Upstairs at Miss Hattie's [NOOK Book]

Overview

Young Bram and Sarah Clyburn are about to end their marriage and go their separate ways-- a big mistake in the minds of Bram's grandparents, Evvie and Edgar, the same mistake they almost made many decades ago.

Evvie's family had come to Texas from the dust bowl of Oklahoma, looking for opportunity but finding only hardship in the waning days of the Depression. Desperate times sometimes require desperate measures, and Evvie took them-- measures that shamed her and threatened ...

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Upstairs at Miss Hattie's

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Overview

Young Bram and Sarah Clyburn are about to end their marriage and go their separate ways-- a big mistake in the minds of Bram's grandparents, Evvie and Edgar, the same mistake they almost made many decades ago.

Evvie's family had come to Texas from the dust bowl of Oklahoma, looking for opportunity but finding only hardship in the waning days of the Depression. Desperate times sometimes require desperate measures, and Evvie took them-- measures that shamed her and threatened Edgar's love. But during the war years of sacrifice and separation they learned that their love could surmount anything-- even Evvie's shameful past.

After sixty-five years, they share their shocking story for the first time. Will it be enough to save Bram and Sarah's marriage?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426805561
  • Publisher: Harlequin Enterprises
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Series: Harlequin Everlasting Love Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • File size: 217 KB

Meet the Author

Ken Casper, author of sixteen Harlequin Superromance novels as K.N. Casper, figures his writing career started back in the sixth grade when he was ordered by a teacher to write a "theme" explaining his misbehavior over the previous semester. To his teacher's chagrin, he enjoyed stringing just the right words together to justify his less-than-stellar performance. Fortunately she forgave him. Born and raised in New York City, Ken is now a transplanted Texan. He and Mary, his wife of thirty-plus years, own a horse farm in San Angelo. Along with their two dogs, six cats and eight horses— at last count! They also board and breed horses, and Mary teaches English riding. She's a therapeutic riding instructor for the handicapped, as well. Life is never dull. Their two granddaughters visit several times a year and feel right at home with the Casper menagerie. Grandpa and Mimi do everything they can to make sure their visits will be lifelong fond memories. After all, isn't that what grandparents are for?

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Read an Excerpt

"Why are you pushing him away, my dear? I've watched the two of you together. I'm sure you love him."
Sarah Clyburn gave her husband Bram's grandmother a sharp, hurt look. "I do love him," she answered, then sighed. "More than I ever thought I could. More than I deserve. That's why I have to let him go."
Evvie sympathized. She understood the young woman's dilemma far better than Sarah realized. She, too, had thought about walking away.
"Sacrifice may seem noble, but it doesn't always bring the results we hope for. Sometimes it only makes victims of both parties." She studied the pretty but sad face. "You know he loves you."
Sarah closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "He doesn't always say the words, but he shows me in a million different ways. All I want is for him to be happy."
"How can you possibly imagine that leaving him will make him happy?"
They were sitting on the ranch house patio. Just the two of them. The heat of the Texas summer was past, the air now cool and refreshing, spiced with a hint of late-blooming sage. The view to the south was one of gently rolling ochre hills, freckled with dark green stands of oak and cedar under a cloudless blue sky. In the distance, cattle grazed contentedly.
Normally Evvie found the bucolic setting soothing, a sharp contrast in these, her mature years, to the turbulence of her youth, but today the peacefulness of the sepia landscape failed to resonate in her soul.
Bram Clyburn had married Sarah Wingate last spring on this very spot, a lovely June wedding. Evvie and Edgar had been delighted with the girl from the first time they'd met her, and they were happy to welcome her into the family.
Returning onlya few days ago from a three-monthlong Pacific cruise, they were shocked to learn the couple was now contemplating divorce. All because of a telephone call.
It apparently began when Bram managed to convince the San Angelo City Council to revise the current budget to accommodate the downtown redevelopment project without raising taxes. In Evvie's estimation, talking politicians out of a tax increase was akin to talking a horse out of drinking at a watering hole. Mayor Roy Dollfus, who also happened to be Bram's best friend from high school, apparently felt the same way, because he started f loating Bram's name as a possible candidate to replace Millard Spicer, the incumbent state senator, whose three-term tenure in Austin was riddled with charges of corruption and campaign finance violations.
The prospect of such a challenge had prompted a call from Jane Spicer, the senator's wife, to Sarah, threatening to expose her sordid past if Bram persisted in opposing him.
"I understand Bram was aware of your background when he married you," Evvie noted. Until two days ago she and Edgar hadn't been, however, and the revelation that Sarah had been an "escort" during her college days had come as quite a jolt.
"I told him before he even proposed. I was so ashamed, Evvie. I was sure he'd leave me, but he insisted it was all in the past, that it didn't make any difference in the way we felt about each other…that he loved me for who I am in spite of what I'd done." A tear slipped from her brimming brown eyes. "We thought we could keep it secret."
"Some secrets are hard to keep, my dear."
"Exactly," Sarah agreed. "My past will never go away. It'll always be there, if not staring me and Bram in the face, then lurking in the background, waiting to ambush us. No matter what I do or say for the rest of my life, I'll always be a call girl, a hustler who sold herself for money."
She lowered her head. When she raised it again, her cheeks were wet with tears. "I'm not proud of what I did, Evvie." She paused and bit her lip. "And I'd never do anything like that again, but that's not the point. Bram has an opportunity to go places, to do things, but he won't even get a chance to with me as his wife, not with my past."
Evvie studied the downhearted girl and suppressed a smile. A past that wouldn't go away. It all seemed so overwhelming when you were young. If only Sarah knew…
"Don't you see?" Sarah continued in frustration.
"Politics isn't the issue. No matter what he wants to do, my past will always be there, holding him back. How will people ever be able to respect him when they find out his wife was a prostitute? I can't do that to him, Evvie. I can't. It wouldn't be fair. He deserves to be free to do his best, to climb as high as he can go. He won't be able to do that with me dragging him down. He de
"You think the only solution is for you to leave him?" Sarah looked away. "He'll get over me." Her voice thickened. "He'll f ind someone else, someone worthy of him."
How much did the politician's wife really know? And how far was she willing to go?
Evvie was getting ready to ask how Jane Spicer had learned of Sarah's background but stopped when two men came into view.
She had no doubt where Bram got his good looks. Edgar Clyburn was broad shouldered and unbent despite his eighty-six years. She remembered when he could match his grandson's impressive physical strength and stamina, too. They both had full heads of hair. Edgar's was snow white now, while Bram's was dark brown, nearly as black as his grandfather's had once been. Most striking, though, were their eyes. Age hadn't dimmed the cerulean blueness of Edgar's, or the glint of humor that seemed to be an inherent part of them. Bram's were perhaps a bit more serious and more blue-green, the latter color probably inherited from her, but they were every bit as compelling and warm.
"I was wondering where you two had run off to," Evvie commented to her husband. She and Edgar had had time for only one brief exchange in the kitchen before lunch and had agreed on what they had to do, but they hadn't had time to work out the details of a plan.
"We were over by the corral," Bram said, "checking out your new colt. Daedulus is coming along fine. A real beauty."
Edgar gripped the arms of his wife's chair as he leaned over and kissed her on the forehead. Straightening, he added, "Bram's been telling me more about this high-class venture he's working on. He's advancing the Clyburn name to new heights."
Recognizing the housing shortage spawned by the depression and the Second World War, Edgar had launched Clyburn Construction in 1946 to build lowcost homes. Returning GIs eager to settle down and start families had bought them in droves. Thirty years later, their eldest son, Hank, had expanded the business by creating Clyburn Homes, a middle-income housing division. Now Hank's son, who'd earned a double degree in engineering and architecture at Stanford, was inaugurating another new project, Clyburn Estates, this one for high-dollar residences.
"Impressive designs," Edgar added proudly. "The country-club crowd is going to be living in the lap of luxury."
"I had a suspicion all those books his father bought him would pay off one day," Evvie said with a fond twinkle in her eye.
"Is there something you needed us for, Gram?" Bram asked, standing beside Sarah's chair. He'd offered his hand, and she'd clutched it, hardly the actions of two people on the brink of divorce.
"I was hoping you gents might be fixing to go into town." Evvie gazed steadily at her husband. "I was telling Sarah about the delightful sweetshop we found in Fukuoka, Japan. You remember it, dear. It got my mouth watering for the wonderful pecan fudge they have at Eggemeyer's. Sarah said she's never tried it, so… I thought if you two were in the neighborhood—" forehead slightly arched, she smiled up at him, pausing a moment to make sure eye contact "—maybe you could stop off and pick us up a sample."
"Fudge?" Bram stared down at his wife, his brow furrowed. "I thought you didn't care for fudge, that it's too sweet."
"I, um…" Sarah stammered, not sure what to say. This was the first she'd heard of fudge, too. "As a matter of fact," Edgar piped up, coming to the young woman's rescue, "I have to restock our wine supply. I propose a Texas Merlot with our steaks tonight, if that's all right."
"Sounds perfect," Evvie said with a pleased smile.
"Take your time, dear. I'm sure you boys have plenty to talk about. We have hours yet before dinner."
Bram shook his head, at a complete loss. When he and Sarah accepted his grandparents' last-minute invitation to the ranch for lunch, he'd expected a lengthy discussion of their dilemma. In truth, he'd been hoping his grandparents might have some wisdom they could impart that would resolve the crisis. But the folks had listened without comment to Sarah's recitation of the situation, then they'd served a leisurely lunch while regaling them with hilarious stories about the exciting places they'd visited and the exotic foods they'd eaten on their Asian trip. Through all the room.
Okay, that was a warm-up—or a softening up—Bram had decided. With the meal out of the way, they'd settle down to a heart-to-heart chat about the current state of affairs. Except now his grandmother was sending him and his grandfather off on a fool's errand. Whatever she had up her sleeve, Gramps seemed to catch on and was playing along. Considering the number of years the two of them had been married, that shouldn't surprise him. At times he wondered if they even had to use words to exchange ideas. He hoped he and Sarah were headed for that same kind of lifelong commitment and unconditional devotion, until…
His own parents had never found it. They hadn't bickered or fought. They hadn't divorced, but when his mother died of cancer ten years ago, she left her grieving family with the sad feeling that she'd never been truly happy. Bram had asked his grandfather once if he knew why. The old man's enigmatic reply was that she'd never been blessed with hard times. It sounded crazy, but Bram thought he understood what Gramps meant. Marla James Clyburn had grown up pampered by her parents, then gone on to marry a man who'd continued to give her everything she could reasonably ask for. Bram wondered if she'd ever figured out the source of her discontent.
"Pecan fudge," he muttered now, following his grandfather's lead. "Any other kind?"
"Well," Sarah drawled, the smile on her face failing to hide her uneasiness, "while you're at it, why don't you see if they have any divinity. That would be delicious, too."
The men left and for a minute the only sounds were of birds twittering and Bram's diesel pickup grumbling out of the gravel driveway.
"Now, my dear," Evvie said, rising slowly, "why don't you finish clearing the table while I get the bottle of Cherry Herring I've been hoarding. I have a story I want to tell you."
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    a well written tale

    Out of love for her spouse, Sarah Clyburn decides to divorce her architect husband Bram so he is not impacted by the scandal that is brewing over her. The wife of a political rival has proof that Sarah paid her college tuition as an escort.----------------- Bram's grandparents, Evvie and Edgar know the pair deeply love each other and wants them to reconsider. Evvie tells Sarah that years ago she earned a living as one of those girls at Miss Hattie¿s house of ill repute. That was how she supported her dirt poor Oklahoma family during the depression. Feeling ashamed of what she did Evvie was going to throw away Edgar¿s love for his sake until he went overseas fighting for America during WW II. She prayed for him everyday to come back to her as her past had nothing to do with the present or future except to affirm she was a strong person willing to sacrifice virtue for food for her family. Six plus decades later her loving marriage to Edgar is the legacy she leaves to Sarah and Bram to match and top.--------------- UPSTAIRS AT MISS HATTIE is a well written tale that affirms there is still plenty of room for creative story lines. The relationships, past and present, are fully developed so that the audience knows the four prime players. Readers will especially appreciate Evvie who did what she had to do to insure her family had food on the table during the Depression and while her Edgar served overseas during WW II. Ken Casper provides a strong family drama starring fully developed likable characters, especially the women, willing to do whatever for the benefit of their loved ones.---------------------- Harriet Klausner

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