Joan Johnston transports us to rugged present-day Texas--a place of wide-open prairies and unbridled ambitions--where two ranching families, the Blackthornes and the Creeds, are locked in a bitter century-old feud. Here, Johnston brings to life a breathtaking love story--between the Blackthornes' oldest son and the Creeds' beautiful daughter--a magnificent novel of passion, vengeance, and star-crossed love.
Trace Blackthorne was taught from the cradle to take what he wanted. And he wanted Callie Creed. Eleven years ago, the feud between their families had torn them apart. But now Trace has come home, a ruthless hard-eyed stranger, making her an offer she couldn't refuse: marry him and save her struggling family from financial ruin. But the secrets of the past return to haunt them. And Callie is once again compelled to make an impossible choice--between the family who desperately needs her and the only man she has ever loved.
In the first book of her latest contemporary romance trilogy, the Sisters of the Lone Star, Johnston connects descendents of the British Blackthorne family (of her earlier Captive Hearts series) with the present-day Texan Creed family. The two clans have been engaged in a century-long feud; caught in between are the young Callie Creed and Trace Blackthorne. The Blackthornes have prospered while the Creeds struggled. Just when the love between Callie and Trace begins to bridge the gap between the two families, another clash tests Callie's loyalties between her family and Trace, causing an 11-year rift for the lovers. What will it take to bring them back together, heal old wounds and bind them forever? Though she's no stranger to genre, here Johnston's story line feels melodramatic and overwrought in its modern setting. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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February 07, 2000
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Excerpt from The Cowboy by Joan Johnston
"You Blackthornes are all greedy, thieving sons-of-bitches!" Trace kept his features even, but his heart was thudding, and beneath the ancient oak desk, his hands were fisted on rock-hard thighs. He barely resisted blurting, Those are fighting words, Dusty. They were, of course. But it sounded too much like dialogue from the barroom showdown in a western B movie. The scenario was classic Louis L'Amour, but Trace resisted the comparison, because he would have been forced to cast himself as villain, rather than hero. "Just sign the papers, Dusty," he said in a level voice. But the young man sitting across from him had apparently crossed some threshold between rational being and trapped animal. Dusty Simpson scrabbled for the pair of crutches lying beside his chair. One crutch fell beyond the carpet, clattering across the polished hardwood floor. He shoved himself upright on the crutch he had left and stood, wavering on a single leg, the other having been amputated just above the knee. "Come and get me, Trace. Come on, take a swing!" Dusty yelled. Trace met Dusty's furious gaze--furious, he knew, because Dusty must have felt so impotent--and said, "I don't fight cripples." He watched the blood drain from Dusty's face, taking the fight along with it. "Sit down, Dusty." The one-legged man, his whole body quivering with anger, stubbornly balanced himself between his booted foot and the crutch. "How do you live with yourself? Mine isn't the first small ranch that's been gobbled up by you Blackthornes. But you were best man at my wedding! You're godfather to my two girls! What kind of friend are you?" "I'm only following orders," Trace said through tight jaws. "Yeah. I know," Dusty replied, a sneer twisting his features. "If Blackjack told you to jump off a cliff, you'd find yourself dead in the rocks below by sundown." Trace's eyes narrowed. He'd made the mistake, when he'd had one too many Lone Stars on Dusty's back porch, of confiding the truth to his friend. It might look to the world like Trace Blackthorne had managed the Bitter Creek Cattle Company since his father's heart attack three months ago, but Blackjack held a tight rein on everything Trace did and roweled with sharp, painful spurs when he wanted his dirty work done. Like now. Trace watched as tears welled in his friend's eyes. He'd sat beside Dusty's wife Lou Ann at the hospital while Dusty had the surgery that took off his leg, leaving him unable to compete in the arena on a cutting horse and thus unable to pay the mortgage on his ranch. Trace hated what Blackjack was forcing him to do. But he had no choice. "What happened to you, losing your leg in that car accident, was a tragedy," Trace said. "But if we hadn't bought the Rafter S, it would have gone into foreclosure." "Blackjack owns the bank that holds my mortgage, Trace. Are you saying you couldn't have talked to your dad, maybe persuaded him to give me a little more time to get back on my feet? Aw, hell. On my one damned foot?" Trace bit back an apology for his father's ruthlessness. He'd learned some hard lessons at Blackjack's side. Dusty was like a calf choking on a string of barbed wire tangled around its throat. When Trace was ten years old, he'd ignored his father's order to kill the animal and tried to untangle the wire. But the harder he'd worked to unwind the deadly garrote, the harder the calf had struggled, and the more it had suffered. He'd learned it was more merciful to simply kill the calf and end its pain. "Sign the papers, so we can get this over with," Trace said. Dusty sank into the horn and cowhide chair, defeated. The crutch landed with a thump on the handwoven Turkish carpet that framed the two chairs in front of the desk. "What