Summer Moon

Summer Moon

4.4 30
by Jill Marie Landis

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Acclaimed author Jill Marie Landis has gifted readers with award-winning love stories that express the most intimate longings of the human heart. With unique insight and irresistible wit, she breathes vivid life into her characters while depicting superb settings of stunning beauty and realism. Now, in her long-awaited hardcover debut, Jill Marie Landis tells the


Acclaimed author Jill Marie Landis has gifted readers with award-winning love stories that express the most intimate longings of the human heart. With unique insight and irresistible wit, she breathes vivid life into her characters while depicting superb settings of stunning beauty and realism. Now, in her long-awaited hardcover debut, Jill Marie Landis tells the tender tale of a woman without choices who risks everything for one last chance at happiness.

RANCHER SEEKING WIFE. For Kate Whittington, the modest words of a newspaper ad are the answer to her desperate prayers. Daughter of a dockside harlot and raised in a bleak orphanage, she has no prospects in the unforgiving Maine village of her birth. Correspondence from the lonely Texas widower looking for a mail-order bride sparks tempting dreams of a house, a family, and a future in a land filled with possibilities.

Kate arrives at the magnificent Lone Star Ranch eager to meet her new husband. Instead she is greeted by the news that Reed Benton has been wounded during a raid on a Comanche village and has returned with a prisoner—a wild-looking young boy who may be his long lost son. Even more shattering, however, is the fact that Reed has never heard of Kate, never wrote the searing letters that charmed her heart.

Reed Benton doesn't want a wife. But he does need someone to look after the boy—a bitter reminder of a past ravaged by lies and betrayal. It will take a miracle to heal these two damaged souls . . . or the faith of one woman with nothing left to lose but her heart.

Summer Moon is a deeply moving story of broken promises and new beginnings, crafted by a true master of romantic fiction.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"If you love romance, you'll adore Jill Marie Landis."

"Jill Marie Landis' writing reaches into your heart and brings tears and joy."
—Romantic Times
Jill Marie Landis brings us a compelling tale of Texas ranch life following the Civil War -- a time when the full moons of summer often heralded brutal Comanche raids that devastated families. Born the daughter of a dockside harlot in a tiny village in Maine, and raised by nuns there in a school for girls, teacher Kate Whittington had few romantic dreams. Answering an advertisement for a mail-order bride was a miraculous chance to gain the home and family she longed for. The wonderful letters she exchanged with her prospective husband in Texas convinced her to risk everything for this one chance at happiness. The proxy marriage went off beautifully, and her new home was even more magnificent than she'd been told. Unfortunately, her husband was more surprised than delighted by his new bride. In fact, Reed Benton Jr. was absolutely furious to learn that his dying father had orchestrated a long-distance courtship on his behalf -- and forged his marriage documents as well. The proud Texas Ranger has just inherited a ranch he doesn't want and a bride he doesn't know. And to top it all off, his young son, Daniel, whom he'd long believed dead, has just been found living among the Comanche -- and Reed's lovely and loving not-quite bride may be the only one who can reach the boy, who is desperate to return to the only life he knows.
Library Journal
Abandoned by her prostitute mother, raised by nuns, and cast adrift at 29, teacher Kate Whittington impulsively answers a newspaper ad and leaves her native Maine for the sun-drenched, windswept plains of Texas to marry a man she has never met a man who, it turns out, was set up by his estranged father, has never heard of Kate, and definitely doesn't want a wife. But Reed Benton has little choice he is wounded, and the wild son he reclaimed from the Comanche needs care and so Kate stays, determined to fight for her dreams. A heroine seeking a new beginning, a hero trying to come to terms with a soul-shattering past, and a terrified, confused little boy in search of his identity drive this poignant, heartwarming novel that steers in the direction of women's fiction. Featuring good writing and exceptionally well-drawn characters, it should appeal to fans of LaVyrle Spencer and Kristin Hannah. Landis is a multiple-award-winning writer (The Orchid Hunter) and lives in Southern California and Hawaii. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Kate Whittington is caught between a rock and a hard place. The orphanage in the Maine seacoast village where she grew up and later taught has closed. As she scans the newspaper's help-wanted ads, she finds that a Texas widower wants a mail-order bride. After corresponding with the rancher, Kate is married by proxy to Reed Barton. When she arrives at his home, she is told that he had been wounded in a raid on a Comanche village and had brought a boy home with him who was thought to be his son, captured by Indians five years earlier. Reed swears that he never heard of Kate, never wrote to her, or received any letters from her. He makes it clear that he doesn't want a wife but needs someone to care for his son. The wild, frightened little boy touches Kate's heart and she agrees to stay. Well-developed characters drive this story. Daniel Barton struggles to find his identity in the white world. He had Indian parents who loved and cared for him, and he now finds himself in a foreign culture with people who don't understand his ways. His story is reminiscent in some ways of Cynthia Ann Parker's story in Carolyn Meyer's Where the Broken Heart Still Beats (Harcourt, 1992). An interesting and heartwarming story set in the latter half of the 19th century on the Texas frontier.-Carol Clark, formerly at Fairfax County Public Schools, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Romancer Landis's hardcover debut is a period piece with an appealing twist: the heroine must not only win the heart of her man but that of his troubled young son. When Kate Whittington's mother can no longer raise her, she puts the nine-year-old in an orphanage run by nuns in Applesby, Maine. There Kate stays, first as a pupil, then as a teacher, until the nuns run out of money and fire her at 29. Mom, who later died in a fire, was the town whore, and when Kate looks for work she realizes that the locals have not forgotten. It's 1869, not a good year for single unemployed women, and so desperate Kate answers an ad in the paper placed by Reed Benton, a lonely rancher in Texas who wants a bride. She marries Reed by proxy and sets off for the Lone Star State. There, she finds a wake in progress for Reed Benton Sr. She's further confused when the younger Reed, a Texas Ranger, returns wounded from a skirmish with the Comanche. He's brought back his eight-year-old son, Daniel, kidnapped five years ago when the Indians also killed Reed's wife, Becky. That night, delirious and thinking she is Becky, the ranger makes love to Kate. When she discovers that Reed Sr. secretly wrote the ad because he wanted his son to remarry, Kate feels she should leave. But Reed persuades her to stay—for better and worse. An accomplished page-turner with credible characters, if predictable outcomes.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
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4.21(w) x 6.86(h) x 0.97(d)

Read an Excerpt

Twenty years later . . . Saint Perpetua’s School for Orphan Girls. Applesby, Maine. October 1869.

Kate awakened, heart pounding, blood racing. She did not move until her pulse settled back into a slow, steady rhythm; then she drew back the sheet and slowly slipped out of bed. Moonlight spilled across her pillow.

She had long ago given up trying to sleep when the moon was full. Nights bathed in moonlight held too many memories of the life she had lived with her mother.

It was fall again. Maine nights had grown desperately cold already. Kate shivered as she walked through a puddle of milk-white light to the only window in her sparsely furnished attic room. A utilitarian piece of unbleached muslin hung limp before the pane, as unadorned as everything else in this world of routine and orderliness where she had spent the better part of her life.

I stayed too long.

Kate drew aside the curtain and stared back at the man in the moon, unable to think of anything except what Mother Superior had told her after dinner when she had called her into the office: “I received word today that the archdiocese is closing the school at the end of the month, Katherine. We sisters are being sent to a new church school in Minnesota. The girls will be relocated, but I’m afraid that you will have to find other employment. I’m so sorry, Katherine. I wish it could be otherwise, but there is nothing I can do.”

Eleven years before, desperately in need of another teacher, the good Sisters of Saint Perpetua had asked her to stay on after graduation. She was given room and board and a small stipend in exchange for teaching history and elocution to girls of all ages.

At eighteen, rather than face the streets of Applesby, she had accepted the offer without hesitation, knowing that someday she would have to go out into the world again.

She promised herself that one day she would resurrect her old dreams, that she would have that pretty little home of her own and a family to hold dear.

As time slipped away and spinsterhood crept upon her, she devoted eleven years to Saint Perpetua’s orphan girls and all the joys and challenges of dealing with them. She had made a home here, one that was safe and warm and familiar. The nuns and the orphans had become her family.

She had a certificate of education. She could read and write in Latin. She was a teacher, a scholar.

A spinster with no living relation.

The thought of having to leave after so long filled her heart with dread.

She had a little money put by, surely enough on which to survive until she found other employment. She would have to find another place to live—no easy task in a hamlet where her mother had been the town whore.

She had nowhere to go, nowhere to turn, and no one to turn to—not even her mother. On Kate’s eleventh birthday, Mother Superior had told her that the old shack near the wharf had burned down, that her mama had died, trapped inside.

Even in death, Mama had been infamous.

Kate could not go to her mother and tell her that she had forgiven her abandonment, or that she had cried herself to sleep for months, missing her mama more than she would have missed her heart if it had been taken from her.

Now she looked out the window at the round face of the man in the moon.

“Where will I go? What will I do?”

The moon man smiled back.

Or perhaps he was laughing at her. She could not tell.

At the end of October, when the butcher made his final call to the nuns for an accounting, he found Kate standing outside the kitchen door with a hand-me-down satchel in hand. When he asked where she was going and she said that she did not really know, he took pity on her and told her she was welcome to rent the empty room above his shop. He was middle-aged and married, a portly man with fingers thick as the sausages he stuffed, and almost entirely bald.

With no alternative in mind, Kate accepted. She rode the butcher’s cart back to the shop, a sturdy whitewashed building near the center of town that was frequented all day long by housewives and maids.

The room was adequate and clean, a refuge where Kate spent the better part of the morning scouring up the courage to go out and find employment.

That afternoon, the butcher’s wife knocked timidly on the door and told her that she would have to leave on the morrow.

“Not that we don’t want you here, you see. It’s just that, well, some folks still remember your ma, and folks tend to gossip. We can’t afford to have our business ruined, you understand. It’s nothing against you, of course.”

That was how Kate learned that Applesby had not forgotten Meg Whittington—that like Mama’s, her name was still as tarnished as an old copper pot.

She packed her somber dresses and scant personal belongings again. The next day she held her head high, kept her tears inside, and moved on.

She rented a room in an old, gray weather-beaten shack by the wharf. It belonged to a sickly old woman in need of coin more than she cared about Kate’s name or her mother’s reputation. The stoop sagged and the corners of the front door had been scratched raw and splintered by the old woman’s flea-bitten dog.

It reminded Kate so much of the places she had lived with her mother that once inside the small musty room, she sat down on the lumpy mattress and burst into tears.

To escape the dreary place, she pulled herself together, put on her hat, and picked up her crocheted reticule—a misshapen, handmade gift from one of her girls. She slipped the drawstrings over her wrist and walked away from the wharf, up Main Street and toward the remnants of the tall evergreen forest that once grew down to the sea.

She could not help but notice that some of the older folks stared as she passed by. Slowly the shame she felt as a child began to attach itself to her again.

She drew herself up tall and straight and walked on. The stares of passersby confirmed what her mirror had always revealed—she was the image of her mother. She had grown up looking into a reflection of her mother’s eyes, wide-set and dark brown. She thought her lips too full, her mouth far too toothy, like her mama’s, so she never smiled too wide. Her arms and legs were long, her waist thin, her breasts embarrassingly full. Thankfully, the few serviceable dresses she owned were unadorned and drab and so overly modest that they did not call attention to her figure at all.

She never thought she’d experience that old shame again, but the sting was uncomfortably familiar, even after all these years.

She stopped by the printer’s and purchased a copy of the Applesby Sentinel; then she strolled over to the small park in the middle of the town square. She chose an empty bench beneath a maple covered with dried leaves that refused to fall. The paper snapped as she folded it back on itself, the corners luffed in the same breeze that set the maple leaves whispering. She began to scan the advertisements.

Since the school term had already begun, she doubted she would find a teaching position, but someone in a nearby town was surely in need of a nanny.

Quickly glancing past advertisements for real estate, gents’ clothes, and Aladdin stoves, she found one ad seeking a maid for a boarding house in a village just up the coast. There was another for a seamstress, but she had no talent for sewing.

A lumbermill needed a cook, but cooking was out of the question, too, unless the men were of strong constitutions. Whenever she was on kitchen duty, the nuns always offered up extra prayers.

Suddenly a small, boxed advertisement set off with fancy block type one-third of the way down the page caught her eye.

rancher seeking wife send a photograph with an introductory letter to: reed benton lone star ranch, texas

Kate slowly lowered the page to her lap and stared down at the words.

Rancher seeking wife.


Her long-buried dream shimmered like a mirage until the letters on the page blurred.

All those secret wishes, all those hopes tucked away in the bottom of her heart, dreams that had faded over the years she devoted to the students of Saint Perpetua’s.

What if?

What if she were to leave Maine forever?

What if she were to reach out for her dream?

She ran her finger over the bold type, closed her eyes, and turned her face toward the fragile fall sunlight. Just the word Texas conjured all kinds of images. Wild, wide open spaces. Cattle and cowboys. Indians. A handful of knowledge that she had gleaned through reading various periodicals and accounts over the years.

A place to start over. A place to settle down where no one recognized her. Perhaps even a place to start a family.

When a dying leaf drifted down from the maple and touched her cheek, she opened her eyes. The breeze whipped across the square, picked up a few fallen leaves, and sent them scuttling in a whirlwind dance. Kate lifted the lumpy reticule and slid the crochet along the drawstrings. Her savings lay at the bottom of the bag, a wad of carefully folded bills and a few coins.

Surely there was enough to spare for a photograph.

Surely there was enough to gamble a bit of it on a dream.

Meet the Author

The author of fifteen bestselling novels, Jill Marie Landis lives with her husband Steve in California and Hawaii. Her list of award-winning books includes Come Spring, Blue Moon, Sunflower, and Just Once.

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Summer Moon 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The snow lightens up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved reed, katie, danniel and all the characters in this story. It is a beautiful love story.
kronan1 More than 1 year ago
Not the most original premise but done extremely well............................................................................... Yet again the mail order bride arrives to find out that the groom had not sent for a wife---nor does he want one. The characters are detailed . The story plot takes some twists and turns. Very well done.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was an amazing read. I can't tell you how amazing it was. *sigh* Seriously, it isn't cliche although it is a mail-order bride book but it's heart grasping. xD I love this kind of books!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first book I have read from this author, but it certainly won't be the last. I was touched time and time again by the depth of emotion shown by the characters in the story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The setting is the coast of Maine. The year is 1869, and Kate Whittington is a twenty-nine year old spinster teaching at the Catholic orphanage where she was left by her mother at the tender age of nine. One of the sisters tells Kate that their orphanage is to close and relocate to Minnesota. Because her mother was a prostitute, Kate has difficulty finding another place to live, not to mention a place to work.

She discovers an advertisement in a newspaper where a Texas rancher is looking for a wife. She begins corresponding with the rancher and becomes enthralled with him after reading his letters. Kate and Reed Barton are married by proxy, and she travels to Texas to be with him.

Upon her arrival in Texas, Kate discovers that Reed has been wounded when on a mission as a Texas Ranger. She nurses him back to health, only to discover that he neither wrote those letters to her nor wanted her as a wife.

Though she is devestated, Kate agrees to stay on as Reed's housekeeper and care for his eight-year old son Daniel. This proves difficult as Daniel has recently been found after having been captured by the Comanches five years ago.

Reed is shaken by his attraction to Kate as he has sworn off love thinking it an unnecessary emotion. His marriage to his first wife was difficult at best, and he is consumed with guilt concerning the manner in which she died.

SUMMER MOON is an incredibly touching story that gives you an eyewitness view into the heart of the hero and heroine. Kate is such a remarkable woman, gifted with the ability to love though constantly faced with rejection, first from her mother and later from Reed. She is such a likeable heroine that one finds oneself crying with her as she faces heartache. Though damaged by his father's betrayal and the strained relationship with his first wife, Reed is strengthened by Kate's unconditional love enabling him to overcome the demons of his past. This is a truly superb novel, one that leads you on an emotional rollercoaster ride that will not soon be forgotten.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Summer Moon is a wonderful, emotional love story. Her characters were so real I couldn't bear to see the story end; I felt as if I had made new friends and I hated to see them go. For anyone who loved the early historicals by LaVyrle Spencer...this is the book for you.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1851 Maine, Kate Whittington¿s mother, a prostitute, leaves her at an orphanage where she stays for the next eighteen years until the school closes. With no place to go, Kate reads an ad from a Texas rancher wanting a wife, so she corresponds with him. She and Reed Benton hit it off by mail, marry by proxy, and she heads to his ranch.

When Kate arrives at his ranch, she finds her father-in-law has just died. Her husband is recovering from a bullet he received during a Texas Ranger raid on a Comanche camp. His son Daniel behaves more like an Indian because that is where he has been raised for five years. Everything is a shocker to Kate, but she and Reed make love that night. The next day, Reed asks Kate who she is? Kate says they wed by proxy, but they conclude that his deceased father forged his signature. Reed keeps Kate as a temporary housekeeper to help him with Daniel, who wants to return to his tribe. She falls in love with the father and his son, but Reed refuses to acknowledge his love for Kate.

SUMMER MOON is an exciting Americana romance that stars strong realistic characters struggling to do the right thing especially for Daniel. The story line is interesting as the reader becomes very familiar with Kate, Reed, and Daniel, which in turn allows understanding of each one¿s motives. Award winning Jill Marie Landis shows why she is held in high esteem by sub-genre fans and who adore a strong mid-nineteenth century tale of love.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Join Masterclan at master res 1! This is Flash btw
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Info above.<br> Gender: female<br>Species: coyote<br>Coat color: Rust red tinged with black. White underbelly.<br> Rank: Beta.<br> Friends: Azure and Silver<br>Enemies: Hern and Taylor.