Sunrise

Overview

Pennsylvania, 1831. Jane Foster is a woman of uncommon honesty and convictions, married to a scoundrel who didn't deserve her. Wrongly accused of her husband's murder, she is forced to turn to Daniel Colton, a notorious big-city lawyer with a renegade style of justice. He's drawn to this woman whose idealism and faith illuminate the dark cynicism that's threatening his career.

As a scandal of lust, betrayal, honor and vengeance unfolds, shattering the quiet peace of a tiny town,...

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New York, NY, U.S.A. 1999 Mass Market Paperback NEW PB. A Historical Romance.

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Overview

Pennsylvania, 1831. Jane Foster is a woman of uncommon honesty and convictions, married to a scoundrel who didn't deserve her. Wrongly accused of her husband's murder, she is forced to turn to Daniel Colton, a notorious big-city lawyer with a renegade style of justice. He's drawn to this woman whose idealism and faith illuminate the dark cynicism that's threatening his career.

As a scandal of lust, betrayal, honor and vengeance unfolds, shattering the quiet peace of a tiny town, Jane and Daniel are plunged into the depths of uncharted emotions, awakening passion and bittersweet love. Jane has no choice but to trust Daniel with her life, unaware he must harness all the love in his heart to save her, even if doing so forces him to shatter their precious hopes for a future together.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Living in a small town in antebellum Pennsylvania, Jane Foster is a plain woman trapped in a loveless marriage. When her husband disappears, she is left on the edge of economic disaster. Jane turns to her aunt for help, and it arrives in the form of lawyer Daniel Colton. From the first the two clash: Daniel advises Jane not to let the letter of the law get in the way of running her husband's store profitably. Her insistence on integrity has Daniel gritting his teeth. A bigger problem arises, however, when Jane's husband is found dead. As she becomes a victim of gossip, suspicion and malicious vandalism, Daniel finds himself torn between the conflicting roles of lawyer and lover. Then Jane is arrested, and now Daniel will do anything to save her, including betraying her trust by exposing their illicit love--and her husband's shameful secret. In this latest in a string of first-rate historical romances, Parr (The Minister's Wife) deftly blends suspense, action, period detail and romance. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312970918
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 4.26 (w) x 6.74 (h) x 0.76 (d)

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Chapter One


1831


    Jane's hand trembled as she tilted the heavy watchthat hung from a silver chain around her neck to checkthe hour. It was nearly six o'clock. With no time nowto tidy her room, she had precious little inclination toponder, again, why or how her marriage had witheredaway into nothing more than an illusion. She had responsibilitiesto meet to the villagers and area farmerswho depended on the general store.

    She left her chamber and gently closed the door behindher. Her heart pounding, she tiptoed down thehall, but when she reached Hiram's room, the door wasajar. She peered inside and realized he had already leftfor an overnight stay in Lancaster to meet with his lawyerin preparation for his next long trip.

    Hesitating but a moment, she crossed the room andwalked through an invisible cloud scented with his cologne,stepped over bed linens that trailed to the floor,and closed the door to the walnut wardrobe on her wayto the window. Her fingers brushed against the tied-backdrapes, but she paused to take a deep breath oftingling dawn air before she slid the window closed. Sheturned and walked back through the room he had leftin the same total disarray as their marriage, apparentlywithout much of a backward glance for either.

    Once she was out of the room, she closed the doorbehind her and walked down the hall, moved throughthe parlor, and descended the stairway that led to asmall foyer that adjoined the rear storeroom. Just insidethe back door, someone had left three crates of eggs forbarter, and she stooped to retrieve a handwrittennotebefore continuing.

    Daylight streamed through the curtainless windowsin the storeroom, but she walked past each windowwithout looking outside. When she reached the oppositeend of the narrow room, she unlatched the wide doorsthat led to the loading platform. Working quickly andefficiently, she continued her morning routine and enteredthe general store through a second doorway, thisone directly opposite the loading platform. She passedbarrels of salted fish and flour and shelves bulging withsundry dry goods.

    Shivering, she shoveled a good amount of coal intothe warming stove in the center of the room and notedthe pungent aroma of stale tobacco. She had cleanedout the boxes of sawdust placed next to the four chairsthat circled the stove just last night, and she made amental note to scrub the dark stains on the well-wornwooden floor—stains left by villagers who gatheredhere every day to share the latest bit of gossip, issuecommentaries on the weather, call for the post, or fillempty hours with companionship and a wad of chewingtobacco or, occasionally, a pipe.

    Outside, footsteps approached slowly and deliberatelyon the planked sidewalk that ran the width of thestorefront and announced the hour. She had no need tocheck her watch. Aunt Nester was as punctual as shewas reliable whenever Hiram was away. It was now sixo'clock and time to open the store. Jane hurried to thedoor and greeted her self-appointed assistant with asmile as the sound of the door's warning bell echoedoverhead.

    Her mother's sister, now several years a widow,never broke her stride. Reed thin, with her face weatheredby years as a farmer's wife, Aunt Nester still didnot have a single gray hair on her head. With a wink,she strode past Jane, draped her black shawl around theback of her usual chair, and moved a box of sawdust.several inches further away.

    After a quick nod of satisfaction, she plopped intoher seat where she had a clear view of the front door.She glanced around the store while balancing a smallwoven basket on her lap. "How long do you expect himto be gone this time?"

    "Just overnight. He'll be back late tomorrow," Janereplied as she removed the dustcover from her desk inthe front left corner of the store. "He's not leaving forBaltimore until next week, but then he'll be gone forseven or eight weeks. He's planning on meeting againwith his lawyer before he's off to make the rounds ofnew suppliers." She folded the cover and placed it intothe bottom drawer, wishing she could put her disappointmentsand concerns away as easily.

    She ran her fingers over the new ledger book she hadpainstakingly prepared for use while Hiram was in Baltimore.She prayed he would remember to stop back inLancaster on his way home to reclaim the old ledgerbooks from the lawyer there. He was using them tocollect on old debts owed by folks who had movedaway and to sell off some of the promissory notesHiram's father had acquired through the years.

    "He's away far too often and too long, in my opinion.Turns out he never really wanted to settle downlike his father," Aunt Nester commented. As far as shewas concerned, Hiram had no name. He was simply"he" ... until he acted more responsibly and earned theright to have a given name again. Jane was not sure shequite understood Aunt Nester's logic, but she knew betterthan to try.

    "The crullers are still warm. Sit and eat with me beforefolks get here and interrupt our breakfast."

    Jane frowned. "You don't have to come help meevery time he goes away."

    Aunt Nester laughed. "Never did like doin' a thing'cause I had to, and now I'm old enough and orneryenough to do just what suits me. And helpin' you suitsme."

    Grateful for her aunt's company, Jane pulled a chairalongside her aunt, spread the offered napkin on herlap, and gratefully accepted a sugared cruller. She nibbledat the edge of the fried dough, mindful that AuntNester probably needed to be here at the store as muchas Jane needed someone she could trust to help her."Does it ever bother you ... I mean, you've given upmost of your home for nearly two years now."

    Aunt Nester chewed thoughtfully. "Abram did hisduty and provided for me as best he could, bless hissoul. I have my two rooms and use of the kitchen aslong as I live. I expect Felicity will be happy to see meoutta the house for a spell, though." She shook herhead. "Thomas is entitled to his birthright, and withfour youngsters, he needs the old homestead more thanI do."

    She put her cruller down, and licked the sugar fromher fingers. "It's a natural cycle women's lives follow,but don't you fret for me. I've lived nearly three scoreand raised a fine family. As for the years I have left ..."

    "Wouldn't you rather stay with Aunt Lily in Philadelphia?"

    "And leave Sunrise? Never! This is my home. I wasborn here, and I'll die here, just like your folks. Besides,"she added in a softer tone, "I wouldn't knowhow to survive in the city, and I don't have the fundsto match Lily's. I won't be on the receiving end of hercharity, even if she is my own sister."

    She looked up at Jane and smiled. "We're family,too, and family looks out for one another. Always."Her eyes misted, and she turned away abruptly to setthe basket onto the floor. "So ... we'll follow the sameroutine as last time, I assume. I'll keep watch for thecustomers when you have to work in the back settlin'up with the farmers. Come noontime, I'll take myselfupstairs and start fixin' somethin' for our dinner whileyou tend to the store. Unless you'd prefer I stay hereand mind the store."

    Her gray eyes twinkled. "What'll it be? You can keepme outta your ledgers or your kitchen, but not both."

    Jane laughed out loud. "You're more than welcometo my kitchen."

    "That's what I figured. Most of your customerswould probably agree with you, too. Sometimes I thinkyou're too honest for our own good. Makes it awfulhard to be your replacement." Aunt Nester reached intoher apron pocket and pulled out her pouch of chewingtobacco as a wagon approached. "Go on. Get busy inthe back. Rael Meyers mentioned he'd be here earlywith milk and butter. That's probably him now. Surewish Sam was stoppin' by to haul for you today. Nowthat he's got his own business and hauls for Jonas Petersonat the mill, too, I don't get to see him very oftenat all."

    She shook her head. "Neither does that wife of his.Polly must get awful lonesome, even though he's notgone as much as your husband. I still don't understandwhy she wouldn't agree to let you teach her how tokeep Sam's books. She'd be company for you, too."

    Jane swallowed hard. "Polly is much more interestedin spending money, not learning how it's made," shesaid honestly, but truth be told, she had a much morepersonal reason for not wanting Polly here often. Havingher in the store on a regular basis would be likedangling a piece of frosted cake in front of Hiram andexpecting him to satisfy his taste for sweets with a day-oldcrust of bread.

    The woman Sam had married a year and a half agowas young and utterly feminine. With her pale blondhair decorated with fancy ornaments and piled high inthe latest fashion or hanging down her back, she woregowns with more lace and ruffles than half the womenin the village combined. She caught the attention ofevery man she passed while Jane was as plain as a commonsparrow.

    In looks, most women fell somewhere in betweenthese two extremes. When Jane and Polly were in thesame room, Jane was not sure whether it was Polly'sbeauty that made Jane appear so unusually plain or shewas so plain Polly appeared to be more beautiful.

    Sam positively adored his stunning wife, and giventhe state of Jane's marriage, she had troubles enoughwithout having Polly here as a constant reminder ofhow devoted Hiram should have been. He had not evencome to her bed for nearly three years now, and sheassumed if he had any carnal appetites at all, he satedthem when he traveled.

    In all fairness, she had no proof he had ever beenunfaithful to her—only her finely tuned instincts aboutthe man she had married and the gnawing suspicionthat he found her less tolerable with each passing monththey remained married.

    Jane folded the napkin around her unfinished crullerand placed it in the basket. "Sam's away till tomorrow.I'm sure you'll see him there," she murmured beforemaking her way to her desk. She picked up the ledgerbook and walked back to the storeroom, chiding herselffor being mean-spirited and jealous of her own sister-in-law.


After being cooped up in the store all day, Jane foundthe prospect of spending another evening alone intolerable.With her supper cleared away, she walked thetwo miles to Aunt Nester's home and delivered one ofthe peach pies Mrs. Singletary had bartered for eggs andmilk. Using the shortcut she and Sam had always usedas children to reach the homestead he now shared withhis wife, Jane traipsed along the footpath through thewoods to visit Polly and bring her a pie—a visit shehoped would help assuage her guilt for the unkindthoughts she had had about Polly earlier that day,

    With Sam out of town and her own family livingmiles away in Columbia, Polly was bound to be lonely,too, just as Aunt Nester had suggested. Since both theirhusbands traveled frequently, Jane made a mental noteto extend herself more often to Sam's wife, if only forhis sake.

    The weather was still warm, and she slowed her paceto enjoy the waning autumn display of natural colorbefore winter arrived, stripped the forest nearly bare,and painted the landscape white with snow. She followedthe footpath, reached the main road linking Sunrisewith the turnpike several miles to the east, andwalked along the edge of the cindered roadbed for halfa mile before her former home came into view.

    She sighted the footpath that detoured around thehouse to end at the outbuildings hidden from view fromthe road. Filled with nostalgia for happier days, sheopted for the footpath instead of the wider entry drivethat led to the front of the house. Memories of the yearsshe had spent raising Sam after their parents had beenkilled in a freak lightning storm filled her mind andbrought a smile to her troubled heart.

    She had only been nineteen; Sam was four yearsyounger, and those first few months as orphans hadbeen difficult as Jane assumed yet another role as disciplinarian.She chuckled softly as she walked, carefulto keep the pie she carried from tipping. Sam hadslipped out during the night one too many times beforeshe had finally figured out how he had managed to getback inside without her seeing or hearing him approach.

    Until she had remembered the footpath.

    Sam never quite forgave her for scaring him half todeath the night she surprised him by being there behindthe barn when he finally made his way home just beforedawn. He had never used the footpath again, either.

    By the time she reached the barn and crossed theyard to the back door of the house, she had secondthoughts about her decision to use the footpath. SincePolly was not expecting her, Jane hoped she would notfrighten the girl by suddenly appearing on her doorstepwithout any advance warning.

    Balancing the pie with one hand, she knocked on theback door which immediately swung open a few inches.She waited, rapped again a little harder this time, butPolly did not come to the door. Jane peered into thekitchen, saw it was deserted, and knocked again.

    Still no response, although when Jane cocked her ear,she heard the low, distant murmur of voices comingfrom another room. Assuming Polly had company, Janehesitated. She did not want to intrude, and she relishedexplaining her impromptu visit to the other guests evenless, considering she still wore her work gown andapron.

    Feeling foolish, out-of-place, and awkward, sheturned to go back home and stared down at the pie.She could certainly make faster time if she did not haveto carry the pie back with her, but she could not verywell leave it on the porch. Critters would devour it beforePolly even knew it was there.

    Jane would simply have to put the pie in a safe placeand leave a note for Polly to explain why she had notannounced her presence. She let out a deep sigh, turnedaround, and slipped quietly inside the door. She wasonly halfway across the room when the voices she hadheard earlier became louder and more distinct.

    She froze in place and stared straight ahead. Thedoor to the dining room was only open a crack. Justenough to let her hear the voices more clearly.

    Her hands gripped the edge of the pie tin even harder.Her heart started to pound. Fingers of cold shocksnaked around her spine and sent shivers through herbody.

    She heard Polly laugh.

     Hiram's voice rumbled low and seductively. "Whata delightful feast you are, my love. How I've hungeredto taste your sweetness again."

    Bile burned the back of her throat, and tears blurredher vision as she stumbled forward a few steps, her gazelocked on those meager few inches of space. Her mindrejected the limited view she now got of her husbandand her sister-in-law as impossible.

    She braced to a halt, paralyzed by unspeakable shockwhen she saw Polly's voluptuous body spread across thedining room table and Hiram, naked as well, standingas he suckled her breasts.

    Horror. Outrage. Disgust. Each vied for control ofJane's emotions, but lodged in a painful lump in herthroat that prevented any sound from escaping whenshe cried out. Battling nausea that threatened to announceher presence, she backed away, one shaky stepat a time. Startled and disoriented when her backpressed against the outside door, she turned and racedoutside as her mind screamed the horrible truth.

    Lovers. Hiram and Polly were lovers!

    Her slippered feet flew across the yard and along thebarn. When she reached the footpath and entered thewoods, she flung the pie to the ground. Dropping to herknees, she braced her hands on the cold earth andslammed her eyes shut. She retched violently and repeatedlyuntil her stomach emptied, but she could notpurge the vision of her husband and her sister-in-law,naked together, any more than she could silence theecho of their lovemaking.

    She sat back on her haunches, wiped her face withthe handkerchief she kept in her apron, and crisscrossedher arms at her waist. Rocking back and forth, shesobbed. "Hiram, my God, Hiram! What have you doneto me? What have you done to Sam?"

    She cried until she was hoarse and there were notears left. Dazed, she could barely stand, let alone takea few steps, yet she chided herself for not having thecourage to confront both Polly and Hiram back at thehouse, either moments ago or now.

    Darkness had long chased away the twilight whenshe finally had the strength to struggle her way home,but with every step she took, she vowed to confront herhusband. Her protective instincts for Sam surged, andshe knew she had to find a way to force Hiram to endhis affair with Polly so Sam would never have to learnthe bitterness of his wife's betrayal.

    She would never forgive Hiram for what he had doneto her—or to Sam. And in the silence broken only bythe sound of her own stumbling footsteps, she heardthe gentle tolling of an inner bell that sounded the deathknell for any hopes she might have had for redeemingher marriage.


One week later, Jane waited for Hiram in the parlorafter supper, finally ready to confront him about hisaffair before he left for Baltimore in the morning. Sittingstiffly on the settee, she twisted the ring on her fingerand tried to calm her pounding heart.

    When she heard him come out of his chamber andenter the parlor, she looked up, shocked to see he wasformally dressed and carried his travel bag. "Youweren't supposed to leave until morning."

    "My plans changed," he snapped without breakinghis stride.

    "But you promised you would have time to talk tome tonight," she insisted.

    He paused, raked his gaze over her, and shudderedas if a chill raced through his entire body. "If youweren't so abysmally homely, I might have consideredthe prospect as bearable," he murmured as he droppedhis gaze. When he checked his gold pocket watch, hescowled. "I'm late. Whatever it is that's made you somiserable this past week will have to wait," he announcedand headed toward the door.

    Angered by his words, she bolted to her feet andraced unsteadily to the door before he reached it.

    "Get out of my way," he ordered.

    She squared her shoulders in a display of bravadothat belied her fears. "You can't leave. Not yet."

    He impaled her with a gaze of stunning rage. "Don'tever tell me what to do."

    "At least give me some idea of where you're goingafter you leave Baltimore," she pleaded, hoping shecould stall him long enough so he would be forced tostay the night and she would have the opportunity toconfront him about what she had seen on her fatefulvisit to Polly.

    "I'll be back when I'm good and ready. In the meantime,don't question me. Ever," he snarled and shovedher aside to open the door.

    Caught off guard, she tripped and grabbed the armof the settee to keep from falling to the floor as hestormed past her and left without saying another word.

    Fear kept her from chasing after him, and she quicklybolted the door closed to keep him from coming backinside. His chortle in response echoed in the stairwell.She turned, pressed her back against the door, andshoved her hand to her mouth to stifle her cries of frustrationand outrage.

    Tears streamed down her cheeks, but she made noattempt to wipe them away. She had missed several opportunitiesto confront her husband, a mistake she hadhoped to remedy tonight, but she had failed.

    Confronting Polly, instead, would serve no purposebut ill. She would only deny the affair, and Hiramwould not be here to accept his share of the blame.Images of Polly and Hiram together, intense and painful,fired in rapid succession in her mind's eye. Janeblinked hard, forcing the images to the back of hermind and replacing them with thoughts of Sam.

     A splinter of guilt for keeping the truth from himpierced her very soul, but she consoled herself knowingPolly would be faithful while Hiram was away. Whenhe returned, Jane would demand the affair be declaredpermanently ended, or she would threaten to tell Sam—athreat she hoped she would not have to carry out.

    Only then would she be faced with a moral dilemmatoo difficult to consider now. She would either breakher brother's heart with the truth, or endure a lifetimewith the truth hidden deep in her soul to spare him theheartache and disappointment she knew only too well.


Excerpted from SUNRISE by Delia Parr. Copyright © 1999 by Mary Lechleidner. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


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