“A MASTER STORYTELLER.”
RT Book Reviews
She is Kendall Moore—a spirited southern belle as proud as she is beautiful, driven by a cruel marriage-bed betrayal to risk her life in a dangerous gamble for freedom . . .
He is Brent McClain—the Confederate agent who meets Kendall aboard the warship Jenni-Lyn, and loses his heart in a single, searing night of passion . . .
But war and treachery soon tear them apart—Brent into raging battle, Kendall into desperate flight from a scorned husband’s white-hot vengeance. They live only for the promise of tomorrow—and a love that will burn forever in both their hearts.
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Heather Graham has written over two hundred novels and novellas and is a founding member of the Florida Romance Writers chapter of RWA. She has been published in approximately thirty languages, and has been honored with awards from Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, RT Book Reviews, and more. She has had books selected for the Doubleday Book Club and the Literary Guild, and has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, People, and USA Today, and appeared on many newscasts including local television and Entertainment Tonight.
Read an Excerpt
The water was beautiful. In some spots it was aqua, shimmering beneath the sun with a gemlike dazzle. And as it stretched out across the Straits, it became a blue as deep and mysterious as night. Challenging. Compelling. Up close, it was crystal clear. Tiny, brilliant little fish could be seen within its translucent depths. If Kendall narrowed her eyes and allowed them to mist, the fish appeared as colorful and magical as a rainbow, as a distant burst of mystical promise.
She sighed and opened her eyes fully. There was no promise in the water, or in the hypnotizing beauty of the reef fishes. The heat might be shimmering about her with a fury in the middle of winter miles and miles south of the Mason-Dixon Line, but she was still on Union soil. She stood within the boundaries of the third state to secede from the Union, but although the state belonged to the Confederacy, Fort Taylor and therefore the whole island of Key West were a part of the Union.
Although the citizens of tiny Key West could do little to combat the Union troops, Kendall knew that the majority of them considered themselves Confederates. It was comforting to know, even though she was never allowed beyond the boundaries of Fort Taylor by herself. She could still dream. One day a soldier would let down his guard and she would escape, and kindly Confederates, knowing she hailed from South Carolina and longed to escape the Union hold, would help her. She would tell them how she had been forced into marriage.
Tears blurred her eyes, and she impatiently wiped them away with the back of her hand. After all this time, it was ridiculous to cry. And after the outrageous stunt she had tried last Christmas season and failed, she was probably lucky she was still able to walk.
She turned back to the sea, her eyes misting again and creating a crystal rainbow dazzle of the water. Life might have been more pleasant — no, never pleasant, but perhaps bearable — if John hadn't always hated her so. Why had John Moore wanted her so badly when he had so thoroughly despised her from the beginning?
Travis kept telling her that John loved her. That he prayed nightly that his illness would ease and that he longed to love her as a husband should. But Kendall didn't believe that. John kept her just as he kept his Union blue uniform, his swords, and his rifles. She was a symbol to him; John Moore is a man, her presence told the world, a man, a man ...
If he had ever been kind, ever, she would have tried to understand. She would have willingly proclaimed anything he desired with a voice that challenged any dispute.
Maybe she had created the loathing herself, she thought dryly. But who would have ever guessed ...?
She closed her eyes again, remembering the day at Cresthaven those three long years ago when she had first set eyes on John Moore.
Rightfully, it should have been hers. Her father had built the plantation from the ground up. And when she and then Lolly had been toddlers, William Tarton had carried them about the estate on his huge shoulders from sunup to sundown. She could still recall his words.
"Sons!" he would laugh. "I don't need them! Kendall, my little beauty, you have a mind like a whip! Cresthaven will someday be yours, and you will put the men to shame, for I will see that you know its workings from cotton to cooking. And you will marry a man you choose, my precious daughter. A man who can love a woman with strength. You will marry because you love a man with wisdom, wit, and tenderness and power, never because it is arranged that you should take an advantageous place in society."
Tears suddenly streaked down Kendall's face. Damn you, Father! she cried out inwardly. You allowed me twelve years of that dream, and then you died, and although you gave me your knowledge and love of the land, you never gave it to Mother!
Kendall winced. How she had loved her father. And despite it all, she loved her mother, too. Elizabeth Tarton had been raised to be an ornament. She could play the spinet and hold beautiful parties, but she could barely count money.
And despite Kendall's pleas, Elizabeth had married George Clayton and allowed him to run the plantation.
George Clayton had run it, all right. Run it right down to the ground.
And so John Moore had entered her life. He was stationed at Fort Moultrie, an ardent military man. He and some friends had come to the outskirts of Charleston for the horseraces, and there he had met George Clayton. George brought him home. And John Moore saw Kendall.
The Moores were monstrously rich. Without mentioning the fact to Kendall, her stepfather offered her to the Yankee for an outrageous sum.
Kendall felt herself shaking. A fine sweat broke out over her forehead. She could remember the scene that followed all too clearly. The argument in the drawing room ...
"No!" she had screamed, shocked and horrified. "I will not marry any Yankee. You are a fool, George. Anyone can see what lies ahead! The country is going to split."
George tightened his lips grimly. "Don't you shout at me, Miss Uppity-Pants. You've had airs about you ever since I first put eyes on you, but they don't mean a thing to me, missy. I'm your pa —"
"You aren't my pa! You married my mother, but you'll never, never be my pa! And you'll never order me to marry just because you squandered my father's property on your whoring and gambling!"
"Why, you uppity little bitch!" George took a step toward her, loosening his belt. "I'll beat you black and blue, missy!" It wasn't an idle threat. He had beaten both her and Lolly many times. But Kendall didn't flinch. She had grown hard and strong, and though George was a big man, he was wasted with laziness and drink. "Touch me, you filthy swine," she told him coldly, "and I'll rip your heart out."
At the cold, calm assurance in her voice, and the narrowing of her icy eyes, George hesitated. He turned from her to light one of his fancy Havana cigars. "All right, girl, maybe you've gotten too old for me to take a belt to. I'll let your husband break some humility into you."
"I will not marry your Yankee friend. I'm not marrying anyone at your say-so, George. And when I do marry, I won't marry a man who needs to take a belt to a woman."
George turned back to her, sneering gleefully. "Oh, you'll marry him, all right. 'Cause if you don't —"
"I won't marry him! He's rude and obnoxious and has no manners whatever. He stares at a woman as if he already had her undressed. And he's a Yankee, and I'll never marry to please you!" That was when Kendall looked across the room to see their guest, John Moore, standing in the doorway. Blue eyes venomously cold, harsh features tightly drawn. She was sorry that a guest had overheard her cruel words, but she couldn't back down.
"I apologize, Mr. Moore, that you had to witness this exhibition of poor hospitality. But I will not marry you."
Surely, she thought, they would both back down.
But John Moore merely glanced at her stepfather with grim anger tensing his posture and features, and then turned away. George laughed shrilly. "Kendall, you've just sealed yourself into a life of misery. 'Cause you will marry him, girl. Either that, or I'll give your precious little sister Lolly to Matt Worton. And he won't care if she says yes at a wedding ceremony or not, he's real fond of young virgins, 'specially blue-eyed, wheat-haired blondes like that little girl."
"She's only fourteen!" Kendall lashed out in desperate fury. "You wouldn't dare do such a thing. Mother would kill you!"
George tapped his cigar ashes onto the polished floorboards. "Now, you know your mother is too ill to believe anything you say about ol' George, honey. Your mother needs a man to cling to. And I'd see that Matt got ahold of Lolly without Elizabeth ever knowin' what happened."
Kendall felt the blood draining from her features. Lolly was so much more like their mother than their father. So gentle and ethereal. George would bully her. And Matt Worton beat and chained his female slaves and used bullwhips. Two of his wives were already dead, although nobody could ever prove his treatment had killed them.
"You marry that Yankee, Miss Priss, and I'll sign an agreement that nothing will happen to precious Miss Lolly. I'll see that only you can approve a choice of husband for her. And I'll see that she never wanders too far away from protection. You know what I mean now, don't ya, Kendall?"
Kendall had known from the moment she saw John Moore's eyes on her that he despised her.
But she was shocked on her wedding night. He slapped her across the room as soon as the door closed on them. And he ordered her to undress. Shaking, but with defiance and loathing in her eyes, she obeyed him, her fingers trembling so that it seemed to take forever to rid herself of her mother's cumbersome wedding gown.
But then he had merely stared at her, devouring her with his eyes. And then the moody blue had filled with hate and misery and clouded despair. John Moore had slammed his fist into the wall and stalked out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
The scene had been repeated a dozen times during their marriage.
It was Travis who told her that John had caught some kind of a disease fighting the Indians in Florida during the Third Seminole War. He had almost died in 1856, but he had pulled through. Only Travis — and now Kendall — knew that the misfortune had left John only half a man. Kendall tried hard to understand the devils that plagued him and made him cruel and venomous, but understanding came hard when he directed the hate at her.
She had withstood it all with silent dignity for the first year. When he was angry, he struck her, but he was always careful not to leave marks. She could withstand any physical pain, keeping her chin high, her pride about her like a wall that no lash could breach. What she couldn't bear was the isolation. Many of John's New York friends were pleasant, and the city itself was bustling and fascinating. Both of them maintained the facade of a normal marriage.
But a year and a half into Kendall's mockery of a marriage, Lolly had fallen in love. The letters Kendall received were full of enthusiasm and devotion, and despite the fact that her baby sister was only fifteen, Kendall had given Lolly her consent to marry. The young man so in love in return was the son of one of Charleston's most respected and affluent planters, and Kendall had always liked him well. Gene McIntosh was all the gallant things that the South stood for; he was intelligent and kind and well read, and he would cherish Lolly and keep her safe forever.
And so, with Lolly safe, Kendall felt a new freedom. She listened avidly to the news that came to New York, and after John Brown was hanged for leading an abolitionist uprising, she felt certain that there would be a civil war. And she wasn't going to be in the North when South Carolina seceded from the Union.
Travis had helped her convince John that she should visit her mother despite the rising tide of tension. But she had already tried to escape once in the streets of New York; she should have known John would follow her with his navy friends.
"Oh, God!" she moaned, burying her face in her hands. What folly! She had almost cost a man his life! How could she have known she had stumbled upon a southern captain whom northern navy men already feared and hated? Not that it mattered. In the compromising position in which she had been found, it was only Travis's restraint that had kept John from trying to kill them both. And Travis had assured her that the man lived ...
The man. Brent McClain.
She shivered, thinking of him. How many times since that fateful night had her thoughts unwillingly turned to him? How many times had she trembled, filled with heat and cold and then liquid, shattering heat again? She had often wakened to find herself trembling and covered with a sheen of sweat.
No matter how she tried, she couldn't forget him. The husky drawl of his voice. The deep gray of his eyes, hard as steel when they narrowed with anger, smoky and almost silver when they misted with the heat of passion ... He was arrogant! she reminded herself. Arrogant and self-assured and mocking and ... splendid in a raw and primitive and wholly masculine way. She would never erase the picture of his naked body, so strikingly muscled, yet so trim, the broad shoulders narrowing to stomach muscles so that they were like bands of iron. He could move with the agility of a wildcat despite his height and cleanly sinewed size. He was, in fact, a bit like a beautiful wild beast, full of keen health and virility and restrained power.
"Oh, God ..." she whispered again. And then she inhaled and exhaled slowly, wincing. Another thing she would never forget was the look in Brent's eyes when the barrel of John's gun crashed against his skull.
Never had she seen a look so cold and threatening. Never had she felt so riddled with fear, not even when she had turned to find the eyes of her husband on her ...
It was good for the South that Brent McClain had lived. She heard his name whispered among the Union barracks with awe. He could slip past any Union blockade; he ran supplies from the islands into Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana, and he managed to sail right beneath the Union soldiers' noses without ever being apprehended.
Confederate President Jeff Davis had given Brent McClain a naval commission, Kendall knew from the southern papers she read voraciously when Travis could smuggle them to her. And McClain had twice been commended for bravery.
Dear God, Kendall prayed silently, don't let him be caught! And she added, "Please, don't let him be caught — and don't ever let him be brought here ..."
She shivered again despite the heat of the day. Never in a thousand years could she forget the steel-gray daggers in his eyes when he had looked at her that last time. Were she surrounded by a hundred Union soldiers, she would quake in fear. He would, she was certain, find a way to kill her ... unless John got to him first. He had been furious to discover that McClain lived. He and Travis had argued so violently that the rift between them would never really heal.
But still Travis had asked for the transfer to Fort Taylor with John. He had come to protect her, the best he could, anyway, she thought. Travis — such an honorable man! Even for a Yankee. No, Kendall thought, biting her lip. She didn't mean that. There were a lot of honorable Yankees. Men were men, she had learned. The color of the coats they wore did not determine the degree of their honor.
Half of her misery was that she was what she was. South Carolina was her home. The cotton fields were her pasture. The soft crooning of the slaves as they worked was the music she knew best. She was loyal in the core of her heart to her homeland, and she would not evade the danger of being a Rebel in a Union stronghold. Everywhere she looked — now toward the guard tower — loomed a uniform of Union blue.
Hearing het name called, Kendall spun around on the fort's catwalk. She did so with a smile, for she knew it was Travis hailing her, not her husband. One benefit to being here was that John was seldom about; he was constantly sailing along both coasts, from Pensacola to Jacksonville, where most of the sea skirmishes took place. Florida, whose past and present governors were ardent secessionists and totally loyal to the Confederacy, was sadly being stripped by the very cause it so wholeheartedly supported. Most of its troops were called to fight in Virginia and Mississippi where the key battles of the war were taking place, leaving miles and miles of vulnerable coastline open to attack.
"Hello, Travis," she called softly.
Travis smiled at her in return as he joined her on the walk where they looked out over the ocean. Guilt plagued him every time he came near Kendall, yet he often sought her company. He was more than a little bit in love with her. She was beautiful, but his feelings went deeper than that. The southern slur of her voice was soft, yet laced with pride and strength. No matter what befell her, she stood tall, facing the world defiantly with matchless dignity and poise. She was, under any circumstance, a lady.
And if he had not helped John find her, she might have escaped him ... Travis dug his nails into his palms. She was John's wife, legally tied to him. That was why he had helped find her. And because he feared John might have tried to kill her, and she might not have cared enough to fight.
"Want to go sailing?" he asked her.
Excerpted from "Tomorrow the Glory"
Copyright © 1985 Heather Graham Pozzessere.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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