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Enchanted Afternoon (Calhoun Chronicles Series #4) [NOOK Book]

Overview


Beautiful, charming and respected as the wife of an ambitious senator, Helena Cabot Barnes is the leading lady of Saratoga Springs. But beneath the facade lies a terrible deception. Helena married for all the wrong reasons—and discovered too late that her husband is a dangerous man. Fearing for her safety, she ends her marriage and flees to legendary Moon Lake Lodge, where she creates a refuge for other women in need of a safe haven. And there she finds the courage within to ...

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Enchanted Afternoon (Calhoun Chronicles Series #4)

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Overview


Beautiful, charming and respected as the wife of an ambitious senator, Helena Cabot Barnes is the leading lady of Saratoga Springs. But beneath the facade lies a terrible deception. Helena married for all the wrong reasons—and discovered too late that her husband is a dangerous man. Fearing for her safety, she ends her marriage and flees to legendary Moon Lake Lodge, where she creates a refuge for other women in need of a safe haven. And there she finds the courage within to become the woman she was meant to be.

But Helena can't outrun her past. In desperation, she turns to Michael Rowan, a man she once loved, a man who broke her heart. A brilliant inventor, Michael is still ruggedly handsome, still defiantly unconventional. For Helena, the road to trusting Michael again is long and hard. And danger lies ahead. But Michael has just discovered a shattering truth…and a reason to stay and fight for the woman he once lost.

With a deft hand and a unique voice, acclaimed author Susan Wiggs creates an enchanting story that will take your breath away as it reaffirms the power of love and the magic of forgiveness.


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Editorial Reviews

Christina Dodd
A bold, humorous and poignant romance that fulfills every woman's dreams.
Josie Litton
A woman's valiant struggle for life and love, by turns romantic and gritty, always compelling.
Publishers Weekly
Spousal abuse, illiteracy and disputed paternity are only a few of the contemporary issues that figure in this late 19th-century romance. When last seen in Wiggs's Halfway to Heaven, the scientific-minded Michael Rowan had broken off his relationship with hotheaded Helena Cabot, a society belle from an important family. Upon discovering she was pregnant, Helena accepted a marriage proposal from up-and-coming politician Troy Barnes. As this book opens, nine years have passed, Troy has discovered the deception right after the death of Helena's father and he has begun beating her. As readers will expect from one of Wiggs' resourceful heroines, Helena breaks from him and sets out on her own with her eight-year-old son. Her first impulse is to turn to Michael but, unaware that she's being abused and certain that his long-held secrets would repel her, he demurs. So she leases the rundown Moon Lake Lodge in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and proceeds to create a haven for other women in trouble. One of them helps Helena overcome her inability to read while Michael bonds with his newly discovered son. Wiggs has a knack for creating engaging characters, and her energetic prose shines through the pages. However, the romance between Helena and Michael is curiously tepid compared to their earlier sparks. Although it's not vintage Wiggs, her latest should please her fans, and to a lesser extent, readers new to her work. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781459247864
  • Publisher: MIRA
  • Publication date: 6/15/2012
  • Series: Calhoun Chronicles Series , #4
  • Sold by: HARLEQUIN
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 60,845
  • File size: 700 KB

Meet the Author


Susan Wiggs is the author of many beloved bestsellers, including the popular Lakeshore Chronicles series. She has won many awards for her work, including a RITA from Romance Writers of America. Visit her website at SusanWiggs.com.

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Read an Excerpt

Enchanted Afternoon


By Susan Wiggs

Harlequin Enterprises Limited

Copyright © 2002 Harlequin Enterprises Limited
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1551669382


She wore long sleeves to cover the bruises. Although the July sun burned like hellfire and damnation through the soundless house - even the French voile curtains in the parlor windows didn't dare to stir - she kept herself covered in the very height of fashion.

That, after all, was what people expected of a senator's wife. Or, she thought with a dizzying leap of hope, his former wife. But that hope would be fulfilled only if she managed to get what she wanted out of this meeting.

She waited in the summer parlor, where the tall mantelpiece mirror was draped in mourning black. Though she'd lived in the handsome house in Vandam Square for years, a fine edge of terror and panic sharpened her perceptions. She noticed all the elegant details and art treasures in the room as though for the first time - the Italianate plaster wainscoting, the Meissen porcelain vase atop a Sheridan table, the ormolu clock on the mantel, the German-made harp in the corner, a series of boring, expensive pastoral scenes of lakes and forests and fox hunts hanging on the walls.

On a wall all to itself hung the strange new painting she had chosen on her own, just last season. It was the only thing in the room she didn't find boring, the only thing she had acquired without consulting her husband.

It was ascene called Woman at Bath by an obscure French painter named Hilaire Germain Edgar Degas. Unlike the bucolic scenes that graced the halls of the vast mansion, this particular painting of a decidedly unglamorous nude drying her abundant body tended to shock everyone, even though it interested and excited her. In the bold distortions of water and light, she could see something special. The intimate, sensuous portrait depicted a woman comfortable in her own skin, and she felt like a different person looking at that painting. For that reason, she loved it. Because she so dearly wanted to be a different person - someone, anyone else.

There was another reason she loved the strange, light-washed picture.

Her husband hated it. The only reason he let her keep it was that she'd told him it had been a gift from the Vanderbilts. That wasn't true, of course, but it was the least of the lies she'd told him over the course of their nine-year marriage.

The faint jingle of harness outside the open window startled her, even though she was expecting it. She heard the footsteps of Archie Soames, the butler, as he went to the door. She moved to the window, which was veiled by sheer curtains. The wispy fabric exuded a hot smell, like fresh ironing. Because the curtains diffused the view of the driveway, the arriving vehicle appeared like something out of a dream.

With one finger, she pushed aside the crisp white curtain, bringing the view into sharp focus. The black enameled side of the open carriage bore curlicue letters arranged in an arch over a rising, stylized sun - the symbol of the Hudson Valley Institute for Innovation. A tall man stepped down from the vehicle, and for a moment she forgot how to breathe.

Instinctively, she stepped away from the heat and light of the window. But she couldn't resist watching through a gap in the curtains as he spoke briefly to the driver and then headed up the walkway toward the house. He wore green-tinted celluloid sunglasses, all the rage among cyclists and drivers these days, and his clothes were rumpled, as though he had picked them up from a heap on the floor.

She wasn't prepared for the effect he still had on her, after all this time. Yes, she felt bitter resentment - that was to be expected, given the way he'd treated her. But like a current beneath the surface of a calm lake, she sensed something else. Something as forbidden and as undeniable as the passion she had felt when she first met him, nearly a decade before.

She resisted the urge to push aside the shroud that draped the mantel mirror and study her reflection. Instead, she checked and double checked the fitted bombazine sleeves of her black mourning gown, neatly fastened at the wrists with a row of obsidian buttons. Appearances were everything. It was perhaps the first lesson she could remember learning, drummed into her by a stern-faced nanny dressing her at the age of three for her mother's funeral.

Should she be seated? No, that would wrinkle the gown. She positioned herself on the Persian silk hearth rug in the middle of the parlor, posing like one of the concrete statues in Congress Spring Park. Glaring light from the window made her skin prickle with heat. She wore her copper-colored curls swept up, though a trickle of perspiration rolled down the back of her neck. She tried to arrange her face into an expression of serenity - not out of vanity but habit. Her looks had brought her nothing but trouble. Yet she knew of no other way to present herself.

Besides, some perverse part of her wanted him to feel the same waves of nostalgic longing that were coursing through her now.

With a flourish, Archie opened both parlor doors. "A gentleman to see you, ma'am." The butler's voice rasped with the roughness of a summer cold, and his slight emphasis on the term gentleman added a note of skepticism.

"Of course. Thank you." The butler melted back into the foyer and her visitor strode into the room, removing his tinted spectacles and setting them on a side table. His fathomless eyes were even bluer than memory allowed. He took one look at her, and the expression on his face was everything she had anticipated - curiosity and wonder, shaded with suspicion and perhaps regret.

They stared at each other, the air between them heavy and palpable with memories.

"Helena." He said her name in a low voice that reverberated through her like a lingering caress.

"Hello, Professor Rowan," she said, deliberately using his formal title. "Thank you for coming. Would you like something to drink?" She gestured at the carved mahogany sideboard in the corner, laden with a sweating pitcher of lemonade and a silver bowl of chipped ice.

"Yes, please." She spooned ice into a crystal goblet, then poured the lemonade. Nerves made her hands unsteady. Had she been mistaken in asking him to come? Perhaps so, but she didn't know what else to do. Like a rabbit caught in a snare, she would turn anywhere, do anything to escape, even if running away wounded her worse than staying put. She would do anything to reclaim her safety, even turn to the one man she thought she would never see again.

Terror was a new sensation to her. It clutched at her spine with icy fingers, pressed at her chest until she couldn't breathe, making her dizzy with its power. She refused to live like this, frozen from the inside out. She wasn't rational; she knew that. Fear kept her from thinking clearly. And in that moment of madness, she had sent for Michael Rowan.

Convincing him to help her was a long shot, but she was desperate. Perhaps it was callous, this imperious summons, but she didn't really care. Years ago, Michael Rowan had used her in the worst possible way, then he'd left without even a by-your-leave. So she should not feel the least bit guilty about using him now.

When she turned, there he stood, only inches from her. Flustered, she pushed the glass into his hand. Lemonade sloshed over the side.

"Oh, I -"

"Not to worry." He set the glass on the silver tray. Good glory, how could such an unkempt man be so appealing? His hair was too long, curling several inches over the back of his collar. He needed a shave. His clothes were a disgrace. And yet there was something about him that mesmerized and haunted her. Regardless of the passage of time, that aspect of him hadn't changed.



Excerpted from Enchanted Afternoon by Susan Wiggs Copyright © 2002 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
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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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2012

    Enchanted Afternoon by Susan Wiggs

    Susan Wiggs continues to entertain her readers, in the

    4th Calhoun Chronicles Series "Enchanted Afternoon".

    You'll Enjoy This Read !!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2006

    A solid read and strong author....

    I have read quite a few books by Susan Wiggs this past 12 months. This author is great at weaving a detailed story line, pulling you back in history and creating interesting and unique characters. She spends little time in developing passionate love scenes so, if you want that, look elsewhere. She spends little time making the main content of the book about sex and attraction, if you want that, look elsewhere. If you want a warm hearted story deep with emotion and is fulfilling from beginning to end ¿ stop here. I wasn¿t sure I would like this book as a number of readers didn¿t care for this follow up to Halfway to Heaven. The first book was about sister #1 ¿ Abigail. This book was about sister #2 ¿ Helena. I think anyone who read the earlier book was interested in hearing the story that made up Helena and Michael¿s broken love story. Although this book was intricate and detailed, I think the most glaring thing lacking in this story was the true connection that was made again between Michael and Helena the second time around. Clearly, their joint son William was the main link and then the woman¿s retreat they created together at Moon Lake Lodge was the second link. Their continued love and attraction for each other seemed almost lost in the background of all the other events going on in this book (battered woman, suppressed woman¿s rights, a legal system in place for a male dominated society only, impossible divorces even when a woman needed it and so on). I think Ms. Wiggs did a good job of allowing Helena to evolve from a pampered and beautiful daughter of a rich and powerful Senator into a mature, independent and intelligent woman in her late 20¿s ¿ early 30¿s. She didn¿t crumbled up and loose it in the face of adversity as expected. Instead, she got smart and she got strong. I also liked that many of Michael¿s quirky characteristics remained in this book too ¿ that his socks didn¿t match, his clothing was often rumpled and messy, his hair too long, his beard too thick, his mind brilliant but, scattered and his heart big but, tender and shy. Micheal and Helena¿s son William was a joy to read about. He was curious, interesting and appealing as a boy. You could really feel his wonder regarding the world at large and his ever growing fascination with everything around him. Another little mad scientist in the making. I would have wished for more direct romance between Helena and Michael. I think the author had them at odds and fighting and arguing of the past and their differences a bit more than I would have liked. I would have enjoyed some more tender and affectionate moments between the two. This was an enjoyable novel to find out Helena¿s story and put closure to the lives of the two sisters. So¿I gave three stars for a solid read and a top author. Three and a half stars really. Not quite four or five thought.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    delightful historical tale

    Inventor Professor Michael Rowen breaks the heart of Helena Cabot because he believes she, as the daughter of the most powerful US Senator, would never marry him. Pregnant with Michael¿s child, Helena turns to New York¿s Junior Senator Troy Barnes. They forge a loveless marriage of convenience that has fooled the international upper crust into believing this couple shares the perfect matrimony. <P>Almost a decade later, two events destroy the Barnes couple alliance. First her father dies leaving Helena with no protector. Second Troy learns that William is not from his seed. Fearing retribution for herself and her son from her authoritative abusive husband, Helena tries to obtain a divorce, but no attorney will go up against Troy. Desperate she flees to Upstate New York and opens a woman¿s shelter, but also turns to Michael for help. Though neither trusts one another William is Michael¿s son and Helena, knowing Troy has a rep to maintain, is coming. <P>Names aside (Helena and Troy!), ENCHANTED AFTERNOON is an exciting nineteenth century romantic intrigue that provides readers with a vivid look at the plight of women in a society granting no rights. The story line is fast-paced once the key cast members are introduced so that the reader understands how they react to tribulations. Though how Troy hid his true colors from his spouse even if she lived in Sarasota Springs while he in Georgetown for much of that time seems a stretch, the audience will relish Susan Wiggs delightful historical tale. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2002

    Loved This Book!

    What a wonderful story! I dearly love Ms. Wiggs's gilded age novels, but this one is truly special. The characters, the social issues, the setting all blend to create a fascinating read. Don't miss this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2002

    The Back Excerpt from Susan Wiggs website

    For those of you who can't wait for this book to come out, here is the back excerpt from susan wiggs website. I know I can't wait. As the wife of an ambitious senator, Helena Cabot is the leading lady of Saratoga Springs. But beneath the façade lies a terrible deception. Helena married for all the wrong reasons¿and discovered too late that her husband is a dangerous man. Fearing for her safety, she ends her marriage and flees to legendary Moon Lake Lodge, where she creates a refuge for other women in need of a safe haven. And there she finds the courage within to become the woman she was meant to be. But Helena can¿t outrun her past. In desperation, she turns to Michael Rowan, a man she once loved but lost. A brilliant inventor, Michael is still ruggedly handsome, still defiantly unconventional. For Helena, the road to trusting Michael and her own heart is long and hard. And danger lies ahead. But Michael has just discovered a shattering truth¿and a reason to stay and fight for the woman he once lost.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2002

    a terrific sequel

    Susan Wiggs is a gifted writer with nice attention to historical events, human nature and even animals. She is to be commended for developing strong female characters who can assert their personalities without losing their femininity. She also creates the kind of male who's not quite perfect; someone in need of the right woman's touch. I really liked Helena and Michael as they played such an integral part of Abigal & Jamie's story. At the end of Halfway to Heaven, you are left hoping that things will work out for Helena. This book does not disappoint. Helena has grown as a person in many ways and deserves the happiness that she thought she lost years ago. The pace is fast and the supporting characters are memorable. I really like the way Susan Wiggs incorporates issues like abuse (in this case)and portrays it accurately. I believe readers should read Halfway to Heaven first to better appreciate the background; however, this is still a good story, even if the former is not read yet. Lastly, thumbs up for the setting of beautiful Saratoga Springs. The historical Spa and the famous racetrack are nicely woven into the story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2002

    Unforgettable romance to sweep you away

    Saratoga Springs in the 1880s (I think--exact date not given) is the backdrop of this luminous and touching historical romance. Helena Barnes scandalizes the town by divorcing her abusive husband and setting up housekeeping at Moon Lake Lodge, and welcoming other hurting women into her safe haven. She is trying to forge a life of her own, but she can never forget eccentric professor Michael Rowan, her one true love and a man who has just discovered he's the natural father of her eight year old son. He comes back into her life, bringing adventure, laughter and passion, reawakening her heart to love. If you read Halfway to Heaven, you met Helena and are probably wondering about her. Wonder now more. Here she is! Glorious!

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