Rachel Stone's bad luck has taken a turn for the worse. With an empty wallet, a car that's spilling smoke, and a five-year-old son to support, she's come home to a town that hates her. But this determined young widow with a scandalous past has learned how to be a fighter. And she'll do anything to keep her child safe -- even take on...
Setting her story in Salvation, N.C., Phillips adeptly develops the theme of love's healing power. Broke and desperate to provide a better life for her son, gutsy Rachel Stone ends up in Salvation when her car breaks down. She knows the placeeven worse, they know her as the widow of G. Dwayne Snopes, a televangelist who fled stealing millions. Luckily, Gabe Bonner, who owns a drive-in theater where Rachel asks for work, seems to be the only person who doesn't recognize her right off. Rachel's proud mettle distracts Gabe from the grief of his own tragic loss, but enemies strike out at Rachel, while Gabe's brothers mount a family defense against the gold-digging widow. Phillips (Heaven, Texas) digs deep to expose weaknesses and strengths in the psyche and faith of her characters. The result is a book that is touching, funny, sexy and humane.(Feb.) -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 01, 1998
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Excerpt from Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The last of Rachel Stone's luck ran out in front of the Pride of Carolina Drive-In. There on a mountainous two-lane blacktop road shimmering from the heat of the June afternoon, her old Chevy Impala gave its final death rattle.
She barely managed to pull off onto the shoulder before a plume of dark smoke rose from beneath the hood and obscured her vision. The car died right beneath the drive-in theater's yellow and purple starburst-shaped sign.
This final disaster was overwhelming. She folded her hands on top of the steering wheel, dropped her forehead on them, and gave in to the despair that had been nipping at her heels for three long years. Here on this two-lane highway, just outside the ironically named Salvation, North Carolina, she'd finally reached the end of her personal road to hell.
She wiped her eyes on her knuckles and lifted her head. "I thought you were asleep, honey."
"I was. But that bad sound waked me up."
She turned and gazed at her son, who had recently celebrated his fifth birthday, sitting in the backseat amidst the shabby bundles and boxes that held all their worldly possessions. The Impala's trunk was empty simply because it had been smashed in years ago and couldn't be opened.
Edward's cheek was creased where he'd been lying on it, and his light-brown hair stuck up at his cowlick. He was small for his age, too thin, and still pale from the recent bout with pneumonia that had threatened his life. She loved him with all her heart.
Now his solemn brown eyes regarded her over the head of Horse, the bedraggled stuffed lop-eared rabbit that had been his constant companion since he was a toddler. "Did something bad happen again?"
Her lips felt stiff as she formed them into a reassuring smile. "A little car trouble, that's all."
"Are we gonna die?"
"No, honey. Of course we're not. Now why don't you get out and stretch your legs a little bit while I take a look. Just stay back from the road."
He clamped Horse's threadbare rabbit's ear between his teeth and climbed over a laundry basket filled with secondhand play clothes and a few old towels. His legs were thin, pale little sticks hinged with bony knees, and he had a small port-wine mark at the nape of his neck. It was one of her favorite places to kiss. She leaned over the back of the seat and helped him with the door, which functioned only a little better than the broken trunk.