Silverbridgeby Joan Wolf
Joan Wolf mingles the past with the present in this romance about an American actress who falls in love with a nobleman. But his life is in danger and she must let herself be drawn into a mystery that dates back to the Regency era to save him.
- Grand Central Publishing
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- 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.85(d)
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By Joan Wolf
Warner ForeverCopyright © 2002 Joan Wolf
All right reserved.
Chapter One"So how did the first reading go, babe?" asked Mel Barker, actress Tracy Collins's agent. The telephone connection from Los Angeles to London was clear as a bell.
"Fine, I guess," Tracy replied. "The frost melted a little when I produced an authentic English accent. And Dave Michaels, the director, was very pleasant."
"He damn well better be," Mel replied emphatically. "You saved his movie when you signed on."
"I have to confess that I'm a little nervous." Tracy leaned back into the cushions of a sofa-one of three in the living room of the luxurious suite the movie company had engaged for her. "I mean, I'm working with Jon Melbourne. He has a voice like God and he does Shakespeare, Mel. All I've ever done is romantic comedy."
"It's a little late to get cold feet," Mel pointed out. "Remember, you were the one who wanted to do this movie; I was against it. The part is too small. Melbourne is the star, you have exactly one-quarter the number of lines that he has."
"Please don't say I told you so," Tracy replied with an edge to her voice. "I'm not saying that I'm sorry I took it. I'm saying I'm a little nervous about the challenge. It's not an easy book to make into a film."
The novel Tracy was talking about, Jealousy, had won the Booker Prize in Britain for Best Novel of the year and had gone on to become a best-seller in America as well. It was essentially a literary novel about an aristocratic household in the days of Regency England. The film rights had been bought by an American producer, who had persuaded an American film company to invest in making the movie.
But there had been problems over the casting. The studio executives had been reluctantly brought to agree that England's greatest Shakespearean actor would be a good thing for the movie, but they had dug in their heels about the female lead. They wanted a blockbuster name to ensure that American moviegoers would buy tickets, but the part was simply too small to interest most actresses of that stature. The studio had been ecstatic when Tracy had agreed to do it.
The rest of Hollywood had been astounded. The films that had made her a megastar were lighthearted romantic comedies, not serious psychological dramas. The general opinion of her peers was that Tracy had bitten off more than she could chew and was in grave danger of damaging her star status.
"I'm not saying I told you so," Mel said soothingly. "You'll be great, babe. You always are."
"And don't condescend to me." Tracy put her sneakered feet up on the pale wood coffee table in front of the sofa.
"I wouldn't dream of it," Mel assured her, then hastily changed the subject. "How did the rest of the actors seem? Any crazies?"
"I must say, they all seemed remarkably normal," Tracy said. "But I'm sure that will change as I get to know them better. I just hope no one is a serious druggie. My last film was horrendous."
Mel sighed. "I know." Tracy glared at a nearby vase filled with huge pink roses. "I will never work with Matthew Howard again. I don't care how talented and charming he may be." "I know, I know. I don't blame you. One of these days he's going to go too far and wind up in jail."
"He needs to be in a treatment program, not jail," Tracy said.
Once again Mel found it prudent to change the subject. "How is Melbourne, anyway? Is he taller than you, or are you going to have to stand in a ditch when you work with him?"
"He's about five-ten, two inches taller than I am. If I wear flat shoes, we should be okay."
"Well, don't let him intimidate you. He may be the 'new Olivier' and all that, but your movies take in huge sums of money."
Tracy sat up straighter. "I am not easily intimidated, Mel."
"I know. I know. But you definitely have a thing about Melbourne's acting. Just remember, a movie isn't worth a nickel if no one goes to see it. They'll go to see this movie because of you, not because of Melbourne."
At that point the door of the suite opened and Gail Ramirez, Tracy's personal secretary, entered, carrying a vase of magnificent lilies. Tracy said into the phone, "Gail has just come in, Mel, and she needs to talk to me."
"All right. I'm glad things have gone good so far, babe. Call me if you have any problems." "I will," Tracy said, and rang off. Gail lifted the lilies a little higher. "These are from the studio. Where do you want me to put them?"
The room was already filled with floral arrangements. Tracy waved her hand, and said, "Wherever." "These roses are looking a little droopy." Gail put down the vase of lilies and picked up the arrangement of red roses that reposed on a table in front of a huge gilt-framed mirror. "Maybe I'll toss these and replace them with the lilies."
"Fine," Tracy said absently.
As she was switching the vases, Gail remembered something. "Oh, your mother called earlier. She wants you to call her back."
Tracy sat up and put her feet on the floor. "Kate must have had the baby!" She picked up the phone again and within minutes was listening to her mother rave about the eight-pound girl her sister had delivered several hours earlier.
"Kate and Alan must be thrilled," Tracy said. Once again she stretched her long legs out on the coffee table. "Finally a girl!"
"They're delighted," her mother said. "And so is your father. In fact, I think he's even more pleased that it's a girl than Alan and Kate are."
"And what about you?" Tracy asked. "Are you pleased to have a granddaughter?"
There was a little silence. Then, "I don't know. Daughters can be a terrible worry-much more so than sons."
Tracy rolled her eyes at Gail. "If that was meant for me, Mom, there's no reason for you to worry. I'm doing perfectly fine."
"I wish you weren't so far away. You won't even be here for the christening."
"Alan's brother won't make it to the christening either," Tracy pointed out. "These things happen, Mom." "Robert is a naval officer, and he's out at sea. He's working."
"Well so am I," Tracy replied as mildly as she could. "It's not the same." Tracy counted to ten, then put her feet on the floor once again and sat up straight. "Do you have Kate's number in the hospital? I'd like to call her."
"She'll be sleeping. It would be best not to disturb her. You can call her at home tomorrow," Mrs. Walters said. "I think it's just terrible, the way they throw young mothers out of the hospital these days. When I had you girls, I was in for five days."
"Are you going to stay at Kate's, Mom?" "Yes. For a few days, until Kate feels strong enough to cope on her own."
"That's great," Tracy said sincerely. She and her mother talked for a few more minutes, then Tracy hung up. "I gather your sister had a daughter," her secretary said.
"Yes," Tracy replied with a pleased smile. "I'm so happy for her. She wanted a girl so badly." She got up from the sofa and stretched her arms over her head.
"My mother always said that every woman should have a daughter," Gail said.
"My mother would agree, as long as the daughter was like Kate," Tracy replied dryly, letting her arms drop to her sides.
Gail regarded her in silence for a moment. "Your mother adores you, you know that. She just worries about you."
Tracy's mother was a very proper Connecticut matron who had never reconciled herself to the fact that her youngest daughter was a famous movie star. She was certain that it was an unhealthy lifestyle, one in which Tracy was exposed to all sorts of disreputable people: people who used foul language; people who committed adultery; people who used drugs. She would have added even more debauchery to the list, but that was about as far as Mrs. Walters's imagination went.
"She thinks my biological clock is ticking away, and she wants me to get married, settle down, and have kids," Tracy said bitterly. "That's the sort of woman's life she understands."
"It doesn't sound like a bad life to me," Gail said. After a moment, Tracy grinned. "It doesn't sound bad to me, either. But the guy has to be right."
"Now, there is the problem," Gail replied. "I have never met a woman as fussy as you. The last guy you dumped was because you didn't like his laugh! Good grief, Tracy." "He had a laugh like a goat. No one could put up with that."
Gail's only reply was to roll her eyes. Then, as Tracy started toward the bedroom, she said, "You do remember that you have a news conference in an hour?"
"I remember," Tracy replied grimly. She was famous in Hollywood for being an extremely cooperative actress on the set; she was equally famous for her dislike of the press.
"There's no need to look as if you're going to have a tooth pulled," Gail said.
"I really think I would rather have a tooth pulled than meet with the press," Tracy replied. "And the British press!" She shuddered. "They're even bigger scandalmongers over here than they are at home."
Gail took a few steps over the thick carpet in Tracy's direction. "Tracy, please try to answer their questions with more than two or three words. You hurt your image by being so terse."
"The hell with my image," Tracy snapped. "I'll be polite, and I'll answer their damn questions, but don't expect me to volunteer any extra information. I learned long ago the dangers of being friendly to the press." "You can't still be upset about that ridiculous story in the Reporter?"
Tracy folded her arms across her chest. "That miserable rag put on its front page the 'hot' news that I was pregnant with Ben Affleck's child. I don't even know Ben Affleck! All I said was that I admired his acting. It took me a whole year to calm my mother down. You know that, Gail!" Gail sighed.
"I still think I should have sued," Tracy fumed. "No, you shouldn't have," Gail replied. "You were perfectly right to listen to Mel. No one believed that stupid story, and suing would have only given it credence."
"Well then, you, of all people, should stop telling me to chat up the press. You know what it can lead to." Gail sighed again. "Yes, I guess I do."
"I'm starving," Tracy said. Gail looked at her. "I'll get room service to send some food up. Will salad do?"
"Salad will be fine. Be sure to order one for yourself." Tracy wrinkled her nose. "And tell them ASAP. I don't think I can bear to face Britain's press corps on an empty stomach."
Six weeks later, Tracy stood in front of a large, threesided mirror while a seamstress pinned the back of her dress. The rest of the large room was filled with racks of costumes, an ironing board, and a shoe rack stacked with shoes of all sizes and different-height heels. The seamstress had had a heavy hand with her perfume that morning and the sickly-sweet scent of honeysuckle hung in the air.
"There," the seamstress said, stepping away from Tracy. She turned to look at the man who was standing behind the two of them. "What do you think, Mr. Abbott?"
"I think it's perfect," the costume designer replied in his flawless Oxbridge accent. Sidney Abbott was a tall, thin man with a mop of exquisitely brushed blond hair. "What about you, Miss Collins?"
Looking back at Tracy from the mirror was an English lady who could have stepped from the pages of a Jane Austen novel. Her ball dress of white French gauze was high-waisted and fell to her ankles over a blue silk slip. The hem of the gown was embroidered with flowers, and her shoes of soft white leather resembled modern ballet slippers. The only thing out of place in the picture was her hair, which she was wearing in her everyday, shoulder-length style.
"It's perfectly lovely," she said sincerely. "This is the dress Julia will be wearing on the night she first meets Martin," Sidney said. "We'll be staging the scene at the country house Dave rented down in Wiltshire. Dave tells me it has a room that will do the job perfectly."
"Stunning." The word was spoken by a rich, flexible, well-known voice, and in the mirror Tracy saw Jonathan Melbourne move into view. He was a burly man with curly brown hair and light hazel eyes. She turned to face him, and he smiled. "Seeing you, I can perfectly understand how Martin manages to whip himself into such a jealous frenzy."
Tracy had had long practice in deflecting compliments gracefully. "It is a lovely dress," she agreed, and looked at the costume designer. "All of the clothes are wonderful, Sidney. The only question I have is, how on earth did the women of those days manage to stay warm? I mean, there wasn't any central heating, and these dresses are flimsy, to say the very least."
"Oh, we English are tougher than you Americans," Sidney Abbott replied in a voice that held just a pinch of superiority. "Even today we don't coddle ourselves with central heat the way you do."
"Perhaps not, but I notice that you all wear sweaters and long pants." Tracy looked pointedly at the men's warm clothing. "I don't see anyone prancing around with bare arms and gauzy skirts." Jon said gravely. "I occasionally wear a gauzy skirt, but only in the privacy of my own home." Tracy laughed.
Sidney turned to Jon. "Have you come for your fitting?" "Yes, but I'll wait until you have finished with Tracy."
"Tracy's done," Sidney assured him. "We'll be ready for you as soon as she has changed." "Fine."
Tracy went into the next room, which was filled with more costumes hanging from portable racks, and the young girl waiting for her helped her change out of the elegant dress and into jeans, sneakers, a cream-colored cotton turtleneck, and a Fair Isle sweater. She fixed her floating mass of auburn hair in her usual way, by shaking it, and returned to the other room.
As she joined them, the two men were talking about the location change the company was making that weekend to Silverbridge, the country house where they would shoot the rest of the film.
"Liza is ecstatic," Sidney was saying sarcastically as Tracy came in. "She wants to add a lord to her list of bedfellows."
Liza Moran was the actress playing the older woman who hates Julia and does her best to poison Martin's mind against her. It had become apparent to Tracy over the past weeks that Liza was, to use the technical psychiatric term, a nymphomaniac.
"I doubt that Lord Silverbridge will be in residence while such working-class types as we are hanging about dirtying up his estate," Jon returned dryly.
Sidney was insulted by being designated a "workingclass type" and replied in a chilly voice. "I beg to differ with you, but Lord Silverbridge will indeed be in residence. I understand that he trains at his own stable, which is on the property. In fact, Dave told me that His Lordship made a special request that movie personnel should keep away from the stable area so his horses aren't disturbed."
Excerpted from Silverbridge by Joan Wolf Copyright ©2002 by Joan Wolf. Excerpted by permission.
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good stroy and character but uses the 's' word and my savior's name of Jesus as an exclamation and swear word
One of my favorites.
This was an outstanding book, I couldn't stand to put it down, and when I got nearer and nearer to he end I didn't want to read on because I din't want it to end so soon, but then I had to know what happened and picked it back up!!!!! Joan Wolf is my favorite author and this is my all time favorite book, and not just of hers. I hope she writes a sequel, REALLY REALLY SOON!!!!!!!!!!!
Silverbridge is a fun, exciting, fast-paced book of romantic suspense reminiscent of the works of Mary Stewart. The plot is intriguing, the characters are realistic and lively, and the storyline glitters with romance!
Popular American romantic comedy actress Tracy Collins is taking quite a risk filming Jealousy, a Regency era psychological drama. Tracy is on location at the prestigious SILVERBRIDGE estate though she stays in a hotel in the nearby town. Tracy befriends shy anorexic Meg Oliver, younger sister of the owner of SILVERBRIDGE, Harry who reluctantly rents his place due to the exorbitant expense to keep his heritage proper. A fire destroys the hotel so Meg offers rooms in SILVERBRIDGE to Tracy and her costar, Shakespearean actor Jon Melbourne. When Tracy meets Harry, she finds him attractive, but abhors his boorish behavior. As she stays in his residence, Tracy suffers feelings of déjà vu and visions of ghosts. On top of her strange reactions, someone tries to destroy the movie and only Harry can keep her safe, but who will protect Tracy¿s heart from her beloved aristocrat? SILVERBRIDGE is an exciting contemporary romance with paranormal and suspense elements. The three prime subplots are well written and actually tie together in a cohesive manner. At the same, the triad plus two lesser subplots never allow any key theme to take charge of the tale as if Joan Wolf could not decide between suspense (movie sabotage), paranormal (ghosts), or a contemporary romance. Still the lead couple is a delightful duo and the tale will satisfy most of the audience. Harriet Klausner
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