Acclaimed author Jill Marie Landis has gifted readers with award-winning love stories that express the most intimate longings of the human heart. With unique insight and irresistible wit, she breathes vivid life into her characters while depicting superb settings of stunning beauty and realism. Now, in her long-awaited hardcover debut, Jill Marie Landis tells the tender tale of a woman without choices who risks everything for one last chance at happiness.
RANCHER SEEKING WIFE. For Kate Whittington, the modest words of a newspaper ad are the answer to her desperate prayers. Daughter of a dockside harlot and raised in a bleak orphanage, she has no prospects in the unforgiving Maine village of her birth. Correspondence from the lonely Texas widower looking for a mail-order bride sparks tempting dreams of a house, a family, and a future in a land filled with possibilities.
Kate arrives at the magnificent Lone Star Ranch eager to meet her new husband. Instead she is greeted by the news that Reed Benton has been wounded during a raid on a Comanche village and has returned with a prisoner--a wild-looking young boy who may be his long lost son. Even more shattering, however, is the fact that Reed has never heard of Kate, never wrote the searing letters that charmed her heart.
Reed Benton doesn't want a wife. But he does need someone to look after the boy--a bitter reminder of a past ravaged by lies and betrayal. It will take a miracle to heal these two damaged souls . . . or the faith of one woman with nothing left to lose but her heart.
Summer Moon is a deeply moving story of broken promises and new beginnings, crafted by a true master of romantic fiction.
Following a slew of well-received romance paperbacks (Come Spring; Blue Moon; etc.), Landis serves up a tender, satisfying historical romance as her hardcover debut. Born in 1842, Kate Whittington, abandoned daughter of the Applesby, Maine, town tramp, is raised in a cloistered orphanage. Approaching spinsterhood at the age of 30, Kate answers the newspaper ad of Reed Benton, a widowed Texas rancher seeking a mail-order bride. After months of correspondence, she agrees to a marriage by proxy, packs her bags and heads off to the Texas frontier. When she arrives at Benton's sprawling Lone Star ranch, she is surprised to discover that her new husband is a Texas ranger who defends the frontier against Native Americans, has recently been wounded during a raid on a Comanche village and has captured an eight-year-old Comanche boy he believes may be his long-lost son, Daniel. Even more surprising, Reed Benton denies having ever placed the ad, written the letters or married Kate. Devastated by her crushed dreams yet determined to tame young, wild-haired Daniel, who is fierce in his conviction that he is a true Comanche, Kate agrees to stay on at the ranch to take care of the boy. As Reed convalesces, he finds himself lusting after Kate despite his suspicion that she is a charlatan, responsible for their sham of a marriage. Fully recovered, Reed returns to the frontier as a ranger, only to return to the ranch soon after because Daniel has run away. Kate and Reed team up in their search and not only find the boy but also discover that they have fallen in love. This sweet but not-too-sugary romance is a breezy, beach-blanket read, offering up well-developed characters, a compelling plot line and a pleasing slice of Americana.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 26, 2004
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Excerpt from Summer Moon by Jill Marie Landis
APPLESBY, MAINE. WINTER 1849.
"Turn your face to the wall, Katie, and stop that coughin'."
With her chest and throat burning, racked with chills
that shook her thin frame, nine-year-old Katie Whittington
huddled in her narrow bed.
"Katie, I mean it. Stop it now."
Only half-awake, at first she thought she had dreamed
her mother's voice, so familiar, tinged with a hard-edged,
soulless quality that held no love. But then she heard it
again, clearly and for real, and the sound burrowed into
sleep-fogged corners of her mind, waking her completely.
There were the other sounds, too. Throaty moans, whimpers,
sharp, keening cries. A man's harsh, ragged breathing.
The whining protest of coiled bedsprings from across the
cramped, cluttered room.
Katie rubbed her eyes and tried to hold back the hollow,
jarring cough, but it erupted anyway. She covered her mouth
with both hands and listened to the coupling noises, kept
her back to the room and hoped that Mama wouldn't yell at
She lay there pretending to sleep through the noise,
painting pretty pictures in her head, dreaming of another
life, another world for her and Mama-the kind of world
she had only glimpsed from afar, the kind she could barely
In her lovely dream world, she and Mama wore pretty
dresses, clean dresses, with starched lace and ruffles, and there
were pretty hats to match. The weather was always warm and
sunny, and whenever they walked down the street, no one
stepped aside or turned away. No one pointed at them or
whispered as they strolled along in their pastel finery.
Mama had tried to teach her to ignore the stares and
whispers of the townsfolk, but the rudeness still cut Katie to
her soul, and it always would.
She hugged the torn wool blanket and coughed again,
then wiped the palm of her hand on the dirty sheet that was
little more than a rag.
The linens in her dream home would be soft and clean.
There would be a fancy yellow cover on her bed, too, just
like one she had seen through the window of a big white
house up on Poplar Street. She would have lace curtains,
fancy as snowflakes that would never melt, hanging at every
window. The sun would stream through them, casting strands
of precious yellow gold around her very own room-a
room bigger than the shack she lived in now. There would
be pretty china plates piled high with more food than any
one person could ever eat all by herself.
The roof would never leak. The windows would glisten,
and there would not be even one single crack in them. Wind
would never sneak through holes in the windows or walls.
She shivered, her teeth chattering. Without warning, she
started coughing again, but this time it went on and on until
she lay on her side gasping for air like a dying fish.
"Jeezus, can't you shut that kid up?"
Katie rolled herself into a tight ball, hugging the thin
blanket around her shoulders. Her hands were stiff with
cold, her feet nearly numb even though she had climbed
into bed in her heavy shoes and socks.
She tried to picture her pretty dream house and all the
lovely dresses again, and the plates piled high with hot food.
When the images would not come, she looked up at the
frosted windowpane above her head. Between the ripped
curtain and halo of frost crystals, she could see a sliver of
moon and one lone star shining in the night sky.
She closed her eyes and wished upon that star. She wished
all her dreams would come true. Then she opened her eyes,
thankful that the moon was not full tonight.
On moonless nights it was easier for her to disappear inside
herself and shut out the sound of Mama and the men.
On moonless nights she was less tempted to watch.
But on nights when the moon hung full and heavy in the
starless sky, she would silently turn away from the wall, stare
through the milk-white light, and watch the shapes writhing
on the bed. She would peer over the edge of her blanket
and watch as Mama entertained the men who came scratching
at the door.
She must have fallen asleep, for the next thing she knew,
Mama's hand was on her shoulder, shaking her awake. The
room smelled of burning whale oil. The single lamp on
the crate beside Mama's bed cast a weak halo in the corner.
"Katie, get up and put your coat on."
Mama stripped off the blanket and tossed Katie the
ugly green wool coat that some little girl across town had
outgrown. They had found it in the bottom of the Christmas
charity box that the "self-righteous do-gooders" (as
Mama liked to call them) had left sitting on the front stoop
Suffering through another fit of coughing, wiping rusty
phlegm on the sheet, Katie sleepily protested. "It's still the
middle of the night, Mama."
"Get up. We have to go."
"Where? Where do we have to go in the dark? It's cold
out," Katie whined.