From New York Times bestselling author Mariah Stewart comes a novel of sexy romantic suspense for fans of Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, and Karen Robards. BLOODLINE Dina McDermott is on top of the world. Attractive and independent at thirty, she runs her own business, funded by a generous inheritance. But an explosive chain of events will soon be set into motion-and her perfect life will spin out of control. A journalist with a fearless instinct, Simon Keller believes he's struck gold when he unearths an unsettling story about former president Graham Hayward, one that started with a secret affair and ended in tragedy. The trail leads Simon to Dina McDermott's front door-and threatens to expose a parentage that would rock the political world. Shaken to her core by a shattering truth, Dina is suddenly thrust into the crosshairs of a cold-blooded killer-and on the run of her life. From the Paperback edition.
While writing a biography of Graham Hayward, the upright and highly regarded former president of the United States, journalist Simon Keller, the books rather colorless protagonist, comes across landscape designer Dina McDermott, who may be Hayward's illegitimate daughter. The latter has grown up believing that Jude McDermott is her mother. Jude, torn between telling her daughter the truth and protecting her from it, is afraid that revealing her parentage may prove dangerous, especially since Dina's real mother, Blythe, was killed in a suspicious, unsolved hit-and-run years earlier. As Simon pieces together the events of the past, both he and Dina become the targets of people who will do anything to keep her true parentage a secret and the president's reputation intact. Stewart (Voices Carry) occasionally interrupts her narrative with mundane details, describing everything from how Dina enters a room to the music preferences of her hired help. For the most part, however, the novel swings from one surprising twist and turn to another at a breath-catching clip. A satisfying political thriller marked by believable intrigue and a touch of romance, this book, though not on par with those of Lisa Gardner or Linda Howard, is a worthwhile read.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 29, 2002
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Excerpt from The President's Daughter by Mariah Stewart
Early February 2002
The money paid had been money well spent.
The figure paused in the doorway, backlit by the dim glow from the hall, eyes flickering from one still form to the other. The patients were scattered about the room, here and there in their chairs, each wrapped in his or her gauzy haze, somewhere between the memories of the past and the vagueness of today. The object of the visitor's attention was in his usual place by the window that overlooked the wide expanse of lawn, where he could catch the changing of the seasons, year after year, for as many years as his advancing age and the whims of fate would permit.
And fate could be fickle, as everyone knew. Everything could change in a heartbeat. One moment of clarity, one memory recovered, and even the old man's now-simple life could so easily become nothing more than someone else's memory.
Crossing the room in a long-legged stride, the visitor took a seat in front of the old man's chair.
"Hello." The old man nodded.
"How are you?"
"I'm fine," was the automatic response.
"Did you have a good day?"
"Yes." A nod of the head.
"What did you do today?"
"I took the train to Chicago." The old man smiled. "With Dorothy."
"I did." His smile broadened.
"And who is Dorothy?"
"Dorothy is . . ." The old man frowned. "Dorothy is . . . someone."
His face folded into lines as his brows knit together, as he tried to recall. Tried so hard to bring it back. He'd just had it, if only for a second. Now it was gone.
"Dorothy was your sister," he was reminded. "She died a long time ago."
"I see," the old man mumbled as he picked at a thread on his expensive sweater.
"Do you remember when Dorothy died?"
"No." The old man shook his head. "But I remember when she was in Chicago."
"What else do you remember, Miles?"
The old man looked out the window, as if perhaps something there might be familiar.
"Do you remember when you lived in Washington?"
"Do you remember when you worked in the White House?"
"We lived in a white house, once. It was near Newport. There was a pond out back. Teddy drowned in the pond. He was very small. . . ." The old man's gaze drifted back to the window, where the setting sun was beginning to send streaks of orange across a pale lavender sky.
"Yes, that was your little brother." A touch to the old man's face to get his attention. "I don't mean that white house. I mean the White House. In Washington, D.C. Where the President lives. Do you remember when you worked there?"
The old man's vague look was his only response.
"Do you remember Graham Hayward? President Hayward?" A studied pause. "Do you remember President Hayward? He was your friend. Your very best friend. You worked together in Washington."
"Am I supposed to remember?" the old man mumbled. "I can't remember."
"It's okay." A forgiving pat on the old man's hands reassured that all was well. "It's all right. It's okay that you can't remember." Another pause to reflect before adding, "Better for your sake, actually, that you don't."
The visitor sat with the old man for a few more moments, grateful that no memories had surfaced, that there would be nothing this day to be dealt with.
Finally, "Do you remember me?"
"No." The old man searched the face that was now so close to his own. A sharp but fleeting image flashed from somewhere in the past but disappeared before he could name it.
"No," he repeated warily, denying recognition even to himself.
His companion smiled for the first time since walking into the assisted living home, then stood and returned the chair to its place by the wall. In that brief time, the old man's gaze had drifted back to the window and the world beyond.
"Good-bye, Miles. I'll see you again soon." The parting remarks went unnoticed.
A pause in the hall only long enough to press a folded envelope into the hands of the white-jacketed orderly who awaited.
"How did you find your . . . old friend?" the orderly asked.
"Same as always."
The orderly nodded and served as an escort down the hall toward the now-darkened dayroom and the back door he'd unlocked earlier. In his pocket his fingers toyed with a corner of the envelope in which there was cash in an amount equivalent to his monthly salary. All for watching one old man and listening to his ramblings. The rich sure were different.
But why should he care, he shrugged, as long as that fat envelope came every month like clockwork? And it wasn't as if he were doing anything illegal or immoral. Hell, he wasn't hardly doing anything at all.
"Call me if there's a change." The figure paused in the open doorway.
"Any change." The emphasis was unnecessary. The orderly understood perfectly.
"Take it easy out there in the parking lot!" the orderly called through the double doors. "It's still a little icy there. . . ."