Windswept - A classic romantic suspense set in the Caribbeanby Patricia Twomey Ryan
When her fiancé is delayed in London, Emily Harrington sets off on their long-awaited vacation to the exclusive Caribbean resort of Island Bluffs on her own. Fearing boredom, she is pleasantly surprised to discover that this romantic resort is filled with fascinating people: Roger Stirhew, a foremost travel writer, whose pernicious wit and words prove
When her fiancé is delayed in London, Emily Harrington sets off on their long-awaited vacation to the exclusive Caribbean resort of Island Bluffs on her own. Fearing boredom, she is pleasantly surprised to discover that this romantic resort is filled with fascinating people: Roger Stirhew, a foremost travel writer, whose pernicious wit and words prove deadly; his disillusioned wife Jessica; Marietta St. John, an ageing society columnist; Nora, her devoted companion; Jon Peterson, an eager young restaurateur engaged to the lovely Sarah Maitland; and Annie and Martin Maitland, owners of Island Bluffs Hotel. whose lives are intertwined with those of their guests.
Emily soon finds herself witness to the secrets of her fellow vacationers and, as the days unfold, new relationships offer friendship and diversion. But, when Roger Stirhew is found dead on the ocean beach with a bullet through his heart, diversion soon turns deadly.
A romantic getaway to Aruba turns into anything but for Emily Harrington and her fellow guests at a posh resort. Emily discovers a corpse near her beachside cottage; the victim is Roger Stirhew, a travel critic whose vitriolic prose and in-person antics make him the most hated man on the island. The local authorities correctly assume someone within the resort community killed Roger. Emily's somewhat blithe attitude toward her own safety (she may have seen the killer in the distance) has her straying into danger more than once, culminating in a dramatic finale. VERDICT Ryan's old-fashioned escapist read, while set at a leisurely pace, packs enough oomph to hold a reader's rapt attention. Her appealing resort patter is perfect for the contemporary closed-room drama. Pairs nicely with Carolyn Hart titles.
- Severn House Publishers
- Publication date:
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)
Read an Excerpt
By Patricia Ryan
Severn House Publishers Ltd.Copyright © 2014 Patricia Ryan
All rights reserved.
Emily wakened slowly, snug under the weighty comforter, her body still warm and soft with sleep. Her mind resisted the pull of dawn. Thank God for Saturdays, she mused, as she reached out to gently wrap her arm around Michael.
'Damn,' she muttered, throwing the covers back and jumping out of bed. 'Damn, damn, damn.' This was the second time in a week that her phone alarm hadn't gone off. Today was Wednesday, a bitter, cold February Wednesday, not Saturday. Michael was in London, not New York, and that incessant buzzing was the intercom.
'Yes, Eddie?' she called, pressing the button.
'Oh, Ms Harrington, I was getting worried. The car is here to pick you up and you weren't answering the buzzer.'
'I'm so sorry, Eddie. I overslept. Could you explain to the driver? Tell him I'll be down in a few minutes.'
'No problem. And Hector hasn't left yet. I'll send him up and he can help you with the bags.'
'You're a lifesaver, Eddie. I don't know what we'd do without you.'
Like many New Yorkers, Emily and Michael were highly dependent on an assortment of urban caretakers. Their compact two bedroom co-op in a pre-war, red-brick elevator building was the envy of all their friends. The neighborhood was one of those unique to New York – a couple of square blocks of low-rises on dead-end streets adjacent to some major landmark (in this case the United Nations) that actually managed to feel like a community.
They knew the names of their doormen and their doormen's children. Their laundry and cleaning were picked up and delivered. The local pharmacy was open twenty-four hours and no medication was dispensed until Howard was sure that you understood the doctor's instructions and potential side effects. The hardware store, which had somehow managed to survive on the same spot for the last sixty years, acted as a referral source for local handymen, everyone properly 'vetted' by Joe before the name was passed on.
As she waited for Hector's knock, Emily ran around the apartment, throwing some last-minute things in her suitcase, pouring a glass of water on her two straggly plants and checking she'd packed her passport and ticket. Her eye strayed to the brochure on her night table – white sand, blue water and bright, bold sun. She sighed contentedly as she threw it into her carry-on. No time for those pants I was going to press, she thought, as she struggled into a pair of jeans lying on a chair. No matter, these and a shirt would do.
A last-minute call to Jack, her assistant at the New York State public advocacy program she ran, and she'd be on her way. But Jack didn't pick up. Emily realized he must be in a subway tunnel so she left a detailed message. 'Jack, it's Emily. I'm heading out but I wanted to tell you that I left a folder on my desk for the city council meeting on Friday. That day-care center is scheduled to close next week so we don't have much time. There are three letters of support in there that you have to get into the record. They'll try to stop you but be persistent. There are also the names and phone numbers of the seven people we have lined up to speak at the meeting. Check in with them before Friday and make sure they're ready. It won't be easy to get in touch with me but I wrote the resort's main number on the folder just in case. I'll try to check in with you, but remember – give 'em hell.'
Although thirty-one, Emily's youthful face often left her mistaken for someone much younger. She was tall and slim, with soft red hair and bright blue eyes that were quick to laugh and smile. But her easygoing exterior belied what was a tenacious, sometimes stubborn spirit. Born Emily Claire Harrington, her early years were lived on bustling New York City streets where she spent summer days pursuing her two greatest loves, stoopball and stickball. A freckle-faced tomboy with a fierce desire to win that was never diminished by losing, she would join any game and accept any challenge. Climb down the fire escape from the seventh floor? No problem. Squeeze through the cemetery fence at dusk to check out an open grave? Easy. Jump on the rear bumper of a moving bus? Well, maybe next time.
When she was twelve her family moved to a Hudson Valley suburb, where Emily spent her teenage years like a perennial out of season, her brains and her beauty hidden under a baseball cap. She was happiest on the soccer field and the basketball court, or fishing on nearby Carson's Lake with her father, whose passion for history resulted in her reeling in more knowledge than fish. And although suburban life had some charm, Emily never lost her love for the city.
That would be Hector. She hoped she had everything, but as she opened the apartment door she realized that would've been a long shot even if she had gotten up on time.
'Sorry, Hector, but I have all these bags – Michael's and mine. How's the weather outside? No more snow, I hope.'
'No, not last night. It's just cold – really cold out there. I held the elevator, so I'll take these two and come back,' Hector said, picking up the two largest suitcases.
'That's OK, I've got the rest. Oh, Hector, I forgot to ask, how did Miguel make out on the exam?' Miguel was Hector's oldest son, a high-school sophomore struggling with English composition. Emily had found a free tutoring program on the west side that Miguel had been going to for about a month.
'Good – well, better. The teacher, she said he did better and she says the tutoring is helping. But you know the English is hard for him.'
'Hey, I remember a time when the English was hard for me.' Emily laughed. 'He's a good kid; he works hard. He'll get there.'
As they rode down in the elevator, Emily made a mental note to call the tutor when she got back. Maybe one session a week wasn't enough; she'd push for two.
A blast of frigid air hit her as soon as the front door opened. 'You must be goin' away for a while,' the driver commented as he helped with Emily's bags.
'No, just a week, really. Some of these bags are my fiancé's. He's stuck in London ...' she started explaining until she realized that the driver was already getting behind the wheel.
She and Michael had met in college, and although they'd fallen head over heels, the road to romance had not always run smooth. Emily was fiercely independent and committed to any number of serious causes, but her dedication was enlivened by a zany sense of humor and a generous touch of irreverence. Michael, on the other hand, was reserved, but he was also earnest and supportive, every future mother-in-law's dream: conscientious, intelligent, and obviously going far.
For three years they had dated on and off. Rarely would Michael join Emily at a demonstration or on a picket line – more often, she would track him down in the library stacks, sometimes at midnight, smuggling in forbidden sodas and snacks. There they would sit for hours, with Emily telling funny stories, complete with outrageous imitations that were often brutally honest.
By senior year he was Phi Beta Kappa and she was student body president. For months at a time they would be inseparable, and then either his gravity or her flippancy would strain the relationship and they would break up. Life would temper these tendencies, but not before they graduated and, for a while, went their separate ways.
The driver pulled away from the curb, his back wheels spinning and squealing as he tried to get some traction. 'Two, three, four bags ... you gals are all alike. My wife, she says to me all the time, "Al, you just don't ..."' the driver droned on as Emily watched out the window. As she tried to settle herself, she decided to give Michael a call. Let's see, five hours ahead ... that would make it almost noon in London. It was worth a try. But when she fished in her bag, she realized she had left her phone charging on the kitchen counter. 'Driver ...' she uttered, thinking of going back for it. 'Oh, never mind.' What difference? she thought. There was little service where she was headed.
It was hard to imagine that she and Michael had been living together for almost two years now and, until recently, had been more than satisfied with their sometimes frenetic lives. Michael, tall, dark and dimpled, with rugged good looks, had followed in his father's footsteps after college, heading for law school in Boston. The son of a Midwest lawyer, not rich but comfortable, he had a sense of security that enabled him to see life in a straight line. And although doted on by his mother and two older sisters, he was more satisfied than spoiled.
He had been on the fast track since his graduation from law school, where he was first in his class and on law review. Now, as a junior partner at a 'white shoe' New York law firm, he devoted most of his waking hours to the betterment of Michner, Dawkins, Harris & Smith. Whatever time the firm did not demand was given over to Emily, but there had been less and less of that lately. That was one of the reasons Emily was so looking forward to this vacation. It would give her and Michael a chance to slow down, to talk, maybe figure things out.
The sidewalks were still piled high with snow and the occasional patch of ice made driving difficult. Yesterday's white blanket had already started to turn dirty, and sprays of blackened slush threatened walkers as cars and buses jockeyed for the lead in the race to the next red light. Car horns blared, drivers cursed and the dull crunch of a dented fender was an invitation to shouted threats and gridlocked streets. Emily had to admit that her driver was skilled, if a little more daring than one might have hoped. If pressed, she might even have corroborated the necessity of his driving on the sidewalk on East 51st Street. Still, she was relieved when they reached their destination in one piece.
The airport was packed, just as Emily had imagined it would be. Bitterly cold temperatures and the city's sixth snowfall this winter had made the luxury of a Caribbean vacation almost a necessity. At this point, desperate New Yorkers were booking any flight available.
But Emily's reservations had been made well in advance. This was no spur-of-the-moment vacation. She had spent months pouring over travel guides and brochures; well-worn copies of Caribbean Travel and Life had long ago replaced the stack of books on her night table. Eight days of pampering at a luxury resort, a different sort of vacation for her and Michael. It would be their last fling, really, before they started making important decisions about their future.
Both of them believed it was time for a change. Marriage had just been an assumption until a couple of months ago, but Michael's promotion and a surprise engagement ring on New Year's Eve meant that assumption was becoming reality. Michael felt it was time to legitimize their relationship. 'I'm a partner now ...' was his introduction to more and more of their conversations. They were both anxious to start a family, but Emily was already overwhelmed with the inevitable changes to come. She had a million questions. What to do about her career? Where and how to raise children? What would Michael's role and availability be in childrearing? And the more she thought about these things, the more she found herself thinking back to her own mother. The warmth and closeness of their relationship, her mother's openness and enthusiasm – how Emily missed those things. Sometimes she would imagine conversations that would never be, but would still search for advice in remembered wisdom. So many questions, so many possibilities. Yet days could go by and she'd barely see Michael, and there were times when she felt all alone. Was that really what she wanted from her marriage?
The skycap dropped Emily's bags at the end of a very long line of very short-tempered New Yorkers. Although it was early morning, flight delays had already been posted as runways were cleared and planes de-iced. Families, some with small children, had planted themselves in corners and against walls. Mothers attempted to soothe crying infants and rambunctious toddlers as fathers dragged or pushed piles of bags along the line.
While Emily waited, her mind wandered. It was over ten years ago, she thought ... graduation weekend. When her parents arrived at Cornell, younger brothers and sisters in tow, Emily could tell that there was something wrong. Her father seemed distracted and unnaturally quiet. Her mother, always energetic and spontaneous, seemed wan and pale. And although the kids seemed their rambunctious selves, she sensed an edge to their laughter that wasn't usually there.
Six months later Emily's mother was gone, a victim of breast cancer, and Emily was trying desperately to replace her irreplaceable presence. Their big old Victorian house, rambling and spacious, with its open porches and secret crannies, had always been filled with life and laughter. It was comfortable and welcoming, and friends would often congregate there, watching TV in the family room, talking for hours on the side porch or partying in the backyard. Emily's parents had always been easygoing and open, supportive of almost everything the kids did, and proud of their every achievement.
The oldest of this ragtaggle crew of four siblings, Emily was determined that the house should remain as it was. She knew this determination was her own denial of her mother's loss, yet she spent the better part of the next three years wiping away streams of tears, opening furiously slammed doors, settling fierce arguments and sharing late-night conversations that would often stretch into morning. During the more difficult moments she would yearn for Michael's steadfastness and support.
Although they had left college as good friends, swearing that they would keep in touch, Michael and Emily had eventually grown apart, their lives too different to accommodate a long-distance relationship.
It was a busy time in her life and, although filled with responsibilities, not without its rewards. By the end of it, Brian had managed to earn the high-school diploma which for some months had been in doubt; Jane had gotten the lead in the junior play; Kate, the baby, was in high school; and her father had emerged from his grief-induced sabbatical, spent primarily in the upstairs study, with a publishable manuscript and an intact sense of humor. The house was once again a lively place with an army of friends who raided the refrigerator, tied up the phone and, on occasion, danced till dawn. Emily had added strength and resilience to her character, but also a nagging sense that life could be fickle and rob the unsuspecting of joy at a moment's notice.
She was more cautious now, careful to observe the world around her, watching for signs of trouble. She would read people like books, noting a shift of the eyes or twitch of the mouth. She could sense uncertainty or anger or approval, and although it made her good at her job, she sometimes missed the carefree young girl she used to be.
'Lady,' a man said sharply while poking Emily in the shoulder. 'Lady, you're next. Come on, lady, wake up. You're next.'
'Sorry,' Emily mumbled, moving her bags forward. She had been so caught up in her thoughts she hadn't even heard the ticket agent calling her. Luckily her flight was straight through and she would soon be rid of these bags. She was starting to agree with the limo driver – she couldn't possibly need all this stuff.
'Checking in everything?' the agent asked as Emily put her bags on the conveyor belt.
'Just these three. These two I need to take on the plane with me.' Even though she had sworn she wasn't going to take work with her, with Michael's delay in London she'd grabbed a couple of pressing files just before she left.
Emily loved her job but, as she hoisted the two bulging bags on to her shoulder, she wondered whether the demands were just too much. That city council meeting she was sending Jack to cover would probably last until midnight, as most of them did. Emergencies always seemed to happen after five or on weekends, and Emily was usually the first one on site and often the last to leave. But what was the alternative? She couldn't just give it up; she had worked so hard to get there.
By the time she arrived at the departure gate she had only minutes before boarding the plane. She considered trying to organize her stuff, but quickly realized it was impossible and so she just stood, lost in thought, waiting to be called.
Excerpted from Windswept by Patricia Ryan. Copyright © 2014 Patricia Ryan. Excerpted by permission of Severn House Publishers Ltd..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Patricia Ryan Ph.D. is a former educator who served as a teacher and director of a school for children with special needs for over twenty years. Now retired, she has been writing essays, memoirs and fiction for the past ten years. Her work has appeared in publications such as National Geographic Traveler, Parents, Eire-Ireland and Brevity. She and her husband live in Westchester County, NY, and are the parents of three sons.
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I'm shocked to see this book for sale under the name of a beloved, best-selling, award-winning author of romance, romantic suspense, and mystery novels. The real Patricia Ryan has been writing wonderful books for twenty years. Her name, for the purposes of the genres she writes in, is trademarked through long use and reader recognition. It doesn't matter if the author if Windswept was born with the same name. If she writes the same genre of books that the original Patricia Ryan writes, it is illegal for her to use the same name on her books. She must change it somehow or be in violation of trademark law. The publisher should have known this and told her to alter her name before publication.
Bad, bad mistake on the publishers allowing someone to write romance under Patricia Ryan. A simple google search would have provided more than enough evidence that another Patricia Ryan has been writing and winning awards for over twenty years. It's the same as if I started writing horror stories under the name Stephen King. It's more than likely an unfortunate mistake on the publishers part, but it's illegal nonetheless.