Forbidden Love: First, Best and Only\A Single Rose

Overview

New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinksy delights with two timeless tales of love and forgiveness.

First, Best and Only

When she was just seventeen, Marni Lange loved Brian Webster with a consuming passion, until a tragic accident tore them apart. Now, fourteen years later, Marni is a successful businesswoman about to be profiled by an acclaimed photographer—none ...

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Overview

New York Times bestselling author Barbara Delinksy delights with two timeless tales of love and forgiveness.

First, Best and Only

When she was just seventeen, Marni Lange loved Brian Webster with a consuming passion, until a tragic accident tore them apart. Now, fourteen years later, Marni is a successful businesswoman about to be profiled by an acclaimed photographer—none other than Brian Webster. Suddenly, they find themselves face-to-face with the past that has haunted them and a second chance that they never expected.

A Single Rose

Shaye Burke wasn't surprised at the invitation to join a Caribbean boat tour—it was just her aunt Victoria's style. Yet as Shaye meets the crew, she realizes too late she's fallen victim to another matchmaking scheme. Noah VanBaar may be rugged and sexy, but she is done with love…unless Noah can convince Shaye it's waiting right in front of her.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Delinsky combines her understanding of human nature with absorbing, unpredictable storytelling – a winning combination."-Publishers Weekly

"There's no bigger name in women's fiction than Barbara Delinsky."
-Rocky Mountain News (Denver)

"Delinsky is one of those authors who knows how to introduce characters to her readers in such a way that they become more like old friends than works of fiction."
-Flint Journal

"Barbara Delinsky knows the human heartand its capacity to love and believe."-Observer-Reporter (Washington, Pennsylvania)

"With brilliant precision and compassionate insight,Ms. Delinsky explores the innermost depths of her beautifully realized characters, creating a powerful, ultimately uplifting novel of love and redemption."-Rave Reviews on More Than Friends

"Ms. Delinsky is a master storyteller!Her talent to create living characters is remarkable. Her writing and plotting are first-rate."-Rendezvous

"When you care enough to read the very best, the name of Barbara Delinsky should come immediately to mind."-Rave Reviews on A Woman Betrayed

"Definitely one of today's quintessential writersof women's fiction, Barbara Delinskypulls out all the stops in this perceptive novel."-RT Book Reviews on The Passions of Chelsea Kane

"Women's fiction at its finest."-RT Book Reviews

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373778171
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 10/29/2013
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 207,116
  • Product dimensions: 4.52 (w) x 6.64 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Delinsky
Barbara Delinsky has written more than twenty New York Times bestselling novels, with over thirty million copies in print. Her books are highly emotional, character-driven studies of marriage, parenthood, sibling rivalry and friendship. She is also the author of a breast cancer handbook. A breast cancer survivor herself, Barbara donates her author proceeds from the book to fund a research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hostipal. Visit her at www.barbaradelinsky.com.

Biography

Born Ruth Greenberg, and raised in suburban Boston, Barbara Delinsky worked as a sociology researcher in children's services and was a newspaper photographer and reporter before turning to fiction writing full-time. In point of fact, she never intended to pursue a literary career. But, in the early 1980s, a newspaper article profiling three women who successfully balanced home, family, and romance writing caught her attention. Intrigued, she spent months researching and writing her first novel. It sold -- and Delinsky was off and running.

Praised by critics and fans alike for her character driven studies of marriage, parenthood, and friendship, Delinsky is one of a small cadre of successful women writers (including Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown) who started out writing pseudonymous paperbacks for the category romance genre and muscled their way onto the bestseller lists with hardcover escapist fiction. Yet she is candid about the hard work involved and insists there's no tried-and-true formula that converts automatically to easy money. As if to prove her own point, Delinsky works from eight in the morning to about seven at night, writing in the office above the garage in her Newton, Massachusetts home; doing research; handling interviews; or -- her least favorite part of the job -- touring the country making author appearances.

Over the decades Delinsky has written dozens of novels that have landed on The New York Times bestseller list, including Twilight Whispers (1988), For My Daughters (1994), Three Wishes (1997), Flirting with Pete (2003), and Family Tree (2007). In 2001, she published her first nonfiction title, Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors. A cancer survivor herself, she has earmarked all the profits from the sale of this book to benefit breast cancer research.

Good To Know

When she isn't writing, one of Delinsky's favorite pastimes is kayaking.

She gets some of her best ideas in the shower. "It's a little harder to write ideas down there," she wrote to fans on her web site, "but I've been known to yell something out to my husband, who does it for me!"

The family cat, Chelsea, is named after her 1992 novel The Passions of Chelsea Kane.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Billie Douglass, Bonnie Drake; born Ruth Greenberg
    2. Hometown:
      Newton, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 9, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Psychology, Tufts University, 1967; M.A. in Sociology, Boston College, 1969

Read an Excerpt

Instinct told Marnie Lange that it was wrong, but she'd long ago learned not to blindly trust her instincts. For that very reason she'd surrounded herself with the best, the brightest, the most capable vice presidents, directors and miscellaneous other personnel to manage those ventures in which she'd invested. Now her staff was telling her something, and though she disagreed, she had to listen.

"It's a spectacular idea, Marni," Edgar Welles was saying, sitting forward with his arms on the leather conference table and his fingers interlaced. His bald head gleamed under the Tiffany lamps. "There's no doubt about it. The exposure will be marvelous."

"As vice president of public relations, you'd be expected to say that," Marni returned dryly.

"But I agree," chimed in Anne Underwood, "and I'm the editor in chief of this new baby. I think you'd be perfect for the premier cover of Class. You've got the looks and the status. If we're aiming at the successful woman over thirty, you epitomize her."

"I'm barely thirty-one, and I'm not a model," Marni argued.

Cynthia Cummings, Anne's art director, joined the fray. "You may not be a model, but you do have the looks."

"I'm too short. I'm only five-five."

"And this will be a waist-up shot, so your height is irrelevant," Cynthia went on, undaunted. "You've got classic features, a flawless complexion, thick auburn hair. You're a natural for something like this. We wouldn't be suggesting you do it if that weren't true."

Anne shifted in her seat to more fully face Marni, who had opted to sit among her staff rather than in the high-backed chair at the head of the long table. "Cynthia's right. We have pretty high stakes in this, too. You may be putting up the money, but those of us at the magazine have our reputations on the line. We've already poured thousands of hours into the conception and realization of Class. Do you think we'd risk everything with a cover we didn't think was absolutely outstanding?"

"I'm sure you wouldn't," Marni answered quietly, then looked at Edgar. "But won't it be awfully…presumptuous…my appearing in vivid color on every newsstand in the country?"

Edgar smiled affectionately. He'd been working with Marni since she'd taken over the presidency of the Lange Corporation three years before. Personally, he'd been glad when her father had stepped down, retaining the more titular position of chairman of the board. Marni was easier to work with any day. "You've always worked hard and avoided the limelight. It's about time you sampled it."

"I don't like the limelight, Edgar. You know that."

"I know you prefer being in the background, yes. But this is something else, something new. Lange may not be a novice at publishing, but we've never dealt with fashion before. Class is an adventure for the publications division. It's an adventure for all of us. You want it to be a success, don't you?" It was a rhetorical question, needing no answer. "It's not as though you're going to give speech after speech in front of crowds of stockholders or face the harsh floodlights of the media."

"I'd almost prefer that. This seems somehow arrogant."

"You have a right to arrogance," broke in Steve O'Brien. Steve headed the publications division of the corporation, and he'd been a staunch supporter both of Marni and of Class from the start. "In three years you've nearly doubled our annual profit margin. Three years. It's remarkable."

Marni shrugged. She couldn't dispute the figures, yet she was modest about flaunting them. "It's really been more than three years, Steve. I've been working under Dad since I graduated from business school. That adds another four years to the total. He gave me a pretty free hand to do what I wanted."

"Doesn't matter," Steve said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Three, five, seven years—you've done wonders. You've got every right to have your picture on the cover of Class."

"One session in a photographer's studio," Edgar coaxed before Marni could argue further. "That's all we ask. One session. Simple and painless."

She grimaced. "Painless? I hate being photographed."

"But you're photogenic," came the argument from Dan Sobel, Class's creative director. He was a good-looking man, no doubt photogenic himself, Marni mused, though she felt no more physical attraction for him than she did for either Edgar or Steve. "You've got so much more going for you than some of the people who've been on magazine covers. Hell, look what Scavullo did with Martha Mitchell!"

Marni rolled her eyes. "Thanks."

"You know what I mean. And don't tell me she had any more right to be on a cover than you do."

Marni couldn't answer that one. "Okay," she said, waving her hand. "Aside from my other arguments, we're not talking Scavullo or Avedon here. We're talking Webster." She eyed Anne. "You're still convinced he's the right one?"

"Absolutely," Anne answered with a determined nod.

"I've shown you his covers. We've pored over them ourselves—" her gaze swept momentarily toward Cynthia and Dan "—and compared them to other cover work. As far as I'm concerned, even if Scavullo or Avedon had been available I'd have picked Webster. He brings a freshness, a vitality to his covers. This is a man who loves women, loves working with them, loves making them look great. He has a definite way with models, and with his camera."

Marni's "Hmmph" went unnoticed as Dan spoke up in support of Anne's claim.

"We're lucky to get him, Marni. He hasn't been willing to work on a regular basis for one magazine before."

"Then why is he now?"

"Because he likes the concept of the magazine, for one thing. He's forty himself. He can identify with it."

"Just because a man reaches the age of forty doesn't mean that he tires of nubile young girls," Marni pointed out. "We all have friends whose husbands grab for their Vogues and Bazaars as soon as they arrive."

Dan agreed. "Yes, and I'm not saying that Webster's given up on nineteen-year-old models. But I think he understands the need for a publication like ours. From what he said, he often deals with celebrities who are totally insecure about the issue of age. They want him to make them look twenty-one. He wants to make them look damned good at whatever age they are. He claims that some of the most beautiful women he's photographed in the last few years have been in their mid-forties."

"Wonderful man," Anne said, beaming brightly.

Marni sent an amused smile in her direction. Anne was in her mid-forties and extremely attractive.

Dan continued. "I think there's more, though, at least as to why Webster is willing to work with us. When a man reaches the age of forty, he tends to take stock of his life and think about where's he's going. Brian Webster has been phenomenally successful in the past ten years, but he's done it the hard way. He didn't have a mentor, so to speak, or a sponsor. He didn't have an 'in' at any one magazine or another. He's built his reputation purely on merit, by showing his stuff and relying on its quality to draw in work. And it has. He calls his own shots, and even aside from his fashion work gets more than enough commissions for portraits of celebrities to keep him busy. But he may just be ready to consolidate his interests. Theoretically, through Class, his name could become as much a household word as Scavullo or Avedon. If we're successful, and he's successful, he could work less and do better financially than before. Besides, his first book of photographs is due out next summer. The work for it is done and that particular pressure's off. I think we lucked out and hit him at exactly the right time."

"And he's agreed to stick with us for a while?" Marni asked, then glanced from one face to another. "It was the general consensus that we have a consistent look from one issue to the next."

"We're preparing a contract," Steve put in. "Twelve issues, with options to expand on that. He says he'll sign."

Marni pressed her lips together and nodded. Her argument wasn't really with the choice of Webster as a photographer; it was with the choice of that first cover face. "Okay. So Webster's our man." Her eyes narrowed as she looked around the group again. "And since I have faith in you all and trust that you're a little more objective on the matter of this cover than I am, it looks like I'll be your guinea pig. What's the schedule?" She gave a crooked grin. "Do I have time for plastic surgery first? I could take off five pounds while I'm recuperating."

"Don't you dare!" Anne chided. "On either score." She sat back. "Once Webster's signed the contract, we'll set up an appointment. It should be within the next two weeks."

Marni took in a loud breath and studied the ceiling. "Take your time. Please."

It was actually closer to three weeks before the photographer's contract had been signed and delivered and Marni was due to be photographed. She wasn't looking forward to it. That same tiny voice in the back of her mind kept screaming in protest, but the wheels were in motion. And she did trust that Edgar, Anne and company knew what they were doing.

That didn't keep her from breaking two fingernails within days of the session, or feeling that her almost shoulder-length hair had been cut a fraction of an inch too short, or watching in dire frustration while a tiny pimple worked its way to the surface of her "flawless" skin at one temple.

Mercifully, she didn't have to worry about what to wear. Marjorie Semple, the fashion director for Class, was taking care of that. All Marni had to do was to show up bright and early on the prescribed morning and put herself into the hands of the hairstylist, the makeup artist, the dresser, numerous other assistants and, of course, Brian Webster. Unfortunately, Edgar, Steve, Anne, Dan, Cynthia, Marjorie and a handful of others from the magazine were also planning to attend the session.

"Do you all have to be there?" Marni asked nervously when she spoke with Anne the day before the scheduled shoot.

"Most of us do. At least the first time. Webster knows what kind of feeling we want in this picture, but I think our presence will be a reminder to him of the investment we have in this."

"He's a professional. He knows what he's being paid for. I thought you had faith in him."

"I do," Anne responded with confidence. "Maybe what I'm trying to say is that it's good PR for us to be there."

"It may be good PR, but it's not doing anything for my peace of mind. It'll be bad enough with all of Webster's people there. With all of you there, I'll feel like I'm a public spectacle. My God," she muttered under her breath, "I don't know how I let myself be talked into this."

"You let yourself be talked into it because you know it's going to be a smashing success. The session itself will be a piece of cake after all the agonizing you've done about it. You've been photographed before, Marni. I've seen those shots. They were marvelous."

"A standard black-and-white publicity photo is one thing. This is different."

"It's easier. All you have to do is be there. Everything else will be taken care of."

They'd been through this all before, and Marni had too many other things that needed her attention to rehash old arguments. "Okay, Anne. But please. Keep the Class staff presence at a minimum. Edgar was going to take me to the studio, but I think I'll tell him to stay here. Steve can take me—Class is his special project. The last thing I need is a corporative audience."

As it happened, Steve couldn't take her, since he was flying in from meetings in Atlanta and would have to join the session when it was already underway. So Edgar swung by in the company limousine and picked her up at her Fifth Avenue co-op that Tuesday morning. She was wearing a silk blouse of a pale lavender that coordinated with the deeper lavender shade of her pencil-slim wool skirt and its matching long, oversized jacket. Over the lot she wore a chic wool topcoat that reached mid-calf and was suitably protective against the cold February air.

In a moment's impulsiveness, she'd considered showing up at the session in jeans, a sweatshirt and sneakers, with her hair unwashed and her face perfectly naked. After all, she'd never been "made over" before. But she hadn't been able to do it. For one thing, she had every intention of going to the office directly from the shoot, hence her choice of clothes. For another, she believed she had an image to uphold. Wearing jeans and a sweatshirt, as she so often did at home alone on weekends, she looked young and vulnerable. But she was thirty-one and the president of her family's corporation. Confidence had to radiate from her, as well as sophistication and maturity. True, Webster's hairstylist would probably rewash her hair and then do his own thing with it. The makeup artist would remove even those faint traces of makeup she'd applied that morning. But at least she'd walk into the studio and meet those artists for the first time looking like the successful, over-thirty businesswoman she was supposed to be.

The crosstown traffic was heavy, and the drive to the studio took longer than she'd expected. Edgar, God bless him, had his briefcase open and was reviewing spread sheets aloud. Not that it was necessary. She'd already been over the figures in question, and even if she hadn't, she was a staunch believer in the delegation of authority, as Edgar well knew. But she sensed he was trying to get her mind off the upcoming session, and though his ploy did little to salve her unease, she was grateful for the effort.

The limousine pulled to the curb outside a large, seemingly abandoned warehouse by the river on the west side of Manhattan. Dubious, Marni studied the building through the darkened window of the car.

"This is it," Edgar said. He tucked his papers inside his briefcase, then snapped it shut. "It doesn't look like much, but Brian Webster's been producing great things inside it for years." He climbed from the limousine, then put out a hand to help her.

Moments later they were walking past piles of packing crates toward a large freight elevator, which carried them up. Marni didn't waste time wondering what was on the second, third and fourth f loors. She was too busy trying to imagine the scene on the fifth, which, according to the button Edgar had pressed, was where they were headed.

The door slid open. A brightly lit reception area spread before them, its white walls decorated with a modest, if well-chosen, sampling of the photographer's work. The receptionist, an exquisite young woman with raven-black hair, amber eyes and a surprisingly shy smile, immediately came forward from behind her desk and extended her hand.

"Ms. Lange? I'm Angie. I hope you found us all right."

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