New York Times bestselling author Joan Johnston has captivated millions of readers with her sprawling, sensuous novels about the two opposing dynasties of Bitter Creek, Texas -- the Blackthornes and the Creeds. Now in her highly anticipated hardcover debut, Johnston tells an impassioned story of love and danger, ambition and family, that features the popular character Luke Creed, a young man who has turned his back on his family's ranch to pursue his fortune as an attorney at Houston's most powerful law firm.
Even though the stress and the punishing hours of his job as a litigation associate at DeWitt & Blackthorne have cost him his marriage and quality time with his two young daughters, Luke Creed remains fiercely driven to succeed. When Luke takes on the defense of a pharmaceutical company in an explosive wrongful death suit that could make or break his career, he is surprised to find himself squared off against the woman he has always loved, Amy Hazeltine Nash, his high school sweetheart. A single mother recovering from a failed marriage, Amy is a passionate advocate for her bereaved client and is shocked that once-rebellious Luke is now a member of the Establishment, representing corporate interests. But Amy cannot deny the feelings that seeing Luke rekindles in her heart.
Concerned that his client may be lying, Luke investigates the case more closely, which means spending more time with Amy with whom a new romance begins to blossom. But when one of Luke's colleagues dies under suspicious circumstances, he finds he is in danger of losing not only the case but his life. With help from Amy and a trio of fearless colleagues, Luke delves into a dangerous web of corruption that involves his client and his firm. In doing so he has no choice but to question the price of his own ambitions.
From the towering skyscrapers of Houston to the majestic plains of south Texas ranch country, The Price sweeps readers into a powerfully engrossing, passionate novel that will keep them on the edge of their seats as it explores the questions of what is truly important in life and how high a price a person is willing to pay to achieve his or her ambitions.
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May 04, 2003
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Excerpt from The Price by Joan Johnston
"Blackthornes and Creeds are like oil and water," Luke Creed told his brother Sam. "They just don't mix."
"If that were true, Mom wouldn't have married a Blackthorne after Dad died, would she?" Sam replied as he stuffed his mouth full of blueberry pancakes.
"I take it back," Luke said, pouring blueberry syrup over the newest batch of pancakes his sister-in-law had dropped onto his plate. "Oil and water don't mix, but at least they can coexist in the same space."
"Big brother is always right," Sam said. "I -- "
Luke waved his fork to cut off his older brother. "Blackthornes and Creeds are more like gasoline and matches. Put them together and you end up with one helluva blaze."
Too often in his youth, Luke had seen the deadly conflagration burn white hot, destroying without care or conscience. In the twelve years since his mother had married Jackson Blackthorne, Luke hadn't forgotten or forgiven the devastation his family had suffered at Blackthorne hands. His father murdered, his brother crippled, their cattle infected with brucellosis, priceless cutting horses disappearing into thin air, with every disaster leading straight back to some Blackthorne.
Which was why Luke dreaded having lunch with his mother and stepfather today. These days, Blackthornes and Creeds were supposed to be one happy family.
Luke hadn't bought into the fantasy.
He looked across the breakfast table at Sam, who would spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair thanks to an "accident" on the high school football field that involved a Blackthorne. "How can you stand working with that Blackthorne bastard day in and day out?"
"At least I'm working out-of-doors. How can you stand working in a law office in the big city every day?" Sam replied.
It wasn't easy for Luke, living in the city, but it beat the alternative -- working for his stepfather -- all to hell and back.
"We don't see nearly enough of you since you moved to Houston," Sam said. "Why don't you come back here and work with me on the ranch?"
"You mean work for Blackjack," Luke said bitterly. "He owns Three Oaks now."
The two modern-day South Texas ranching families, one rich and powerful, the other poor and struggling, had been mortal enemies since the Civil War, fighting over a piece of land owned by the Creeds along Bitter Creek, a trickle of water that never ran dry, even in the dryest years.