Readers everywhere treasure bestselling author Jill Marie Landis for her tender love stories set against the splendid landscapes of the past. Now, Landis has written her first contemporary novel--a deeply emotional tale of acceptance and forgiveness, the bonds between mothers and sons, and the miracle of finding love for the first time.
For six years Carly Nolan has built a life for herself and her son Christopher, never getting too close to anyone. Nobody in the sleepy little beach community suspects she is running--from the mistakes she made in her youth, the memory of her fianc� Rick and his unexpected death, and the rich, powerful people who want to take away her child. She has carefully concealed her troubled past from the folks in the isolated haven of Twilight Cove. Until now.
Private investigator Jake Montgomery has been looking for elusive Caroline Graham since the day she disappeared with Rick's baby. All Jake wants is answers. He finally finds her living under an assumed name, no longer a wild teenager, but a beautiful, devoted single mother who captivates him like no one ever has before. As Carly cautiously allows Jake into her life, she begins to trust another person for the first time in a long while. She never imagines that Jake, caught between his mission and his growing passion, poses a threat to her protected world. For if her secrets are revealed, she might lose the child she holds so dear--and the man who possesses the key to her heart.
Wise and wonderful, Lover's Lane is an unforgettable story about new beginnings and the search for belonging, superbly told by one of the most talented writers in women's fiction today.
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April 26, 2004
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Excerpt from Lover's Lane by Jill Marie Landis
The young woman stared at the well-dressed lawyer across the
squalid room. A man in his late forties, he hadn't smiled once since
she let him in. Nor had she--not since he'd offered her money for
Wearing a three-piece suit and monogrammed socks that cost
more than she made in tips on a good night, with shoes that dared
to shine through a fine layer of Borrego dust, he was as out of place
here as filet mignon at a fish fry.
His crisp, spotless business card lay on the arm of the ripped
love seat where she waited, mute and terrified, for him to stop talking.
Arthur Litton, from the firm of Somebody, Somebody, and
Some Other Lawyer, had made the three-hour drive from Long
Beach to meet with her--but just now he was brushing at the knee
of his suit. A waste of time when a fine coating of sand covered
every surface in the room.
Even the mute images of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz on the
television cavorted beneath a dusty haze.
The lawyer's voice was well modulated and cool, betraying no
hint of emotion. It made the young woman's skin crawl. She
watched his thin lips move, tried to concentrate on the words.
"Now that you've heard the terms, are you willing to accept my
She opened her mouth, but didn't trust what might come out so
she swallowed and tightened her arms around the six-month-old
infant in her arms. Her baby boy. Her son.
Her hands shook as she shifted Christopher to her shoulder.
That morning she'd dressed him in pale blue sleepers with little
brown bears romping over them. She wished it was still early instead
of nearly noon--wished she could turn back the clock and
start the day over.
"Let me get this straight," she said softly. "You came here to buy
"That's putting it bluntly. His grandparents want him."
"They expect me to just hand him over and walk away?"
"They're willing to pay a seven-figure settlement for the privilege
of raising their only son's child. They want nothing but the
best for him and they want things their way."
"You mean they want me out of the way. I'm his mother."
"They could �le a petition for guardianship."
She didn't know anything about the law but enough to know she
didn't want any part of a custody fight--not with her background.
"We're prepared to prove the child will be better off with the
Saunders." He paused, pointedly gazed around the room again.
The place looked like a bomb had gone off inside it. Her roommate,
Wilt, always said he "wasn't expecting f-ing Martha Stewart,
and if people don't like the way I keep house, they can f-ing stop
coming over." His old trucking buddies never minded the mess,
and since this was Wilt's house, she never insulted him by cleaning.
The living and dining rooms were full of pieces of cast-off furniture.
Art supplies were strewn all over--canvases, tubes of paint,
rags, and turpentine. A palette of fingerprint smears marred the
Her own desert landscapes, from her earliest attempts to her
latest, were scattered around the room. Smaller pieces hung on one
wall in the dining room, just above a battered Early American table.
A moonscape complete with a howling coyote and an eerie
silver-blue glow--Wilt's latest passion was painting on black velvet--
rested on an easel near the kitchen door.
When the lawyer showed up at the door asking for her, Wilt
took cover in the kitchen. Now she heard the sound of ice hitting
the bottom of a glass and the freezer door close. She knew that her
roommate was close enough to hear every word.
Litton spoke again.
"My clients are certainly in a position to raise the boy the way
Richard Saunders would have wanted him raised."
"Rick wanted to marry me. He wanted to raise Christopher
"But Richard is dead, isn't he? He's not here to say what he did
or didn't want."
"I'm Chris' mother. They can't have him, and they can't take
him away from me."
"A private investigative firm has started a background search on
you." Without even looking at documents, he began listing all the
things they'd dug up, reciting them like a litany.
"You were born in Albuquerque, a drug baby whose mother
walked out and left you at the hospital. You were raised in a series
of foster homes. Social services listed you as a problem child with
tendencies to disrupt the environment in every situation in which
you were placed. You were charged with shoplifting when you were
fourteen and ran away from the last home you were in at seventeen.
Six months later, you applied for a California driver's license. You
have been openly living with Mr. Walton, a sixty-four-year-old retiree,
for four years. . . ."