Sunny Chandler's Return

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Overview

Sandra Brown has won over fans and critics throughout
the world with more than fifty New York Times
bestselling novels. Her early works were hailed by
Rendezvous ...
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Overview

Sandra Brown has won over fans and critics throughout
the world with more than fifty New York Times
bestselling novels. Her early works were hailed by
Rendezvous magazine as stories with "larger than life
heroes and heroines [who] make you believe all the
warm, wonderful, wild things in life." Here is
the unforgettable story of a woman who returns to
her small hometown in the South - and finds
that the sins of her past are right where she left them.

Never. Sunny Chandler always said she'd never go
back to the tiny town where she grew up. It was just
three years ago that she was at the center of a notorious
scandal - and the good folks of Latham Green,
Louisiana, made it clear they'd never let her forget it.
So Sunny packed up and headed for New Orleans, and
now she wouldn't give up city life for the world. But
when she's invited to her best friend's wedding, Sunny
has no choice but to go home. And with her return
come the whispers...the looks...the rumors she tried
to escape. It doesn't take Sunny long to see that
Latham Green has nothing new to offer. Except
maybe Ty Beaumont.
The moment Ty and Sunny first meet at a party, he can
see she's no ordinary woman. With her dazzling hair,
and eyes the color of gold, she's a flesh-and-blood
fantasy - and Ty vows he'll have her in his bed before
the week is out. Yet even when he turns on his southern
charm, Sunny makes it clear she's not interested.
Sure, a night with Ty would be wilder than Bourbon
Street at Mardi Gras. But Sunny's not in town to
become some good ol' boy's latest conquest, no matter
how sexy he is. Little does she know thatTy
isn't used to taking no for an answer - and he isn't
about to start now.

Soon what began as an innocent flirtation becomes
a tantalizingly slow, skillfully deliberate, and
overwhelmingly seductive pursuit that even Sunny
finds hard to resist. But resist him she will. For
Sunny is harboring an agonizing secret - the painful
truth of why she left Latham Green the way she did.
What she really needs now is a friend - and that's when
she discovers there may be more to Ty Beaumont
than meets the eye. Despite his roguish facade, Sunny
comes to see he has a heart of gold. Still, she doesn't
know if she can trust another person with her secret
heartbreak - not even the one man who may
be able to heal it.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553218091
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/1/1987
  • Series: Loveswept Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback

Meet the Author

Sandra Brown
Sandra Brown is the author of more than fifty New York Times bestsellers, with over seventy million copies of her books in print. She and her family divide their time between South Carolina and Texas.

Biography

In 1979, Sandra Brown lost her job at a television program and decided to give writing a try. She bought an armful of romance novels and writing books, set up a typewriter on a card table and wrote her first novel. Harlequin passed but Dell bit, and Brown was off and writing, publishing her works under an assortment of pseudonyms.

From such modest beginnings, Brown has evolved into multimillion publishing empire of one, the CEO of her own literary brand; she towers over the landscape of romantic fiction. Brown has used her growing clout to insist her publishers drop the bosom-and-biceps covers and has added more intricate subplots, suspense, and even unhappy endings to her work. The result: A near-constant presence on The New York Times bestsellers list. In 1992, she had three on the list at the same time, joining that exclusive club of Stephen King, Tom Clancy, J. K. Rowling, and Danielle Steel.

Her work in the mainstream realm has taken her readers into The White House, where the president's newborn dies mysteriously; the oil fields and bedrooms of a Dallas-like family dynasty; and the sexual complications surrounding an investigation into an evangelist's murder. Such inventions have made her a distinct presence in a crowded genre.

"Brown is perhaps best known now for her longer novels of romantic suspense. The basic outline for these stories has passionate love, lust, and violence playing out against a background of unraveling secrets and skeletons jumping out of family closets," wrote Barbara E. Kemp in the book Twentieth-Century Romance & Historical Writers . Kemp also praises Brown's sharp dialogue and richly detailed characters. "However, her greatest key to success is probably that she invites her readers into a fantasy world of passion, intrigue, and danger," she wrote. "They too can face the moral and emotional dilemmas of the heroine, safe in the knowledge that justice and love will prevail."

Critics give her points for nimble storytelling but are cooler to her "serviceable prose," in the words of one Publishers Weekly reviewer. Still, when writing a crack page-turner, the plot's the thing. A 1992 New York Times review placed Brown among a group of a writers "who have mastered the art of the slow tease."

Staggeringly prolific, Brown found her writing pace ground to a halt when she was given a different assignment. A magazine had asked her for an autobiographical piece, and it took her months to complete. Her life in the suburbs, though personally fulfilling, was nonetheless blander than fiction. That may be why she dives into her fiction writing with such workhorse gusto. "I love being the bad guy," she told Publishers Weekly in 1995, "simply because I was always so responsible, so predictable growing up. I made straight A's and never got into any trouble, and I still impose those standards on myself. So writing is my chance to escape and become the sleaziest, scummiest role."

When she started writing, her goal was always to break out of the parameters of romance. After about 45 romances, the woman who counts Tennessee Williams and Taylor Caldwell among her influences told The New York Times that felt she had reached a plateau. In fact, she doesn't even look at her books as romances anymore. "I think of my books now as suspense novels, usually with a love story incorporated," she said. "They're absolutely a lot harder to write than romances. They take more plotting and real character development. Each book is a stretch for me, and I try something interesting each time that males will like as well as women."

Good To Know

  • "I hate to exercise and only do so because I absolutely must."

  • "I love to eat and my favorite foods are all bad for the body. Fried chicken and gravy, TexMex, red meat (hey, I'm from Texas!). My only saving grace is that I'm not that fond of sweets. Salty is my thing. Chocolate cake and ice cream I can skip. But a bag of Fritos. . ."

  • "It takes me a long time to go to sleep, usually because I read in bed and hate to put down the book. But when I do nod off, I'm a champion sleeper. I can easily do eight or nine hours a night."

  • "My worst "thing" is mean-spirited people. People who deliberately belittle or embarrass someone really irk me. The people I admire most are the ones who find something good about even the most undesirable individual. That was a quality my mother had, the one I hope most to emulate."

  • "I have a fear of gravity. Recently my whole family went to Belize. We had several adventures. We tubed a river through miles of cave, wearing head lamps so we'd have illumination. No problem. I scaled Mayan ruins. I rode horseback (on a monster named Al Capone) through the rain forest. No problem. But I couldn't zip line. Even though my five-year-old grandsons did it with glee, I just couldn't make that leap."

  • "I and my husband are huge fans of Jeopardy! We never miss it if we can help it. Does that make us complete dorks?"

  • Read More Show Less
      1. Also Known As:
        Laura Jordan, Rachel Ryan and Erin St. Claire
      2. Hometown:
        Arlington, TX
      1. Date of Birth:
        March 12, 1948
      2. Place of Birth:
        Waco, Texas
      1. Education:
        Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Texas Christian University, 2008
      2. Website:

    Read an Excerpt

    One

    "Who is she?"

    "Her name is Sunny Chandler."

    "You know her?"

    "Since third grade."

    "Really?"

    "Might have been second grade."

    "So she grew up here?"

    "Yep."

    "Where's she been?"

    "All your life?"

    The first man frowned as he looked down at the second. "Where's she been?" he repeated sternly.

    The second man was properly cowed. "New Orleans." His syrupy Southern accent made the pronunciation "Nawlins." "Moved there a few years back. She's a seamstress."

    "A seamstress?" He never would have guessed that by looking at her.

    "Something like that. Wanda could tell you more about what she's been doing."

    He had every intention of asking the other man's wife later all about this Sunny Chandler. She had aroused his curiosity. And his curiosity, like all his other appetites, never went unappeased for long.

    However, for the moment, he was content just to watch Sunny Chandler as she circulated among the other party guests. No longer a small-town girl, she stuck out like a sore thumb.

    Bad comparison, he thought. Sore thumbs were unsightly. He had yet to find a single unsightly thing about this woman.

    "Why did she leave town?" he asked.

    His companion chuckled. "You'd never believe it."

    "Try me."

    "Well, it was like this." In a low voice, the man began to share the juiciest piece of gossip ever to come out of Latham Green.

    The subject of the not-to-be-believed tale that was being recounted across the room stifled a bored yawn. The sudden burst of laughter startled her, as it did everyone else nearby. Turning, Sunny saw two men standing by the wall of windows, which overlooked the golf course. The tall blond one was wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.

    Probably telling each other dirty jokes, Sunny thought with distaste. These yokels didn't know how to behave in polite company. The back room at the pool hall and this formal parlor of the country club were one and the same to them. They had no sense of decorum.

    The bridegroom's family had gone all out for this bash they were hosting in honor of the wedding couple. Since no expense had been spared, the chef had put his best efforts into the buffet. The decorator had depleted the stock of wholesale florists for miles around; the large salon was festooned with bouquets of colorful flowers. While the country club's budget was usually stretched to hire a local sextet for their dances, tonight's music was being provided by a jazzy dance band imported from Memphis.

    They weren't bad, either, Sunny thought. She caught the bandleader's roving eye and smiled up at him when they began playing a Kenny Rogers ballad. He winked at her. She winked back, then quickly turned her attention to the buffet. Keeping her head down, she concentrated on filling her plate.

    "Sunny Chandler!"

    Groaning inwardly, Sunny painted on a fake smile and turned around. "Why, hello, Mrs. Morris."

    "Long time no see, girlie."

    Eloquent ol' biddy. "Yes, it's been a while."

    "How long?"

    "Three years." Three years, two months, six days. Obviously not long enough for people to forget.

    "Are you still in New Orleans?"

    "Still there." And loving it. Loving any place that isn't Latham Green.

    "You're looking good."

    "Thank you."

    "Very citified."

    The observation was intended as a dig. Sunny considered it a supreme compliment. Mrs. Morris crammed a mushroom stuffed with deviled crab into her mouth and chewed vigorously. Then, as though afraid Sunny might run off before she could ply her with more nosy questions, she asked quickly, "And your folks? How are they?"

    "Fine, just fine." Sunny turned her back on the woman and picked up a raw oyster on the half shell--something she wouldn't have eaten in a million years even though she was now a resident of New Orleans--and set it on her plate.

    Mrs. Morris, however, wasn't attuned to nuances and had never heard of body language. She went on, undaunted.

    "They're still in Jackson?"

    "Um-huh."

    "They don't come back very often. But then after . . . well, you know what I mean. It's still difficult for them, I'm sure."

    Sunny wanted to set down her plate, leave the room, leave the town, leave the parish, just as she had three years ago. The only thing that kept her planted now in front of the melon bowl was the determination not to give anybody the satisfaction of having scared her off.

    "Do y'all still own that cabin out on the lake?"

    Before Sunny could fashion a response, the honoree of the party came up to her. "Sunny, could I impose on you to help me with my hair? I feel a strategic pin slipping. Please? Excuse us, Mrs. Morris."

    Sunny deserted her half-filled plate of food. She hadn't wanted to eat, she'd merely wanted to keep her hands busy. "Thanks," she said under her breath as her friend linked arms with her and led her out of the formal salon and down the hall toward the powder room.

    Fran was laughing. "You looked as if you needed rescuing. Or maybe Mrs. Morris was the one in peril. I was afraid you were going to eat that Swedish meatball and then skewer her with the toothpick."

    They made certain they were alone in the powder room beneath the stairs and locked the door behind them to guarantee privacy. Sunny leaned against the door and drew an exasperated breath. "And you wonder why this is my first time back in three years. Do you blame me for staying away? She was all but frothing at the mouth, crazed with a lust to know all the titillating details of my life in the big city."

    Fran was sitting at the aproned vanity table repairing her lipstick. "Are there any titillating details of your life in the big city?" She cast Sunny a teasing glance in the oval, framed mirror. Sunny's icy stare only evoked another laugh.

    "Relax, Sunny. This is Small Town, U.S.A. What else have people like Mrs. Morris got to do?"

    "Watch the grass grow?"

    "Right. They have to occupy themselves with each other's business. And, let's be frank, you gave them a lot of material to work with several years ago."

    "I wasn't trying to get their attention."

    "Well, you got it anyway. For all these years, they've been dying to know why you did what you did. Your parents moved away soon afterward, so they were no help in supplying an answer to the riddle. Now you show up looking like a character straight off the set of Dynasty, by all appearances unscathed by the incident. They're dying to know what prompted you to do such an unheard-of thing. Can you blame them for being curious?"

    "Yes, I can blame them. The gossips practically drove my parents nuts with their childish curiosity. Mom and Dad couldn't go anywhere without being on the receiving end of snide looks and prying questions. Even so-called friends pestered them about it. They bowed to the pressure and left."

    "I thought they left because your dad got that job in Jackson."

    "That's the reason they gave me, but I never believed it. I was the reason they relocated. I've got to live with that, Fran." She took a lipstick from her miniclutch and dabbed her lips with it. "But thanks for the compliment about me looking like one of the women in Dynasty."

    Fran smiled. "Ladies around here wear either short cocktail dresses or long formals. They never heard of matinee length. All their hems are even, not raggedy like yours. No one would think of putting tangerine and violet together, but it looks sensational on you," she said, admiring Sunny's dress. It looked like the artful crisscrossing and draping of several scarves.

    "And, my word, my word," Fran exclaimed, clapping her cheeks in theatrical horror, "have you really got two holes pierced in one ear? You're bound to be a pinko! I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were a Yankee or two in your family tree."

    Laughing, Sunny swatted the air inches from Fran's nose. "Be quiet! You're making me laugh, and I don't want to laugh."

    Fran clasped Sunny's hand warmly. "I know you didn't want to come back here, and that the only reason you did was for my wedding. I realize what a sacrifice it was, and I appreciate it."

    "I wouldn't have missed your wedding, Frannie. You know that. Although . . ."

    "Although you don't understand why I want to get married again," Fran finished for her.

    "Something like that."

    Sunny stared earnestly into Fran's eyes. It seemed to her that Fran was only digging a deeper rut for herself. She had had a chance to take her two children and leave this backwater town after obtaining a divorce from her first husband. But Fran had stayed, stuck out all the gossip, and was getting married again.

    "Sunny, I love Steve. I want to marry him, have a baby with him." Fran's expression pleaded for understanding. "I thought I was in love with Ernie, but I only saw what everybody else did, a dashing football hero. Unfortunately, that was the sum total of what he was. When he couldn't be that anymore, he fell apart, turned to drinking, turned to other women. They still cheered him on instead of telling him to grow up as I, the nagging wife, did.

    "Well, Steve's as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. He loves me, he loves the girls. He's not as handsome as Ernie, and he hasn't got that built-like-a-brick-outhouse body, but he's a real man, not an overgrown child."

    Sunny patted Fran's hand. "I'm happy for you. You know that. I think the world of Steve for making you whole again. It's just that I can't imagine anybody actually choosing that kind of life. I feel lucky to have escaped it."

    "Only because you haven't found the right man to share it with." Fran arched her brow. "Speaking of which, I don't suppose you've seen your ex-fiance."

    "No, and I hope I don't." Sunny fiddled with her hair. "He and Gretchen are still married, I suppose."

    "Yes, but one hears things. The scuttlebutt is that--"

    "No!" Sunny said. "I don't want to know. I won't stoop to the level of everybody else in town and yearn for the latest gossip." She looked at Fran's hairdo critically. "Your hair is perfect. Where's that slipping pin you mentioned?"

    "That was only a ploy to get you away from Mrs. Morris." Fran popped up off the vanity stool in a movement almost too spry for a thirty-year-old mother of two children.

    The friends left the powder room, giggling like girls, the way they had done through junior and senior high school. Fran drew a more serene face when they reentered the salon. Her intended spotted her and moved toward her and Sunny.

    "Hon, the president of the company just arrived from Baton Rouge," Steve told her. "He can't wait to meet you. Says he wants to see the woman who convinced a confirmed old bachelor like me to get married. 'Xcuse us, Sunny."

    "Surely."

    She watched as the successful insurance executive whisked his future bride away to meet his boss. Steve proudly introduced Fran and her two young daughters. Sunny was delighted over Fran's newfound happiness. After being married to Ernie, she certainly did deserve it.

    Steve placed a protective and proprietary arm around Fran's slender shoulders. Sunny saw the instinctive, unconscious gesture. It wordlessly conveyed the way Steve felt about his future wife. Sunny attributed the empty feeling that suddenly seized her to hunger and decided to give the buffet another try.

    As if returning to Latham Green hadn't been bad enough in itself, it was adding insult to injury that she had had to return for a wedding. Don, the man she had almost married, was a subject she knew she would be faced with. At least she had survived the first mention of him and didn't have to dread that milestone any longer.

    Talking about him had brought back all the negative emotions she had left behind her three years ago. She had thought she was rid of them for good, but it seemed that they had been perching like gremlins on the city limit signs, just waiting for her to return. The moment she had, they had reclaimed her.

    She should have known better than to come back. But how could she refuse Fran's request to attend her second wedding? She couldn't. Nor would Fran settle for her appearing only at the ceremony and making a hasty getaway afterward. Before she realized what had happened, Sunny had committed herself to attending this party and staying until after the wedding. While she was here she planned to take care of some business, but she still had to live through the week. One week. One week in a town she had sworn never to see again. Would she survive it?

    Perhaps. But not without compensations. Compensations like indulging a craving or two, she thought as she eyed the array of desserts at the end of the buffet table. Little transgressions like that would help to keep her sane. She deserved a reward, didn't she? How could she lend Fran moral support if she didn't fortify herself with little treats?

    Before she could talk herself out of it, she took two triple-chocolate-dipped strawberries from a silver tray and found a secluded corner in which to eat them. Forbidden fruit they were, if a woman wanted to maintain a svelte figure. But forbidden fruit was just the kind Sunny needed at the moment.

    Holding the tiny green stem between her thumb and finger, she bit into the first strawberry. The dark chocolate outer layer was bittersweet against her tongue. Then the milk chocolate coated the roof of her mouth with its rich, velvet texture. Next, almost like a benediction, the mellow white chocolate soothed her palate and prepared it for the succulent ruby fruit her teeth sank into.

    She chewed it with slow, sinful relish, letting each layer of chocolate melt and fill her mouth with its particular degree of sweetness.

    It was a sensuous experience, not only for Sunny, but for the man watching her from across the room. Casually propped against the wall, ankles crossed, long legs at a slant, he watched Sunny Chandler's carnal destruction of two chocolate-covered strawberries. She made eating them such an erotic exercise that his own mouth watered, more for a taste of the lips and tongue that did them such delectable justice than for the strawberries themselves.

    "Still got your eye on her, I see."

    He shifted his weight but didn't remove his gaze from the woman. "Sunny Chandler's an eyeful," he admitted to the man who had rejoined him.

    "Always was. One of the prettiest girls in school. Classy, you know?"

    "What she did before she left wasn't very classy. Why'd she do it?"

    "Well now, if I knew that, I'd be the only one."

    The taller man looked down at his friend. "Oh, yeah? She just pulled a stunt like that and left?"

    "Like that." He snapped his fingers. "Left her bridegroom--Don Jenkins, you know him--high and dry." He jabbed the other man in the ribs. "No pun intended."

    They laughed together, but not loud enough to detract attention from the future bride and groom, who were busy opening wedding gifts amid appreciative oohs and aahs.

    From the Hardcover edition.

    Read More Show Less

    First Chapter

    One


    "Who is she?"

    "Her name is Sunny Chandler."

    "You know her?"

    "Since third grade."

    "Really?"

    "Might have been second grade."

    "So she grew up here?"

    "Yep."

    "Where's she been?"

    "All your life?"

    The first man frowned as he looked down at the second. "Where's she been?" he repeated sternly.

    The second man was properly cowed. "New Orleans." His syrupy Southern accent made the pronunciation "Nawlins." "Moved there a few years back. She's a seamstress."

    "A seamstress?" He never would have guessed that by looking at her.

    "Something like that. Wanda could tell you more about what she's been doing."

    He had every intention of asking the other man's wife later all about this Sunny Chandler. She had aroused his curiosity. And his curiosity, like all his other appetites, never went unappeased for long.

    However, for the moment, he was content just to watch Sunny Chandler as she circulated among the other party guests. No longer a small-town girl, she stuck out like a sore thumb.

    Bad comparison, he thought. Sore thumbs were unsightly. He had yet to find a single unsightly thing about this woman.

    "Why did she leave town?" he asked.

    His companion chuckled. "You'd never believe it."

    "Try me."

    "Well, it was like this." In a low voice, the man began to share the juiciest piece of gossip ever to come out of Latham Green.



    The subject of the not-to-be-believed tale that was being recounted across the room stifled a bored yawn. The sudden burst of laughter startled her, as it did everyone else nearby. Turning, Sunny saw two men standing by thewall of windows, which overlooked the golf course. The tall blond one was wiping tears of laughter from his eyes.

    Probably telling each other dirty jokes, Sunny thought with distaste. These yokels didn't know how to behave in polite company. The back room at the pool hall and this formal parlor of the country club were one and the same to them. They had no sense of decorum.

    The bridegroom's family had gone all out for this bash they were hosting in honor of the wedding couple. Since no expense had been spared, the chef had put his best efforts into the buffet. The decorator had depleted the stock of wholesale florists for miles around; the large salon was festooned with bouquets of colorful flowers. While the country club's budget was usually stretched to hire a local sextet for their dances, tonight's music was being provided by a jazzy dance band imported from Memphis.

    They weren't bad, either, Sunny thought. She caught the bandleader's roving eye and smiled up at him when they began playing a Kenny Rogers ballad. He winked at her. She winked back, then quickly turned her attention to the buffet. Keeping her head down, she concentrated on filling her plate.

    "Sunny Chandler!"

    Groaning inwardly, Sunny painted on a fake smile and turned around. "Why, hello, Mrs. Morris."

    "Long time no see, girlie."

    Eloquent ol' biddy. "Yes, it's been a while."

    "How long?"

    "Three years." Three years, two months, six days. Obviously not long enough for people to forget.

    "Are you still in New Orleans?"

    "Still there." And loving it. Loving any place that isn't Latham Green.

    "You're looking good."

    "Thank you."

    "Very citified."

    The observation was intended as a dig. Sunny considered it a supreme compliment. Mrs. Morris crammed a mushroom stuffed with deviled crab into her mouth and chewed vigorously. Then, as though afraid Sunny might run off before she could ply her with more nosy questions, she asked quickly, "And your folks? How are they?"

    "Fine, just fine." Sunny turned her back on the woman and picked up a raw oyster on the half shell--something she wouldn't have eaten in a million years even though she was now a resident of New Orleans--and set it on her plate.

    Mrs. Morris, however, wasn't attuned to nuances and had never heard of body language. She went on, undaunted.

    "They're still in Jackson?"

    "Um-huh."

    "They don't come back very often. But then after . . . well, you know what I mean. It's still difficult for them, I'm sure."

    Sunny wanted to set down her plate, leave the room, leave the town, leave the parish, just as she had three years ago. The only thing that kept her planted now in front of the melon bowl was the determination not to give anybody the satisfaction of having scared her off.

    "Do y'all still own that cabin out on the lake?"

    Before Sunny could fashion a response, the honoree of the party came up to her. "Sunny, could I impose on you to help me with my hair? I feel a strategic pin slipping. Please? Excuse us, Mrs. Morris."

    Sunny deserted her half-filled plate of food. She hadn't wanted to eat, she'd merely wanted to keep her hands busy. "Thanks," she said under her breath as her friend linked arms with her and led her out of the formal salon and down the hall toward the powder room.

    Fran was laughing. "You looked as if you needed rescuing. Or maybe Mrs. Morris was the one in peril. I was afraid you were going to eat that Swedish meatball and then skewer her with the toothpick."

    They made certain they were alone in the powder room beneath the stairs and locked the door behind them to guarantee privacy. Sunny leaned against the door and drew an exasperated breath. "And you wonder why this is my first time back in three years. Do you blame me for staying away? She was all but frothing at the mouth, crazed with a lust to know all the titillating details of my life in the big city."

    Fran was sitting at the aproned vanity table repairing her lipstick. "Are there any titillating details of your life in the big city?" She cast Sunny a teasing glance in the oval, framed mirror. Sunny's icy stare only evoked another laugh.

    "Relax, Sunny. This is Small Town, U.S.A. What else have people like Mrs. Morris got to do?"

    "Watch the grass grow?"

    "Right. They have to occupy themselves with each other's business. And, let's be frank, you gave them a lot of material to work with several years ago."

    "I wasn't trying to get their attention."

    "Well, you got it anyway. For all these years, they've been dying to know why you did what you did. Your parents moved away soon afterward, so they were no help in supplying an answer to the riddle. Now you show up looking like a character straight off the set of Dynasty, by all appearances unscathed by the incident. They're dying to know what prompted you to do such an unheard-of thing. Can you blame them for being curious?"

    "Yes, I can blame them. The gossips practically drove my parents nuts with their childish curiosity. Mom and Dad couldn't go anywhere without being on the receiving end of snide looks and prying questions. Even so-called friends pestered them about it. They bowed to the pressure and left."

    "I thought they left because your dad got that job in Jackson."

    "That's the reason they gave me, but I never believed it. I was the reason they relocated. I've got to live with that, Fran." She took a lipstick from her miniclutch and dabbed her lips with it. "But thanks for the compliment about me looking like one of the women in Dynasty."

    Fran smiled. "Ladies around here wear either short cocktail dresses or long formals. They never heard of matinee length. All their hems are even, not raggedy like yours. No one would think of putting tangerine and violet together, but it looks sensational on you," she said, admiring Sunny's dress. It looked like the artful crisscrossing and draping of several scarves.

    "And, my word, my word," Fran exclaimed, clapping her cheeks in theatrical horror, "have you really got two holes pierced in one ear? You're bound to be a pinko! I wouldn't be at all surprised if there were a Yankee or two in your family tree."

    Laughing, Sunny swatted the air inches from Fran's nose. "Be quiet! You're making me laugh, and I don't want to laugh."

    Fran clasped Sunny's hand warmly. "I know you didn't want to come back here, and that the only reason you did was for my wedding. I realize what a sacrifice it was, and I appreciate it."

    "I wouldn't have missed your wedding, Frannie. You know that. Although . . ."

    "Although you don't understand why I want to get married again," Fran finished for her.

    "Something like that."

    Sunny stared earnestly into Fran's eyes. It seemed to her that Fran was only digging a deeper rut for herself. She had had a chance to take her two children and leave this backwater town after obtaining a divorce from her first husband. But Fran had stayed, stuck out all the gossip, and was getting married again.

    "Sunny, I love Steve. I want to marry him, have a baby with him." Fran's expression pleaded for understanding. "I thought I was in love with Ernie, but I only saw what everybody else did, a dashing football hero. Unfortunately, that was the sum total of what he was. When he couldn't be that anymore, he fell apart, turned to drinking, turned to other women. They still cheered him on instead of telling him to grow up as I, the nagging wife, did.

    "Well, Steve's as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. He loves me, he loves the girls. He's not as handsome as Ernie, and he hasn't got that built-like-a-brick-outhouse body, but he's a real man, not an overgrown child."

    Sunny patted Fran's hand. "I'm happy for you. You know that. I think the world of Steve for making you whole again. It's just that I can't imagine anybody actually choosing that kind of life. I feel lucky to have escaped it."

    "Only because you haven't found the right man to share it with." Fran arched her brow. "Speaking of which, I don't suppose you've seen your ex-fiance."

    "No, and I hope I don't." Sunny fiddled with her hair. "He and Gretchen are still married, I suppose."

    "Yes, but one hears things. The scuttlebutt is that--"

    "No!" Sunny said. "I don't want to know. I won't stoop to the level of everybody else in town and yearn for the latest gossip." She looked at Fran's hairdo critically. "Your hair is perfect. Where's that slipping pin you mentioned?"

    "That was only a ploy to get you away from Mrs. Morris." Fran popped up off the vanity stool in a movement almost too spry for a thirty-year-old mother of two children.

    The friends left the powder room, giggling like girls, the way they had done through junior and senior high school. Fran drew a more serene face when they reentered the salon. Her intended spotted her and moved toward her and Sunny.

    "Hon, the president of the company just arrived from Baton Rouge," Steve told her. "He can't wait to meet you. Says he wants to see the woman who convinced a confirmed old bachelor like me to get married. 'Xcuse us, Sunny."

    "Surely."

    She watched as the successful insurance executive whisked his future bride away to meet his boss. Steve proudly introduced Fran and her two young daughters. Sunny was delighted over Fran's newfound happiness. After being married to Ernie, she certainly did deserve it.

    Steve placed a protective and proprietary arm around Fran's slender shoulders. Sunny saw the instinctive, unconscious gesture. It wordlessly conveyed the way Steve felt about his future wife. Sunny attributed the empty feeling that suddenly seized her to hunger and decided to give the buffet another try.

    As if returning to Latham Green hadn't been bad enough in itself, it was adding insult to injury that she had had to return for a wedding. Don, the man she had almost married, was a subject she knew she would be faced with. At least she had survived the first mention of him and didn't have to dread that milestone any longer.

    Talking about him had brought back all the negative emotions she had left behind her three years ago. She had thought she was rid of them for good, but it seemed that they had been perching like gremlins on the city limit signs, just waiting for her to return. The moment she had, they had reclaimed her.

    She should have known better than to come back. But how could she refuse Fran's request to attend her second wedding? She couldn't. Nor would Fran settle for her appearing only at the ceremony and making a hasty getaway afterward. Before she realized what had happened, Sunny had committed herself to attending this party and staying until after the wedding. While she was here she planned to take care of some business, but she still had to live through the week. One week. One week in a town she had sworn never to see again. Would she survive it?

    Perhaps. But not without compensations. Compensations like indulging a craving or two, she thought as she eyed the array of desserts at the end of the buffet table. Little transgressions like that would help to keep her sane. She deserved a reward, didn't she? How could she lend Fran moral support if she didn't fortify herself with little treats?

    Before she could talk herself out of it, she took two triple-chocolate-dipped strawberries from a silver tray and found a secluded corner in which to eat them. Forbidden fruit they were, if a woman wanted to maintain a svelte figure. But forbidden fruit was just the kind Sunny needed at the moment.

    Holding the tiny green stem between her thumb and finger, she bit into the first strawberry. The dark chocolate outer layer was bittersweet against her tongue. Then the milk chocolate coated the roof of her mouth with its rich, velvet texture. Next, almost like a benediction, the mellow white chocolate soothed her palate and prepared it for the succulent ruby fruit her teeth sank into.

    She chewed it with slow, sinful relish, letting each layer of chocolate melt and fill her mouth with its particular degree of sweetness.

    It was a sensuous experience, not only for Sunny, but for the man watching her from across the room. Casually propped against the wall, ankles crossed, long legs at a slant, he watched Sunny Chandler's carnal destruction of two chocolate-covered strawberries. She made eating them such an erotic exercise that his own mouth watered, more for a taste of the lips and tongue that did them such delectable justice than for the strawberries themselves.

    "Still got your eye on her, I see."

    He shifted his weight but didn't remove his gaze from the woman. "Sunny Chandler's an eyeful," he admitted to the man who had rejoined him.

    "Always was. One of the prettiest girls in school. Classy, you know?"

    "What she did before she left wasn't very classy. Why'd she do it?"

    "Well now, if I knew that, I'd be the only one."

    The taller man looked down at his friend. "Oh, yeah? She just pulled a stunt like that and left?"

    "Like that." He snapped his fingers. "Left her bridegroom--Don Jenkins, you know him--high and dry." He jabbed the other man in the ribs. "No pun intended."

    They laughed together, but not loud enough to detract attention from the future bride and groom, who were busy opening wedding gifts amid appreciative oohs and aahs.
    Read More Show Less

    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 3.5
    ( 113 )
    Rating Distribution

    5 Star

    (45)

    4 Star

    (24)

    3 Star

    (18)

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    (14)

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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 113 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted April 13, 2011

      Shallow and a waste of time

      Sandra Brown should be embarrassed by this book. She is a much better writer than this. Shallow and a waste of time. A very poor choice. Thought Brown's books were all a guaranteed good read - not this book. Will be very cautious when ordering her again.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted February 20, 2011

      Sexist Drivel!

      This book uses do much sexist drivel the main character should be arrested for sexual harrassment. There is nothing likable about him and the female is just plain weak. Not a good novel.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted July 7, 2010

      Couldn't Put It Down!

      This is not the first book of Sandra Brown - and most definitely won't be the last - that I've read. Although, this (131 page) book is the shortest book that I've read of hers. The eBook was priced just right!

      The characters, plot and romance captured my interest from the beginning and had me reading the entire book in less than 4 hours.

      The character of Ty caught my attention from the very beginning with his upfront and forward -sexy as all get out- manly demeanor. Strawberries anyone?! Sunny's character was witty and brilliantly written to contrast Ty's upfront character.

      It's one of those books that I'll read again and again!

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted July 12, 2005

      My first Romance novel!!!

      My friend recommended this book to me and I enjoyed it immensely from start to finish. It has all the elements that make a great romance. If you haven't read it you need to.

      1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted May 30, 2014

      Creek-kit

      Creek-kit bounced around. He got up and started dancing. He started singing. When he sang 'Bleeding Out' by Imagine Dragons, all living creatures cheered. When he sang a jb song, all living creatures covered their ears and screamed for it to end. Creek-kit only sang good songs after that.(note - this is NOT to be taken seriously. I was just super bored.)

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted May 31, 2014

      Morningstar!

      Go to "vine" last res!

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted July 7, 2013

      Ripplekit

      The pretty blue gray kit bounced around happily.

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted July 10, 2013

      Echomist

      Watches ripplekit

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    • Anonymous

      Posted July 8, 2013

      Tigerflower

      I said you could work here earlier. You will watch and raise Ripplekit and if you want to whrn shes ten moons adopt her

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted February 17, 2013

      Disappointed.....wouldn't have purchased if i knew it was so short

      Generally love her novels of women who fall in love and have overcome some obsticle in their life. Was very disappointed that this novel ended at only 147 pages when her other novels are over 400 pages. So much more could have been written and felt cheated for buying it online without seeing how long it was first.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted February 4, 2013

      Not that great

      If i could give it a zero star i definitely would

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted May 1, 2012

      Sandra Brown does not dissapoint.

      Sunny was fun and entertaining...fun read..

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 9, 2012

      Swiftspirit

      U need yo return to camp u will live trust me i wont let u die **picks u up and puts u on his back u lay in his warm fur as he returns to camp**

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted February 29, 2012

      more from this reviewer

      exc read

      Sunny Chandler's Return by Sandra Brown
      The wedding was a farce, she had been married to the groom once herself
      and left when he told her he felt trapped. He was saying the same thing
      now to her. She raced home only to be followed by the cop, Ty and he came into her house and made her his.
      Ty talks to her of a stakeout he and his partner had been on. The investigation was intense and drawn out. His wife left him that night but he continued to find
      out who the murdered was of his partner.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Posted April 12, 2011

      A must read!

      Sandra Brown's ability to create chemistry between two characters is second to none! I loved it from start to finish.

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted April 9, 2006

      A GREAT READ!

      This book is just wonderful. I couldn't put it down! I fell in love right along with the characters---a real heart warmer! :-)

      0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted December 20, 2005

      great book

      This book was a very good book if you like reading love stores this is a good one i enjoy reading this book.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted January 17, 2005

      My first Sandra brown book.......

      but it won't be my last. I really liked this book. It was funny and romantic.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted March 5, 2004

      A Sandra Brown Fan all the way!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Very good story. A quick read! Made me laugh a lot at Ty Beaumont's bold tone of voice and the things he said.

      Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
    • Anonymous

      Posted January 21, 2011

      No text was provided for this review.

    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 113 Customer Reviews

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