First Lady

First Lady

4.1 82
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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How does the most famous woman in the world hide in plain sight? The beautiful young widow of the President of the United States thought she was free of the White House, but circumstances have forced her back into the role of First Lady. Not for long, however, because she's made up her mind to escape -- if only for a few days -- so she can live the life of an

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How does the most famous woman in the world hide in plain sight? The beautiful young widow of the President of the United States thought she was free of the White House, but circumstances have forced her back into the role of First Lady. Not for long, however, because she's made up her mind to escape -- if only for a few days -- so she can live the life of an ordinary person. All she needs is the perfect disguise . . . and she's just found it.

An entire nation is searching for her, but the First Lady is in the last place anybody would think to look: in the company of a man, an infuriatingly secretive and quietly seductive stranger whose charm, good looks, and sensuous appeal are awakening the forgotten woman within the dignitary. And with two adorable little orphaned girls in need of a family along for the ride, they're heading out across the heartland chasing their own American Dream -- on a wild journey of love, adventure, and glorious rebirth.

First Lady: A star-spangled, richly emotional story of self-discovery, celebrity, love, and family.

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Editorial Reviews

Contra Costa Times
The most satisfying romance I've read in quite a while.
Oakland Press
Susan Elizabeth Phillips writes a story that wraps around your heart and doesn't let go.
Library Journal
Take a widowed First Lady on the run, add a discredited journalist looking for a story, toss in a pair of intriguing orphaned sisters for good measure, and you have the unlikely ingredients for another of Phillips's brilliant romantic romps, deftly combining laughter and love with real women's issues and served up with a sophisticated flair. Creative plotting adds sparkle, and entertaining, well-drawn secondary characters round out the novel, but it is the growing, healing relationship between the protagonists and how they finally form a family that touches the heartstrings and makes this contemporary romance an unforgettable read. A past master at taking a startling but just believable premise and making it work, Phillips (Lady Be Good) has won several RITA awards and lives in the Chicago area. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\

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HarperCollins Publishers
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4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.96(d)

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Chapter One

Cornelia Litchfield Case had an itchy nose. Otherwise, it was a very elegant nose. Perfectly shaped, discreet, polite. Her forehead was patrician, her cheekbones gracefully carved, but not so sharp as to be vulgar. The Mayflower-blue blood that rushed through her veins gave her a pedigree even finer than that of Jacqueline Kennedy, one of her most famous predecessors.

A French twist contained her long, fair hair, which she would have cut off years ago if her father hadn't forbidden it. Later her husband had suggested—oh-so gently, because he was always gentle with her-that she leave it long. So there she was, an American aristocrat with a hairstyle she hated and an itchy nose that she couldn't scratch because hundreds of millions of people all over the world were watching her on their televisions.

Burying a husband sure could take the fan out of your day.

She shuddered and tried to swallow her hysteria as she crept another inch closer to falling apart. She forced herself to concentrate on the beauty of the October day and the way the sun gleamed on the rows of grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery, but the sky was too close, the sun too near. Even the ground felt as if it were pushing up to crush her.

The men on either side of her moved closer. The new President of the United States gripped her arm. Her father clasped her elbow. Directly behind her, the grief of Terry Ackerman, her husband's closest friend and advisor, rolled over her in a great, dark wave. They were suffocating her, stealing the air she needed to breathe.

She beat back a scream by curling her toes in her neat black leather pumps, bitingthe inside of her bottom lip, and mentally launched into the chorus of 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." The Elton John song reminded her that he'd written another song, one for a dead princess. Would he now write one for an assassinated President?

No! Don't think about that! She'd think about her hair, her itchy nose. She'd think about the way she hadn't been able to swallow food since her secretary had broken the news that Dennis had been assassinated three blocks from the White House by a gun fanatic who believed his right to bear arms included the right to use the President of the United States for target practice. The assassin had been killed on the spot by a Washington, D.C., police officer, but that didn't change the fact that her husband of three years, the man she'd once loved so desperately, lay before her in a gleaming black casket.

She broke her father's grip to reach up and touch the small enameled American flag she'd pinned to the lapel of her black suit. It was the pin Dennis had worn so frequently. She'd give it to Terry. She wished she couldturn around right now and hand it to him, perhaps ease his grief.

She needed hope—something positive to cling tobut that was tough even for a determined optimist. And then she hit on it ...

She was no longer the First Lady of the United States of America.

A few hours later, that small bit of comfort was snatched from her by Lester Vandervort, the newest President of the United States, as he regarded her across Dennis Case's old desk in the Oval Office. The box of Milky Way miniatures her husband had kept in Teddy Roosevelt's humidor had disappeared, along with his collection of photographs. Vandervort had added no personal touches of his own, not even a photograph of his deceased wife, an oversight she knew his staff would soon correct.

Vandervort was a thin man, ascetic in his appearance. He was fiercely intelligent, almost entirely humorless, and a confirmed workaholic. A sixty-four-year-old widower, he was now the world's most eligible bachelor. For the first time since the death of Edith Wilson eighteen months after Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, the United States had no First Lady.

The air inside the Oval Office was climate-controlled, the three-story windows that rose behind the desk bulletproof, and she felt as if she were suffocating. As she stood by the fireplace, staring blindly at Rembrandt Peale's portrait of Washington, the new President's voice seemed far away. ". . . don't want to appear insensitive to your grief by broaching this now, but I have no choice. I won't be remarrying, and none of my female relatives is remotely capable of handling the job of First Lady. I want you to continue in that role."

As she turned to him, her fingernails bit into her palms. "It's impossible. I can't do it." She wanted to scream at him that she was still wearing her funeral clothes, but excessive displays of emotion had been leached out of her long before she'd come to the White House.

Her distinguished father rose from one of a pair of couches covered in cream damask and assumed his Prince Philip posture-hands clasped behind his back, weight toward his heels. "This has been a difficult day for you, Cornelia. You'll be seeing things more clearly tomorrow."

Cornelia. Everyone who mattered in her life called her Nealy except her father. "I'm not going to change MY mind."

"Of course you will," he countered. "This administration has to have a competent First Lady. The President and I have considered it from every angle, and both of us agree this is the ideal solution."

She was an assertive woman, except when it came to her father, and she had to steel herself to challenge him. "Ideal for whom? Not for me."

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What People are saying about this

Elizabeth Lowell
Phillips is fantastic! What the world needs is more books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
Jayne Ann Krentz
No one tops Susan Elizabeth Phillips when it comes to writing outrageous, heartwarming, wonderfully sensual romance.

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