Every novel in this collection is your passport to a romantic tour of the United States through time-honored favorites by America’s First Lady of romance fiction. Each of the fifty novels is set in a different state, researched by Janet and her husband, Bill. For the Daileys it was an odyssey of discovery. For you, it’s the journey of a lifetime. Your tour of desire begins with this story set in Maine.Gina’s face grew pale with shock. It couldn’t be Rhyder. Not after all these years. But there was no mistaking the tall, darkly tanned figure moving menacingly nearer. Like a child, a young, naïve Gina had once worshipped Rhyder Owens. But her desire for him, even then, had been like a woman’s. Gina was older now, an intelligent, sophisticated lawyer. Yet she felt the waves of panic rising inside her. “Why did you have to come back to Maine?” she protested in angry despair. “I don’t want you here. All I want to do is forget.” Rhyder’s narrowed blue eyes raked her body chillingly. “You couldn’t possibly have forgotten that you are my wife!”
About the Author
Janet Dailey, who passed away in 2013, was born Janet Haradon in 1944 in Storm Lake, Iowa. She attended secretarial school in Omaha, Nebraska, before meeting her husband, Bill. The two worked together in construction and land development until they “retired” to travel throughout the United States, inspiring Janet to write the Americana series of romances, setting a novel in every state of the Union. In 1974, Janet Dailey was the first American author to write for Harlequin. Her first novel was No Quarter Asked . She has gone on to write approximately ninety novels, twenty-one of which have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. She won many awards and accolades for her work, appearing widely on radio and television. Today, there are over three hundred million Janet Dailey books in print in nineteen different languages, making her one of the most popular novelists in the world. For more information about Janet Dailey, visit www.janetdailey.com.
Read an Excerpt
GINA STARED in shocked disbelief. It couldn't be Rhyder! Not after all these years. It was impossible. But those were his blue eyes, startling and clear. Did he recognize her? The gold band of her grandmother's wedding ring felt cold, burning like ice around her finger.
Swiftly she turned away before he saw her and knelt in front of the shallow trough of stainless steel, raised by short legs above the firewood. The synthetic material of her scarlet jump suit didn't protect her knees from the gritty sand beneath them, but Gina was oblivious to the discomfort.
Her heart was pounding like a frightened rabbit's. She was hot and cold all at the same time. It was a mistake, an illusion. Her nerves clamored as she desperately tried to deny Rhyder's presence.
But she wasn't wrong. She couldn't make herself look again. The one glimpse of his tall, lithely muscled frame was enough. Not once in nine years had she ever mistaken anyone else for Rhyder, even briefly. There was no reason to pretend she might have done so now.
No, it was Rhyder, with his jet dark hair that waved crisply when it was ruffled by a sea breeze. Maturity had added to the hardness of his aquiline features, intensified the aloof bearing that bordered on arrogance. He was still deeply tanned by the sun, increasing the startling contrast of his blue eyes with his dark coloring.
Gina closed her eyes, dark lashes fluttering in memory. The years rolled away and she remembered her response to her grandfather's question the first time he had seen Rhyder, wanting to know who the man was that his young granddaughter was staring at.
"He's from away, summer mahogany," shehad answered, falling into the idiomatic speech of her native Maine.
People who neither were born nor lived in Maine were never referred to as foreigners or "furriners," nor classified as outsiders. They were generalized as being "from away."
"Summer mahogany" was a category that indicated that Rhyder belonged to the yachting set. It was a descriptive and picturesque term, considering the sun-browned appearance of the boating crowd that descended on Maine in the summer. It separated them from the regular "summer complaints," an affectionate term for tourists who visited the coastal resorts of Maine.
For the impressionable sixteen-year-old girl that Gina had been nine years ago, summer mahogany became more than just a term. Rhyder personified summer mahogany, with his features appearing chiseled in hardwood and browned by the summertime sun. There had been a raw virility about him, a male vitality such as Gina had never encountered before--or since.
Until now, Gina trembled visibly. She wanted to run before another meeting with Rhyder was forced upon her, but she couldn't. Now that she was here, she had to stay. There was no plausible excuse she could make to leave the party.
"I know the breeze is brisk, but you surely can't be cold, Gina," a female voice chided.
Her head jerked toward the sound, her eyes snapping open, darkly turbulent like the churning green depths of the ocean. Quickly Gina masked the emotional upheaval within as she recognized Katherine Trent, Justin's sister.
"I was thinking of winter, I guess," Gina lied.
"It isn't even officially autumn yet. Don't be rushing the seasons." The admonishment was offered laughingly. "Want to give me a hand packing this?" Katherine pulled a large plastic bag toward the shallow trough, three-quarters full of water. "Justin has succeeded in getting detained by the late arrivals. He manages to do that at every clambake."
Gina smiled stiffly, but didn't comment. "I don't mind helping. Part of the fun of a clambake is the preparation."
Her hands were trembling as she reached into the bag containing the seaweed. Fortunately Katherine didn't seem to notice. Seaweed was added to the water in the trough.
"Most people are convinced that the fun is in eating." Katherine closed the plastic bag and turned to remove the burlap top, saturated with water, that covered the large drum filled with live lobsters.
Stacked on top of each other in the metal drum, the lobsters crawled around with difficulty. Their hard shells glistened in a dark green shade against the seaweed scattered among them. Wooden pegs forced their claws apart, eliminating the danger of physical injury as Gina and Katherine lifted the lobsters individually and set them in the trough of seaweed and water.
When the bottom was covered with lobsters, more seaweed was added, followed by another layer of lobster and more seaweed. The barrel drum was emptied and Katherine turned to the clams, already wrapped in cheesecloth sacks.
A few of the clambake guests drifted over to observe the preparations. Their casual interest heightened Gina's tension. The moment was approaching when she would have to face Rhyder. There were nearly thirty guests at the party and she couldn't hope to avoid him indefinitely.
Mentally she tried to brace herself for the meeting. There was always the slim chance he wouldn't recognize her. After all, she had been sixteen the last time he had seen her. Nine years would have altered her appearance more than they had altered his.
True, her hair was still dark, as midnight black as his, but it didn't fall in long silken strands between her shoulders. It was cut short, waving about her ears to add a touch of sophistication to her appearance. Her eyes remained ocean green, outlined by thick lashes, but were no longer trusting and innocent. Her curves were more womanly now, but her figure hadn't changed that much.
Gina sincerely doubted that he had forgotten her, any more than she had succeeded in forgetting him. Bitterly she resented his second intrusion in her life, and she guessed Rhyder would feel the same when he recognized her.
She stiffened at the sound of her name spoken by Justin Trent. A sixth sense warned her before she turned around that Rhyder was with him. A forced smile curved her mouth as she pivoted stiffly, carefully avoiding any glance at the man walking beside Justin. But she could feel the rake of narrowed blue eyes sweeping chillingly over her frame.
Her fingers closed tightly over the cheesecloth bag of clams as she fought the waves of panic rising inside her. If she had been given a year, she still would not have been prepared for this moment. Her composure was eggshell brittle, threatening to crack at the slightest jar.
"I've been looking for you." Justin slid an arm around the back of her waist. His hand tightened slightly on her hip in a faint caress.
"I've been right here all along." Her husky laughter sounded false as it echoed mockingly in her own ears. She tipped her head back to gaze into Justin's handsome face. "What do you want?"
His brown gaze lingered briefly on her curved lips, then shifted to the man watching them. "There's someone I want you to meet. Rhyder, this is--"
"There's no need for an introduction." The interruption was smooth and low as Gina was forced to acknowledge Rhyder with a look. The hard blue eyes sent a cold shaft of fear plunging down to her toes. "We are already acquainted, aren't we, Mrs. O--"
"The name is Gaynes," Gina broke in with a rush. "Miss Gina Gaynes." She underlined her single status.
A dark eyebrow flicked upward in sardonic mockery. "My mistake."
"We all make them," she shrugged in an attempt at lightness.
But Gina and Rhyder knew secretly how accurate her response was, even though it was veiled in ambiguity. Electric currents vibrated the air between them. The high voltage was jarring her and Gina needed to end it.
"Who did you think Gina was?" A half smile of curiosity was in Justin's expression.
An aloof mask was drawn over the tanned features. "It doesn't matter." Rhyder let his gaze swing blandly to Justin. "I think you were going to offer me a drink, weren't you, before we were sidetracked by Miss Gaynes."
"Sure," Justin nodded, removing his arm from around Gina, pocketing his curiosity for the time being. "What will you have, Rhyder?"
"Wait here. I'll get it," he told him and moved toward the opposite side of the crowd.
Gina stood uncertainly for a moment in front of Rhyder, her fingers clenching and unclenching the bag of clams. His alert gaze picked up the nervous movement and she immediately stilled the betraying motion.
"Excuse me," she murmured stiffly, then turned away, taking the few steps necessary to carry the clams to the molding trough.
Rhyder followed leisurely. Gina tried to pretend he wasn't there as she again began to help Katherine, but she was disturbingly conscious of him. He stood apart, watching the preparations with absent interest.
There was little color in her cheeks as she spread another layer of seaweed over the clams while Katherine went after the sweet corn. When she returned with an armload of foil-wrapped ears, Gina took them from her and began woodenly distributing them atop the seaweed-covered clams. Katherine disappeared again for more corn.
An ear of corn rolled to the ground. Gina moved to retrieve it, but it was Rhyder's sun-browned hand that reached it first as he bent beside her. He didn't immediately offer it to her, forcing her to extend a hand, her gaze averted from his chiseled features.
"I wasn't aware you'd changed your name." Rhyder placed the ear of corn in her outstretched palm, speaking low and cynically for her hearing alone.
"I wasn't aware that it was any of your business," Gina retorted bitterly.
The creases around his mouth hardened. His cutting gaze slashed to the gold ring on her left hand. "What about that?" he challenged coldly.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
these short romantic stories take place in each of the 50 states, part of janet dailey's Americana series. i'm about half way through them, and loving each and every one.
Typical girl loves boy then hates him then loves him again and lives happily ever after but with typical janet dailey touches