Phillips's involving domestic drama (after Last Bride Standing) follows L.A. career woman and New Orleans native Darian Cantrell, a 35-year-old with a dream job and a film-producer boyfriend. When she learns her little sister, Monique-a single mom with three daughters in what seems to be pre-Katrina New Orleans-has cancer, Darian rushes home to her sister's side. When Monique dies, their mother, Shirlee, who's married to a much younger man, thinks she's done enough parenting and expects Darian to assume responsibility for Monique's daughters. Darian's unexpected momhood involves multiple problems, but it brings her into contact with Brad, an old boyfriend, and now a divorced single dad who still adores her. It also brings her the unwanted attentions of a stalker. Amid all the drama, Phillips makes Darian courageous and worth rooting for. (Apr.)Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
No Turning Backby Patricia Anne Phillips
Darian Cantrall may have been born in New Orleans, but ever since she moved to L.A., she can't imagine living anywhere else. With a dream job and a glamorous life, she has everything she wants. But when her sister Monique's battle with cancer takes a turn for the worst, Darian returns home to be there for her family and do whatever is
HER BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN LIFE.
Darian Cantrall may have been born in New Orleans, but ever since she moved to L.A., she can't imagine living anywhere else. With a dream job and a glamorous life, she has everything she wants. But when her sister Monique's battle with cancer takes a turn for the worst, Darian returns home to be there for her family and do whatever is needed of her-even if it means taking on the one thing she dreads most.
JUST MIGHT BECOME HER GREATEST JOY.
Darian isn't cut out for motherhood or small-city life. And now it looks like she's diving right in to both. Monique left behind two small children and Darian is the only one who can raise them. Moving back home brings up all sorts of issues about the past. But when reality sets in, Darian discovers that her fast-paced glamorous L.A. life wasn't as idyllic as she thought. With help from Monique's kids and a high school sweetheart who comes back into the picture, Darian just might find the true meaning of happiness.
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Read an ExcerptNo Turning Back
By Patricia Anne Phillips
Copyright © 2008 Patricia Anne Phillips
All right reserved.
"Well, Darian. How do you like your new office?" Bill Landers asked. "I even ordered two new chairs just for you." He stood by the large window with a view of downtown Los Angeles. Bill looked around the office; it shone like the surface of a lake. Its sparkling perfection was disturbed only on the edge of the shore, caused by the beautiful woman that stood in front of him. Bill was in his mid-fifties, medium height, with blond hair and piercing blue eyes.
Bill had just promoted Darian Cantrell to manage the buyers in five of the largest department stores from Los Angeles to San Francisco. There were other outstanding buyers that could have been awarded the position, but Darian was the best. She worked long hours and had no family responsibilities or other distractions to interfere with her work schedule. If she was needed in San Francisco, she could leave instantaneously and without hesitation, and stay as long as necessary to complete the assignment. There was no one to stop her. Bill Landers and her peers were genuinely impressed by her professionalism.
Bill had been in love with Darian for the past four years. He held her hand longer than necessary, inhaled her perfume, and envisioned her nude, standing in front of him, her brown body glistening in a dim light. She would float to a small bed and lie on her back, hands raised above her head, legs spread apart, and locks of curly, sandy brown hair spilling over smooth shoulders. He would feel her heated juices mixed with his own. Bill would do anything for Darian, give her whatever she needed for just one night of blissful passion. He wanted to savor her, smell her sweet scent, taste her full lips, and caress every part of her curvy body. But loving her wasn't the reason he gave her the promotion. She deserved it.
Darian had graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans at the top of her class. In the office, she was methodical and respected by her peers. Darian avoided cliques, except for her friend, Yasmine, who started working for the company the same day as she did.
"Bill, I love it. I still can't believe I did it." Her eyes twinkled with delight and excitement. She gave him a dazzling smile, then clapped her hands together and bounced around her new office.
"Oh, it's just so beautiful. And I won't disappoint you, I promise." Enthusiastically, she threw both arms around his neck. "All I can say is thank you for appreciating all my hard work."
Bill tried to compose himself and felt tremors awaken his body. He needed space before he embarrassed himself, and gently took a step backward.
"Well, I have work waiting for me at my desk. So I better get back. Just buzz me if you need anything, Darian."
Bill started to the door and turned around to get one last look at her. She was facing the window. Her black suit fit perfectly, and the sun illuminated the red highlights in her hair. He shook his head as if to clear it, sighed, and shut the door behind him.
After Darian heard the door close she jumped up and down and twirled twice. "I did it, I did it," she repeated. I am the manager of five stores." All the hard work and staying late paid off. With this promotion, she could still send money to her sister in New Orleans and buy herself a town house. She was finally in the prime of her career.
Darian was thirty-five years old, smart, ambitious, and beautiful. Her mother, Shirlee, was Creole with very fair skin and light brown hair. Darian's father Ronald had dark skin. Darian's skin was the color of cinnamon. A straight nose, strong cheekbones and slanted brown eyes, the same gentle radiance as her mother's. Darian's face made men turn their heads. She worked out in the company gym daily and visited the beauty salon weekly. Her appearance was impeccable.
After Darian finished school she and her childhood friend, Vickie, moved to Los Angeles and rented an apartment together. Two years later, Vickie dated a married man and had hopes that he would leave his wife, but instead her heart was broken by empty promises. She returned to New Orleans and Darian missed her terribly.
Against her mother's wishes, Darian stayed in Los Angeles alone and focused on her career, which kept her too busy to get homesick or lonely.
Darian visited her family as much as possible until her mother married a man fifteen years her junior. The visits dwindled because of her disappointment at her mother's choice of a new mate. It was still hard seeing her mother with another man after her father's death. However, she was loyal to her family and helped Monique, her sister, financially with her two children.
She heard a soft knock on the door, posed at her desk as though it had always been hers. Sitting in her black leather chair, she slid her hands down the arms, feeling the soft leather.
Darian knew instantly that it was Yasmine. "Come in," she yelled.
Yasmine stepped inside. "Wow, what an office," she squealed and closed the door behind her. "Your office is even prettier than Bill's. He has the hots for you." There were two chairs in front of the desk and Yasmine slumped down into one of them, feeling the soft leather beneath her. "This chair feels good to my ass. Nice and soft."
"Well, that's a good description. Come and look at this view," Darian said and hopped up from her chair.
Yasmine sucked in her breath. "I hate to get out of this chair. Goodness, you can see for miles and miles." She pointed at the tall Wells Fargo Building. "I could stay inside and sit here all day. You did it, girl." Darian and Yasmine embraced, and faced the beautiful view.
"I just love it," Darian said and took her seat again. "Can you actually believe this is my office?"
"Yes. I can believe it. You worked your butt off for this promotion. When some of us had hangovers and couldn't come in on Saturdays, honey, you were here."
"Beverly's crystal party is Saturday. I could pick you up on my way to her house," Yasmine suggested.
Darian threw her hands up. "No, thank you. The last time we were there, those two bratty kids of hers were running and playing all over the house. They were stepping over everyone, and spilled punch on the carpet, and some of it spilled on my new shoes. Kids make me nervous. And now she's pregnant with another one. Can you believe that? I just can't be around small children very long, especially when they're not disciplined."
"How do you cope with your sister's two daughters?" Yasmine asked.
"I only see them twice a year, and believe me, twice a year is enough. They are a handful."
"Maybe when you have children you'll feel differently." Yasmine took one last look at the panoramic view.
"I'm not having any children at all. And Wade doesn't want any either. I just don't have the patience for children. Besides, I'm a career woman. I could never be a good mother. Children deserve to have parents with patience."
"That remains to be seen, honey. I've heard women say the same thing and end up with three or even four children. Anyway, I have lots of work to complete today. I'll be in the field tomorrow."
"Not me. I'll be here in my new office."
Darian entered her two bedroom townhouse on California Street in Santa Monica. Darian unlocked the door, dropped her briefcase on the sofa, and went into her bedroom to kick off her shoes, then downstairs into the kitchen to pour a glass of orange juice.
As Darian passed the television, she picked the remote up from the coffee table and flipped it on. She sighed and slumped down on the white leather sofa. Deliriously exhausted, she laid her head back and closed her eyes. Employees had been in and out of her office all afternoon. And she had attended a two-hour meeting. It had been quite a day.
Darian fell into a slumber and awakened to the shrill of the ringing telephone. She looked at the time on the cable box; it was 7:30 p.m. She had slept for an hour.
Through a haze of sleep she answered, "Hello." Darian smiled as she heard her sister's voice. They talked at least twice a week, but as Darian remembered, Monique hadn't returned her call last Thursday.
"Hey, Darian. What were you doing?" Monique asked.
"Just relaxing. You didn't return my calls last week. I left two messages. And come to think of it, Mama didn't call me back either. I'm in L.A. alone. Don't you guys even miss me?" she teased.
"Of course we miss you. Last week was hectic," Monique said, her voice lowering into a mere whisper. "I had a busy week."
Because of the distance, they always had so much to say, but this conversation seemed quiet to Darian. They weren't laughing and joking as usual. Was Monique angry with her? "So, what's going on with you, and how are the kids?" Little brats, Darian thought and rolled her eyes up.
"The kids are all right."
Darian frowned, cleared her throat, and sat up straight. Did she hear Monique's voice crack? And she seemed so remote. "Monique, is Mama all right?" Holding the phone for Monique's answer, Darian was getting alarmed, and gripped the phone tighter. She knew there was something not quite right. "Monique, you didn't answer. Is Mama all right?"
Unable to speak, Monique started sobbing.
"Monique, what is it. It's Mama, isn't it? Please, stop crying and tell me, girl." Darian was yelling and started to bite down on her fingernails like she used to when she was a kid and afraid.
"It's not Mama," Monique cried out. "God, Darian. Oh my God ..."
"What, Monique! What!" The palms of her hands were moist, and she felt heat in her face as panic spread rapidly. If Monique didn't stop crying and tell her soon, she was sure that her heart would stop beating. "Monique, please, compose yourself and tell me."
"I have breast cancer. I have only months to live, if not less. And my children are so young. They need me," she sobbed. And it sounded as though she had put her hand over her mouth to muffle the sound.
Darian placed the receiver against her chest and laid her head back on the sofa. She closed her eyes tightly and opened them again. When she placed the phone back to her ear, Monique was still sobbing.
"Are you sure, Monique? Could it be a mistake?" Darian asked, her voice drowning.
"No mistake. Mama and I have consulted three doctors. All three agree on the same diagnosis. Can you come home, Darian? I need you here with me now."
"Yes, of course. I'll be there. Stop crying, Monique, please. I'll see you tomorrow." Darian hung up. In just five minutes her world had turned upside down. She ran to her bedroom. Still in a haze, she perched on the edge of her bed. "What to do next?" she whispered, trying to calm her nerves.
Darian got up and stood in the middle of the room. "Suitcase, I have to pack my suitcase."
She ran to the hall closet and pulled out her overnight bag and luggage. She swung open the closet doors and started pulling out clothes, throwing them into the opened suitcase. Then she ran to her dresser and pulled out clothes from the drawers. She stopped and ran her fingers through her hair, then realized she had pulled down slacks and dresses that weren't needed. What did she need with slacks and dresses? She hung everything back inside the closet and pulled out jeans, sweaters, boots, and a pair of brown loafers. Under the circumstances, all she needed was clothes to kick around in.
Darian stopped packing and called the airlines. Which she should have done first? she thought. She just couldn't seem to concentrate clearly. Breast cancer, it didn't seem to sink inside her head, and none of it seemed real. "Monique, cancer?" she asked out loud. But it was real.
Her reservation was for six the next morning. She would arrive in New Orleans by noon.
The phone rang. Darian jumped and answered with misty eyes.
"You should be celebrating," Yasmine said. "But since you're not, I'll take you to lunch tomorrow."
"I can't. I've got to go home tomorrow."
"Home?" she asked, surprised. "You mean New Orleans?"
"Yes. Monique needs me. She has breast cancer." This time Darian cried. Saying the word "cancer" out loud was too realistic.
"Darian, breast cancer can be cured, you know. Thousands of women are getting it every day, and today they're alive and cured."
"No. She's had three opinions and all three said the same. A few months, maybe less."
"Maybe I should come over. You shouldn't be alone."
"Thanks, Yasmine. But I have to e-mail Bill and I need to be alone to pull myself together before I get home tomorrow. Lord, Monique has two young children and they won't be any help."
"I know, and I'm so sorry, Darian. Call me back if you want to talk."
"Thanks, I will. If I don't tonight, I will when I get there."
After Darian hung up she thought about Nikki and Shelby, and wondered how her mother felt knowing she would have to raise them. Darian sat down and closed her eyes. A day can change one's life forever. She'd had a wonderful day. But after the conversation with Monique she felt as though she had taken a gut punch that left her sinking aimlessly into depression.
She looked at the clock on her nightstand and knew that Wade was home. She and Wade had been dating for a year and a half, and planned to be married in a year. He was finally getting a chance to produce a movie that would earn an income to match Darian's. Together, they could reach their goals of being a successful career-minded married couple.
Darian grabbed her purse and ran frantically out the door.
"Hi, Sweets, come on in." Wade had given her the name Sweets as soon as they started dating. It seemed so natural because she was a sweet and loving woman.
Darian followed him to the kitchen and perched on a stool at the counter. He begin filling two tall glasses of apple juice.
"I have to be on the set tomorrow morning at four. This new actress is harder to please than anyone I've ever worked with. She's a real pill," he said disgustedly. He set the glasses on the counter and turned away. "Have you eaten dinner yet? I have leftover pizza I brought from the set. It was my lunch but I was too irritated to eat it." He set two paper plates in front of Darian. But she seemed to be distracted and didn't notice.
Taking a seat next to her, Wade saw her wipe a tear from her cheek. He turned her around to face him and placed both hands on her shoulders. "Sweets, what is it? Why are you crying?" He sounded concerned and placed his arm around her shoulder, feeling her body crumbling.
Darian laid her head against his shoulder. "My sister has breast cancer. I'm leaving at six tomorrow morning. She only has a short time left, Wade." The flood of tears flowed as he tried to comfort her.
Wade held her closely. "Has she gone to more than one doctor?"
"Yes, she's gone to three. I know my mother is grieving already. She needs me right now. I don't know how soon I'll be back."
"I know, Sweets." He held her close as though she was leaving forever. He kissed her neck, moved his hands around her waist, then slowly up her back, pulled loose her bra, and heard Darian inhale softly. Wade unzipped her pants and pulled her like a magnet against his hardness. He caressed her inner thigh as Darian moaned seductively.
Wade's full lips covered her right breast. Wade loved the sensual sweet scent of the peach lotion Darian wore. She wanted him. He knew when she was overwhelmed with passion. The familiar purr escaped her mouth. His tongue kept massaging her nipple; it stood up like a pink rosebud. She encouraged his desires, holding his head to her breast. Her hips moved rhythmically as her head reared back.
Darian had never experienced such exhilaration. Her needs were urgent as tremors radiated through her body.
Wade looked at her face; her eyes were closed. "Come on, baby. I need you before you leave." He led her to his bed. With his skilled hands she felt her pants sliding down her legs and over her feet. In seconds, she was completely naked, wanting his firm physique mingled with her own.
She writhed into another world. She quaked when he entered her, and smiled deeply as she wrapped her legs around his hips. Her anxious rhythm pulled him deeper. She felt herself losing control. It was always that way with Wade. She felt his pace quicken, his moans grow louder, and his body fully firm. She held on to him, feeling her passion intensify. They exploded like fireworks on the Fourth of July. Suddenly, they inhaled and held each other.
Excerpted from No Turning Back by Patricia Anne Phillips Copyright © 2008 by Patricia Anne Phillips. 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
As an enthusiastic fan of the romance genre, Patricia Anne Phillips was inspired to begin writing her own novels. Her novel June In Winter was featured in Romantic Times as Best Multicultural and Best First Multicultural Romance. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California and is now working on her new novel.
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I really enjoyed...No Truning Back. I could not put the book down. Ms. Phillips always makes her characters seem so real.
This book was good from the beginning to end. The action just kept on coming as though it would jump from the book.