Jackie O'Neill was a daredevil pilot and a true American heroine...a woman so beautiful men stopped in their tracks to watch her walk down the street, her long confident strides eating up the earth. After years of nonstop excitement -- of traveling around the globe in a chaotic rags-to-riches-to-rags whirl with her late husband, Charley -- Jackie had returned to Eternity, Colorado, near her hometown of Chandler. She wanted to put down roots, start a business, maybe someday fall in love again. But she never dreamed that the man who might make all her wishes come true was William Montgomery...little Billy, the lovesick boy who dogged her every step when she was a teenager...little Billy, who was now definitely a man, handsome, sexy, rich, and still madly in love with Jackie O'Neill....
In the three novellas collected here, bestselling romancer Deveraux ( Sweet Liar ) explores some of the limits of the genre she knows so well, indicating she may be as spunky as her heroines. In 1934, Jackie O'Neill returns to her hometown of Chandler, Colo., an accomplished pilot and a lonely widow. Developing her air transport business can keep her happy as a pilot, and her new partner, William Montgomery, promises to make very cozy company--until Jackie realizes he is the same little Billy she babysat for many years ago. In the second story, Kane Taggert, who reluctantly agrees to guide four New York City women on a Colorado trail ride, may be enchanted by Ruth Edwards, a calculatingly charming widow, if only he can make it through the two-week trip without throttling Ruth's friend, bestselling author Cale Anderson. Experiments in shifting perspective and an outrageous soliloquy by Cale give the traditional plot some pizzazz. The last story, a historical piece, finds Dorie Latham enlisting Cole Hunter, ``an aging gunslinger with no visible means of support and the beginnings of a paunch,'' to play husband and help her elude her sister's matchmaking scheme. (Jan.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 1993
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Excerpt from The Invitation by Jude Deveraux
Jackie was flying a plane, so Jackie was happy.
Soaring high, catching the breezes, winking at the setting sun, Jackie stretched and the plane stretched. Jackie moved and the plane moved. As though the body of the plane were a second skin to her, she could move the airplane as easily as she moved her arm or her leg. Smiling, she dipped one wing downward to look at the beautiful high mountain desert of Colorado.
At first she didn't believe what she saw. Sitting in the middle of nowhere, miles from the nearest road, was a car. Thinking that the vehicle had been abandoned, she turned her plane, dipping the wings, turning on a dime, to backtrack to have a second look. The car hadn't been there yesterday, so perhaps someone needed help.
She swooped down as low as she dared, not that the pi?ion trees, rarely over twenty feet tall, were going to interfere with the height she needed to stay aloft. As she came back for a second pass she saw a man stand up from the shade of the car and raise his arm in greeting. Smiling, she turned her plane back toward her home base. He was all right, then, and as soon as she landed at her airstrip in Eternity, she'd call the sheriff to send the stranded traveler some help.
She was chuckling to herself. Travelers often were stranded in Colorado. They looked at the flat landscape off the side of the road and decided to see nature up close. But they didn't take into consideration the thorns as large as a man's little finger and rocks whose sharpness had not been worn away by heavy yearly rainfall.
Maybe it was because she was laughing and not watching what she was doing that she didn't see the bird, as big as a lamb, that flew straight into her propeller. She doubted that she could have avoided hitting it, but she would have tried. As it was, everything happened very quickly. One minute she was flying toward home and the next minute there were feathers and blood all over her goggles and the plane was going down.
Jackie was a good pilot, one of the best in America. She'd certainly had a great deal of training, having received her license at eighteen years of age, and now, at thirty-eight, she was an old hand. But coping with this bird took all of her knowledge and skill. As the engine began to sputter, she knew she was going to have to do a dead-stick landing, a landing without power. Quickly, tearing off her goggles so she could see, she looked about for a place to set it down. She needed a wide, long clearing, someplace free of trees and rocks that could tear the wings off the plane.
The old road to the ghost town of Eternity offered the only possibility. She didn't know what had grown or rolled across the road in the many years that it hadn't been used, but she had no other choice. Within the flash of an eye, she lined up the nose to the "runway" and started down. There was a boulder blocking the road -- it had probably rolled down during the spring thaw -- and she was praying to stop the plane before she hit the enormous rock.
Luck wasn't with her, for she plowed into the rock. As she crashed, she could hear the sickening crunch of her propeller being destroyed. She didn't think anymore. Her head flew forward, hitting the stick; she was out cold.
The next thing Jackie knew, she was being held in a pair of very strong, masculine arms and carried away from the plane. "Are you my rescuing knight?" she asked dreamily. She could feel something warm running down her face. When she put up her hand to wipe it away, she thought she saw blood, but her eyes weren't functioning properly and the daylight was fading fast.
"Am I badly hurt?" she asked, knowing the man wouldn't tell her the truth. She'd seen a couple of men mangled in airplane wrecks, and as they lay dying everyone had reassured them that tomorrow they'd be fine.