Sudden Moves by Charlotte Vale Allen released on Mar 25, 2004 is available now for purchase.
|Product dimensions:||5.13(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.88(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Chapter OneOn her way to bed, Lucinda stopped in the living room doorway to look at the black-and-white pinspot-lit photographs of her mother and father on the far wall. Lily's was the famous 1957 Hurrell portrait, with his signature exquisite lighting and airbrush work. Simply made up (Lily had refused the usual false eyelashes, heavy penciled-in brows and overdrawn mouth), her deep-set, clear blue eyes looked directly into the lens as if offering a somewhat amused challenge. Her normally limp, naturally blonde hair gleamed in an elaborate upsweep that accentuated the length and vulnerability of her exposed throat, and her famous cleavage was on display courtesy of a tastefully lowcut, long-sleeved black moiré silk dress. No one would have known, from that photograph, how thin and tiny a woman she actually was, and how very unprepossessing in real life.
Beside it, in a matching frame, was the blown-up late-40s studio photograph of her father, Adam Bentley Franklin. In his pristine white dress uniform, rows of ribbons on his chest, spine perfectly straight, he looked impossibly young. His slight smile was sufficient to show the appealing dimple in his left cheek - a man of evident good humor, despite the formality of the pose. He had the same hazel eyes as Lucinda's, the same mouth and cheekbones, the same high forehead and slightly squared jaw. But unlike her hair which was dark blonde, his was black, with the standard military short-back-and-sides cut. And unlike her complexion, which was pale like Lily's, her father's was dusky.
The first time she'd come to visit after Lucinda had hung the photographs, her grandmother, Elise, stopped in the doorway, her hand lifting to her heart, and said a little breathlessly, "Oh, but this is wonderful! How lovely they were, eh, chérie?"
Lucinda was perpetually awed at her parents being side by side, together for anyone to see - something they'd done in reality only a few times during their lives. Public or studio knowledge of her having a husband of color would have put an end to Lily's film career, and neither she nor Adam had been willing to risk that. Nor had they wished to risk stigmatizing Lucinda's life. So they'd gone to great lengths to ensure that their child wouldn't know the true facts of her parentage. Lily always said, "I've got no idea who your father was. Okay? It could've been a couple of different guys. What's it matter anyway? I did right by you, didn't I?" True. She'd done better than all right. She'd been a wonderful mother - easygoing and proud of her daughter's slightest accomplishment. It was just that she'd had a big secret she'd gone to extraordinary lengths to keep. There had been no other men. Only the one. And his identity had died with her, leaving Lucinda to search every avenue, using every conceivable resource, until all the possibilities had been exhausted.
It wouldn't have mattered, Lily, she silently told her mother's portrait, as she often did.
She'd have been happier knowing her family, spending time with them, instead of losing years, decades, to a paralyzing uncertainty that had, like a bizarre life-support system, kept her breathing but not truly alive.
Lucinda stood enjoying the fragrant breeze and the early summer sun piercing the heavy foliage to lay splashes of warmth on her arms. Everything was in bloom and the colors were, she thought, like the primaries of a beginner's set of Crayolas. She loved spring. But full summer, when the air stood motionless and heavy, too thick almost to breathe, was unbearable. Despite having spent the first part of her life in California - the land of perpetual summer with the periodic peculiar effects of the Santa Anas that often drove otherwise rational people to do irrational things - she'd never tolerated the heat well. Lily hadn't either, and used to say she'd passed her native New England genes to Lucinda. Which was why Lily's first major expenditure on the Connecticut house had been the central heating/ air-conditioning system. Her second and last expenditure of any significance was the installation of the swimming pool for Lucinda (Lily herself didn't swim). And that was that. Lily's taste in furnishings had been terrible. Lucinda had grown up with a woman who, while meticulous in most other areas, had been content to live with furniture the Salvation Army would've rejected.
Nearly thirty years before, when Lily's estate finally cleared probate, Lucinda had become the owner of a property that included the old farmhouse and barn on two acres of land (which had the local real estate agents salivating and phoning endlessly, begging her to sell), more money than she could possibly spend (given her limited needs and desires), and a number of cartons of highly collectible memorabilia from her mother's film career. By then, though, Lucinda was in a state perilously close to agoraphobia. With a desperate need to humanize the space that had come to contain her as tightly as a vacuum-sealed, see-through package, she had had the house renovated. But the barn had remained untouched, a repository for rusted-out farm implements, dead lawn mowers and crumbling wicker furniture; the home of nesting birds and small burrowing animals.
At last, in the grip of long-accumulated inspiration, she'd hired an architect - a then-recent graduate whose tidy features flushed with ambitious pleasure at the sight of the massive hand-hewn beams and weathered wood walls. And the previous May the renovation of the barn had finally been completed after thirteen months of noisy saws, migraine-inducing hammering, and workmen moving about to the accompaniment of bad music blaring from the paint-bespattered boombox that seemed to be a vital part of their equipment.
Excerpted from Sudden Moves by Charlotte Allen 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.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
After a miraculous recovery from agoraphobia, Lucinda Hunter goes in search of her family. She knew who her mother was, a famous actress. It was the noteriety of Lily's life that had the opposite effect of driving her child to isolation. Her father was someone unknown except for a photo. In the days of her late parents' love, a mixed race marriage was a shocking thing, unheard of, so the love was hidden. The pictures of the white beauty with her handsome, black husband were a rare treasure for their daughter. Now, Lucinda goes in search of her father's people. .................. At first, they meet her with suspicion and distrust, but when they realize she is not out for any gain but love, Lucinda gets past the barriers to their hearts. The years between 1997 and 2002 have their ups and downs; she creates a unique move review column co written with a child. She finds new friends, new challenges. All that changes in a moment, when fear and uncertainty literally explode. September 11 brings out the worst emotions, fear, anger, pain, grief. We watch Lucinda's family cope as they wait to hear who survived, try to remember where people are supposed to have been when the world stopped. The shock you thought you had gotten over will be brought back in the final chapters of this book, so well does the author paint it. .................... *** Not all books are easy to categorize, and this is one of that type. At times, it is folksy and warm. There is humor, a hint of intrigue, and yes, grief. It is realistic, and despite the sorrow, able to end on a high note. ***
After twenty-seven years of living is isolation in Connecticut, Lucinda Hunter has somewhat come out of her bubble for FRESH AIR thanks to precocious Harlem resident Katanya Taylor. Lucinda has found her lost family on her father¿s side and has returned to script writing for her best friend under the pseudonym of Ella van Dyne and even won an Oscar. She watches her young pal Soupboy, who helps her critique movies. Lucinda even has a boyfriend Dr. Eli Carter............................. The world seems perfect though Lucinda remains reticent with strangers and loathes public appearance even avoiding receipt of her Academy Award. Though she lives a few hours to the north, 9/11 hits her as deeply as it hammered most Americans. Especially impacted is Soupboy whose father died in the tragedy. Now she must help her bud cope while his mother acts crazier by the minute................................... The sequel to FRESH AIR, SUDDEN MOVES continues the saga of Lucinda coming out of her shell though 9/11 is both a setback and an impetus for her. The story line is a delightful character study as the audience observes the crippling shyness that has kept her prisoner still exists, but her courage somewhat overcomes her fears. Though there is not any villains besides her aunt and her neighbor in a minor almost non threatening sense, readers will feel deeply the impact of the 9/11 tragedy on the survivors...................... Harriet Klausner