Acclaimed for her insightful depiction of the magic and mystery in everyday life and relationships, Luanne Rice is one of today's most gifted novelists. Now the author of eight consecutive New York Times bestsellers delivers her most powerful book yet-the story of a man and woman forced to choose between the past that haunts them and the love that won't let them go.Jane Porter left the apple orchards of rural Twin Rivers, Rhode Island, years ago, fleeing memories that could tear two families apart.
Heartbreak gives way to love and reconciliation in this poignant tale by veteran romance writer Rice (The Perfect Summer, etc.). After more than a decade as the owner of a trendy New York City bakery, Calamity Jane's, 35-year-old Jane Porter returns to her native rural Rhode Island to help her sister, Sylvie, care for their ailing mother, Margaret. Neighbor Dylan Chadwick has recently moved back to the Twin Rivers area, too, after abandoning his career as a federal law enforcement agent in New York. Both Jane and Dylan are badly scarred by life's blows: Dylan is still mourning the death of his wife and daughter in a shootout,and Jane can't forget the outcome of a doomed college romance. As Dylan embarks on the daunting task of restoring his father's beloved apple orchard, Jane takes an avid interest in Dylan's 15-year-old niece, Chloe, baking apple tarts for the orchard roadside stand where Chloe works. Sparks fly between Dylan and Jane, but the novel's plot hinges on Jane and Chloe's growing friendship. Rice relies heavily on coincidence and contrivance, concocting a tear-jerking mix of family strife, juvenile impetuosity and misunderstood motives, but her sympathetic protagonists keep readers engaged. Even secondary characters like Sylvie, a tightly wound school librarian, and Mona, Chloe's eccentric best friend, make an impression, and readers will breathe sighs of relief when the long-awaited happy ending comes for Dylan, Jane and Chloe. (Feb. 17) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Dance with Me by Luanne Rice
You weren't supposed to have favorite children. If there was one thing Margaret Porter knew, it was that nothing could divide a family faster than showing favoritism, even in the most minor circumstances. When the girls were small, she had always made sure to let them take turns riding up front next to her, pushing the shopping cart, picking out the breakfast cereal. So that neither of them could ever say to the other, "You're Mom's favorite."
Now, lying in her bed and waiting for Jane to come home, she watched Sylvie folding the laundry. Her second daughter was thirty-three, unmarried, devoted, and she creased each nightshirt sharply before tucking it into a perfect square. When one tiny mistake was made, one sleeve marginally out of line, the shirt was shaken out and the entire endeavor repeated.
Margaret would have liked some tea, but she didn't want to interrupt. By her silence, she hoped to show Sylvie how much she appreciated her. Nevertheless, she was beset by nervousness. Would Sylvie finish in time to meet her older sister's train Margaret reclined on her pillows, finding it a bit difficult to lie still. She calmed herself by seeing the scene as a movie. In some eyes, this would be the very picture of mother-daughter contentment: dutiful child, loving parent, clear March light streaming through the big windows.
"Goddamn it," Sylvie mumbled, shaking out the blue Irish linen nightshirt for the third time. "I can't get it right."
"Perhaps you could hang that one," Margaret said. "Instead of folding it. Wouldn't a hanger make all the difference "
Sylvie gave her a look that could only be described as murderous. It truly made Margaret flinch. Not because she imagined Sylvie genuinely wanting to send her to eternal rest, but because in spite of her best intentions, Margaret had hurt her feelings.
"Oh, honey, never mind. I didn't mean that," Margaret said.
"It's okay, Mom."
"You're doing such a beautiful job."
"Thank you." Sylvie gave a lovely smile. Margaret lifted her head to see better. It was truly a smile to launch a thousand ships. Sylvie was a radiant beauty, but she kept her light hidden--both the girls did, as if they had become afraid of who would follow it to their doors.
Their fresh-faced beauty was surpassed only by their brainpower. Sylvie had gone to Brown University, with a semester at the Sorbonne. Jane, who had made her mother proud by entering Brown two years before her sister, elected not to graduate. Eschewing academics, she had chosen . . . a career in baking. In New York City.
While Sylvie had stayed in Twin Rivers, Rhode Island. Until recently, she had been the librarian at Twin Rivers High School, where Margaret had been principal. Education was a marvelous field for a woman: It kept the mind rigorous, it offered free summers, and it provided an excellent benefits package. If one wasn't going to marry--and sometimes even if one was--one had to make sure not to overlook practical matters like health insurance.