Dear Reader: In a previous life, before the time of Plum, I wrote twelve short romance novels. Red-hot screwball comedies, each and every one of them. Nine of these stories were originally published by the Loveswept line between the years 1988 and 1992. All went out-of-print immediately and then could be found only at used bookstores and yard sales. I'm excited to tell you that those nine stories are now being re-released by HarperCollins. Love Overboard is second in the lineup, and it's presented here in almost original form. I've done only minor editing to correct some embarrassing bloopers missed the first time around. And I changed the title because I thought the original title ( Ivan Takes a Wife ) was boring! Love Overboard is a romantic tale about a handsome ship's captain; a wary wench from Jersey City; a hundred-year-old, two-masted schooner; and an entire town of shoemakers. There's some getting naked, some blueberry pie, more getting naked, and at the end ...
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January 31, 2005
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Excerpt from Love Overboard by Janet Evanovich
Ivan Rasmussen swirled the last of his coffee around the bottom of his mug, looked past the prow of his ship to the sloping green lawn of Camden Harbor Park, and wondered for the hundredth time in the past two hours what the devil had happened to his cook, Lucy. She was never late. Until now. Now she was beyond late, and because she was his friend as well as his cook, he was worried.
He squinted at a flash of color and movement toward the top of the hill, and unconsciously let his mouth fall open at the sight of a young woman rolling down the grass embankment. She came to a spread-eagled stop when she reached the cement footpath at the bottom, and she uttered an expletive that carried across the short span of shoreline, bringing the first smile of the day to Ivan's lips.
Stephanie Lowe, the woman Ivan had been watching, struggled to her feet, adjusted her battered backpack, and scowled at the grass stains on her knees. She was looking ahead to a whole week of cooking for Ivan the Terrible in exchange for free plumbing repairs to her bathroom. And if that wasn't awful enough, she was the one who had to bring Ivan the good news that his usual cook was taking an impromptu vacation.
"Lord, I'm such a dope!" Stephanie muttered, smacking herself on the forehead, broadcasting her thoughts to all watching. Nothing like making a memorable entrance. If one more thing went wrong, she was going home. The heck with it all, she thought. She wasn't crazy about this deal anyway. She'd seen Ivan only once, but he'd made a lasting impression on her. He was over six feet with gray-green eyes and strawberry blond hair. And at the time of their meeting he'd been all packaged up in a custom-tailored, navy pin-striped suit that had made him look more like a chairman of the board than the captain of a schooner.
Stephanie searched the crowded harbor for the Josiah T. Savage, gasping when she realized it was directly in front of her, tied to a floating dock at the end of the cement path. It would be the last of the windjammers to leave the harbor, she thought with an inward groan-late to leave Camden because it was waiting for its cook. Unfortunately, its cook had suddenly decided to get married. Double unfortunately, its cook was her cousin Lucy.
Lucy had provided her with a few vital statistics on the Savage. It was a windship. A tall ship. A hundred-year-old, two-masted, coasting schooner with seventy feet of deck length, carrying twenty-two passengers and four crew members on six-day cruises along the islandstrewn coast of Maine. Lucy's description of her captain had been equally brief. Ivan Rasmussen, she'd said, was better known as Ivan the Terrible because he was terribly handsome, terribly eligible, and terribly slippery. Stephanie had her own reasons for believing he was terribly rotten.