As the Avon Journal's no-nonsense publisher, Jolie Chesney always stuck to the facts. And the fact was that she found the celebrated war hero who'd come to her office angrily demanding a retraction unsettlingly charismatic. His wild sexual exploits had found their way into her paper's gossip column, and Jo had no intention of compromising her standards, journalistic or otherwise. But when her star reporter suspiciously vanishes, Jo seeks help from this dangerously sensual man, whose connection to the Special Branch may save her friend's life, even if it means putting her own life-and heart-on the line. Waldo Bowman sensed danger in his immediate attraction to Jolie the instant they met. Beautiful and independent, she was unlike any woman he knew-and he was determined not to lose her, whatever the risk. But when Jo uses her paper to set a trap for a cold-blooded killer, these reluctant lovers embark on a mystery that will change their lives-or end them. From the Paperback edition.
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February 02, 2004
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Excerpt from Shady Lady by Elizabeth Thornton
"I should have known you would be a woman."
Jo Chesney, publisher and proprietor of the Avon Journal, looked up with a start. She was in her office, at her desk, studying the latest edition of the newspaper, hot off the press, and was taken aback by the stranger's presence as much as by his offensive words. This was Thursday, the day they got the paper out. She hadn't time for interruptions.
Her first thought was that he was an actor. He had that look--tall, dark, and dramatic rather than handsome. He had presence. And this was, after all, Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace, and at this time of year there was always a play being performed in the theater or in the open air.
She wasn't unduly alarmed when he took a step toward her. There were plenty of people about, and Mac Nevin, the managing editor, was in his office across the hall, or in dispatch. All she had to do was call out and someone would come running.
All the same, she was aware that he had her at a disadvantage. For one thing, he was immaculately turned out and she was wearing a smock to protect her clothes. For another, he was looming over her like a great beast of prey. She evened the odds by getting to her feet.
Obviously, he was laboring under a misunderstanding. He must have entered the wrong building and mistaken her for someone else. Misunderstanding or no, she took exception to his insulting manner and tone of voice. She was a respectable lady who also happened to run a successful business. No one talked to her like that.
Her gaze as chilly as his own, she said, "These are the offices of the Avon Journal. If you've lost your way, I'd be happy to give you directions."
"I haven't lost my way. You are J. S. Chesney, I presume, the owner of this scurrilous piece of refuse "
She hadn't noticed that he had a copy of the Journal tucked under one arm, not until he tossed it on the desk.
Scurrilous piece of refuse. If he wasn't an actor, he must be a politician. No normal person spoke like that. He was trying to be offensive. He couldn't have known how well he was succeeding. The Journal was more than a paper to Jo. It was her late husband's pride and joy. When John died, it seemed that the Journal would die with him. She wouldn't allow it. Against everyone's advice, she'd stepped into the breach and kept the paper going. In her mind, John and the Journal were inseparable.
"Yes," she said. "I'm Mrs. Chesney. I own the Journal. What did we do, misspell your name Give you a bad review "
"A bad--" His brows slashed together. "You think I'm an actor "
Obviously not, but since the idea seemed to annoy him, she added fuel to the fire. "You certainly look the part." She studied him for a moment. "You could pass yourself off as the hero if you stopped glaring and minded your manners."
For a moment, she thought she'd gone too far. His lips compressed, but only momentarily. He said slowly, "I was right. You don't know me at all, do you, Mrs. Chesney "
"Should I "
"You write about me as though you know me . . . intimately."
She didn't like his choice of words. But whether the innuendo was deliberate or unintentional was debatable. She decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.
She lifted her chin a notch. "If you have a complaint, I suggest you talk to Mr. Nevin, our managing editor. I'm the publisher. I don't have control of everything that goes in the paper."
"A typical female response! If all else fails, find some man to bail you out of your difficulties. Oh, no, Mrs. Chesney. Your name is on every edition of the Journal--J. S. Chesney. You're the one who will pay the toll, unless, of course, you are married. Then your husband, poor devil, will be held to account for your misconduct."