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Bulls Island

Bulls Island

4.1 83
by Dorothea Benton Frank

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“Dottie Frank’s books are sexy and hilarious. She has staked out the lowcountry of South Carolina as her personal literary property.”
—Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides

Bulls Island is a supremely satisfying tale of honor, chance, and star-crossed love, infused with Southern wit, grace, and charm, from the


“Dottie Frank’s books are sexy and hilarious. She has staked out the lowcountry of South Carolina as her personal literary property.”
—Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides

Bulls Island is a supremely satisfying tale of honor, chance, and star-crossed love, infused with Southern wit, grace, and charm, from the phenomenal New York Times bestseller Dorothea Benton Frank. The much beloved author of Plantation, Return to Sullivan’s Island, Land of Mango Sunsets, and a host of other winning novels of the North Carolina lowcountry, Frank stands tall alongside Anne Rivers Siddons, Sue Monk Kidd, Rebecca Wells and the other masters of contemporary southern women’s fiction. Devoted Dottie Frank fans and newcomers alike will adore this sun-drenched story of the uncomfortable homecoming of a former Bulls Islander who plans to transform the unspoiled paradise for profit…and her inevitable reencounter with the scion of a wealthy family whom she once was scheduled to marry until cruel innuendo destroyed their engagement.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Will romance triumph over the feud between the aristocratic Langleys and the slightly lower-in-social-pecking-order McGees in Frank's latest Southern charm-filled romp? Though the answer is obvious from the get-go, the author fills this spirited tale with well-drawn characters, not the least of whom is formidable Charleston doyenne Louisa Langley. Betts McGee and J.D. Langley are uneasily headed to the altar-Louisa has a hard time with her son dating down. When Betts's mother dies in a car wreck, a generations-old grudge-abetted by Louisa-flares up, and Betts flees to Manhattan. There, she raises her son (J.D. didn't know she was pregnant when she left) solo and thrives in the distressed property turn-around business for a good 20 years until an assignment sends her back to Charleston to help develop a former wildlife refuge. The local partner in the venture is none other than J.D., who is now unhappily married and childless. Frank steers through several terrains with great aplomb as the story unfolds from both Betts's and J.D.'s points of view. Frank shines as Betts finds out if there's really no place like home. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Bulls Island LP

Chapter One

Meet Betts

Trouble. In the charcoal shadows that delivered dawn to day in my Manhattan apartment, trouble lurked like a horrible thief. It would snatch my guilty life out of my pocket. I could sense but not pinpoint the exact location. It did not matter. Trouble would get me anyway. Trouble so practiced and seasoned that I would never know its clammy hand, each fingertip as light as feathers had been there mocking me the whole way to ruination. Except for one telling detail. Before I threw back my bedcovers, before I even glanced at my alarm clock, my left eyelid had begun to twitch in earnest. Always a redoubtable warning of approaching and certain disaster. My heart pounded. Was it a dream?

Moments later, real life began again. My cell phone rang and vibrated against the blond wood of my bedside table. It was my secretary, Sandi, calling to say Ben Bruton wanted to see me that morning. Wonderful. I was to begin my day with an audience with the Great and Terrible Oz. Not to mention I had a scheduled meeting later that morning with a gaggle offast-talking suits from Tokyo.

Swell. No one at my level was called to see Bruton unless he wanted you dead and out of his life—or your status was to improve vastly. I had no reason to fear for my position and no reason to believe I was in line for anything except to continue what I had been doing for the past four years—evaluating and restructuring the distressed properties in our portfolio. Sounds boring? Anything but. Trust me.

I was late, which was unusual. Normally, I'm up at six. My nerves got in between me and everything I hadto do. As I dressed, I pushed my toe through an expensive pair of Wolford panty hose, jabbed my eyeliner into the white of my eye, spilled tea on my shirt, on and on it went until I finally got out the door.

I rushed the nine and one-half blocks from Park and Sixty-first to work dodging traffic, juggling my Tazo chai, my handbag, the Wall Street Journal, and my briefcase. Click, click, click. The heels of my Prada pumps clicked and echoed in my ears as I hurried across the rose-colored, gold-speckled granite floor of the lobby. In my peripheral vision, I spotted Dennis Baker swinging into action, moving toward me like a PI, knowing he had caught my eye.

Why was he always following me? He made my skin crawl. I slipped into an empty elevator, his arm caught the closing door, and I was trapped.

"You look great today. New dress?" he said, exuding enough testosterone to impregnate every female in the five boroughs of New York City.

Except me.

"Thank you." I avoided eye contact and his question.

He leaned against the opposite wall, put his hands in his pockets, and struggled to look adorable. "So, let me ask you something, McGee."


"Why aren't you committed to someone who could, you know, see about all your needs? Too risky to get involved?"

"It's not about money, Dennis," I said, looking directly at him without a shred of warmth. "It's about my survival. And since when is my life your business?"

Disbelieving, Dennis Baker's obnoxious eyes surveyed me as though he could not imagine what I struggled to overcome. In his opinion I had no problems because money was the great cure-all. As if I was rolling in it. Would that it were so.

"I've been watching you. And . . . just curious, I guess." Next, with what I'm sure he deemed considerable insight, he said, "Well then, it must be about power. Why you work so hard and why you're such a loner? A relationship might distract your focus and therefore dilute your power. Am I right?"

"Nooooo," I said, assuring him that I had no interest in chatting with him for the minute it took us to rise from the thirty-eighth-floor lobby to the seventieth floor. Any and all conversation with him was exasperating. I stood rooted to my side of the elevator and stared up at the rapidly changing red digital trailer of weather and news.

I said to myself, no, itwasn't about power. It actually was all about survival. Was it easy for a woman to make it in this business? No. You had to be twice as right, twice as qualified, and twice as anything else the assignment required.

Relieved when the doors opened, I left him to slither back to his cubicle on the sixty-eighth floor.

"Have a great day," he said.

"See ya." I said. Loser.

Dennis was like a swarm of gnats at dusk, annoying and confident that he would eventually get to you. He was fortunate that I had not reported him to human resources for sexual harassment and that I spoke to him at all.

Dennis Baker was one of a dozen male and female secretaries with a degree in chiropractic medicine, culinary arts, or medieval literature who hunted the halls like a hungry animal, searching for prey, married or single, with a mid-seven-figure income that could give them a life of ease. Married with children didn't bother them one iota. And they seemed unaware of a greater truth, which was this: Why would anyone of actual significance be interested in anyone so pathetically amoral? Even the occasional drunk partner or lonely associate knew the difference between a sporting screw and a relationship that could cost them a marriage and, not to be overlooked, a painful division of assets. Dennis Baker was a stellar bartender and amateur sommelier, hence his longevity at the firm.

But back to the more important issue. I had been summoned to Ben Bruton's office, or rather I should say the real estate he occupied in the penthouse of the five floors we owned on Fifty-second and Fifth. When his gatekeeper, Darlene, spotted me, she smiled and pressed the button to his inner sanctum, whispering the news of my arrival as though we were gathered in an ICU with a priest. I sat in the waiting area and then got up to pace. What did Bruton want? I was nervous.

Bulls Island LP. Copyright © by Dorothea Frank. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband.

Brief Biography

New Jersey and Sullivan's Island, South Carolina
Place of Birth:
Sullivan's Island, South Carolina

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Bulls Island 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 83 reviews.
Timberlake More than 1 year ago
We all have some kiind of skeltons in our closets. Dorothea Benton Frank has given us the story of one of us with such skeltons. Her characters are vivid and believable. I was pulling for the main character to survive her trip back into her past and the repercussions this involved. Dorothea reminded us that we all do what we have to do to survive and begin again. But someday, we must face our past in order to make peace and a better future. This book was an excellent read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bulls Island, like the rest of Dorothea Benton Frank's books, Make you feel like you are part of the island / Charleston life. Not only does she deal with today but she brings out the history in her people and how it shapes their lives.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! I have read all of her books and think this one is the best. The characters are wonderful and real! I am a Charleston native and can absolutely see and feel the whole story! I am a semi-slow reader - and I finished the book in one week. It's a great beach read! It is laugh out loud funny! Looking forward to a new book! Please buy and enjoy!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I have most of Ms. Frank's novels. Somehow I'd missed it, and found my way to it after reading Return to Sullivan's Island. Ms. Frank's protagonists are warm and compelling and she has an authentic South Carolina voice that resonates with those of us who live away from home (I also go back and forth between New York and the Lowcountry). I found Bulls Island one of her best books - in fact, I've read it more than once in a short time. The love story is genuine, heartfelt, and bittersweet, and the ending, even if expected, is very satisfying. Ms. Frank's reasoned take on balancing development and environmental issues (also a theme in her novel Shem Creek) is well-thought-out and refreshing. But - all that said - some elements trouble me. First, no Southerner I know, of any racial background, calls his or her mother 'Momma', as do all the characters in Ms. Frank's books. The time-honored name, and its spelling, is 'Mama' - a word held dear to the hearts of Southerners, black and white, across many generations. And certainly no educated Southerner (as Betts and J.D. are) goes around saying 'yo momma' (especially in Charleston, of all places). Why inject ghetto-speak where it has no authentic usage? Gullah is a beautiful language, and one of which Ms. Frank has some command; hip-hop is something else entirely. I can't help but feel that this is either pandering by Ms. Frank or an imposition by her editors to make Southerners seem somehow 'cool'. We're plenty cool enough, thank you. I also find Ms. Frank and/or her editors to be careless - she says toward the end of the book that she's spent 'six months agonizing' when the time elapsed between late September and Christmas is barely three months. That's not atypical of editorial glitches in her books. But most jarring, in Bulls Island, is her attitude toward infertility, which is cavalier and insensitive to readers who have wrestled with this issue. There's no question that this book ends exactly as it should - but to imply that infertility is even remotely an excuse for divorce is shocking (I can't believe the editors allowed the use of the term 'barren womb' - shades of Henry the Eighth here?). Nor does infertility excuse drunkenness and drug addiction, however difficult the struggle to conceive may be. Valerie is thoroughly unlikeable, but to mingle her innate character flaws with her infertility is a poor choice on Ms. Frank's part. It also detracts from J.D. and Betts, who are both honorable, principled people - the fact that they refrain from an extramarital affair is impressive, considering that readers love titillating bedroom scenes, and Ms. Frank doesn't give them one. The overarching message of this book is love and reconciliation, and it's a wonderful story - but it could have been even better with a little more care.
readerinSWPA More than 1 year ago
All of Dorthea Benton Frank's books are a must read for me since I stumbled on to them a couple of years ago. I enjoy the information that she includes about the area where the story is set - it makes me feel as though I am right there. I appreciate her characters - they are never too quirky, nor are they too bland.
GabyGarbo More than 1 year ago
Dorothea Benton Frank has done it again! She creates a world that draws you in. I'm a BIG fan & have read most of her books. If you've ever visited Charleston, you will fall in love with Frank's writings. If you've never been to Charleston..........what are you waiting for!!!!! The low country is just waitin' for ya'll!!! Great summer escapism.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have to admit, even though I knew how this would probably turn out, I still could not put the book down! I read it in 2 days because I had to find out if I was right or not. There were some surprises. Excellent summer read
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read about 1/3 of this book, and can hardly put it down. It just gets better with each page I turn. Dot Franke always delivers. I eagerly await her next and her next and her next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of Frank's best and I have read them all. This one does not disappoint. The characters continue to live with you after you finish the book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bulls Island is one of the best books i have ever ready!! I think anyone who lives in SC should read this book!! It took me 2 days to read this book because I could NOT put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a light read...interesting concept, okay to read, but really could've used more depth in the characters. The characters SOUNDED interesting... but they needed more interaction to make them truly come to life. It was like the author did a quick brush over for the characters, when I really was curious and wanted to know more... almost like she didn't want to write that much. I did find some of the writing to be amateurish---like when one character died, she explained that another character was 'white as a cadaver'...odd connection to make, I thought. There was great potential there for a heart-wrenching love story, but it ended up limited--almost like the writer didn't know how to write the detail that would touch your soul.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The_Braun_Cat More than 1 year ago
This is the 4th book I have read by this author. I am hooked on how she writes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I listened to the audiobook. The female reader does a decent job. The male reader sounds like a country hick instead of a sexy southern lawyer. The story starts off with a lot of good plot possibilities: a horrible accident, a witchy future-mother-in-law, an angry and confused girl who leaves behind all she knows and loves, a new lover who is possibly a mafia tough guy (which doesn't bother her), a make-it-or-break-it job opportunity, and even a "Gatorzilla" side story, with a few environmentalists thrown in. Betts is a CEO of a large "financial corporation", sent to handle the construction of the most ritzy housing development ever to be built in the South, and yet her only job duty is to attend a ribbon cutting and to tell a friend about an upcoming promotional party and that she doesn't know what food to order. The friend, a caterer, makes all the food plans, and Betts' secretary handles all the other party plans. Betts spends her work-hours flirting with her long-ago fiance' who is now a married man, she shops, and she shares all her personal problems with her secretary or her best friend. Her job is threatened, not because she doesn't do anything, but because a photographer snapped a picture of her looking lustfully at the former flame. Her years of experience climbing the corporate ladder have not taught her a thing about how to handle a press conference, or the importance of attending planning meetings for the project she is supposedly in charge of. The story's beginning fleshed out nicely, but the middle skips a lot of needed details, and the end doesn't seem to fit the rest of the story. Do we trust that the former fiance is truthful, or is he just saying what she wants to hear? What side of the environmental line is he or Betts on? They make general comments, but show no real commitment either way. His intentions are clear: he's in it for the money. We are not sure why Betts is here. Suddenly we are tossed a few new characters so quickly that we can't remember their names or why they have appeared. And then Boom! It's over. As for "Gatorzilla", leave the scary croc stories to Randy Wayne White.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Something I've been wanting to do for awhile.I've been going through my library so I could type in how many pgs.are in the book.I'm hoping that others might post some more.I'm going to try and remember to do it with future books.I know that request comes up often.THANK YOU-GRANNY B.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is another great story that takes place in the low country of South Carolina.
merrylimontwist More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Dorothea and now I have ordered another one. This book is very detailed and a creative read. Many twist that flowed nicely into the whole plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amateurly written. Story was disjointed and would be fitting for a young reader.
Torisaunt More than 1 year ago
The story was good and I enjoyed the book, however, I felt that it was a little "rushed". At times it seemed like the characters did a complete 180 with regard to their feelings and reactions to a particular situation instead of taking the time to have them come around more slowly over time. All in all, it was an enjoyable book and I would recommend it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this nook book. I enjoy her stories. Not the first I have read and will not be the last................. of her books
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very fun and interesting read. The only reason to rate 4 instead of 5 is character development could have been more in depth if that makes sense. That said....really enjoyed this novel and highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago