Seven years ago, Maggie Malone left Ruby Falls, Texas, in disgrace. The wild child went on to become a million-dollar face
a supermodel who still hides her father's rejection behind an outrageous, glamorous lifestyle. Now, Maggie Malone has come home.
Her father is dying and so is their proud family business. Her mother insists Maggie is the family's last chance. Once, Maggie had a dream of running the empire. Then she lost everything one hellish night when her world came crashing down. But old dreams die hard. To claim them, she'll have to confront the father who denies her, the family who resents her, the secrets that surround her, the man who wants her and the treachery closing in on them all.
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In Ruby Falls, Texas, population 3,418, the sleek Viper convertible stood out like a tuxedo at a barn dance.
Heads turned and jaws dropped when the stunning redhead roared into town behind the wheel of the hot car, the top down, her long hair streaming behind her like a fiery banner, The Best of Kenny Rogers blaring from the speakers.
The car's cream leather seats and green exterior were the perfect foil for her ivory skin and vibrant hair. The emerald color was only a shade darker than her eyes, a fact that escaped few of the gawkers who followed her progress through town.
Though her eyes were currently hidden behind a pair of Christian Dior sunglasses, there was scarcely a person in the country, or even the world who didn't know their exact color. Periodically over the past seven years, Maggie Malone's face, usually wearing a sexy smile while those fabulous eyes danced with wicked amusement, had graced the cover of every major magazine in the U.S. and Europe.
Noticing the stunned faces out of the corner of her eye, Maggie experienced a rash of satisfaction. The reactions were exactly what she'd hoped for when she'd made arrangements to have the Viper delivered to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport in time for her arrival.
Seven years ago, she'd left Ruby Falls in disgrace, but by heaven, she was returning a success. And nothing drove that point home better than a classy fireball of a car.
Reaching the center of town and a bit of traffic, Maggie downshifted, and the Viper responded with athroaty rumble as she slowed behind Miss Agnes Purvey's 1964 Chevy II, which, Maggie noticed, still looked as though it had just rolled off the assembly line.
The traffic light up ahead at the north end of the town square had been green for several minutes. If she hadn't been stuck behind Miss Agnes and a U.P.S. truck she would have punched the accelerator and made the first turn around the square with seconds to spare before the light changed.
"Ah, jeezlouise, Miss Agnes! Move your skinny little butt, will you?"
Even as Maggie muttered the words she knew she was wasting her breath. Occasionally Miss Agnes cranked her speed up to a hair-raising thirty on the highway, but she never drove over twenty in town, and then only when someone was impertinent enough to honk or tailgate, as Maggie was doing.
That was why Miss Agnes never put more than five gallons of gas at a time in the Chevy. The prim little spinster swore that a full tank made the car go too fast.
The U.P.S. truck swung a tight and started the counterclockwise circuit around the square. Miss Agnes, her permed silver hair a halo of tight curls around her head, clutched the steering wheel with both hands and chugged along behind him. The U.P.S. truck hung a left onto the second side of the square before the old lady completed the first turn, leaving Maggie facing a red signal light.
She braked with a little squeal of fires and a huff of exasperation. After only a few seconds, though, she shook her head, a hint of a smile on her lips.
In all honesty, Maggie didn't really mind Miss Agnes's pokiness. During the past seven years she'd dreamed often of returning home someday, and in her mind's eye she'd always pictured things in Ruby Falls exactly as they'd been the night she'd left. It was comforting to know that at least some things hadn't changed.
Drumming long, cinnamon-colored fingernails against the padded leather steering wheel, Maggie glanced around while she waited. Obviously, she needn't have worried. From the look of it, not much of anything had changed in Ruby Falls.
On the way into town she had noticed a new Safeway grocery out on the Dallas highway next to Rowdy's Bar and Grill, and where the old abandoned gas station had been at Mimosa and Main a Jiffy Lube had sprung up, but other than that everything was wonderfully familiar.
The same white-trimmed, redbrick shops lined the square. Still anchoring the four corners were the First National Bank, Purdue's Pharmacy, Handyman Hardware and the Elks Lodge. Two blocks off Main to the east, the white spire of the Calvary Baptist Church still rose above the oak, sweet gum and pecan trees.
For almost one hundred and thirty years, the sandstone courthouse had sat smack in the middle of the square. The ancient oaks dotting the surrounding grounds had reached their full growth long before Maggie was born. On this fine September afternoon, as they had every warm day since anyone could remember, old men played dominoes in the shade beneath the gnarled branches. Over the years the faces had changed as old-timers passed on and others took their place, but the cutthroat games continued, regular as the seasons.
Maggie recognized several of the silver-haired menNed Paxton, Oliver Jessup, the Toliver twins, Roy and Ray. Jeezlouise, there was even old Moses Beasley. The old coot had to be pushing a hundred. The World War I veteran had been a fixture in the square all of Maggie's life.
A group of women poured out of the Elks Lodge onto the sidewalk just a few feet away from the car, chattering among themselves.
Ah, yes, another thing that remained constant, Maggie thought. Come hell or high water, the first and third Thursday afternoons of every month the ladies' auxiliary met at the lodge. Apparently, the meeting had just ended.
Leading the pack was Edna Mae Taylor, Dorothy Purdue and Pauline Babcock, the three biggest gossips in town.
The instant the women spotted her they came up short, gaping.
Immediately the others plowed into them from behind.
"What in the world? Goodness gracious, Dorothy, why'd you stop like th ...? Oh, my stars! Isn't that ...?"
"Yes," Pauline snapped.
"That's her, all right."
"What's she doing here? She hasn't been back even once since she lit out of here seven years ago."
"I expect she's come to see her daddy. You know, what with him being so ill an' all."
"And about time, I say."
"Humph. I can't imagine that seeing the likes of her will be good for him." Pauline sniffed. "I heard tell he disowned her years ago."
"Oh, surely not. Lily would never let Jacob do that. She loves that girl somethin' fierce, you know."
"Well, all I know is Lily goes to New York to see her two or three times a year. Alone," Edna Mae added with a knowing look. "And Lucille was told by Inez, who got it on good authority, that Jacob hasn't so much as spoken to the girl on the telephone since she left."
"And who can blame him? She was a wild one. Used to drive poor Jacob crazy with her shenanigans. And after what she tried to do ... well ..."
"True. That was shameful. Still, blood is blood, and in times of crisis, a man wants his family gathered around him."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Maggie Malone returns home to Ruby Falls, Texas after earning a degree in business administration at Harvard. However, she becomes upset when she learns her younger sister Laurel is going to marry nasty Martin Howe. After Maggie fails to break them up, Martin confronts her and that turns into a sexual assault. Her father Jacob intercedes but blames the incident on his wild child daughter. Jacob tosses Maggie out of his house. Seven years later, Maggie¿s mother calls her while she is on a modeling shoot in Greece to inform her that her father is dying from cancer. Maggie returns to Ruby Falls where she receives an icy greeting from her father, her brother-in-law, and her youngest sister JoBeth. However, Maggie stays when her mother asks her to save the family business that is in financial trouble. She meets Dan Garrett, general manager of the cannery and orchards. They fall in love, but he thinks she is a nasty person because she never came home during the past two years when her father¿s ailment first surfaced. This novel is an enjoyable relationship novel that centers on how everyone reacts to the return of THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER. The story line is crisp, filled with varying levels and types of tension, and never eases up on the throttle until the novel is finished. Jacob¿s sexist acceptance that Maggie was totally wrong and Martin was the wronged party seems stretched, as this intelligent adult would minimally blame both. Still, Ginna Gray provides a taut contemporary romance that will thrill those readers who relish a deep family drama. Harriet Klausner
This book takes you from laughing to crying in matter of minutes. I absolutely loved this book. It is a story of romance, family problems, decite, and so much more. This book would make a great life time movie. Ginna Gray has to keep them coming. I would be nice to see what happens to the sisters. Sequals are always good.
The story is summarized above, but I wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I immediately went on-line to find other books by this author. The characters - Maggie, Dan, Jacob - were so true-to-life and the story kept my attention the entire book. It has romance, mystery, heartbreak, and family love. Ginna Gray has written a truly remarkable story. Thanks....