The Thrill of Victory and Tomorrow's Promise

Overview

Two stories of courage, commitment and finding love in the most unexpected places, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown

THE THRILL OF VICTORY

Tennis star Stevie Corbett is in jeopardy of losing everything she's worked so hard for—her career, her reputation…her life. Now her fate rides on keeping the truth a secret.

Judd Mackie's job is to uncover secrets. He's spent the past few years ...

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Overview

Two stories of courage, commitment and finding love in the most unexpected places, from #1 New York Times bestselling author Sandra Brown

THE THRILL OF VICTORY

Tennis star Stevie Corbett is in jeopardy of losing everything she's worked so hard for—her career, her reputation…her life. Now her fate rides on keeping the truth a secret.

Judd Mackie's job is to uncover secrets. He's spent the past few years trailing Stevie, determined to expose her as the spoiled glamour girl he believes her to be. Now he has the chance to scoop the story of the year and let the whole world know the truth about Stevie. All he needs to do is betray her trust….

TOMORROW'S PROMISE

It happened the way attraction happens best: suddenly, passionately, unforgettably.

On a crowded flight to Washington, D.C., radio personality Keely Preston felt the irresistible pull of congressman Dax Deveraux. They were speaking at the same congressional hearing about Vietnam soldiers listed as MIA. Tragically, Keely's husband was among the missing soldiers….

But now there's Dax. And the possibility of a new future. Can Keely allow herself to love again, and still honor the man of her past?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780778316060
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 347,412
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra Brown

Sandra Brown is the author of fifty-seven New York Times bestsellers, including SMOKE SCREEN (Simon & Schuster 2008).

Brown began her writing career in 1981 and since then has published over seventy novels, most of which remain in print. As of 1990, when Mirror Image made The New York Times bestseller list, each subsequent novel, including reprints of earlier books, have become Times bestsellers.

Sandra and her husband Michael Brown live in Arlington, Tx.

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

    "Oh, my Lord, you!"

    Stevie Corbett slumped against her front door, which she had just pulled open. She was wearing a short kimono-style robe that overlapped across her chest and was tied with a self-belt at her waist. The light green silk looked as cool and fresh as a ripe honeydew melon.

    The details of her attire were noticed by the sports-writer, her nemesis, and the last person on earth she wanted to talk to at that moment.

    "I thought you were somebody else," she said.

    "Obviously. Who's the lucky dog you were expecting?" His voice was heavily spiced with insinuation.

    "My doctor is sending over some medication. I thought you were the delivery boy."

    "That's what peepholes are for," Judd reminded her, tapping the small round hole in the door.

    "I didn't think to look."

    "Got your mind on other things, huh?" She glanced beyond his wide shoulders, hoping for a glimpse of the expected pharmaceutical delivery. "Yes."

    "Like making a fool of yourself at Lobo Blanco Tennis Center this morning."

    Her eyes snapped back to his. "As usual, Mr. Mackie, your choice of words is inflammatory and incorrect."

    "Not from the way I hear it."

    "The way you hear it? You weren't there?" She drew a sad face. "What a pity. You would have tremendously enjoyed my humiliation."

    He smiled and the lines in his tanned face deepened. "I'm graciously volunteering my shoulder for you to cry on. Why don't you invite me in and tell me all about it?"

    "Why don't you go straight to hell?" In contrast to her words, her smile was positively angelic. "You can read about my ignominious fall in your competitor's column."

    "I don't have a competitor."

    "Nor do you have any modesty, or scruples, or talent, or taste."

    He whistled. "That tumble you took this morning did nothing to improve your rotten disposition."

    "I have a lovely disposition around everybody except you. And why should I? I'm not a hypocrite. Why should I be pleasant to the columnist who writes scathing articles about me?"

    "My readership expects me to be acerbic," he said blandly. "My acid wit is my trademark just like this single long, blond braid is yours." He reached out and ran his fingers over the plaited strands, starting at her shoulder and following it down to the curve of her breast.

    Stevie slapped his hand away and tossed the heavy, thick braid over her shoulder. "I ducked the press today. How did you slip past?"

    "I know who to bribe for home addresses and such. Why are you ducking the press?"

    "I don't feel well, Mr. Mackie. I certainly don't feel like swapping insults with you. If I'd known you were on the other side of my door, I certainly would never have opened it. Please leave."

    "One question?"

    "No."

    "Why did you faint?"

    "Goodbye."

    She slammed the door in his face, almost catching the hem of his jacket in the crack. For a moment, she rested her forehead against the wood. Judd Mackie of all people! Only yesterday his column had made snide mention of her playing in the tournament at Lobo Blanco.

    "This writer can only wonder what the fashion-conscious Ms. Corbett, who recently got lucky at the French Open, will wear to dazzle her adoring hometown fans," he had written. "If only her backhand had as much swing as her cute little skirts."

    For years, since she'd become a top-seeded player, Mackie had taken potshots like that at her. If she won, he credited luck for the victory. If she lost, he cruelly elaborated on the reasons why.

    Sometimes he was painfully correct in his observations. Those were the times she resented his columns most. He never had a charitable word to say about her either as a person or as an athlete.

    Lately, however, she hadn't given his poison pen much room to maneuver. She'd been winning-most recently The French Open, which had put her halfway to getting the Grand Slam. Next, Wimbledon. Wimbledon?

    Where the very word usually generated expectation and excitement, it now evoked foreboding. Right now, Judd Mackie was the least of her problems.

    Absently she laid her hand over her abdomen and headed toward the kitchen to brew herself a cup of tea. Sometimes drinking something warm made her feel better.

    No sooner had she filled the kettle again and set it on the heating burner than her doorbell rang again. This time she wisely used the peephole, but saw through it only the distorted, fish-eye view of a prescription bottle. She opened the door.

    Judd Mackie was still lounging against the door-jamb, idly shaking the brown plastic bottle of pills in front of the peephole.

    Stevie uttered an exclamation of outrage and surprise. "How did you manage that?"

    "With a five-dollar bill and my sincere promise to hand-deliver the prescription. I passed myself off as your concerned brother."

    "And he believed you?"

    "I have no idea. He took the money and ran. Smart fellow. Now are you going to ask me in?"

    Sighing with resignation, she stepped aside. For several moments after the door closed behind him, they stood regarding each other closely. For all the name-calling and backbiting that had gone on between them over the years, this was the first time they'd ever been alone together.

    Well, there had been that one time years ago in Stockholm, but they hadn't exactly been alone and Ste-vie doubted that he even remembered.

    He was taller than he looked from a distance, she realized. Their paths often crossed at local sporting or social or charity events. Sometimes he even waved at her from afar, cheerfully waggling his fingers in a smartalecky manner that never failed to set her teeth on edge.

    Perhaps it was his clothing, which could be described as "casual" at best, that made him appear shorter. With him standing this close, however, she was surprised to discover that her eyes were on a level with his collarbone. She hadn't remembered until he removed his sunglasses that his eyes were hazel-heavy on the gray.

    She reached for the bottle of pills. He held them above his head of unruly chestnut hair and out of her reach. "Mr. Mackie!"

    "Ms. Corbett!"

    The teakettle suddenly whistled shrilly as though ending a round on an impasse. She turned on her bare heel and marched toward the kitchen. He followed her through the wide, airy rooms of her condominium.

    "Nice place."

    "For a writer that's extremely trite," she said, pouring boiling water over the tea bag in the mug. "Would you like some herbal tea and honey?"

    He winced with disgust. "How about a Bloody

    Mary?"

    "I'm fresh out of Bloody Marys."

    "A Coke?"

    "Diet?"

    "Fine. Thanks."

    She spooned honey into her tea and took a couple of sips before fixing his cold drink. When she passed it to him, he asked, "Tummy ache?"

    "No, why?"

    "My mother used to make me drink tea whenever

    I was recovering from a pukey bout with a stomach virus."

    "Fou have a mother?"

    He sternly lowered one eyebrow. "That had as much sting as that serve that aced Martina last month."

    "As I recall you failed to mention that ace in your column, which said that Martina just had an off day."

    "You read my column?"

    "You watch my matches?"

    Smiling with enjoyment over their verbal sparring, he took a drink from his glass and lowered himself onto a bar stool with a bentwood back. Stevie thrust out her hand. "May I have my pills now, please?"

    He scanned the label on the small bottle. "These are pain pills."

    "That's right."

    "Toothache?"

    She bared her front teeth, exposing them for his examination. "Want to see my molars?"

    "Your molars look fine from here," he drawled, his eyelids lowering a fraction.

    Stevie gave him a contemptuous glance. "The pills?"

    "Muscular injury? Tennis elbow? Sprained shoulder? Stress fracture?"

    "None of the above. Will you please give me the medicine now and stop behaving like a jerk?" With a shrug, he set the bottle on the bar and slid it across to her. "Thank you."

    "You're welcome. You look like you need them."

    "How can you tell?"

    "Tension around your mouth." He touched one corner of her lips, then the other.

    Stevie yanked her head away and quickly turned her back. She filled a small juice glass with tap water and swallowed two tablets. Retrieving her cup of tea, she sat down on the bar stool next to his.

    She drank most of her tea in silence. He studied her every move. Obviously the adage that "if you ignored something long enough it would go away" didn't apply to him.

    "What are you doing here, Mackie?" she asked wearily.

    "I'm on assignment."

    "Isn't there a ball game of some sort you could be writing about this afternoon? A golf tournament? Other matches at Lobo Blanco?"

    "You're the big sports story of the day, like it or not."

    She averted her eyes and muttered beneath her breath, "I don't like it."

    Judd set his elbow on the bar and propped his cheek in his hand. "Why did you collapse out there this morning? It couldn't have been the heat. It wasn't that hot."

    "No. It was a perfect day for tennis."

    "Stay up past your bedtime last night?"

    She gave his dishevelment a critical glance, her disapproval coming through loud and clear. "I never carouse the night before a match."

    "Might do your game some good if you did," he said with a crooked smile.

    Wryly she shook her head. "You're hopeless, Mackie."

    "So I've been told."

    "Look, I'm very tired. I was on my way to bed when you showed up the first time. Now that I've taken the medication, I'd like to get some rest. Doctor's orders."

    "Your doctor recommended bed rest?"

    "Yes."

    "Hmm," he said, taking a sip of his drink. "That could mean anything. But I guess if you were drying out or going through drug rehab, you'd be hospitalized."

    "You think I've been on alcohol or drugs?" she demanded indignantly, her sagging posture improving dramatically.

    He leaned closer and, pulling down her lower eyelids, examined her eyes. "Guess not. No dilation. I doubt you're chemically dependent. You've got good skin tones, no needle tracks, clear eyes."

    She angled her head away from his touch. "Yours certainly wouldn't stand up to close scrutiny."

    Undaunted, he gave the rest of her an appraisal. "No, come to think of it, you look too healthy to be dependent on anything except low cholesterol, high-fiber foods. Get hold of a bad batch of bean curd?"

    She dropped her forehead into her palm. "Would you please just go away?" She was disheartened on several counts. Chief among them was that she needed to be with someone right now, anyone, and Judd Mackie was the only one around. As much as it cost her to admit it, his obnoxious presence was preferable to solitude.

    "That narrows down the possibilities considerably," he remarked.

    "To what?" In spite of herself she was curious to hear his hypothesis.

    "Publicity."

    "Give me a break," she moaned. "I don't need it."

    "Right," he admitted grudgingly, "you're already hyping enough products to keep your face smiling out of magazines and TV screens for years."

    Narrowing his eyes, he assessed her through a screen of thick, spiky lashes. "Are you sure you didn't just fake a fainting spell to get out of playing that match?"

    "Why would I do something like that?"

    "That Italian broad is supposed to be good."

    "But I'm better," Stevie staunchly exclaimed.

    "You've been good," he conceded reluctantly, "but you're getting up there in age. What is it now, thirtyone?"

    He had struck a sore spot and she lashed out, "This has been my best year. You know that, Mackie. I'm on my way to getting a Grand Slam."

    "You've still got to win Wimbledon."

    "I won it last year."

    "But your younger competition is breathing down your neck, players with a hundred times more talent and stamina."

    "I'm noted for my stamina."

    "Yeah, yeah, along with your saucy braid. You're not an athlete."

    "As much as any football player in the NFL."

    "You don't look like an athlete. You're not even built like one."

    Stevie, angered over his sneering accusation, followed the direction of his gaze down to her chest. Her robe was gaping open, revealing the smooth, pale slope of one breast. She hurriedly gathered the fabric together in her fist and stood up. "It's past time for me to throw you out."

    Unperturbed, he continued smoothly. "Maybe your collapse was brought on by anxiety, pure and simple."

    Stevie was seething, but said nothing. She wouldn't honor his ridiculous theories with a response. Her expression remained impassive.

    "You've always known, deep down, that you don't have what it takes to be a real champion. You're one bowl of Wheaties short," he said tauntingly. "You're a flash in the pan."

    "Hardly that, Mackie. I've been on the pro tour for twelve years."

    "But you didn't do anything significant until about five years ago."

    "So, I'm improving, not declining, with age."

    "Not according to what happened this morning."

    "My age has nothing to do with why I-"

    He sprang to his feet and bore down on her. "Come on, give, Stevie. Why did you faint?"

    "None of your damn business!" she shouted.

    "Cramps? Hmm? Is all this hullabaloo over a case of cramps?"

    "No! Definitely not cramps."

    "Ah." Judd released the word slowly. Tilting his head to one side, he let his eyes slide down her body again, searching for a telltale sign he might have previously missed. "Is there any particular reason why it's 'definitely not cramps'?" he asked in a lilting voice. "Like a b-a-by perhaps?"

    Her eyes rounded. "You're crazy."

    "And you're pregnant," he concluded bluntly. Drawing his face into a stern frown, he demanded, "Whose is it? That Scandinavian cobbler who designed your special tennis shoes?"

    "I'm not pregnant."

    "Or is the happy father that polo player from Bermuda?"

    "It's Brazil!"

    "Brazil, then. The guy with all those chains on his chest and at least four dozen teeth."

    "Stop right there."

    "Or don't you know whose it is?"

    "Stop it!" she screamed, folding her arms across her abdomen. "There is no baby!" She repeated it more softly, more tearfully. "There is no baby."

    Tears began to roll down her pale cheeks. "And before long there probably won't be anything else there, either. Because when they take out the tumors, they'll probably have to take out everything."

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