglas looked bored by the conversation, Lana turned to his grandfather. "Well, Roger, since you've blown me off, again, I'd better get back to work. See you at the meeting tomorrow night?"

"I'll be there."

"Nice meeting you, Doug."

"Yeah. See you around."

When the door closed behind her, Roger let out a steam-kettle sigh. "`See you around'? That's the best you can do when you're talking to a pretty woman? You're breaking my heart, boy."

"There's no coffee. Upstairs. No coffee. No brain. I'm lucky I can speak in simple declarative sentences."

Continues...


Excerpted from BIRTHRIGHT by Nora Roberts Copyright © 2003 by Nora Roberts
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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