The beautiful young widow of the President of the United States thought she was free of the White House, but circumstances have forced her back into the role of the First Lady. Not for long, however, because she's made up her mind to escape -- if only for a few days -- so she can live the life of an ordinary person. All she needs is the perfect disguise...and she's just found it. As an entire nation searches for her, the First Lady teams up with an infuriatingly secretive, quietly seductive stranger and two adorable little orphaned girls in need of a family. And all together they head out across the heartland chasing their own American Dream--on a wild journey, adventure, and glorious rebirth.
Take a widowed First Lady on the run, add a discredited journalist looking for a story, toss in a pair of intriguing orphaned sisters for good measure, and you have the unlikely ingredients for another of Phillips's brilliant romantic romps, deftly combining laughter and love with real women's issues and served up with a sophisticated flair. Creative plotting adds sparkle, and entertaining, well-drawn secondary characters round out the novel, but it is the growing, healing relationship between the protagonists and how they finally form a family that touches the heartstrings and makes this contemporary romance an unforgettable read. A past master at taking a startling but just believable premise and making it work, Phillips (Lady Be Good) has won several RITA awards and lives in the Chicago area. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 31, 2000
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Excerpt from First Lady by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Cornelia Litchfield Case had an itchy nose. Otherwise, it was a very elegant nose. Perfectly shaped, discreet, polite. Her forehead was patrician, her cheekbones gracefully carved, but not so sharp as to be vulgar. The Mayflower-blue blood that rushed through her veins gave her a pedigree even finer than that of Jacqueline Kennedy, one of her most famous predecessors.
A French twist contained her long, fair hair, which she would have cut off years ago if her father hadn't forbidden it. Later her husband had suggested -- oh-so-gently, because he was always gentle with her -- that she leave it long. So there she was, an American aristocrat with a hairstyle she hated and an itchy nose that she couldn't scratch because hundreds of millions of people all over the world were watching her on their televisions.
Burying a husband sure could take the fun out of your day.
She shuddered and tried to swallow her hysteria as she crept another inch closer to falling apart. She forced herself to concentrate on the beauty of the October day and the way the sun gleamed on the rows of grave markers at Arlington National Cemetery, but the sky was too close, the sun too near. Even the ground felt as if it were pushing up to crush her.
The men on either side of her moved closer. The new President of the United States gripped her arm. Her father clasped her elbow. Directly behind her, the grief of Terry Ackerman, her husband's closest friend and advisor, rolled over her in a great, dark wave. They were suffocating her, stealing the air she needed to breathe.
She beat back a scream by curling her toes in her neat black leather pumps, biting the inside of her bottom lip, and mentally launched into the chorus of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." The Elton John song reminded her that he'd written another song, one for a dead princess. Would he now write one for an assassinated President
No! Don't think about that! She'd think about her hair, her itchy nose. She'd think about the way she hadn't been able to swallow food since her secretary had broken the news that Dennis had been assassinated three blocks from the White House by a gun fanatic who believed his right to bear arms included the right to use the President of the United States for target practice. The assassin had been killed on the spot by a Washington, D.C., police officer, but that didn't change the fact that her husband of three years, the man she'd once loved so desperately, lay before her in a gleaming black casket.
She broke her father's grip to reach up and touch the small enameled American flag she'd pinned to the lapel of her black suit. It was the pin Dennis had worn so frequently. She'd give it to Terry. She wished she could turn around right now and hand it to him, perhaps ease his grief.