You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family.
Investigative reporter Angel Buchanan dug up a whopping surprise: The late "Artist of the Heart" Stephen Whitney -- famous for his family values -- was the father who'd abandoned her when she was four. And there's nothing like the reading of a will to bring people out of the woodwork, especially relatives you never knew you had...
...Such as the grieving widow and her sexpot twin sister...and a hunky man Angel is thrilled to learn is not any kind of cousin at all. He's C.J. Jones, the legendary lawyer determined to keep her quiet about her late, not-so-great deadbeat dad's secret life.
Angel knows he'll try to woo her into submission, but how can she resist? The setting: Tranquility House, a remote retreat containing plenty of private rooms and romantic hideaways. But how far will C.J. go to get what he wants? And, for that matter, how far will Angel?
|File size:||522 KB|
About the Author
Christie Ridgway has never lived east of the Pacific Ocean, north of San Francisco, or south of San Diego. To put it simply, she's a California native who loves to travel but is happy to make the Golden State her home. She began her writing career in fifth grade when she penned a volume of love stories featuring herself and a teen idol who will probably be thrilled to remain nameless. Later, though, after marrying her college sweetheart, Christie again took up writing romances, this time with imaginary heroes and heroines. In a house full of males—one terrific husband, two school-age sons, a yellow dog, and tankfuls of fish, reptiles, and amphibians—Christie makes her own place (and peace) writing the kinds of stories she loves best.
Read an Excerpt
Do Not Disturb
Inside Carmel, California's largest church, the unseasonal early September heat opened the pores of the one-thousand-plus gathered for Stephen Whitney's memorial service. The mingled scents of deodorant, aftershave, hairspray, and perfume rose above the crowd to hang like a thick cloud over the pews, making each of Angel's breaths a struggle.
Add to the cloying humidity yet another piercing Hallelujah!, followed by the droning voice of yet another moralistic muckety-muck at the podium, and Angel wondered if she'd made the short drop to her own personal hell instead of the short drive from San Francisco. Her scalp itched beneath her broad-brimmed black straw hat. She pressed the fingertips of her black cotton gloves to her upper lip to blot the moisture gathering there.
She needed air.
She needed out.
But she could hardly retreat now.
Not after pitching the idea of an in-depth profile on Stephen Whitney in such winning tones to her editor, Jane Hurley. Not after following that up with an interoffice e-mail inquiring if Jane had any contacts that might be helpful.
Jane herself proved to be that -- Angel had counted on it. While her editor was the woman who had turned West Coast magazine from a monthly filled with decorating tips and regional recipes into a nationally read and respected political and cultural journal, she was also Hearst-rich and maintained a second home on the famed Seventeen Mile Drive. So thanks to Jane, Angel had scored one of the scarce press passes to this memorial service, and her name was on the short list of guests for a much more private ceremony taking place later that day.
Nevertheless, Angel couldn't quash her serious second thoughts about digging into Stephen Whitney's life. In the past, she'd made it her mission to ignore anything having to do with the "Artist of the Heart," just as he'd ignored her when she'd so desperately needed him. Maybe she shouldn't --
Oh, stop being such a sissy, the journalist inside her interrupted, there's good stuff here. A story worth telling.
But even as another choral ensemble trooped up to the front of the church, Angel continued to waffle. So she settled her latest dilemma the same way she'd settled nearly all of them since she was a lonely twelve-year- old hooked on the video of All the President's Men.
WWWD? Angel asked herself. What Would Wood-ward Do?
And the answer was obvious, of course. Woodward would work the story.
Inhaling a deep breath, she glanced left and appraised the person nearest her in the second-to-the-last pew. Middle-aged lady, politely interested expression, quiet mauve suit. A likely source for some basic info.
Abandoning her niche at the outside corner of the pew, Angel slid closer. The filmy chiffon overlay of her sleeveless, little black dress floated up around her knees and she settled it back down before catching the lady's eye.
"Excuse me," she murmured. One of the very few things Angel knew about the artist was that he'd married. "I wonder if you could point out the widow."
Ms. Mauve took her time giving a less-than-neighborly once-over, which made Angel sorry she'd tucked her hair beneath her hat. She had yards of the curly blond stuff, and though it was a real pain to manage, it did take ten years off her age. That was a real blessing in the news-gathering biz, because people tended to trust those who looked more vulnerable than they.
It was another long moment before the woman finally spoke. "Stephen Whitney," she said in a biting whisper, "didn't believe in black."
Angel glanced down at her dark dress. "Oh." That explained why she was the lone beetle among the throng of butterflies in the room. She'd thought it was the heat that had everyone wearing pastels. "How, uh ... colorful of him."
When her comment did nothing to endear her to Ms. Mauve, Angel gave up and slid back toward her corner. But instead of the outside of her right leg finding the inside edge of the wooden pew, it found the long, hard thigh of a man.
"Oh!" Angel exclaimed again, scooting away to stare at the person who had invaded her corner when she wasn't looking. "Pardon me."
He glanced at her. Well, she supposed he did. It was hard to tell exactly what he was looking at when his eyes were hidden behind the dark lenses of Armani sunglasses.
"Don't mention it," he said in a low voice, his attention returning forward.
For some odd reason, Angel's attention stayed on him. He must have known Stephen Whitney better than she, because the man beside her was dressed in a butter-yellow linen shirt and a light olive suit. Both the suit and the shirt looked a little too big on him. He was very tan -- oh, like, for sure, the tan, the expensive suit, and those fancy shades just screamed Malibu Beach -- and his shiny dark hair untidily brushed his collar in an I-don't-give-a-damn sort of way.
As if sensing her continued regard, he turned his head her way again.
A sharp jolt of somethingsomething like ... like ... uh, recognition? -- straightened her in her seat and stirred a sexy little tickle low in her belly. Angel barely suppressed the sudden urge to squirm against the wooden bench as her hormones said, Hell-o! You gotta check this guy out!
But then, thank God, in dour, sensible tones, her head reminded the rest of her they were at a funeral. Stephen Whitney's funeral.
Feeling an embarrassed flush rising up her neck, she tried glossing over the awkward moment with a warm smile ...Do Not Disturb. Copyright © by Christie Ridgway. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The story wad interesting but the way it was put together was slow.
I enjoyed the story line had plenty of believable twist and turns, the characters were well developed, and I finished the book satisfied.
West Coast Magazine writer Angela Buchanan detests all the accolades bestowed on Stephen ¿Artist of the Heart¿ Whitney as a noble family values guru upon the man¿s death. Angela knows the real story behind Stephen and not the phony eulogies praising him. She was the daughter he ignored when he abandoned her mother years ago. Angela sells the idea of exposing the real Stephen. At the funeral in the Sur, California area, Angela meets her teenage half sister for the first time as well as the great man¿s wife, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law. Through the help of her editor, Angela gains access to the extended Whitney family over the objection of brother-in-law Cooper Jones. However, as she begins to know each one, Angela finds that she genuinely has affection for them. Still she especially worries about falling in love with attorney Cooper Jones, who seems to want no part of her as he suspects she has a hidden agenda. Though the use of an emergency to propel relationships seems unnecessary, fans will enjoy this strong character study just bring your own coffee. The story line is well written providing the audience a deep look at key players especially Angela and Cooper, but also several secondary players too. Readers will take immense delight with this fine contemporary look beyond the public image. Harriet Klausner