New York Times bestselling author Kay Hooper tells a timelessly seductive tale of a romance touched by the paranormal and of a woman who opens a door to the unknown and finds a stranger with an irresistible invitation....
With its antebellum setting and gallant history, Jasmine Hall was more than just a business for Banner Clairmont. The lovingly preserved plantation-era inn had been home to the Clairmont family for generations. But the realities of modern real-estate had made it time to sell even the most priceless treasures. So it was hardly with a great deal of enthusiasm that Banner led real-estate speculator Rory Stewart around the property. How could this stranger--whose southern charm and universal good looks made it impossible to entirely distrust him--have any idea of Jasmine Hall's true value? Yet what was Banner to make of the fact that Rory had seen the ghosts that never showed themselves to outsiders? Was he destined not only to save the Hall but to live there? Was his fate entangled with hers? Or was she banking too much on an old family legend ... and wishful thinking?
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March 23, 2009
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Excerpt from Rebel Waltz by Kay Hooper
Chapter One Spanish moss hung from the towering trees, draping branches, shadowing the drive in coolness. It should have looked gloomy, but didn’t, somehow. Sunlight filtered through the leaves and moss to create a mosaic on the hard-packed ground. Rory stood leaning against the opened car door, gazing around and noting that Nature had been allowed to encroach on what had once, probably, been stunningly beautiful land. The woods were now thickly grown with brambles and nearly impassable; the distant pasture, although obviously still cultivated for hay, was surrounded by a once-white three-rail fence that looked more imagined than real; a gazebo nearly invisible beneath years of ivy strove valiantly to remain standing; and the driveway was packed dirt with not a trace of gravel or pavement, but many a deep rut. His cool gray eyes measuring, Rory calculated what it would take to restore the land. A riding path through the woods, he mused, and a footpath and benches for guests in need of shaded solitude. The old gazebo torn down and another constructed. The stables weren’t visible, but probably they, too, would need a major overhaul. He thought of the other plantations he’d purchased and converted into resort-type hotels, then looked steadily up the tree-lined drive to the house. Outwardly, it was in better shape than most of the few remaining privately owned plantations. It possessed wide, shallow steps, a veranda extending along two sides, solid white Doric columns, and the landscaping near the buildinghadbeen kept up. Red brick mellowed by time was decorated here and there by climbing ivy. The shutters appeared to be in good repair and there were no broken windows in sight. Although heaven only knew what rotten floor-boards and moldy draperies awaited him inside inside . . . Jasmine Hall’s noble owner had never allowed cameras inside the place, so Rory hadn’t the faintest idea what he’d find. Sighing, he got back into the car and continued up the drive. He’d stay two weeks, as invited, he decided, to look the place over and find out if old Jake Clairmont was really serious this time about selling Jasmine Hall. Twice before, the crusty old man had spread the word, only to back out gleefully when Rory and others had expressed interest in buying. The second time had been in Charleston, nearly a year before. The third time, six weeks ago, no one but Rory had taken the bait. And he was still vaguely surprised and slightly suspicious that he had been promptly invited out to visit the estate. He frowned as he parked the car in the graveled area near the house and got out, wondering if Clairmont had been foxy enough to have weeded out less interested parties by offering to sell the first two times and then retracting his offer. It put Rory on guard, his keen business sense wary of an attempt to drive up the price. Although, of course, the placewaspriceless. Pushing the thought aside, he went up the broad, shallow steps and made use of the shining brass knocker. He had to use it three times, the third time with considerable force, before the heavy solid-oak door finally swung open. And in that moment Rory experienced the somewhat bewildering shock of