Just Imagine

Just Imagine

3.9 44
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

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The War Between the States may be over for the rest of the country, but not for Kit Weston. Disguised as a boy, she's come to New York City to kill Baron Cain, the man who stands between her and Risen Glory, the South Carolina home she loves. But unknown to Kit, the Yankee war hero is more than her bitterest enemy—he's also her guardian. And he'll be a lot

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The War Between the States may be over for the rest of the country, but not for Kit Weston. Disguised as a boy, she's come to New York City to kill Baron Cain, the man who stands between her and Risen Glory, the South Carolina home she loves. But unknown to Kit, the Yankee war hero is more than her bitterest enemy—he's also her guardian. And he'll be a lot harder to kill than she's figured on . . .

Believing that Kit's a boy, Cain offers the grubby rapscallion a job in his stable. But he has no idea what he's in for, and it's not long before the hero of Missionary Ridge discovers the truth. His scamp of a stable boy is a strong-willed, violet-eyed beauty who's hell-bent on driving him crazy.

Two hard-headed, passionate people . . . Two stubborn opponents with tender souls . . . Sometimes wars of the heart can only be won through the sweetest of surrenders.

Editorial Reviews

Susan Elizabeth Phillips is known now for her fast-paced, witty contemporary romances. But, back in the early '80s, when she was a young mother snatching a few hours here and there to write, her first solo novel was a post-Civil War era historical romance, published as Risen Glory. That romantic landmark is back by reader demand, revised by the author and renamed Just Imagine. The heroine, Katharine Louise Weston, better known as Kit, has dressed all her life in britches and is more at home in the stable than the parlor. She travels from the Deep South to New York City to kill Major Baron Cain, the Yankee who stole her family plantation. When Cain hires her as a stable boy, Kit is delighted. But, before she can shoot him, Cain discovers she's a woman and forces Kit to change her strategy.... It takes a while for hatred to turn to love, and vengeance to passion, but the sparks between Cain and Kit make the time fly in this sexy, romantic adventure.

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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

The old street vendor noticed him at once, for the boy was out of place in the crowd of well-dressed stockbrokers and bankers who thronged the streets of lower Manhattan. Cropped black hair that might have held a hint of curl had it been clean stuck out in spikes from beneath the brim of a battered felt hat. A patched shirt unbuttoned at the neck, perhaps in deference to the early July heat, covered narrow, fragile shoulders, while a strap of leather harness held up a pair of greasy, oversized britches. The boy wore black boots that seemed too big for one so small, and he held an oblong bundle in the crook of his arm.

The street vendor leaned against a pushcart filled with trays of pastries and watched the boy shove his way through the crowd, as if it were an enemy to be conquered. The old man saw things others missed, and something about the boy caught his imagination.

"You there, ragazzo. I got a pastry for you. Light as the kiss of an angel. Vieni qui."

The lad jerked up his head, then gazed longingly at the trays of confections the old man's wife made fresh each day. The peddler could almost hear him counting the pennies concealed in the bundle he clutched so protectively. "Come, ragazzo. It is my gift to you." He held up a fat apple tart. "The gift of an old man to a new arrival in this, the most important city in the world."

The boy stuck a defiant thumb into the waistband of his trousers and, approached the cart. "Jes' what makes you reckon I'm a new arrival?"

His accent was as thick as thesmell of Carolina jasmine blowing across a cotton field, and the old man concealed a smile. "Perhaps it is only a silly fancy, eh?"

The boy shrugged and kicked at some litter in the gutter. "I'm not sayin' I am, and I'm not sayin' I'm not." He punched a grimy finger in the direction of the tart. "How much you want for that?"

"Did I not say it was a gift?"

The boy considered this, then gave a short nod and held out his hand. "Thank you kindly."

As he took the bun, two businessmen in frock coats and tall beaver hats came up to the cart. The boy's gaze swept contemptuously over their gold watch fobs, rolled umbrellas, and polished black shoes. "Damn fool Yankees," he muttered.

The men were engaged in conversation and didn't hear, but as soon as they left, the old man frowned. "I think this city of mine is not a good place for you, eh? It has only been three months since the war is over. Our President is dead. Tempers are still high."

The boy settled on the edge of the curb to consume the tart. "I didn't hold much with Mr. Lincoln. I thought he was puerile."

"Puerile? Madre di Dio! What does this word mean?"

"Foolish like a child."

"And where does a boy like you learn such a word?"

The boy shaded his eyes from the late-aftemoon sun and squinted at the old man. "Readin' books is my avocation. I learned that particular word from Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson. I'm an admirer of Mr. Emerson." He began nibbling delicately around the edge of his tart. "'Course, I didn't know he was a Yankee when I started to read his essays. I was mad as skunk piss when I found out. By then it was too late, though. I was already a disciple."

"This Mr. Emerson. What does he say that is so special?"

A fleck of apple clung to the tip of the boy's grimy index finger, and he flicked it with a small pink tongue. "He talks about character and self-reliance. I reckon self-reliance is the most important attribute a person can have, don't you?"

"Faith in God. That is the most important."

"I don't hold much with God anymore, or even Jesus. I used to, but I reckon I've seen too much these last few years. Watched the Yankees slaughter our livestock and burn our barns. Watched them shoot my dog, Fergis. Saw Mrs. Lewis Godfrey Forsythe lose her husband and her son Henry on the same day. My eyes feel old."

The street vendor looked more closely at the boy. A small, heart-shaped face. A nose that tilted up ever so slightly at the end. It seemed somehow a sin that manhood would soon coarsen those delicate features. "How old are you, ragazzo? Eleven? Twelve?"

Wariness crept into eyes that were a surprising shade of deep violet, "Old enough, I guess."

"What about your parents?"

"My mother died when I was born. My daddy died at Shiloh three years ago."

"And you, ragazzo? Why have you come here to my city of New York?"

The boy popped the last bit of tart into his mouth, tucked the bundle back under his arm, and stood. "I've got to protect what's mine. Thank you kindly for that tart. It's been a real pleasure makin' your acquaintance." He began to walk away, then hesitated. "And just so you know...I'm not a boy. And my name's Kit."

As Kit made her way uptown toward Washington Square according to the directions she'd received from a lady on the ferry, she decided she shouldn't have told the old man her name. A person bent on murder shouldn't go around advertising herself. Except it wasn't murder. It was justice, even though the Yankee courts wouldn't see it that way if she got caught. She'd better make certain they never found out that Katharine Louise Weston of Risen Glory Plantation, near what was left of Rutherford, South Carolina, had ever been within spitting distance of their damn city.


Just Imagine. Copyright © by Susan Phillips. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Just Imagine 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The Civil War is over and the country tries to heal its¿ wounds. However, eighteen years old Katherine ¿Kit¿ Weston of Risen Glory Plantation was ruined in the war. The woman from Rutherford, South Carolina has a personal battle to fight. She comes to New York mistaken for a young boy due to her ragged clothing to kill Northern war hero Major Baron Cain, current owner of what is left of her family plantation.

Kit obtains a job working as a stable boy for Baron, but soon learns he is also her guardian. However, Baron soon uncovers the truth that his outspoken street urchin is actually a lovely-determined young lady, who wants him dead even as he falls in love with her.

JUST IMAGINE reengineering a highly regarded novel that started your career¿s rise to the top. Susan Elizabeth Phillips risks doing just that to her fabulous 1984 Reconstruction Era romance RISEN GLORY and succeeds in improving the already strong novel. Ms. Phillips keeps the core essence of the original story line, and the hearts and souls of Kit and Baron intact, but tightens loose passages so that readers have quite a treat that will be labeled a classic seventeen years from now.

Harriet Klausner

Guest More than 1 year ago
read this book, I fell in love with this story and this is one book that I can read over and over again
Guest More than 1 year ago
This historical, chronicling the stormy attraction between a Southern woman and a Yankee war hero, is actually a revision of RISEN GLORY published in 1984.

At the conclusion of the Civil War, Kit Weston travels from South Carolina to New York to kill the only man that stands between her and Risen Glory, the plantation that she stands to inherit upon his death. Major Baron Cain, Union ¿Hero of Missionary Ridge¿, was deeded the plantation by his wayward mother, Rosemary, who also happened to be Kit¿s stepmother.

Believing that Kit is a boy, Baron hires her to be his stable boy. When Cain discovers his mistake and learns her true identity, he decides to send Kit away to finishing school. Not only does Risen Glory belong to him, but, in a coincidence true only in romance novels, he is also Kit¿s guardian.

Though Kit despises Baron, she agrees to do as he suggests. If not, he has promised that he will sell Risen Glory. But three years later, at the tender age of twenty-one, Kit returns to South Carolina to see the prospering of her plantation. Tension between Cain and Kit is like an electric storm, as they are constantly sparring amidst the sparks of attraction.

The cast of supporting characters are the condiments to this Yankee/Southern sandwich. There is Sophronia, a freed former slave and friend of Kit¿s and Magnus, also a freed slave who is both friend and employee to Cain. And one could hardly forget the ever-proper Miss Dolly, Kit¿s slightly batty, aging Southern belle chaperone.

In the tradition of the tension filled romance novel, Kit and Baron are the perfect protagonists, coming together in their moments of passion, though they are distant and constantly at each others¿ throats any other time. Ms. Phillips weaves a delightful mix of tears, laughter, and passion into this memorable historical, another novel in her growing list of exceptional reads.
DellaDB More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite book! I have listened to it twice, on audio book... and I could listen to it again. I wish it would be made into a movie....
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read just about everything from Susan Elizabeth Phillips and enjoyed each and every one. However, this book was a disappointment. I found that I lost interest in the characters early on but trudge on hoping it would get better. Unfortunately, I was forced to put it down two thirds of the way through out of sheer boredom.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by SEP that I have read. I knew I was in for a winner as the author starts the entry page with the following: ¿So, come back with me to an earlier time¿a time when men were men, and women were put on earth to give them trouble!¿ I just knew it was going to be a great book and I was not disappointed. It may have had many similarities to ¿Gone With The Wind¿ but, it also had plenty of deviances and nuances to make it fresh and unique to itself. Baron and Kit far surpass Rhett and Scarlett in the exciting couple category by leaps and bounds. I really enjoyed our heroine Katherine Louise ¿ better known as Kit. I preferred that she was a feisty wench that rode horses, learned to shoot a gun better than most men, wore shirts and boots and britches, hated to take baths and simply ran like one of the boys. I would have hated her to be the perfect southern belle ¿ instead she was the perfect southern hellion. Even after she learned to be a lady ¿ she kept her naughtiness and that was a delight. I really liked our hero Major Baron Cain. He was your quintessential northern man ¿ tough, hard working, handsome, intelligent and with a hardened but, deep heart. He was scared by life, scared by war but, still believed in better things. He was protective and kind to those he cared for but, made sure to never get too close else he would loose control. I was glad he was not the perfect northern yank ¿ instead he was an imperfect war hero and guardian but, with so much potential ¿ just as we want him to be. The way the story unfolded itself was great ¿ Kit going north to shoot the nasty Yankee who now was guardian of her and her home, Kit not having the courage to kill him when needed, Baron taking her on and when he saw her wildness sent her to New York for years to a finishing school to clean up her act, Kit coming back once her studies was done to claim her home ¿ Risen Glory and of course, once they meet up again the attraction between the two is explosive. They fight tooth and nail to control the land, their home, their lives and their loves. There is nothing gentle and soft with these two ¿ it¿s pure intensity, passion, anger, desire and deep emotion. I was pleased Kit and Baron pulled away the masks of anger and defiance and PRIDE at the end. All I can say is the ending was super satisfying. I really liked all the secondary characters in this story too Magnus, Sophronia, Veronica, Brandon, Dolly and of course at the end, a special young lady named Elizabeth enters the picture. These characters all held important roles in this book and made the story come alive even further with their situations, tales and entwining roles. This was five stars for an excellent tale! It will go on one of my favorite¿s lists now. Enjoy!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is a definate must read. It will blow you away with the plot and writting. very romantic.
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