Force of Nature

Force of Nature

4.6 3
by Susan Johnson

View All Available Formats & Editions

From acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Susan Johnson comes a sizzling tale of erotic adventure as two people from very different worlds unleash a passion as unstoppable as a...

Force Of Nature

Free-spirited and worldly, Jo Attenborough's modern notions of a woman's role frequently land her in hot


From acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Susan Johnson comes a sizzling tale of erotic adventure as two people from very different worlds unleash a passion as unstoppable as a...

Force Of Nature

Free-spirited and worldly, Jo Attenborough's modern notions of a woman's role frequently land her in hot water—but nothing like the heat she experiences under the penetrating gaze of a mysterious man...

Reclusive cattle baron Flynn Ito has the heart of a warrior—and a reputation as a dangerous man. He protects what's his, and what he wants to possess more than anything is Jo. For he knows that once their worlds collide, every temptation and forbidden pleasure will be satisfied with the sweetest surrender...

"Susan Johnson knows how to make the pages sizzle and burn and take forbidden passion to new heights."—Romantic Times

Editorial Reviews
The Barnes & Noble Review
After 23 years in Florence, fortune hunter Lucy Attenborough has brought her daughter, Jo, home to Montana…and there is no denying that Jo is the daughter of powerful and influential Native American warrior, Jon Hazard Black (the hero of Johnson's sexy historical Blaze). Jo is not only lovely, but the ambition she inherited from her father has led her to become an engineer, though such a career is practically unheard of for a woman in 1888. Jo soon enchants Hazard's family and captivates wealthy local rancher Flynn Ito as well. Flynn is the outrageously handsome, enigmatic son of an Irish scullery maid turned mule skinner and a Japanese samurai. Like his father before him, Flynn has matchless skills both as a warrior and as a lover. Jo's audacity in inviting herself into his bed attracts him from the start, and her quick mind and responsive body soon make him realize that he never wants her to leave. But when Flynn's enemies make Jo their weapon in a range war, the lovers must decide whether there is more than desire between them…. Sue Stone
Romantic Times
As always, Susan Johnson writes a romance that sizzles and a story that lingers in your mind...

Product Details

Publication date:
Braddock-Black Series
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2003 Susan Johnson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-57566-808-6

Chapter One

Helena, Montana April 1888

Two women were standing on the windswept porch of the Braddock-Black mansion, their luggage at their feet, the carriage that had brought them from the rail station a receding shadow in the stormy night. Brushing away the snowflakes swirling about her head with an exasperated gesture, the younger woman scowled into the blustery night.

"This is impossible! How can it be snowing in April?"

"The climate is more unpredictable than Florence, darling." The well-dressed woman's voice was mild, as though they were actually discussing the weather.

Spitting out a flurry of snowflakes that blew into her mouth, the dark-haired woman's scowl deepened. "Which is where we should be-not here and certainly not now!" She jabbed a finger at the carriages lining the street. "For heaven's sake, Mother, these people are entertaining!"

"We needn't stay long. As for us being here now"-a distinct firmness insinuated itself into her tone-"I daresay, we have as much right as anyone to be here. More perhaps."

"Have you no shame, Mother? You'd confront these people in full view of their guests?"

"Nonsense. We're not here to confront anyone. We've come to visit your father. I see no shame in that."

"Perhaps someof those inside might disagree."

"Darling, there's no need to carry on so. I'm sure I know most everyone in town and this is simply a visit, no more."

"It's been twenty-three years, Mother. I doubt you know anyone at all, although that might be the only saving grace in this debacle," the slender, young woman muttered. "At least we'll be embarrassing ourselves before strangers."

"No one is going to embarrass anyone, my dear. Now, straighten your bonnet. It's awry as usual." Ignoring her daughter's dissent with her usual disregard for any view other than her own, Lucy Attenborough turned to the door, lifted the knocker and let it fall with a bang onto the polished brass plate.

Hazard and his wife, Blaze, were hosting a dinner party that evening. After glancing at the calling card his major domo handed him, Hazard excused himself. Walking down the hall toward the drawing room where he'd been told two women waited, Hazard unconsciously braced himself for trouble. This was hardly the time of day for making calls, especially after twenty-three years. When he reached the door to the drawing room, he paused for a moment with his hand on the door latch. His pulse was racing. Every nerve was on alert-like going into battle, he reflected with a certain irony-just like the old days.

Taking a small breath, he pushed down the latch, entered the room and immediately recognized Lucy Attenborough.

"You've done well for yourself, Jon."

Lucy's tone of voice did nothing to assuage the misgivings her name had evoked, nor did the sight of the young woman at her side. Closing the door behind him securely, as though he could contain the approaching scandal with so small a gesture, he turned back to the women. "What brings you to Helena, Lucy?" he asked. As if he didn't know, he thought, taking in the familiar features of the young lady with his former lover. As if Lucy didn't know he owned half of Montana.

"I wanted you to meet your daughter."

He didn't move from his position near the door. "You waited a long time."

"For heaven's sake, Mother, will you stop this ridiculous game." The young woman rose to her considerable height, lifted the chin that matched that of the man regarding her and met his gaze with similar dark eyes. "Please forgive us for intruding. My mother is without pride. Come, Mother. You saw what you wanted to see."

"There's no doubt she's mine," Hazard murmured, struck by the remarkable resemblance. "If you need anything, it can be arranged." Moving forward, Hazard put out his hand to the daughter he'd never seen. "Welcome to my home."

The young woman hesitated for a fraction of a second before taking her father's hand.

"I'm Jon Hazard Black," he said with a smile.

"Giuseppina Attenborough. Call me Jo," she replied, withdrawing her hand from his grasp.

Hazard's dark brows arched upward. "An unusual name."

"She was born in Florence," Lucy interposed, with an easy familiarity, as though their conversation was of the most banal nature.

"And raised in Florence," the young woman added, "until Mother decided it was improper for me to work for a living, which I'm perfectly capable of doing." She shot her mother an exasperated look. "I could have supported us very well." Turning back to Hazard, she said with a hint of defiance as though she'd had to parry criticism for her choice of profession before. "I'm an engineer."

"It's just a whim for which Father Alessandro has much to answer!" Lucy retorted, tartly. "She's no such thing!"

Jo's gaze was cool. "Mother thinks it's unfeminine."

"The world's changing. Why shouldn't you be an engineer?"

Hazard's daughter looked at him with genuine warmth for the first time since he'd walked into the room. "Exactly."

The door into the drawing room suddenly opened and a beautiful woman with flame red hair stood on the threshold.

Hazard immediately moved toward his wife and taking her hand, drew her into the room. "Darling, come meet our visitors."

The look that passed between husband and wife was difficult to interpret, so quickly was it shuttered.

As Blaze and Hazard approached, Lucy measured her competition with a discerning gaze: obviously a Worth gown. She coolly calculated the price of such luxury with an eye for her own personal gain. The diamonds Hazard's wife wore were worth a king's ransom, her beauty undiminished by the intervening years. And she had a fortune of her own as well, Lucy thought with the bitterness of someone who had lost hers, along with a lover who had required a sizable income to maintain. Her handsome cavalry officer, however enamored, had succumbed to family pressures and married the little heiress selected for him.

So she was here now to repair her fortunes.

And perhaps take back what was hers.

Although their visit to this little backwater town might turn out to be more enjoyable than she'd anticipated. The fact that Hazard was as handsome as ever added a delightful fillip to her enterprise.

In contrast to her mother's dégagé attitude, Jo was mortified to be here. Not that she hadn't been curious about her father, but if her mother hadn't gone into hysterics, she would have stood firm and remained in Florence. She'd lived twenty-two fatherless years without any undue distress. And unlike her mother, she had no wish to be a rich man's petitioner. She doubted as well, that there was a wife alive who would graciously welcome her husband's by-blow and ex-lover.

As for Blaze, after one glance at Lucy and the young woman, there was no question why they were here. The girl's resemblance to Hazard was startling: the same eyes and chin and beautifully defined mouth, the same dark, silken hair. She'd inherited his height as well. As a half blood, her skin was a shade lighter, but in all else she bore Hazard's mark.

"You remember Lucy, don't you?" Hazard said, the gaze he turned on Blaze a plea for forbearance.

"Of course. How are you, Lucy?" Blaze could afford to be gracious; she had no insecurities apropos her husband's affection.

"I'm a bit fatigued after our long journey." Lucy rested against the sofa back in a languid pose that brought her fine bosom into prominence. "But otherwise I'm well. I'm looking forward to renewing old acquaintances," she added, smiling at Hazard.

She looked so smug, Blaze briefly considered throwing her out.

"And this is Jo," Hazard quickly interposed, hoping to deflect Lucy's blatant provocation. "A very pleasant surprise," he said kindly.

Jo's discomfort was so patent, Blaze took pity on the young woman. Surely she couldn't be faulted for her mother's affrontery. "How nice to meet you, Jo. You look so much like your father; you must have felt as though you were looking in a mirror. Has Jon invited you ladies to join us for dinner?"

"I hadn't yet." Nor would he have.

"You both must be hungry," Blaze remarked, cordially. "Please join us." There was no point in trading discourtesies. The girl was well mannered. Lucy was Lucy. And their guests would learn the facts concerning Hazard's daughter soon enough in a town the size of Helena.

"No! We can't!" Jo exclaimed. "That is, no, thank you, we couldn't impose," she added more calmly. "We're not dressed and the journey was fatiguing."

"Perhaps some other time." Lucy's winning smile was directed at Hazard. She had no intention of meeting her former friends without a proper toilette and a full array of her remaining jewels.

Jo offered up a silent prayer of thanksgiving, although she knew her mother's reply had nothing to do with good manners.

Jo wasn't the only one to experience gratitude. Hazard stifled a sigh of relief.

An uncomfortable silence fell, the wailing wind and snow pelting against the windows suddenly were conspicuously loud.

"Our luggage is in the foyer," Lucy said into the hush. "And we are dreadfully tired, aren't we, darling?"

The swift look passing between husband and wife was obvious this time.

"Let me see that you have rooms at the Plantation House." The authority in Hazard's tone quelled even Lucy's urge to object.

"I should be getting back to our guests." Blaze's smile was forced. "You won't be long, will you, dear?" she added, turning away in a whisper of shimmering black moire and sparkling diamonds.

"No. I'll have Timms make the arrangements. If you'll excuse me." He dipped his head to his guests. "I'll be right back."

Hazard overtook Blaze in the hallway, caught her around the waist, turned her around and offered her a rueful smile. "Please, don't be angry."

She brushed his hands away. "I'm not sure I want to talk to you right now."

"I don't blame you, but I can't refuse to see my daughter," he said, quietly. "I just can't."

Adjusting her diamond bracelet that didn't need adjusting, Blaze concentrated on centering the rosette design on her wrist. "Of course, you can't," she said with a sigh, her gaze coming up to meet his. "But Lucy's just so bloody annoying. She hasn't changed one whit. And she's looking forward to renewing old acquaintances." Her brows arched. "How perfect for us all."

"You know as well as I do that Lucy's a bitch through and through."

"I think perhaps you know her just a little bit better than I."

"Lucy's here because she needs money." Hazard prudently shifted the direction of the conversation. "I doubt I would have ever seen my daughter if not for that. You can see that Jo is clearly embarrassed."

"At least she doesn't take after her mother. Lucy's too brazen to be embarrassed. As I recall, she pursued you relentlessly-not only under her old husband's nose, but before the entire town."

"That all happened long ago, before I knew you." There was no point in arguing about Lucy's pursuit; it had been shameless.

Tight-lipped, Blaze stared at him. "How many more children might there be from 'before you knew me'?"

"None, I expect ... or we would have heard long since."

Her brows rose at his male pragmatism. "I'm not sure that's what I care to hear."

"I can't change what happened before I met you." He touched her hand, slid his finger over the soft white kid of her long evening glove. "I wish I could; I don't like to make you unhappy."

The hum of conversation from the dining room was audible in the abrupt silence, the clink of dinnerware and glasses evidence of another course being served, a strident high-pitched giggle suddenly shrill above the muted sounds of social intercourse.

Blaze groaned. "Claudia will relish hearing the news. She thrives on scandal and gossip."

"I'm sorry. I wish I could change things"-Hazard bent low so their eyes met-"but they're here. And she's family."

Blaze blew out a small breath. "I know ... I know." She made a small moue. "Go and do what you have to do," she murmured. "I'll make your excuses to our dinner guests. Although it's going to be up to you to explain Jo and Lucy's appearance when you return. And don't even think about dissembling. The entire city will know by morning."

"It shouldn't take long to explain that I have another daughter," he said with male succinctness. "Come morning, we'll see what Lucy wants-or rather, how much she wants. And unless I miss my guess, the moment Lucy has her bank draft, she'll be on the next train east." A faint smile lifted the corners of his mouth. "Jo's very lovely, though, isn't she?"

It was impossible not to agree. "She's beautiful, darling. Very beautiful. And if Lucy Attenborough wasn't looking at you with such fondness, I would be more than willing to let the girl stay here. But-"

"God, no. You're too trusting. Lovely as she may be, let's first see what's brought them so far from Florence after two decades-or more to the point what two decades in Florence may have wrought."

"You know best, dear."

Hazard's eyes narrowed. "I'm not sure I like that patently false acquiescence."

Blaze grinned. "Then we're even, because I'm not sure I like having Lucy Attenborough lusting after you."

"Good God, she's not lusting. That was over years ago."

"I know what I saw. Lusting, darling. Without a doubt."

He groaned.

"Fond memories?" Her gaze was amused.

Lucy Attenborough was the most unnervingly brash woman on the face of the earth. She'd had absolutely no discretion years ago, nor had she now. Who, but Lucy, would arrive in the midst of a dinner party? "No, fond, wouldn't be my choice of words," he noted, brusquely. Harrowing, maybe, he thought; she never took no for an answer. He nodded in the direction of the dining room. "I suppose Timms is supervising in there."

"I'll send him out."

"I'd appreciate it. He can see our visitors to the Plantation House." Hazard grimaced faintly, not looking forward to further conversation with Lucy. "I'll go and speak to the ladies and join you shortly."

"You can't say our dinner guests won't be entertained tonight," Blaze murmured, a teasing light in her eyes.

Hazard's gaze narrowed. "I'm glad you're amused."

She grinned. "I couldn't resist. But, darling, consider, it's not as though we're unfamiliar with scandal in our lives. Our son, for instance, has led us a merry chase of late," she pointed out. "And at base, it's only money. We have more than enough to share with your daughter." Her brows arched slightly. "I wouldn't wish, however, to set up Lucy in too much style. I'm not that magnanimous."

"Nor I," Hazard muttered. "She was left a half million when Attenborough died. Although she didn't get her settlement without a fight. Attenborough's first wife and children together with the trustees weren't inclined to be generous to the judge's new young bride."

Blaze shrugged. "Perhaps she lived too well in Florence."

"No doubt. We'll see what she wants and then the lawyers can do the haggling."

"Including Daisy?"

Hazard frowned. "No, not including Daisy." Hazard's daughter by a previous relationship had been a part of their family for the past fifteen years. Absarokee culture was loosely structured; relationships were easily defined. So when Daisy's mother and stepfather had died in an accident, Hazard's home had become hers. A lawyer now, Daisy was conservative by nature. Unlike her half brother, Trey, who was cutting a very wide swath through the eligible and not-so-eligible females in Montana.

Like his father before him, those with long memories recalled.

"We'll talk to the children first thing in the morning."

Hazard nodded and then gently kissed Blaze's cheek. "Thank you for your understanding."

"My understanding stops at Lucy." Her gaze was sharp. "Just so we're perfectly clear on that point."

"Of course. With luck, she'll soon be gone."

"I suspect the 'soon' part will cost you."

Hazard's brows rose. "If she guarantees me a speedy return to Florence, I'll be more than happy to oblige her mercenary inclinations."

"Do you want a speedy departure for Jo as well?"

He shrugged. "It depends." Raised in a warrior culture where vigilance was the key to survival, having lived in a frontier society where avarice and greed were swaggering credos of empire building, he was inherently wary. "Why don't we see what kind of person Jo turns out to be."

Chapter Two

"I think we're going to be extremely comfortable here." Lucy waved her hand in an airy arc that encompassed the elegant sitting room of the Plantation House Hotel's largest suite. "I'd forgotten how charming small towns can be." Happily ensconced in the Louis Quartorze suite, the hotel manager suitably cowed, a splendid dinner being prepared for them despite the late hour, the champagne she had ordered being poured, Lucy lounged with royal languor on a much-gilded chaise upholstered in azure brocade. "I think we might stay in Helena for some little while after all," she murmured, gesturing the waiter out. "Now bring your maman a glass of that lovely champagne, darling, and we'll drink to our success."


Excerpted from FORCE OF NATURE by SUSAN JOHNSON Copyright © 2003 by Susan Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Susan Johnson is the award-winning, national bestselling author of the novels Hot Spot, Hot Legs, and Hot Pink, among others.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Force of Nature 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1888, Lucy Attenborough, accompanied by her daughter engineer Guiseppina better known as Jo, returns to Helena, Montana for the firs time in twenty-three years. For Jo this is her first trip to Big Sky Country having been raised in Florence. Her father, Native American Jon Hazard Black never knew he sired a daughter until he and his wife Blaze see Jo, who is clearly his child. Jon knows that Lucy is here for one thing only, money and tries to buy her off with a too generous yearly stipend. Lucy accepts, but her avaricious mind sees more cash flowing because Jon wants to know his daughter better. At the Stuart Warner dinner party that Jo attends, cattle ranch owner Flynn Ito arrives. Flynn and Jo are immediately attracted to one another and go off together for a night of boiling lovemaking. As they become better acquainted in and out of bed, their original lure turns into love, but his enemies, including an English aristocrat, use her as a pawn to try to kill him. Known for her pair of asbestos gloves requirement, Susan Johnson heats up the sheets with her latest historical romance. The story line engages the audience when Lucy arrives in town, but picks up action and momentum the moment that Jo and Flynn meet. Blisteringly passionate as the lead characters only come up for air when his enemies assault them, FORCE OF NATURE wraps the sex scenes inside a delightful western romance. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was really good. It made me laugh cry and happy all at the same time . Susan Johnson never dissapoints . I've been a fan since Sinful ,keep up the good work can't wait for your next novel.