Diamond in the Rough

Overview

A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Romance

Miranda Shaw's world shattered the instant her star pitcher father was accused of cheating--and her family was destroyed forever. Decades later, the last thing she needed was some sportswriter digging into their business. No matter how handsome and charming he was...

Mike Marlowe knew there was more to the story--and to the beautiful, elusive woman who stirred him even more than sniffing out a scoop. But Miranda...

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Overview

A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Romance

Miranda Shaw's world shattered the instant her star pitcher father was accused of cheating--and her family was destroyed forever. Decades later, the last thing she needed was some sportswriter digging into their business. No matter how handsome and charming he was...

Mike Marlowe knew there was more to the story--and to the beautiful, elusive woman who stirred him even more than sniffing out a scoop. But Miranda was as fiercely protective of her heart as she was of her family name. Mike's relentless pursuit of the truth could rob him of the real headline: true love!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373249107
  • Publisher: Silhouette
  • Publication date: 7/1/2008
  • Series: Silhouette Special Edition Series , #1910
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Prolific romance author Marie Ferrarella swears she was born writing, "which must have made the delivery especially hard for my mother."

Born in West Germany of Polish parents, she came to America when she was four years of age. For an entire year, Marie and her family explored the eastern half of the country before finally settling in New York. It was there that she was to meet the man she would marry, truly her first love. Marie was only 14 when she first laid eyes on her future husband, Charles Ferrarella.

From an early age, Marie's parents would find her watching television or tucked away in some private place, writing at a furious pace. "Initially, I began writing myself into my favorite shows. I was a detective on 77 Sunset Strip, the missing Cartwright sibling they never talked about on Bonanza, and the Girl from U.N.C.L.E. before there was a Girl from U.N.C.L.E., not to mention an active participant in the serialized stories on The Mickey Mouse Club."

Marie began to write her first romance novel when she was 11 years old, although she claims that, at the time, she didn't even realize it was a romance!

She scribbled off and on, while dreaming of a career as an actress.

During her days at Queens College, acting started to lose its glamour as Marie spent more and more time writing. After receiving her English degree, specializing in Shakespearean comedy, Marie and her family moved to Southern California, where she still resides today.

After an interminable seven weeks apart, Charles decided he couldn't live without her and came out to California to marry hischildhoodsweetheart.

Ever practical, Marie was married in a wash-and-wear wedding dress that she sewed herself, appliqués and all. "'Be prepared' has always been my motto," the author jokes. This motto has been stretched considerably by her two children, "but basically, it still applies," she says.

Marie has one goal: to entertain, to make people laugh and feel good. "That's what makes me happy," she confesses. "That, and a really good romantic evening with my husband." She's keeping her fingers crossed that you enjoy reading her books as much as she's enjoyed writing them!

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Read an Excerpt

"Why that sanctimonious, pompous, low-life bastard…"
Born equal parts of surprise and outrage, the less-than-flattering character description leaped out of Miranda Shaw's mouth before she could stop it. The heated pronouncement contrasted with the soothing strains of whisper-soft classical music that was being piped into the pharmaceutical laboratory where she worked.
Her cheeks heated and her breathing became shallow. This was worlds apart from her condition minutes ago when she finally declared herself at lunch ninety minutes after the traditional time and picked up the sports section of the L.A. Times. She'd been reading the sports section since she was four years old. Too impatient to wait for her mother to read the all-important baseball scores to her, Miranda had doggedly taught herself how to read by sounding out the opposing teams' names.
Her rabid interest in baseball had come into being because she adored her father. Steven Orin Shaw, known as "SOS" to his one-time legion of fans, had once been regarded as one of the greatest pitchers to ever grace the mound—until a scandal had brought an abrupt end to his career.
But not to Miranda's allegiance. Only death—hers— would have terminated the steadfast loyalty that beat in her twenty-four-year-old heart.
She felt that loyalty flare—along with her temper— as she read words by a man who had been her favorite sportswriter, Mike Marlowe. Oh, she differed with his opinions now and again, but never violently. And, up until this point, she'd admired both his broad range of sports knowledge and his ability to make his topic come alive.
But at this moment, she wanted to skewerhim. Slowly.
It was that time of year again, when people around the country packed away their Christmas decorations and frowned over their impetuously written New Year's resolutions, a large number of which had already been broken. And this time of year, the Baseball Writers Association of America turned their attention to the all important question of who, if anyone, was going to be inducted into the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown.
However, long before the actual voting came the lists. She had already made her peace with the fact that her father would never be on these lists.
But this idiot, this supreme jerk who had so colossally disappointed her, had the unmitigated gall to touch on the fact that her father had been banned from baseball for all eternity. And he devoted most of his column to the lament that the once-pure game was assaulted now by numerous scandals. Marlowe had belabored reasons why SOS could never be considered for placement in the esteemed hall.
It was bad enough to know this without having someone painstakingly elaborate, in rapier-sharp rhetoric, all the reasons that SOS had disappointed his fans and shamed the great game of baseball.
So he'd had a moment of weakness and gambled, so what? Lots of people gambled and her father had never bet against his team. In the larger scheme of things, it wasn't such an unpardonable offense. Not enough to merit being permanently ostracized.
Except that it had.
After reading Marlowe's column, all she could think of was that her father would see it. He didn't need this now, not now. First the scandal and then the awful accident six months later. Those incidents had all but turned him into a hermit. It had taken her years, but she had finally gotten him to come around, to venture out of his shell and start interacting with people again.
This could ruin everything.
The moment her angry words ricocheted around the almost empty lab, Tilda Levy looked up from the computer screen. She rubbed the area just above her eyes before turning in Miranda's direction.
"Did you get your paycheck early?" she asked dryly. It was a given that most of the research chemists employed by Promise Pharmaceuticals felt vastly underpaid, especially considering the demands placed on them and their time.
"What?" Completely focused on the article, Miranda needed several moments to make sense of Tilda's wry question. "No. It's this article."
Getting up from her chair, she pitched the paper into the wastepaper basket by her desk. The basket fell over. Muttering under her breath, Miranda picked up the basket and put it back.
Tilda leaned over, craning her neck to observe her friend. They'd been friends since they'd paired up in chem lab their junior year in high school and Tilda was well aware of Miranda's taste in reading material even though they definitely didn't share it.
Pausing to save her work, Tilda nodded toward the banished newspaper.
"What's the matter, doesn't your favorite sportswriter think the Angels will win the pennant this year?" she asked, referring to Miranda's favorite baseball team—the team her father had played on the last seven years of his career.
Miranda didn't answer right away. Instead, she just scowled and she glared down at the offending paper.
"It's about your dad, isn't it?" Tilda asked.
Miranda shoved her hands deep into the pockets of her lab coat. She wanted to pace, but the lab wasn't made for releasing bottled-up energy of the human variety. It was designed to maximize experimentation.
Blowing out a breath, she bit off one word. "Yes."
With a shrug, Tilda went back to what she was doing. "Don't pay any attention to it. Tomorrow that article will be lining some bird's cage—or sitting in a bin, waiting to be recycled."
But today it was being read by who knew how many people? And, most likely, her father. And that was all that counted.
Miranda squared her shoulders. Bottling this up wasn't going to help. She needed to excise this somehow.
"He said that—" Miranda pulled the paper out of the trash again, holding it the way a person might hold a dead rat they'd been forced to retrieve. It took her a second to find the right page. "‘Steve Orin Shaw, SOS to his friends and the players that feared him, sadly embodies everything that is bad and corrupt about the game…'" She stopped, her throat hitching, as she was momentarily waylaid by angry tears that came out of nowhere. "There's more," she finally managed to say, clearing her throat.
"There usually is." Recognizing that Miranda was not about to let this go easily, Tilda left her workstation and came over to her former lab partner. She draped her arm around Miranda's shoulders. "Look, people'll always talk, even when there's nothing to it. And when there is," she added innocently, "they go into high gear. There's nothing you can do about it."
Miranda shrugged off Tilda's arm. Her eyes narrowed as stubbornness came into them. "Yes, there is."
All Tilda could do was sigh. "You do realize that murder is illegal in all the fifty states."
"There's some play for justifiable homicide," Miranda countered. She didn't want to kill Marlowe, just watch him eat his words. And to retract them—publicly, so that a little of her father's pride could be salvaged.
Tilda shook her head. "I don't think a judge would see Marlowe's writing an article insulting your dad as a sufficient reason for your killing him." She dropped her bantering tone. "Let it go, Miranda."
But Miranda could sooner stop breathing than say nothing. Her father needed someone in his corner, fighting the fight he wouldn't. Being banished from baseball had robbed him of his spirit, his zest. Granted, as she grew older, he'd had less and less time for her because he was on the road so much. And then Ariel had died and everything began to fall apart. First her parents' marriage and then her mother. But, through it all, the one thing she wouldn't allow to change was the way she felt about her father.
He needed her more than ever now.
"I can't."
Miranda planted herself in front of her computer again. But this time, there were no equations, no on-going research figures dancing before her on the monitor. She pulled up a screen and began to write. Feverishly. Had they been wired for sound, the keys on the keyboard would have groaned and whimpered from the lightning assault.
Curious, Tilda looked over her shoulder. "What are you doing?"
Miranda continued typing. She lifted her chin as she answered, as if silently daring the world to take a swing at her for expressing her opinion.
"I'm telling Mike Marlowe what I think of him and his high-handed article."
"Are you going to tell him whose daughter you are?"
They both knew that would probably add weight to the e-mail. But it would also make it seem biased. And she was doing her best to be fair—not that the cretin deserved it.
She paused to push her blond bangs out of eyes that turned a darker shade of blue when she was angry. "No, just that he's an ass."
Tilda laughed, shaking her head. Backing away, she gave her friend some measure of privacy. Her mouth curved in amusement. "I'm sure that he'll find that enlightening."
Mike Marlowe had expected feedback from his article. To some degree, he got it with every article he wrote for the Times. With his most recent piece he'd expected e-mail from die-hard lovers of the game who agreed with him.
It was sad, really, he thought. There'd been a time when Shaw had been revered as the greatest pitcher who'd ever lived, certainly the greatest living pitcher of his generation. He could make the ball do everything but sing the national anthem—and there was some doubt about that. He remembered watching the man play and worshiping his precision. In an arena where a career total of three thousand strikeouts was astounding, SOS had managed to garner two more than four thousand. A lifetime total of three hundred wins was something every starting pitcher dreamed of. SOS had three hundred and seventy-seven under his belt when he was forced to retire from the game.
In almost every way, the man had been a god among men, almost being the key word.
And it was almost that wound up being Shaw's undoing.
The one unpardonable offense in baseball was not the loss of a crucial game, or the throw of a wild pitch that ultimately cost the team the World Series. It was steroid use and gambling.
It didn't even have to be the supreme sin of betting against your own team, which indicated that you were somehow involved in throwing the game. The very act of placing a bet where the outcome of a sporting event was the deciding factor of the prize was comparable to partaking of the forbidden fruit. SOS had committed that offense, that one unforgivable sin. One late summer he had bet on a series of games. And he had been discovered and disgraced.
Mike supposed it was to the man's credit that Shaw hadn't tried to deny what he was being accused of or attempted to explain it away. He hadn't pleaded temporary insanity or momentary drunken enthusiasm for the game he loved more than life itself. Shaw had stepped up to the plate, taken the pitch without flinching and retired his bat, as well as his glove.
Mike remembered that awful day well. Remembered hearing the news broadcast just as he and his family were about to have dinner. Remembered catching those mind-numbing words—banned from baseball forever—just as his father had turned off the set in the living room. Hearing them, he'd bolted out of the kitchen back into the living room and turned the television set on again, his stomach twisting itself into a knot. He was twelve at the time, too young to lose a hero to the ugliness of reality.
Surprised by his actions, his father had begun to reprimand him, but Kate, the wonderful woman who had become their stepmother, had shaken her head and told his father to come help her in the kitchen. Kate knew how much the game—and the pitcher—had meant to him.
There was no question that he loved his dad, even during Bryan Marlowe's absenteeism just before Kate had come into their lives, but as for heroes, well, there was only one for him. Steven Orin Shaw. SOS.
That August day—August 7th—he'd been stripped of his hero. Stripped of his innocence. SOS had come crashing down off the mile-high pedestal he and countless other boys and men had placed him on. After listening to the news bulletin, a dark parade of emotions had bounced around inside of him: disbelief, denial, dismay, disappointment.
Disappointment eventually overtook his other emotions, making him hurt so bad he could hardly stand it. His brothers had tried to help him come around, as had his father. But it was Kate who'd finally gotten him out of the tailspin.
"We'll never know the real full story," she'd told him, sitting beside him on his bed in his room later that night. "Mr. Shaw isn't elaborating on what made him do this. And, up until now, he's been a very good, decent man who played his heart out for the game."
"How do you know he's a good, decent man?" he'd challenged, doing his best not to cry angry tears. Tears were for babies. "He coulda done something else we don't know about."
"Maybe," Kate had agreed. She ran her fingers through his light blond hair, the very action calming him down. "But I really don't think so."
"Why?"
"Because there's pain in his eyes," she told him simply. "Deep, bottomless pain. He's had tragedy in his life and survived. Those kind of people are honorable people."
He remembered looking at her then, confused. "What kind of tragedy?"
"His older daughter, Ariel, died of cancer. Something like that can destroy a person, but he went on playing. Because a lot of little boys like you were counting on him."
"Then why did he do this?" he'd cried.
"I don't know, Mike. But I do know that he's sorry it ever happened. Sorry that he disappointed boys like you. And girls, too," she added with that smile of hers that promised him it would be all right.
And it was.
Eventually.
Discovering that his hero had feet of clay hadn't killed his love of the game—something else he shared with his stepmother. He went on to go to other baseball games and eventually, could even tolerate watching the Angels play again. Without Shaw.
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