June 18th, 2019
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THE DETERMINED LORD HADLEIGH

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St. Martin's Griffin
April 2019
On Sale: April 9, 2019
304 pages
ISBN: 1250198402
EAN: 9781250198402
Kindle: B07F1C4W6S
Trade Size / e-Book
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For readers of Elin Hilderbrand, a delicious and irresistible commercial novel set among the high society galas and gossip of Palm Beach.

Amid the glamour and galas and parties of Palm Beach, Faith knows that image often counts as much if not more than reality. She glides effortlessly among the highest of the high society so perfectly that you would never suspect she wasn’t born to this. But it wasn’t always so; though she hides it well, Faith has fought hard for the wonderful life she has, for her loving, successful husband, for her daughter’s future. In this town of secrets and gossip and rumors, Faith has kept a desperate grip on everything she holds so dear, built from so little. And yet even she—the only one who knows just how far she has to fall—never suspects from which direction, or how many directions all at once, betrayal will come.

Excerpt

Lucas is leaning against a bench at the public beach between Mar-a-Lago and Eau Spa when she gets there. The sky is filled with pink and magenta streaks; the sun is rising. In the gentle light, Lucas’s face is unflawed, mildly Clark Kent–esque. Today she finds the look both sexy and endearing. His straw hat reminds her of a picture she once saw of Ernest Hemingway. She smiles at Lucas’s interpretation of incognito.

“Surreal, isn’t it?” he asks.

Early risers, mostly fishermen, walk toward Benny’s on the Beach for their pancake breakfast.

Faith nods. “Totally.”

They stand without touching,

“Join me, Faith.” Lucas leads her, pats the empty space on the bench for her to sit.

She collects her hair into a ponytail, runs her tongue across her front teeth. Nothing about him has to do with Palm Beach or the Avenue. Nothing about her either. As if they exist in a cubic prism—the lateral view belongs only to them. She slots in, they face the boardwalk jutting into the ocean, their shoulders close together.

“So many years apart. I’m still thinking of you,” Lucas says.

“I don’t remember the last time I sat next to you,” Faith says. She’s near enough to touch any part of his body.

“Decades.” The voice again, a memory of telling a joke by batting an eye.

“A lifetime ago.”

“Well, we’ve seen each other. Wasn’t there one time at the Candy Kitchen in Bridgehampton, Margot sending daggers toward you? If looks could kill, they say.” Lucas laughs.

“Margot. She and I are sort of friendly these days.”

“Really? All that she wants is your title for the Arts and Media Ball,” Lucas sighs.

“Not a bad idea,” Faith says. A comment that pops out of her mouth, filled with truth. Perhaps it was yesterday with Diana and last night with Edward’s pretense that caused the tipping point.

“What?” How he gazes at her.

Uneasily, she turns to him. “Nothing.”

Waves roll in, crashing into one another as if their rhythm is off. Part of her wants to strip off her clothes, instigate unmarried, untethered sex. She sniffs his skin as though it might save her life. She could breathe Lucas instead of oxygen.

After years of brief and tenuous thoughts, longings and no place to file anything. An affair of the mind that hasn’t any home or port.

“I’ve missed you.” Lucas’s mouth at her ear. “Let’s not wait another stretch like this—twenty-five years—to be together. I should never have let you go. I regret it—I’ve regretted it always. But now, now our kids are grown.”

She blinks, remembering what Eve had said when Lucas broke it off with Faith. He’ll be sorry, really sorry. One day—a faraway day—he’ll come begging.

“Lucas,” she says. “Maybe . . .” He places his forefinger on her lips, then over her forehead. She’s made of carved alabaster, in place for his touch, unable to resist.

“Soon? Maybe?” He reaches over to kiss her. “Hey?”

“You don’t want me, Lucas. Believe me.”

She wishes this warning weren’t true. He kisses her again and she opens her mouth. He tastes like licorice and tree resin; his lips are soft and strong.

The wind blows his hat and he tugs it back before it flies away. Faith pulls her hood over her head and stares at him. Is he being sincere, or is she too incredibly threadbare from what’s gone on that she wouldn’t know? How many years has she imbued Edward with qualities he may or may not have? Still, her husband needs help, and here she sits with Lucas. He hugs her and she sinks into him. A comfortable/strange caress. What kind of person is she?

“Something has happened with Edward. I want to tell you before you hear it on the tennis courts, at some golf match, a cocktail hour at Longreens,” she begins.

“Let’s not do that this morning. Can’t we shut Edward out? And Margot out? Let’s the two of us have our own little reunion.” He puts his mouth close to her ear again. “Come with me, Faith, it’s time. We’ve always been in love..”

“I need to explain . . . first,” Faith says.

“Explain what, Faith?” He’s half listening, persuaded by their tête-à-tête, perhaps fascinated by her face so near to his—that they’re in each other’s company. He moves toward her ear again. She wants him to keep at it, but instead she stiffens, moves back.

“Lucas, we have to talk about Edward, if not the others. Today. Because he’s in trouble.”

He pauses almost politely as she shifts the conversation far from their interlude. A few more fishermen pass by on their way to the pier.

“Edward’s lost our money. You’ll know about it soon enough.”

“How?” Lucas asks with a slight detachment, as if there’s nothing original in her news.

“Bad investments, I suppose—personal investments. I’m understanding he was careless, imprudent. It’s going to rumble through Palm Beach, people talking, whispering. Katherine has to be safe. I’m trying to help, to figure out what to do.”

Lucas straightens up and looks at the shoreline, away from Faith.

“I brought you to Palm Beach. We were meant to be together. You and I . . .”

What might have been with Lucas, the life not shared. Has he missed her careful camouflage, threaded together over the years with great care? Rather he’s searching for a reason, one he’ll understand.

“Oh, Lucas, I don’t know that, I don’t know—I let that go. I had to.”

The gulls caw overhead, cackling and dropping clamshells onto the boardwalk.

“A loan,” Lucas says. “Would that help?”

“I’m sorry?”

“I’ll loan you money, Faith. Name the amount.”

“Why are you doing this, Lucas?”

“I owe you. I owe you for . . .”

“Please, please don’t say this.” She closes her eyes, wanting to touch his collarbone.

“You should take the check, Faith.”

“I can’t do that,” she whispers.

He starts to kiss her. She kisses him back, wishing he’d invade her being. They would find a spot beneath the pier to make love, Lucas would be inside her. Whether they do or not, she’s covered in Lucas anyway.



Start Reading A PALM BEACH WIFE Now



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