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Wild Rose

Wild Rose

4.6 16
by Ruth Axtell Morren

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All her life, Geneva Patterson was an outcast in Haven's End. Plain, awkward, thought to be unmarriageable, she endured the townspeople's cruel taunts in solitude. But then she encountered a man who made her dream of more....

Once a respected sea captain, Caleb Phelps had been accused of a shameful crime. He still held his head high, but pain shone in his eyes.


All her life, Geneva Patterson was an outcast in Haven's End. Plain, awkward, thought to be unmarriageable, she endured the townspeople's cruel taunts in solitude. But then she encountered a man who made her dream of more....

Once a respected sea captain, Caleb Phelps had been accused of a shameful crime. He still held his head high, but pain shone in his eyes. Believing in his innocence, Geneva longed to help this proud man find redemption—through God's grace and a woman's love.

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Steeple Hill Books
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Wild Rose

By Ruth Morren

Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.

Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-373-78527-5

Chapter One

Haven's End, Maine, August 1872

Geneva felt the push from behind, a blow between the shoulder blades. The next instant she lay flat on her face against the rough, gray wharf, her toes caught in the spaces between the worn wood slats, her brimming baskets wrenched sideways. Helpless, she watched their contents scatter. The fruits and vegetables she'd taken such pains to arrange that morning in neat, concentric circles tumbled across the sun-bleached planks.

Heads of cabbage rolled like croquet balls off the edge of the wharf to land with a plop into the awaiting tide. The smaller items - the precious raspberries she'd handled so gently to prevent bruising and the bright green string beans - disappeared down the cracks to join the bobbing cabbages below. The shriek of gulls mingled with the cackle of laughter around her, as the birds were alerted to the treasures floating on the sea.

"Salt Fish Ginny! Salt Fish Ginny! How come you're so skinny?" The teasing chant resonated above the laughter. "Salt Fish Ginny! Dirty as a hog, mean as her dog!"

Geneva glared at the trio of village boys stampeding by her, shouting the hated words that described her occupation, fishing for cod.

She forgot the boys as the thump of footfalls farther down the wharf reached her ears. Her glance passed the pranksters to the group turning down the wharf from the street. Rusticators! Her face flamed in humiliation as she watched the smartly dressed ladies and gentlemen on holiday, the very ones who bought her produce, stroll down the pier from the quaint, white clapboard village.

Before she could do more than pull herself to her knees, they had reached her, and stood hesitating as if looking for a way to pass through the mess. Wrinkling their noses, the ladies lifted their skirts to avoid soiling them.

Only one gentleman moved. His boots resonated against the wood, but as soon as Geneva saw who it was, her heartbeat muted the sound. She stared openmouthed as Captain Caleb Phelps came and knelt beside her. She had never been in such close proximity to him before.

Geneva found herself looking straight into the bluest pair of eyes she'd ever seen. They were the blue of the open ocean off Ferguson Point after the morning fog burned off and when the noon sun hung high overhead. Not a cloud diminished the hue of the vast, flat expanse of sea then, but its inky blue depths sparkled with a thousand lights and depths from the reflecting sun.

Captain Caleb's eyes danced with a mixture of concern and amusement. It wasn't the sly amusement of the onlookers, she realized, but a companionable sort, as if he and she were sharing some private joke. His eyes' wry twinkle was telling her that he had been in a similar predicament in another time and place, long ago enough to look back with humor.

Geneva blinked to break the spell. Don't be a fool. Captain Caleb didn't care what she was thinking. His world was so far removed from hers, it might as well be across the sea. She needed to get back on her feet and quick. There'd been enough damage done already, and she had to see what she could salvage.

But her commands didn't reach her legs. Geneva caught sight of the untidy patchwork on one threadbare knee of her overalls and suddenly became conscious of her appearance. She cringed in shame at the contrast between the man's easy elegance and her own homespun looks. The seams of her pa's old flannel shirt were visibly frayed, the color faded from numerous washings.

Geneva glanced down at the hand the captain placed on her forearm. Despite the tanned skin, it was the hand of a gentleman. His fingernails were clean and neatly trimmed. She curled her own hands into fists to hide the broken nails, traces of garden dirt still clinging to them.

"Are you all right, miss?" After a cursory glance over her as he asked the question, his gaze returned to her face.

Miss. It sounded so respectful. He might be talking to a fragile, young lady.

Geneva nodded and mumbled something, hardly believing what she was experiencing. For the first time, a man wasn't undressing her with a look. No matter how oversized her pa's old shirts or thick the bib of her overalls, they never did enough to flatten her bosom. Everywhere else she was bone thin, an unfortunate circumstance that only served to make the fullness of her chest more apparent.

Geneva flushed, meeting the intense indigo gaze focused on her. Captain Caleb scarcely gave her body a glance. He seemed to look beyond her features to the person within.

Although the captain's face was one she recognized, she'd only seen it two or three times in her life, from afar. "Cap'n Caleb," as he was known in these parts, hailed from Boston and rarely came to port in Haven's End.

Geneva couldn't help staring at it now, from the deep chestnut-colored hair brushed back from the bronzed forehead, to the strong jaw and rugged cleft chin, every feature in perfect proportion as if the artist's hand hadn't faltered once in executing his work.

Not like her uneven features: too-sharp nose, eyebrows arching like bird's wings across her brow, stick-straight dark hair and eyes black as pitch, attesting to her half-breed status.

She broke away from his grasp and pushed herself to her feet. Taking a step away from him, she forced herself back to the situation at hand. Her heart sank as she contemplated the wreckage around her. Well, it would do no good to cry about it.

She stooped to gather her baskets, but was stopped by Captain Caleb's firm grasp. He spoke with a tone of authority so different from the one he'd used with her, she had to look twice to make sure it was the same man speaking. "Come here, lads, and rectify the damage you've inflicted on the lady."

The boys hooted at this. "But, Cap'n Caleb, that ain't no lady," one of the boys protested. The others doubled over in amusement at the very thought. "That's Ginny. Salt Fish Ginny!" Their laughter was joined by the discreet titters of the ladies and gentlemen still standing there.

Geneva wished the planks beneath her feet would widen enough to let her through so she could join her vegetables on the incoming tide. Of all the people to witness her disgraceful fall and hear that odious nickname, why did it have to be Cap'n Caleb? "Young men - " the voice grew softer " - if I have to repeat my request, you'll find yourselves floating alongside those lettuces down there."

"Yessir," the trio mumbled, shuffling forward.

"Wait," he added. "Apologize to the lady first."

Their eyes looked just about ready to pop out of their heads. Under other circumstances, Geneva would have laughed out loud at their amazement.

The boys bobbed their heads, each in turn. "Sorry, Ginny."

"Beg pardon, Ginny."

"No offense, Ginny." Then, their natural exuberance restored, they bent to collect what remained on the dock. Geneva, stunned by what had just occurred, stood motionless. When she recovered from her surprise and moved to help, the captain's grip tightened on her arm.


Excerpted from Wild Rose by Ruth Morren Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Ruth Axtell Morren wrote her first story when she was 12--a spy thriller--and knew she wanted to be a writer.

There were many detours along the way as she pursued more realistic goals. She studied comparative literature at Smith College, where she received a Bachelor's degree; spent her junior year in Paris; taught English and lived as an au pair in the Canary Islands; worked in international development in Miami, Florida. It was there she met her husband, a Dutchman from Suriname, who took her to the Netherlands to live for six years.

In Holland Ruth began crafting her first serious story in between having children Justin, Adaja and Andre. It was there, too, she gained her first recognition as a writer when she made the finals in the Romance Writers of America Golden Heart Contest in 1994.

After the initial euphoria wore off, it was still several years before she made any progress. Ruth and her family moved back to the U.S. to the east coast of Maine. It was the ideal location--surrounded by spruce and fir, a short walk from the rocky seashore--to hunker down in front of her computer and write the stories simmering at the back of her mind.

Ruth's inner journey of faith parallels her outward journey--seemingly circuitous, sometimes wandering in the desert--yet ever-guided by the Good Shepherd.

Ruth currently teaches Spanish to her children and a small group of elementary school children in an after-school program. She also enjoys gardening and has recently learned to knit. Living in rural Maine has given her an opportunity to learn to start a fire in a woodstove on a cold winter morning, shovel snow and realize how many stars are in the sky at night.

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Wild Rose 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Social outcast Geneva Patterson lives a solitary existence...and she likes that just fine. Until, that is, a disgraced Captain Caleb Phelps moves into her small village and turns everything she's ever know inside out. The classic premise of a woman transformed from diamond-in-the-rough to belle of the ball through an unlikely match is made completely new in Morren's novel. You'll fall in love with the book and want to read it a second and third time. I had a hard time letting the characters go at the novel's conclusion. Morren has quickly shot up to the top of my favorite authors list--something that has not happened in a very long time. A must-read!
bride03 More than 1 year ago
Oh, how I enjoyed this book! It was so romantic! Definitely my kind of story. I've read most of Ruth's books and I'm sorry to say that I only have one or two more to go before I've read them all. Makes me wish that authors like Ruth could WRITE FASTER! LOL! I loved the realism of this story. I always feel like I'm right there in the story when I read Ruth's books. I can't say enough about Ruth's writing ability. I'm especially impressed by the easy flow of conversation. For me, Ruth is right up there on my top ten favorite authors list. It was wonderful watching Geneva blossom into a wonderful young woman. She loved Caleb right from the start but it wasn't the same for Caleb. All he saw was a sweet young girl in overalls. I was actually hurt when it was suggested that it might be unseemly for her to spend so much time with him and he just laughed, and said 'just look at her.' It took a shocking and embarrassing moment to open his eyes and after that he was a goner. It was so refreshing to read a story where the heroine and hero weren't gaga over each other from start to finish. These characters were so much more interesting and I liked that they grew as friends before falling in love.
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HopeinHim More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. The main character of the book, Geneva, is an outcast among her community. She is shown the love of God from two unlikely sources. Not only does she discover love, but how to forgive much because she has been forgiven much, and the incredible worth she has in Christ. She sees she has gained much more in life than she has lost because of God's restorative love and faithfulness toward her. It is well written, at times suspenseful, and hard to put down! Of course, it also includes clean romance. A definite must read! :))
Jolene Laughlin More than 1 year ago
Very fun, clean, light read. I liked the hero and heroine very much and enjoyed the character developmeht through out the story. I do think there should have been a puppy in the ending though, or maybe a Boston alley mutt!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Wild Rose is a delightful love story. It is a tale about two unlikely misfits, Geneva Patterson and Captain Caleb Phelps. Geneva grew up in a small coastal town, Haven¿s End, Maine. Her mother died when she was young and her harsh father raised her. Upon his death, Geneva was left alone. She lives a solitary life selling fish and produce to the local villagers. Her large retriever, Jake, is her only companion. Caleb Phelps, raised in Boston in his father¿s shipping business has had every advantage offered him. Yet, he is forced into solitary life by his stubborn refusal to turn his cousin in for crimes that Caleb is suspected of. He moves to Haven¿s End to start again. When the two meet, a slow friendship develops. They help each other¿s loneliness and over time love grows. Like a wild rose growing in the field, their loves bears the pain of many thorns and must weather difficult storms, but when it blooms it carries the sweetest fragrance of all. Ruth Axtell Morren wrote for the heart of all who have found themselves on the outside of the group at some point in life. Pick up this book for a wonderful excursion into the lives of Caleb and Geneva.