Remember Summer

Remember Summer

3.5 12
by Elizabeth Lowell

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The most grueling challenge of Raine Smith's equestrian career looms before her—the Olympic Games. Little does she realize that she's about to face greater perils in the arms of a stranger than she's ever found on the back of her horse.

Cord Elliot is a man trained to deflect disaster and his mission is to ensure that Raine Smith remains untouched by

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The most grueling challenge of Raine Smith's equestrian career looms before her—the Olympic Games. Little does she realize that she's about to face greater perils in the arms of a stranger than she's ever found on the back of her horse.

Cord Elliot is a man trained to deflect disaster and his mission is to ensure that Raine Smith remains untouched by sudden gunfire at the Summer Games. Yet from the moment Raine Meets Cord's ice-blue glance, she knows he's more hazardous to her heart than a sniper's bullet. Falling for a man who answers to the call of intrigue and holds secrets that can never be shared is to endure the broken promises, unexplained absences, and constant danger that come with his profession. But in the fiery passion of irresistible love, a summer to remember seems worth any risk.

Editorial Reviews

St. Louis Post Dispatch
What we're really celebrating in the romance of Night Ride Home is how to find yourself, not lose yourself.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
What we're really celebrating in the romance of Night Ride Home is how to find yourself, not lose yourself.
Kirkus Reviews
Youthful passions still burn strong as Esstman, in a second novel that tries hard to tug the heartstrings but only occasionally succeeds, profiles a woman who finds the courage to reclaim her life after losing her son. Set on a farm on the banks of the Missouri River shortly after WW II, the story limns in self-consciously lyrical prose a woman's belated discovery, in the aftermath of a tragedy, of unsuspected strengths and middle-aged passion. Events before and after the tragedy are recalled and analyzed by family members, as well as by Ozzie Kline, the wrangler who has loved horses—and Nora—since he and she were both teenagers. Nora, who was especially close to her son Simon, breaks down completely; husband Neal has her hospitalized and subjected to electric shock treatment. He tries to sell the farm, though it's been in Nora's family for 70 years. Ozzie, who'd been working on the farm, disappears after the accident but soon returns to help Nora, who refuses to give up the farm. While Nora slowly recovers, Neal, using daughter Clea as a pawn, continues his verbal abuse of Nora: But Nora, with her mother's and Ozzie's help, finds the strength to stand up to him. In this moving and lyrical story of overcoming loss, a man and a woman wage the fight of their lives for a second chance at love.

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Night Ride Home

By Barbara Esstman

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Barbara Esstman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006097754X

Chapter One

Clea Mahler

My brother Simon died with his eyes open, staring blue into the sky. Out of the corner of my eye I had seen him fall, but at first when I turned I thought he was joking, splayed out like a snow angel in the grass. No blood, no marks on his body. I didn't believe he could be hurt, let alone dead. My mother's mare, Zad, the gray Arab he had been riding, turned back, nuzzled his hand, and snorted. Then the morning pulled tight and held so quiet that I could hear the horses breathe and shift and rustle.

"Simon," I said.

My little gelding tossed its head and mouthed the bit.

"Simon," I said again, angry that he would frighten me. It would be just like Simon to pretend for a second that something was wrong, just to get me to laugh in relief a minute later. Then I went sick deep in my belly that this might not be a trick.

"Simon, stop it," I said.

When he wouldn't answer, I dismounted but stayed a few steps away, afraid that he would leap at me or grab my hand. When I finally worked up the nerve, the warmth of his skin made me jerk back. His head rolled sideways as if he had turned to tell me something.

I knew in that instant he was dead. I mounted and kicked the bay hard, riding low over its neck withmy legs banging and its sides lathering. I could not find its rhythm and gripped the edge of the saddle for balance. What I thought about then was not that I might be thrown and killed, as apparently had happened to Simon, but that my fingers pressed between the blanket and ridge of the horse's back were warm in that space between its shoulders.

The day broke into odd pieces: Black mane whipping and green grass blurring. The stripes of the saddle blanket, and the bright, hot air like a solid through which I was only dreaming I made my slow, thick way. And always Simon's blue eyes staring down from the sky and up from the ground and out from inside me.

When I came galloping up from the low fields with Zad trailing behind the way she always followed like a dog, my mother, Nora, stood up from the rosebushes she was pruning, her hand shading her eyes. Then she ran, her head back and fists pumping like a sprinter. She got to the gate before I could unfunible the latch and stood with her hands against the bay's rump and withers as if trapping me in her arms for just long enough to see if I was all right.

"Where's Simon?" she asked. "Did Zad throw him?"

I nodded yes, and she grabbed for Zad's reins. As she mounted, one foot in the stirrup, Zad turned in an excited circle around her.

"Get help." She slapped the mare's haunches to knock it out of its turning and threw her leg over its back.

I watched until she disappeared down the trail at the edge of the pasture. Then I left the gelding in the paddock and ran to the house to call my father, Neal, at work, and the feedstore, where Ozzie Kline, the hired man, had gone. My voice was shaking so I could hardly give the operator the numbers or explain clearly when I got through.

"Stop blubbering, Gea," my father shouted. "Is Simon hurt?"

"Yes," I told him, afraid to say more and make it certain.

Ozzie arrived at the same time as my father with the doctor, driving fast down the lane one behind the other. I'd saddled each a horse. My father hesitated a second before mounting his, but he followed silently as I led the men down the bluff. I rode at a fast trot down the middle of the trail so none of them, especially Ozzie Kline, could come even with me. As we came out past the tree line, I could see my mother as she leaned over Simon, her body shielding his. I could only think of a photograph I'd seen of a Civil War battlefield, with bodies arranged like frozen dancers in beaten-down grass, arms flung out and backs arched against the sky.

The men rode past me, and I reined in the bay. I wouldn't go near Simon, though I watched the doctor pass his hands over the eyes to close them. I turned my horse to face the river, hidden down the slope of its banks at the edge of the pasture, my back to the men, whose voices sounded like the baying and yelping of pack dogs.

But I had already seen, too much and remembered too clearly: Simon and I on our way to the river to see how high the last rains had brought it and how it was leaking over its channel into the lowest spots of the bottoms land. Simon asking questions I didn't want to know the answer to and then staring up at me from the grass.

My father had told my mother that this year the water would reach the house and make us sorry we lived on the floodplain between the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. He'd also told her not to let Simon ride Zad, that she was too spirited. But my mother didn't listen any more than Simon to what she didn't want to hear.

My father was right about Simon riding Zad, but for the wrong reasons. It was not Zad's fault. She had stumbled over the rock and slid on the wet ground. I'd heard her hoof strike with a hollow ring and turned just in time to see her knees bend as if she was dropping to prayer. It wasn't her fault, but Simon's for riding with the reins loose and one knee up on the saddle, even after I'd warned him that the trail was slippery.


Excerpted from Night Ride Home by Barbara Esstman Copyright © 2006 by Barbara Esstman. 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.

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What People are saying about this

Andrea Barrett
In this richly layered love story, Barbara Esstman reminds us of the power of first attachments, and the peril of leaving them behind. -- Author of National Book Award-winner Ship Fever
Susan Richards Shreve
There are not many wonderful American love stories, but Barbara Esstman's Night Ride Home is one of them. -- Author of The Visiting Physician.
Geena Rizzo
"An extraordinary, beautiful, and original love story presented in such a way as to guarantee an unforgettable reading experience...This masterful achievement by a relative newcomer heralds a new writing sensation for the twenty-first century."
Carolyn Banks
"Simply and wonderfully told."
Cathy Sova
"A gripping novel about love, loss, and betrayal... I highly recommend Night Ride Home. Nora will linger in your thoughts for a long time to come."

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