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 Homeplace 276
"Like cherished silver, Homeplace just shines!”
~ Romantic Times
ColdWater Cove #1

In this breakthrough novel, New York Times bestselling author JoAnn Ross pens a deeply affecting tale of a woman struggling with her unconventional family. . . and a deep longing for a love of her own.

Although high-powered attorney Raine Cantrell dreamed that success might make the father who abandoned her take notice, she is still very much alone. Then she gets an urgent call from three kids in trouble in her Washington State hometown, and suddenly Raine is returning to face unresolved feelings, unhealed wounds - and unexpected desire.

Sheriff Jack O'Halloran, a man with a tragic past and a daughter to raise alone, has three teens barricaded inside a house and the media clamoring for a story. He isn't ready for Raine to invade his territory - and Raine isn't ready for anyone to touch her heart.   Unable to deny the attraction, they decide to have a simple affair.   But they are about to discover that love is rarely simple - and that lives can change forever in a heartbeat.  


Coldwater Cove, Washington

It was a damn three-ring circus. And Olympic County sheriff Jack O'Halloran had gotten stuckwith the job of ringmaster. Despite the cold spring drizzle, the hillside was covered with people, many carrying cameras. Some bolder or more curious, individuals pressed as close as they could to the white police barricades. Kids were running all over the place, laughing, shrieking, chasing one another, having themselves a dandy time. The mood couldn't have been any more electric if a bunch of TV stars had suddenly shown up on Washington's Olympic Peninsula to tape and episode of NYPD Blue .

Ignoring the rain dripping off the brim of his hat, Jack scowled at the vans bearing the names and logos of television stations from as far away as Spokane. Which wasn't all that surprising. After all, Coldwater Cove had always been a peaceful town. So peaceful, in fact, it didn't even have its own police department, the city fathers choosing instead to pay for protection from the county force. Crime consisted mainly of the routine Saturday night drunk and disorderly, jaywalking, calls about barking dogs, and last month a customer had walked off with the ballpoint pen from Neil Olson's You-Pump-It Gas'N Save. It definitely wasn't every day three teenage girls barricaded themselves in their group home and refused to come out.
Homeplace 125

Meanwhile, Dr. Ida Lindstrom, their court-appointed guardian and owner of the landmark Victorian house, had apparently set off this minicrime wave when she'd been taken to the hospital after falling off a kitchen stool. Although the information was sketchy, from what Jack could determine, when a probation officer had arrived to haul the unsupervised kids back to the juvenile detention center, Ida had held an inflammatory press conference from her hospital bed, adding fuel to an already dangerously volatile situation by instructing the girls to "batten down the hatches."

Having grown up in Coldwater Cove, Jack knew Ida to be a good, hardworking woman. Salt of the earth, a pillar of the community, and unrelentingly generous. During her days as the town's only general practitioner, she'd delivered scores of babies --including him. Since lumbering was a dangerous business, she'd also probably set more broken arms than any doctor in the state, and whenever she lost a patient -- whether from illness, accident, or merely old age -- she never missed a funeral.

She'd inevitably show up at the family's home after an internment with a meatloaf. Not one person in Coldwater Cove had ever had the heart to tell her that her customary donation to the potluck funeral supper was as hard as a brick and about as tasty as sawdust. Ida Lindstrom had many talents, but cooking wasn't one of them. Six months ago, when they'd buried Big John O'Halloran, Jack's father, who'd dropped dead of a heart attack while hiking a glacier on nearby Mount Olympus, Jack's mother had surreptitiously put the heavy hunk of mystery meat and unidentifiable spices out on the back porch for the dogs. Who wouldn't eat it, either.

Jack admired the way Ida had taken to opening her home to at-risk teenagers at a time when so many of her contemporaries were traveling around the country in motor homes, enjoying their retirement and spending their children's inheritances. But the plan, agreed to by the court, the probation officer, and Ida herself, dammit, had been for the retired doctor to provide the kids with a stable environment, teach them responsibility and coax them back onto the straight and narrow. Not turn them into junior revolutionaries.

"I still think we ought to break down the damn door," a gung ho state police officer insisted for the third time in the past hour. Jack suspected the proposed frontal attack stemmed from an eagerness to try out the armored assault vehicle the state had recently acquired at a surplus government military auction.

"You've been watching too many old Jimmy Cagney movies on the Late Show," Jack said. "It's overkill. They're only juveniles."

Juveniles whose cockamamie misbehavior was proving a major pain in the ass. The standoff was entering its sixth hour, television vans were parked all the way down the hill, the satellite systems on their roofs pointed upward, as if trying to receive messages from outer space. Jack figured he was a shoe-in to be the lead story on the six o'clock news all over the Pacific Northwest. Hell, if he didn't get the girls out pretty soon, they may even make the national morning programs. And while Eleanor O'Halloran would undoubtedly be tickled pink to see her only son on television, the idea didn't suit Jack at all.

"They're not just your run of the mill juveniles," the lantern-jawed officer reminded him unnecessarily. "They're juvenile delinquents."

"Minor league ones. The most any of them are guilty of is truancy and shoplifting. Want to guess how a bunch of grown men wearing combat gear staging a military assault on three little girls would play on TV?"

"Crimes's crime," another cop from neighboring Jefferson County grumbled. Although the standoff wasn't occurring in his jurisdiction, that hadn't stopped him from dropping by for a look-see.

He wasn't alone; Kitsap, Island, Clallam, and King counties were also well represented. Even the Quinault and Skokomish reservations had sent uniformed men to offer backup and gain experience in hostage situations. Not that this was exactly a hostage situation, since the girls were all alone in the house. The assembled cops were having themselves a grand old time. Jack was not.

"He's right," another cop agreed. "You may not consider shoplifting a punishable offense in your county, Sheriff, but in my jurisdiction, we view teenage malfeasance as a slippery slope to more serious crimes."

"Got a point there," Jack agreed dryly. "One day a kid's swiping a tube of Mango orange lip gloss from a Payless Drugstore and the next day she's toting an Uzi and holding up the Puget Sound National Bank."

He took the cellular phone from its dashboard holder and dialed the Lindstrom house again. The first time he'd called, the oldest girl, Shawna, had informed him that Ida had instructed her not to speak to him. Then promptly hung up. From that point on, all he'd gotten was a busy signal. Suggesting they'd taken the phone off the hook. And dammit, apparently still hadn't put it back on.

"There's always tear gas," one of the Olympic County deputies suggested.

"In case you've forgotten, one of those girls is pregnant. I'm not willing to risk harming any unborn babies."

"So what do you propose to do?" a grim-faced man asked. His belted tan raincoat with the snazzy Banana Republic epaulets on the shoulders made him stand out from the local crowd clad in parkas and Gore-Tex jackets. He'd introduced himself as being from Olympia, an assistant to the governor. Unsurprisingly, the state's chief executive was concerned about the public relations aspect of this situation.

Jack shrugged and thought of his six-year old daughter. He imagined how he'd want the cops to respond if Amy took it into her head to barricade herself in their house.

"They aren't going anywhere." They'd also refused to speak to anyone but Ida. Deciding the contrary old woman would only get them more stirred up, he'd instructed the hospital to remove the phone from her room. "The way I see it, the best thing to do is wait them out. For however long it takes."

No one argued. But the grumbles from the assembled lawmen told Jack that he was all alone, out on an increasingly risky limb.
Homeplace 125

Copyright © 1999 by The Ross Family Trust
end of excerpt
Order it


Jill Smith, Romantic Times
Few storytellers have JoAnn Ross's magical touch for creating warm and memorable characters whose lives you delight in visiting. Like cherished silver, Homeplace just shines!

Kat Bragg, CompuServe Romance Reviews
No one explores the intricacies of emotion better. You really can go home again and there's no better guide for the journey than Homeplace and JoAnn Ross.

Michelle Johnson, Romance Communications
Homeplace touched my heart in a way no other book ever has touched it. The imagery, the characters, and the emotion described in Homeplace is absolutely incredible. JoAnn Ross has a remarkable talent for creating stories that belong on the keeper shelf.

Anne Hayes Cleary, Reader to Reader
Homeplace is a heart-warming delight. Characterizations are strong and honestly drawn. Relationships are mesmerizing. An off beat secondary love story centered on Raine's mother provides fun as well as poignancy. And Raine and Jack's romance, which begins as a cautious friendship, quickly escalates into a joyride of sensuality. Provide yourself with a few tissues and simply enjoy Homeplace, JoAnn Ross's latest powerful offering. It's a winner!

Lenore Howard, The Old Book Barn Gazette
This engrossing story of love's healing power will draw you in from the first. Raine is a strong, intelligent woman who doesn't seem to need love in her life -- then discovers it's the one thing that makes life worth living. A great read!

Connie Ramsdell, Bookbug on the Web
JoAnn Ross doesn't disappoint readers who are looking for romance -- there are three satisfying romances in this story. This multifaceted gem of a book had the power to move me to tears, as easily as it brought a smile to my face. If you love a story that impacts your emotions and stays with you long after you've finished reading, I highly recommend Homeplace.

From Affaire de Coeur
JoAnn Ross has the reputation for scribing some of the best contemporary romances on the market today. . . . Homeplace boosts that warranted fame by being a brilliantly scribed family tale enhanced by warm love story. The lead protagonists are a delightful duo and the support players provide incredible levels of depth as their secondary subplots augment the complexity.

JP, Rendezvous
Full of emotional content with dimensional, colorful characters who will warm your heart, this one fulfills a readers' requirements for an excellent book. Definitely a keeper! Way to go, Ms. Ross!

Chere' Coen, The Advocate, Baton Rouge, LA
The most refreshing aspect of Ross's writing is her ability to create interesting conflicts and situations while treating her readers to warm, friendly, nice people. It's a breath of fresh air, as clear as the Pacific breezes kissing the coastline of Coldwater Cove.