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To Love a Stranger [Kimani Romance Series #69]
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To Love a Stranger [Kimani Romance Series #69]

4.5 22
by Adrianne Byrd
 

Was he, or wasn't he…her husband?

Widowed, wealthy and beautiful Madeline Stone was well on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a fashion designer. Then, six years after being lost at sea, her prodigal husband returned. And to Madeline's amazement the newfound Russell Stone was nothing like the old, womanizing rascal she'd married. Her new man was

Overview

Was he, or wasn't he…her husband?

Widowed, wealthy and beautiful Madeline Stone was well on her way to fulfilling her dream of becoming a fashion designer. Then, six years after being lost at sea, her prodigal husband returned. And to Madeline's amazement the newfound Russell Stone was nothing like the old, womanizing rascal she'd married. Her new man was loving and considerate, kind, romantic and…very sexy. Madeline found herself doing something she thought she would never do—falling in love with her husband!

Now Madeline faces a dilemma: Should she accept her happily-ever-after ending, or should she expose the troubled, yet loving stranger who now shares her bed?

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780373860449
Publisher:
Harlequin
Publication date:
12/01/2007
Series:
Harlequin Kimani Romance Series , #69
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
4.21(w) x 6.62(h) x 0.76(d)

Read an Excerpt

Six years later…

"Mother, I'm never getting married again," Madeline vowed with a roll of her eyes. "Now, will you just drop it?"

Cecelia Murray-Anderson-Farris-and a few more hyphenated names that currently ended at Howard—gave her daughter an arctic smile while she reached for her glass of wine. "Don't be silly, child. Of course you'll remarry. You're too beautiful to waste away on the shelf. We both are." She looped a lock of hair behind her ears to give anyone who was looking, and there were quite a few, a good look at the sizable diamond-studded earrings she wore.

Madeline sighed instead of laughed even though nothing tickled her more than her mother's bougie vanity.

"Don't give me that look, little girl," Cecelia snapped, reading her daughter like the open book she was. "With careful selection, marriage is nothing more than business contract and transaction. Men want something nice and pretty on their arms and a brat or two until the next showroom model turns eighteen. We simply provide a service. Nothing more," she said.

"That might have been so once upon a time," Madeline replied, "but I'm officially retired. Russell left me and the kids more than I'll ever need."

"There's no such thing as enough," her mother scolded without missing a beat. Cecelia's disappointment in Madeline radiated from her body like a nuclear missile. Another sip of her wine and then, "You can't tell me this little hobby of yours isn't going to cost a pretty penny, possibly even put your whole nest egg at risk?"

Hobby. Madeline chomped down her salad so hard her teeth rattled.

"Now, don't get me wrong—" Cecelia smiled, sensing she'd hit a nerve "—I've always thought you had talent…but the fashion industry is like diving into a pool of piranhas. Why risk everything for a…a—"

"A dream?" Madeline supplied, her anger festering. "You ask why and I ask why not?" She leaned forward in her chair to hiss, "Pardon me if I want to be more than just a pretty face on some rich man's arm."

Cecelia arched one delicately groomed eyebrow in reprimand at Madeline's tone.

Chastised, Madeline cleared her throat and apologized.

Silent, her mother sipped her wine while she stared at her.

Madeline shifted in her seat until she couldn't stand it anymore. "I appreciate everything you've taught me, Mother."

"Apparently not," Cecelia seethed. "But children have been known to rebel since the dawn of time. I guess you're entitled to your first temper-tantrum."

Madeline longed to remind her mother that at thirty-one she was hardly a child. To do so would have been just as effective as trying to kill a lion with a fly swatter.

"Do your little fashion line," her mother said. "And when you lose your butt, as well as your children's financial security, don't say I didn't warn you."

"I knew I could count on you for your support."

Her mother rolled her eyes at the barb. "You know, it scares me how alike we are," she said.

Madeline nearly choked on her meal. She was not like her mother. She'd gone through great pains to make sure of that.

"Instead of fashion, I wanted to dabble in acting."

"Really?" Madeline questioned, surprised.

"What? You think you're the only one who can dream?"

"No. It's just… Well, what happened?"

Cecelia lowered her fork, having already digested her maximum allowance of six bites of food. She shrugged indifferently. "I was nineteen, thinking I knew better than my mother and struck out for the bright lights of Hollywood. There were more rich men interested in casting me on a couch than any film projects. I lasted six months, but managed to snag an engagement from an up-and-coming director. Of course, he died two months later from a drug overdose, but he came so close to being my second husband," she said.

Madeline just shook her head. Her mother was a deep well of amazing stories. Getting an accurate count of Cecelia's husbands was just as hard as discovering her true age.

"Six months," Cecelia said after another sip of her wine. "Six months and you'll be running back to me with your tail tucked between your legs."

Madeline remained silent, praying that their weekly lunch date neared its end. "Are you coming to Russ and Ariel's Thanksgiving school play?"

Cecelia shuddered. No doubt the idea of spending an evening watching a bunch of tone-deaf children singing holiday tunes would be just as horrific as buying her winter wardrobe at Wal-Mart.

"Maybe next time," she said with a painted on smile, and reached for her clutch bag. "I almost forgot. Guess who I saw the other day."

"I give up. Who?" Madeline also reached for her purse.

"Toby McDaniel."

The groan was out of her mouth before she could think, and Cecelia's eyes narrowed to half their size. "He's a good catch."

"Mother, I'm not interested."

"Made number forty-three on Forbes's richest entertainers."

"Then you take him," Madeline snapped. "I told you. I'm not getting married again."

"He likes you. He makes a point of asking about you every time I see him," Cecelia said.

"That's because he gets off thinking he can have something, or someone, that used to belong to Russell. You remember how competitive those two were."

"Who care's about why? He's loaded."

"My answer is still 'no.'And if by some strange miracle I did decide to get married again, the last thing I'd do was marry a man who reminded me of Russell Stone."

Hip-hop and fashion mogul, Christopher Stone nursed his third drink before noon. Some people needed a bowl of Wheaties, he needed a half a bottle of Crown Royal to get the creative juices flowing. In the evening time, his addictions required something much stronger.

He didn't care. He welcomed anything that numbed his emotions. The direct line on his office phone rang and despite his sluggish thoughts, his intuition told him the unwanted caller was his wife…or his new gold-digging playmate he'd met down in Atlanta last weekend.

Either one, undoubtedly, was calling for money.

Christopher drew a deep breath and picked up before the call went to voice mail. "Stone," he said.

"Christopher Stone?" a man asked.

"Who else?" Christopher snapped, annoyed. What idiot didn't know his baby brother has been missing for six years? Missing, not dead, he emphasized. Russell was too good a pilot to go down in a storm and his body had never been found. In Christopher's book, that left the playing field wide-open.

"Sorry, Mr. Stone," the unidentified caller said in an irritating gravel. "I wanted to make sure I was talking to the right man."

"Talking or wasting my time?" Christopher drained the rest of his drink. "State your business. I'm a busy man."

"Terry Shaw, private detective. We met about five years ago?"

Silence crackled over the line.

"You hired me to look for your brother," Shaw went on.

Straightening in his chair, Christopher's alcohol-induced fog lifted. "What you got? You found something?" No, he didn't recall meeting the investigator. He'd hired so many, but if there'd been some break in the case, if Russell had been found…

"We've found, my assistant and I, someone we think you'll want to talk to."

"You think or you know?" he tested, this thread of excitement already shredding. The last thing he needed was another private dick peddling false hope. It was painful enough getting rid of the last one that came snooping around last year.

Money brought out the worst in people and the ten million dollar reward he'd advertised for information that led to his brother's body or whereabouts had brought out every con artist and flimflam man east of the Mississippi.

Russell Stone sightings were only topped, narrowly, by sightings of Elvis Presley. Witnesses claimed to have spotted Russell in Manhattan, Albuquerque and even Kalamazoo. It all amounted to a pathetic game of 'Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?'The wasted money wasn't important, but the time and pain had slowly transformed Christopher into a bitter man.

A man, most of the time, he didn't recognize.

"I know, Mr. Stone. I'd like to set a meeting up with you."

Another wave of silence buzzed over the line while Christopher weighed whether he could ride another roller coaster of emotions that would eventually end in disappointment.

"Mr. Stone?"

Christopher sighed and reached for the bottle of whiskey again. "Yes, yes. When do you want to come in?"

"I can be on a plane first thing in the morning and in your office—say, about eleven?"

"Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I won't be in the office, but you can swing by my house," he said, certain that it wouldn't take more than a few minutes to deal with Mr. Shaw. What difference did it make? The guy would, undoubtedly, be another waste of time.

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To Love a Stranger [Kimani Romance Series #69] 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Madeline and Russels's story was quite intriguing. Just enough mystery to keep me guessing about what was going on. I don't want to give it away so I'll leave it at that. Loved the characters and the kids were hilarious. A really good read with some hot action to keep it real. I loved it
Guest More than 1 year ago
What would you do if your spouse or significant other, who you believed dead for several years, suddenly reappears on your doorstep -- alive and in living color -- wanting to pick up right where you left off? That¿s exactly what happens to Madeline Stone. When her cheating husband Russell¿s plane crashed, it was good riddance to bad rubbish as far as Madeline was concerned. Russell¿s brother however, refuses to give up hope. And after six years, the impossible happens¿Russell is alive, a little worse for the wear, but alive nonetheless. Needless to say, Madeline is skeptical that he is who they say he is. She¿s not happy at all to see the man who caused her so much heartache. But, it¿s been said that tragedy has a way of changing a person, and Russell is one changed brother! He¿s loving, caring, the perfect father and husband, and he¿s very determined to tear down the walls Madeline has built around her heart. I absolutely loved this storyline! The unexpected twists throughout the story really threw me for a loop, and really enhanced the book. Whenever I pick up an Adrianne Byrd novel, I know I¿m in for a treat. Her characters are always endearing. And even though romance novels are formulaic with regards to the fact that the couple at the beginning of the story will be together by the end of the story, Byrd consistently manages to throw in little surprises that make for an engaging read. Renee Williams, All the Buzz
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Byrd has spun another very romantic, yet emotionally thrilling adventure for our reading pleasure. I read this book in a 5 hours, it was definitely a page turner. When I first started reading, I have to admit I didn't think I was going to like our heroine, Madeline, she was getting on my last nerves. At first, I thought she was just another 'gold-digger', who ONLY married Russell for his money and probably deserved to be treated so terribly. And Cecelia, her mother was just AWFUL, definitely not the 'motherly-type'. Christopher Stone was EXTREMELY hard to like, although I did sympathize with him and what he was going through emotionally, he often came off as an arrogant jerk. However, as the story went on and this written 'movie' started to unfold before my eyes I fell in love with the main characters. Russell Stone, well, the NEW and IMPROVED, Russell was not only eye-candy, he was kind, gentle, considerate, loving and patient. And with his lost of memory and his new found charm he was sweeping his cold-hearted wife off her feet, and I was enjoying every moment of it. I enjoyed the interaction he had with his children. He was like a BIG kid and they couldn't get enough of each other. And the sparks that were flying between Madeline and Russell were off-the-charts. Stranger or not, this Russell was DEFINITELY a keeper! But could Madeline forgive and forget the past and build a lasting relationship with this AMAZING stranger that was dwelling in her house, slowly melting her icy heart and making her fall in love AGAIN??!!! A very sweet, romantic tale! You WILL NOT be disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From the very first page I was simply amazed by this story line. I wish that there was less about Russells brother and more about Russell the man. Overall I would recommened this book to all the hopeless romantics out there :)
DeeRomantic More than 1 year ago
Another great story from an author that mixes romance with intrigue very well.
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