The Sooner the Better

( 111 )

Overview

Lorraine Dancy has just discovered that everything she believes about her father is a lie—starting with the fact that Thomas supposedly died years ago. Now she's learned that not only is he not dead, he's living in a small town south of the border. In the process of tracking him down, she manages to get framed for theft and pursued by the real thief, the police and a local crime boss. Her father's friend Jack Keller agrees to help her escape, although Lorraine's reluctant to ...

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Overview

Lorraine Dancy has just discovered that everything she believes about her father is a lie—starting with the fact that Thomas supposedly died years ago. Now she's learned that not only is he not dead, he's living in a small town south of the border. In the process of tracking him down, she manages to get framed for theft and pursued by the real thief, the police and a local crime boss. Her father's friend Jack Keller agrees to help her escape, although Lorraine's reluctant to depend on a man like him.

Jack's every bit the renegade Lorraine thinks he is—an ex-mercenary and former Deliverance Company operative. He's also the one person who can guide her to safety. But there are stormy waters ahead, including an attraction neither of them wants to feel. An attraction that's as risky as it is intense—for both of them. The sooner he can get Lorraine home, the better!

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778327431
  • Publisher: Mira
  • Publication date: 11/23/2010
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 231,180
  • Product dimensions: 8.16 (w) x 11.70 (h) x 0.78 (d)

Meet the Author

Debbie Macomber
Debbie Macomber, the author of Hannah’s List, 1022 Evergreen Place, Summer on Blossom Street, 92 Pacific Boulevard, and Twenty Wishes, is a leading voice in women’s fiction. Three of her novels have scored the #1 slot on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. Debbie Macomber's Mrs. Miracle was Hallmark Channel's top-watched movie for 2009. Winner of the 2005 Quill Award for Best Romance, the prolific author has more than 140 million copies of her books in print worldwide.

Biography

Publishing did not come easy to self-described "creative speller" Debbie Macomber. When Macomber decided to follow her dreams of becoming a bestselling novelist, she had a lot of obstacles in her path. For starters, Macomber is dyslexic. On top of this, she had only a high school degree, four young children at home, and absolutely no connections in the publishing world. If there's one thing you can say about Debbie Macomber, however, it is that she does not give up. She rented a typewriter and started writing, determined to break into the world of romance fiction.

The years went on and the rejection letters piled up. Her family was living on a shoestring budget, and Debbie was beginning to think that her dreams of being a novelist might never be fulfilled. She began writing for magazines to earn some extra money, and she eventually saved up enough to attend a romance writer's conference with three hundred other aspiring novelists. The organizers of the conference picked ten manuscripts to review in a group critique session. Debbie was thrilled to learn that her manuscript would be one of the novels discussed.

Her excitement quickly faded when an editor from Harlequin tore her manuscript to pieces in front of the crowded room, evoking peals of laughter from the assembled writers. Afterwards, Macomber approached the editor and asked her what she could do to improve her novel. "Throw it away," the editor suggested.

Many writers would have given up right then and there, but not Macomber. The deeply religious Macomber took a lesson from Job and gathered strength from adversity. She returned home and mailed one last manuscript to Silhouette, a publisher of romance novels. "It cost $10 to mail it off," Macomber told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2000. "My husband was out of work at this time, in Alaska, trying to find a job. The children and I were living on his $250-a-week unemployment, and I can't tell you what $10 was to us at that time."

It turned out to be the best $10 Macomber ever spent. In 1984, Silhouette published her novel, Heartsong. (Incidentally, although Heartsong was Macomber's first sale, she actually published another book, Starlight, before Heartsong went to print.) Heartsong went on to become the first romance novel to ever be reviewed in Publishers Weekly, and Macomber was finally on her way.

Today, Macomber is one of the most widely read authors in America. A regular on the New York Times bestseller charts, she is best known for her Cedar Cove novels, a heartwarming story sequence set in a small town in Washington state, and for her Knitting Books series, featuring a group of women who patronize a Seattle yarn store. In addition, her backlist of early romances, including several contemporary Westerns, has been reissued with great success.

Macomber has made a successful transition from conventional romance to the somewhat more flexible genre known as "women's fiction." "I was at a point in my life where I found it difficult to identify with a 25-year-old heroine," Macomber said in an interview with ContemporaryRomanceWriters.com. "I found that I wanted to write more about the friendships women share with each other." To judge from her avid, ever-increasing fan base, Debbie's readers heartily approve.

Good To Know

Some outtakes from our interview with Macomber:

"I'm dyslexic, although they didn't have a word for it when I was in grade school. The teachers said I had 'word blindness.' I've always been a creative speller and never achieved good grades in school. I graduated from high school but didn't have the opportunity to attend college, so I did what young women my age did at the time -- I married. I was a teenager, and Wayne and I (now married nearly 37 years) had four children in five years."

"I'm a yarnaholic. That means I have more yarn stashed away than any one person could possibly use in three or four lifetimes. There's something inspiring about yarn that makes me feel I could never have enough. Often I'll go into my yarn room (yes, room!) and just hold skeins of yarn and dream about projects. It's a comforting thing to do."

"My office walls are covered with autographs of famous writers -- it's what my children call my ‘dead author wall.' I have signatures from Mark Twain, Earnest Hemingway, Jack London, Harriett Beecher Stowe, Pearl Buck, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, to name a few."

"I'm morning person, and rip into the day with a half-mile swim (FYI: a half mile is a whole lot farther in the water than it is on land) at the local pool before I head into the office, arriving before eight. It takes me until nine or ten to read through all of the guest book entries from my web site and the mail before I go upstairs to the turret where I do my writing. Yes, I write in a turret -- is that romantic, or what? I started blogging last September and really enjoy sharing bits and pieces of my life with my readers. Once I'm home for the day, I cook dinner, trying out new recipes. Along with cooking, I also enjoy eating, especially when the meal is accompanied by a glass of good wine. Wayne and I take particular pleasure in sampling eastern Washington State wines (since we were both born and raised in that part of the state).

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    1. Hometown:
      Port Orchard, Washington
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 22, 1948
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yakima, Washington
    1. Education:
      Graduated from high school in 1966; attended community college
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

1998

"Eternal rest grant upon her, oh, Lord…." Lorraine Dancy closed her eyes as the first shovelful of dirt hit her mother's casket. The sound seemed to reverberate around her, magnified a hundred times, drowning out the words intoned by Father Darien. This was her mother— her mother—and Virginia Dancy deserved so much more than a cold blanket of Kentucky mud.

Lorraine had received word the evening of April first that her mother had been involved in a horrible freeway accident. In the beginning she'd thought it was some kind of cruel hoax, a distasteful practical joke, but the mud-splattered casket was real enough to rip her heart wide open.

Her chest tightened with the effort to hold back tears. A low mewling escaped her lips and her trembling increased as she listened to the priest's words in the gray afternoon.

After a while, the friends who'd come to say their last farewells started to move away. Father Darien gently took hold of Lorraine's hands and in sincere compassionate tones offered a few final words of comfort. Reaching deep within herself, Lorraine managed to thank him.

Still, she remained, standing by her mother's grave.

"Sweetheart." Gary Franklin, her fiance, stepped closer and placed his arm around her waist. "It's time to go home."

She resisted and held her ground when Gary tried to steer her toward the waiting limo. She wasn't ready to leave her mother. Not yet. Please, not yet. It made everything so final…to turn her back and walk away.

This shouldn't be happening. This couldn't be real. But the reality of the moment was undeniable—the open grave, the nearby headstones, the muddy ground. Her fears assailed her from all sides, sending a chill down her spine. Lorraine wasn't sure she could survive without her mother's love and support. Virginia had been her touchstone. Her example. Her mother.

"Sweetheart, I know this is difficult, but you can't stay here." Gary again tried to urge her away from the grave.

"No," she said, her voice stronger now. What made it all the more difficult, all the more painful, was the complete lack of warning. Lorraine had talked to her mother that very weekend. They were so close; it had been the two of them against the world for as long as Lorraine could remember. Not a day passed that they didn't connect in some way—with a conversation, a visit, an email message. On Saturday they'd spent more than an hour on the phone discussing plans for the wedding.

Her mother had been delighted when Lorraine accepted Gary's proposal. Virginia had always liked Gary and encouraged the relationship from the beginning. Gary and her mother had gotten along famously.

Just last weekend—just a few days ago—her mother had been alive. During their phone call Virginia had chatted endlessly about the kind of wedding she wanted for her only child. They'd discussed the wedding dress, the bridesmaids, the flowers, the invitations. Lorraine had never heard her mother sound more excited. In her enthusiasm, Virginia had even mentioned her own wedding all those years ago and the only man she'd ever loved. She rarely spoke of Lorraine's father. That was the one thing she didn't share with her daughter—at least not since Lorraine's early teens. Those were private memories, and it was as though Virginia held them close to her heart. They'd sustained her through the long lonely years of widowhood.

Lorraine couldn't remember her father, who'd died when she was three. Her mother had loved Thomas Dancy so completely she'd never entertained the thought of remarrying. No man, she'd once told Lorraine, could live up to the memory of the one she'd lost.

Her parents' love story was possibly the most romantic Lorraine had ever heard. When she was small, her mother had often told her how wonderful Thomas had been. In later years, of course, she hardly ever talked about him, but Lorraine remembered those long-ago stories—of her father being a decorated war hero and how her parents had defied everyone by getting married. They were the adventure tales, the marvelous bedtime stories of her early childhood, and they'd made a deep and lasting impression on her. It was one of the reasons Lorraine had waited until she was twenty-eight before becoming engaged herself. For years she'd been searching for a man like her father, a man who was noble. Honest. Brave. A man of integrity and high ideals. No one seemed right until Gary Franklin came into her life.

"Lorraine, everyone's gone." Gary's arm tightened around her waist.

"Not yet. Please." She couldn't leave her mother, not like this. Not in a cold wet grave when Virginia Dancy hadn't even reached the age of fifty. The pain was more than Lorraine could bear. As the agony of the moment overwhelmed her, tears began to roll down her cheeks.

"Come on, honey, let me get you away from here," Gary murmured in a compassionate voice.

Lorraine took a step in retreat. She didn't want Gary. She didn't want anyone except her mother. And her mother was in a grave. "Oh, Mom," she cried, then broke into sobs, unable to stop herself.

Gary turned her in his arms and held her protectively against him. "Let it out, sweetheart. It's okay. Go ahead and cry."

Lorraine hid her face in his shoulder and wept as she hadn't since that night the state patrolman had come to her with the tragic news. How long Gary let her weep, she didn't know. Until her eyes stung and her nose ran and there were no more tears to shed.

"The house is going to fill up and you'll need to be there," Gary reminded her.

"Yes, we should go," she agreed, and wiped her nose with the tissue he handed her, grateful that Virginia's neighbor, Mrs. Henshaw, would be there to let everyone in. Lorraine was calmer now, more self-possessed. People would want to talk about her mother, and since Lorraine was the only one left in the family, she'd have to be in control of her emotions.

Together she and Gary started toward the parking lot. Away from her mother. Away from the only parent she'd ever known.

Lorraine's one, small comfort was the knowledge that after twenty-five years apart, her parents were finally together again.

Lorraine couldn't sleep, but then she hadn't really expected to. She should be exhausted. She was exhausted; she'd barely slept in days. This past week had been the most emotionally draining of her life. But even now, after the funeral and the wake, she was too restless to collapse into sleep.

Gary seemed to think that spending the night at her mother's house wasn't the best idea. He was probably right. Her judgment, along with everything else, had been thrown off-kilter by her mother's death.

The wake had been here, at Virginia's place, since Lorraine's apartment was much too small to host the event, and a restaurant seemed too impersonal. Parishioners from St. John's Church where Virginia had faithfully attended Mass all these years, plus a large group of neighbors, coworkers and friends, had lingered to tell Lorraine how sorry they were. They, too, appeared to have difficulty accepting the suddenness of her mother's death.

Virginia had been an active member of St. John's and a devout Catholic. For twenty years she sang in the choir and worked tirelessly for her church "family." As a stockbroker with a large national firm, she'd made a name for herself in the business world. Turnover at the firm was high, and Virginia had learned that office friendships were often fleeting. Nevertheless, the house had been crammed with people.

Contrary to what Lorraine had assumed, she wasn't needed as hostess. Friends and neighbors arrived bearing casseroles, breads and salads, which soon covered the dining-room table. The extras spilled into the kitchen and lined the countertops.

Lorraine was grateful to everyone, especially Gary who'd been both helpful and kind. Yet throughout the wake, all Lorraine had wanted was to be alone, to grieve by herself without people pressing in on her. But that wasn't possible. It took her a while to realize that the friends who'd come were in need of solace, too. So she'd thanked them for their condolences and done her best to take on the role of comforter. Before long, she'd found herself depleted of energy, and she'd sunk into her mother's favorite chair. Sitting there helped her feel closer to the mother she'd loved so deeply. It eased the ache of loneliness that threatened to consume her in a room full of people.

An endless stream of sympathy and advice had come at her.

"Of course you'll want to keep the house…"

Lorraine had nodded.

"Naturally you'll be selling the house…"

Lorraine had nodded.

"Your mother was a fine woman."

"We're all going to miss her."

"She's in a happier place now…"

".such a senseless tragedy."

Lorraine had agreed with one and all.

By the time everyone had left, it was dark. Gary had helped her with the cleanup and urged her to return to her own apartment. Or to his. He didn't seem to understand her need to stay here, but how could he? He'd never lost a parent.

"You should go on home," she'd told him. "I'll be fine."

"Darling, you shouldn't be alone. Not tonight."

"It's what I want," she'd insisted, yearning for him to leave. It was an unfamiliar feeling, and one she didn't fully comprehend. She loved Gary, planned to spend the rest of her life with him, but at that moment she'd wanted him out the door. She had to deal with her grief and pain in her own way.

"You need me," Gary told her with loving concern.

"I do," she said. "Just not right now."

Disappointment registered in his deep brown eyes and he nodded with obvious reluctance. "You'll phone if you change your mind?"

Lorraine had said she would.

He'd kissed her on the forehead in a sweet gesture of love and consolation. Shivering with the evening's cold, Lorraine had stood out on the porch and watched him drive off.

She'd cleared away the dishes, then wandered aimlessly through the house, pausing in the entrance to each room. Tenderly she caressed the things that had once been her mother's most prized possessions. She closed her eyes and pictured her mother and father together at last and the wonderful reunion they must be enjoying.

Lorraine was comforted by the knowledge that Virginia had been happy during the last weeks of her life. She'd been thrilled at the news of her daughter's engagement, thrilled at the prospect of planning a large formal wedding. No sooner had Lorraine said yes to Gary's proposal than Virginia had started making elaborate plans for the October wedding. She'd valued tradition and frowned on Lorraine's having chosen a small emerald necklace in lieu of the usual engagement ring.

"You have your wish now, Mom," she said aloud. The wedding ring on her left hand had belonged to her mother. The inside of the band was engraved with the words "I'll love you always. Thomas." The funeral director had given it to her that very day, just before he'd closed the casket. Lorraine had slipped it on and wouldn't remove it until the time came for her own wedding. Her mother had worn this ring since the day Thomas Dancy placed it on her finger, and now Lorraine would wear it, too.

"What am I going to do without you, Mom?" Lorraine said into the stillness of the night, her eyes welling with tears. It surprised her that she had any left.

She mulled over everything she'd done that had been a disappointment to her mother. She'd dropped out of medical school after her second year and trained as a nurse-practitioner, instead. Virginia had said little, but Lorraine knew her mother regretted that decision. She liked to think she'd made up for it when she met Gary, who sold medical supplies to Group Wellness, where Lorraine worked.

The fact that she'd become a lapsed Catholic had distressed her mother, as well, but Lorraine had never identified with the church the way Virginia had. She attended a nondenominational Christian church, but her mother would have preferred she remain Catholic.

"I'm so sorry, Mom," she whispered, knowing she'd let her mother down in countless other ways.

When she'd finished her emotional journey through the house, Lorraine had taken a hot shower and changed into a nightgown, one she'd bought Virginia the previous Christmas. After giving the matter some thought, she'd chosen to sleep in her mother's room, rather than her own. When she was frightened as a child, she'd always climbed into her mother's bed. Lorraine was frightened now, afraid of the future, afraid to be without Virginia, without family.

As she lay there sleepless, she gathered her memories around her, finding consolation in the happiness they'd experienced. Day-to-day life had been full of shared pleasures, like cooking elaborate meals together, watching the classic movies they both loved, exchanging favorite books. Virginia also worked for several church-sponsored charities, and Lorraine sometimes spent an evening helping her pack up boxes of food for needy families, or stuffing envelopes. Her mother had been a wonderful woman, and Lorraine was proud of her. She'd been devout in her faith, hardworking, kindhearted. Smart, but generous, too.

After an hour or so, Lorraine gave up even trying to sleep. She sat up and reached for the framed photograph of her parents, which rested on the nightstand. The picture showed Virginia as young and beautiful, wearing a full, ankle-length dress with a wreath of wildflowers on her head. Her long straight hair fell nearly to her waist. She held a small bouquet of wildflowers in one hand; with the other hand she clasped her husband's. Her eyes had been bright with happiness as she smiled directly into the camera.

The Thomas Dancy in the picture was tall and bearded, and wore his hair tied in a ponytail. He gazed at his bride with an identical look of love and promise. Anyone who saw the photograph could tell that the two of them had been deeply in love.

As recently as last weekend, when they'd been discussing Lorraine's wedding plans, she'd teased her mother about the photo, calling her parents "flower children." Virginia had been good-natured about it and merely said, "That was a long time ago."

Sadly this photograph was the only one Lorraine had of her parents together. Everything else had been destroyed in a fire when she was in grade school. Lorraine remembered the fire, not realizing until years later all that she'd lost. Her parents' photographs and letters, her father's medals.

Lorraine knew that Virginia O'Malley had met Thomas Dancy her freshman year in college and they'd quickly fallen in love. The war in Vietnam had separated them when her father volunteered for the army in 1970. He'd survived the war and come home a hero. It was a year later, during a routine physical, that something unusual had shown up in his blood work. That something had turned out to be leukemia. Within six months, Thomas was dead and Virginia was a young widow with a child.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 111 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 7, 2011

    PURCHASED THIS BOOK FOR MY ALURATECH, WHICH I HAVE PURCHASED BOOKS FROM BARNES & NOBLE BEFORE. I KNOW FIND OUT B & N HAS BLOCKED OTHER READERS AND THEREFORE I CAN'T GET THE BOOK. MY HUSBAND HAS A NOOK AND I CAN'T GET IT LOADED ON THERE EI

    RIGHT NOW I'M A LITTLE DISGUSTED WITH THE NOOK AND B&N. I BOUGHT MY HUSBAND A BOOK AND I HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO GET IT DOWNLOADED EITHER. I TRY TO GET HELP AND I DON'T SEEM TO GET ANY ANSWERS THAT WILL HELP ME

    LORETTA J DAY

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    So much fun to read

    Its fun, its flighty, its a great read

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2011

    Not as good as some of her others.

    I didn't enjoy this one as much as I did the other books written by Debbie Macomber. I still love her as an author though.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2011

    Good Reading

    The plot was good - not very predictable. I would recommend it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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