Tender Is the Storm

Tender Is the Storm

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by Johanna Lindsey
     
 

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Headstrong heiress Sharisse Hammond wants no part of the New York society marriage that has been arranged for her. So she heads west across a vast and dangerous land -- with no intention of honoring her agreement to become the mail-order bride of a rugged Arizona rancher.

But Lucas Holt needs a wife -- any wife -- if his plan to destroy his most hated enemy

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Overview

Headstrong heiress Sharisse Hammond wants no part of the New York society marriage that has been arranged for her. So she heads west across a vast and dangerous land -- with no intention of honoring her agreement to become the mail-order bride of a rugged Arizona rancher.

But Lucas Holt needs a wife -- any wife -- if his plan to destroy his most hated enemy is to succeed. And this gullible Eastern lady would do quite nicely. However, their separate schemes to use one another are complicated by raw, aching passion. For Lucas's beautiful, unsuspecting pawn was not supposed to be so irresistible alluring. And freedom-loving Sharisse never dreamed she could ever desire one man so much!

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062106704
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/14/2011
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
50,158
File size:
1 MB

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Chapter One

1882, New York City

Not too far north of the hectic business district, Fifth Avenue became a quiet residential area. Trees grew at curbside between handsome street lamps. Elegant mansions lined Fifth Avenue. Brownstones could be found next to houses with mansard roofs in the French Second-Empire style. A Gothic Revival mansion stood next to an Italianate-style mansion with pediments over the windows and a balustrade atop the cornice.

The facade of Hammond House was a mixture of brownstone and white marble, with a high stoop on the first floor and three more stories above the first. Marcus Hammond lived here with his two daughters. A self-made man who was well on the way to wealth long before his first daughter was born, he permitted no obstacles. Few challenged his will, so he was generally good-natured and generous, especially with his daughters.

One of those daughters, the older one, was at the moment readying herself for an outing with her fiancé, a man chosen for her by her father. Sharisse Hammond didn't mind the choice. The day Marcus had told her she would marry Joel Parrington during the summer, she'd just nodded. A year before she might have questioned his choice, might even have protested, but that was before she returned from a tour of Europe and a disastrous love affair so humiliating that she welcomed a safe, loveless marriage.

She had nothing to complain about. She and Joel Parrington had been friends since childhood. They shared the same interests, and she found him terribly handsome. They would have a good marriage, and if they were fortunate, love would come later. It would have beenhypocritical for either of them to speak of it now, though, for Joel also was abiding by a father's dictates. But they liked each other well enough, and Sharisse knew she was envied by her friends. That went a long way toward keeping her pleasant if not overly enthusiastic. It never hurt to be envied by a crowd of women who were forever trying to outdo one another. With her wealth on a par with theirs and her looks rarely commented on, her fiancé was the only thing Sharisse was envied.

Her thoughts were not on Joel just then, however. Sharisse was wondering where in a house of so many rooms she would find Charley. She had decided to take him along on today's outing. He would keep her company if Joel turned absentminded, as he had been doing lately.

She left her maid, Jenny, to put away the outfits she'd been trying on before she'd decided on the basque top with a skirt trimmed in velvet, a French style of plain green satin combined with wide moiré-striped green satin. She carried her Saxe gloves and plumed poke bonnet to put on just before she left.

She stopped first at her sister's room down the hall to see if Charley might be with her.

Sharisse knocked once and didn't wait to be invited in before opening the door. She took her younger sister by surprise, and Stephanie gave a start and quickly stuffed some papers into her desk drawer. She glared at her sister accusingly.

"You might have knocked," Stephanie pointed out sharply.

"I did," Sharisse replied calmly, a twinkle in her amethyst eyes. "Writing love letters, Steph? You don't have to hide them from me, you know."

Stephanie's lovely pale complexion was suffused with color. "I wasn't," she said defensively. "But it's none of your concern, anyway."

Sharisse was taken aback. She didn't know what to make of her little sister anymore. Ever since Stephanie had turned seventeen at the start of the year, her whole disposition had changed. It was as if she suddenly harbored resentments against everyone, and all for no reason. Sharisse, particularly, became the brunt of unexpected temper tantrums ending in bursts of tears and followed by no explanation at all. She had given up trying to find out what was bothering her sister.

What was so perplexing about it was that Stephanie had finally come into her own over this last year, turning into a stunning beauty who had beaux at her beck and call. With her full breasts and trim waist, her very petite build, and the added bonus of lovely blonde hair and blue eyes, hers was the beauty that happened to be at the height of fashion. She was envied by every woman who lacked even one of those attributes-including Sharisse, who lacked them all. She couldn't help it, but she did so wish she looked like her sister. Sharisse hid her disappointment well, though, hid it under a guise of self-assuredness that fooled the most discerning. Some even thought her haughty.

Stephanie's perplexing behavior was enough to try a saint. The only one she didn't snap at was their father. But both girls knew better than to show a fit of temper in his presence. Their mother, who had died two years after Stephanie was born, had been the only one who'd dared to argue with Marcus Hammond. She'd had a fierce will, and their fights had been frequent and heated. When they were not fighting, they had loved just as fiercely.

Neither girl seemed like her parents. Their father believed both were biddable and sweet-natured. They were excellent performers.

"What do you want?" Stephanie asked peevishly.

"I was looking for Charley."

"I haven't seen him all day."

Sharisse started to leave, but her curiosity was piqued. "What were you doing when I came in, Steph? We never used to keep secrets from each other."

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