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SynopsisThe year is 1930. Beautiful, witty Devon is the daughter of a prominent Virginia family. Many men have fallen under her spell, but none has captured her heart, until she meets New York tycoon John Alexander. Their future seems assured: they will marry, raise a family, turn their country estate into the best Thoroughbred farm in the nation. But what Devon cannot foresee are the conflicts that will drive away her husband or the tragedy that will devastate their marriage. Be transported from lush Virginia hunt country to sophisticated New York and the embassies of Paris. Travel from the Hollywood glamour of Hearst castle in its heyday to the turmoil of war-torn Cairo, and the enclaves of aristocratic England. Devon's tale takes you through the decades from peaceful pre-war America to the danger of World War II, and the racial unrest of the South of the 1950s and'60s. Enjoy the thrill of Thoroughbred racing with one of the first women to break into the male-dominated sport and one of the first African-American men to become renowned as a world-class trainer. Best-selling author Jennifer Blake called this book, "as warm and spirited as its heroine, as gracious as its Southern background, a tale rich with insight into the enduring nature of love and desire. I enjoyed it immensely." Iris Rainer Dart, author of Beaches (made into a classic movie starring Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey) called Regret not a Moment, "A bewitching book! You will never forget the captivating Devon Richmond..."
A Chance to win No More Lonely Nights
LIGHT spilled festively from the long windows of the Magrath mansion. The sight made Devon’s heart beat a little faster as the tires of her parents’ Cadillac crunched on the circular drive. Parties always filled her with anticipation, and the Magraths’ parties were among the most sparkling.
Built to resemble a French chateau, the lavish three-story Magrath home was a departure from the Georgian-style and antebellum structures that sprinkled the Virginia countryside. The architecture, a romantic fantasy of Helena Magrath’s Francophile grandfather, was complemented by a houseful of valuable antiques gathered over the course of seventy years.
As Devon entered the richly gilded Louis XIV-style salon, an arm through one of each parent’s, she searched the room for their hostess. All the faces she saw were familiar and she smiled at those closest to her. Then a circle of young people parted, and in their midst Devon saw a stranger.
Her scan of the room stopped at once and her gaze fixed on him. He was one of those rare people who, for no clearly definable reason, immediately drew the eye. He didn’t blend into the crowd, he stood above it. His charisma was due to something beyond good looks; something beyond self-confidence. It was a combination of eloquent gesture, carriage, expression — a magnetism that absorbed the attention. Though John Alexander was completely unaware of Devon, she found her eyes locked on his profile.
He looked no older than many of her friends, but he moved with utter self-assurance. He was no taller than the other men in the room, but his manner of carrying himself made him appear more powerful. He had the look of an athlete, with wide shoulders tapering down to a narrow waist. He gave the impression that he was extremely capable — no ... indomitable. His face was all male angularity, with a strong, almost stubborn jaw. His nose was slightly larger than average and had a small hook in it, which gave his face a keen, somewhat hard look. To Devon, the men standing beside him looked callow in comparison.
The Richmonds’ hostess, Rosalind Magrath, spotted her guests and moved toward them. As she greeted the new arrivals, she looked over her shoulder to see what was so enthralling Devon. The young woman looked hypnotized. When Rosalind saw the direction of Devon’s gaze, she smiled to herself. Giving Laurel Richmond a knowing look, Mrs. Magrath led the family across the vast room to meet the guest from New York.
Alexander turned as Devon and her parents approached. And he faltered in midsentence. Devon was looking directly at him in a way that made them seem alone in the room, and she was one of the most stunning women he had ever seen. He was incapable of looking away. It wasn’t just her beauty — she had about her an attitude of daring that fascinated him. And she moved with the kind of self-confidence usually found only in women at least ten years older.
Devon was unaware of moving through the crowd; unaware even of breathing. Unaware of anything but his eyes. And now she stood before him, staring up into those extraordinary eyes. Rimmed with long, dark lashes, they were so deep blue as to be almost navy. They were an arrestingly beautiful touch in a face that was otherwise rugged.
“Ah, our guest of honor,” Mrs. Magrath said, pretending not to notice the strange little island of silence amid the room’s conversational hum. “Mr. Alexander, I would like to present you to our neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Richmond from Evergreen — and this is their daughter Devon. As I mentioned, she is to be your dinner partner this evening.”
The space between John and Devon hummed with electricity. “Then I am a very lucky man,” he said.
Devon almost never blushed. But now her mother was surprised to see that her cheeks were distinctly rose colored as she stared up at the stranger.
“How do you do, Mr. Alexander,” murmured Devon. She didn’t dare extend her hand to him. His touch would singe her, she was certain of it. The sheer physical impact of him left her almost breathless. She felt . . . naked.
And Alexander felt the heat in her. It was the kind of seductive heat that more practiced women tried to exude deliberately, but this young woman did it naturally. He knew she was innocent. And this combination he found arousing. His eyes refused to
release hers. He was thinking what it would be like to make love to her. To take her and —
“Devon Richmond! Are you avoiding me again?” A laughing voice broke the spell. The elder Richmonds drifted away as Devon turned her head to greet Brent Hartwick, her former beau. Hartwick had recently married the Magraths’ daughter, thus Rosalind Magrath’s generosity in partnering Devon with the handsome guest of honor. Hartwick was one of the few people the Richmonds knew who had taken a large loss in the crash of 1929. Most of the other wealthy residents of Fauquier County and bordering Loudon County believed real estate was the best invest-ment and had scorned the stock-buying craze.
Hartwick was the exception. Born and raised in Upperville, Virginia, he had gone to live in New York, taking a job with an investment banking firm. As a gentleman of the 1920s, he had regarded his job as a pastime, nothing more. Until he became afflicted with stock-buying fever — and lost a fortune. Many believed that had been the reason he had stopped waiting for Devon Richmond to agree to marry him and had instead settled for the wealthy Helena Magrath.
Helena Magrath Hartwick quickly came to her husband’s side when she noticed him talking to Devon. She was conscious of the gossip that surrounded her husband and Devon, and was particularly jealous of the other young woman.
“Devon, dear, how lovely you look!” exclaimed Helena.
Devon was irritated at Helena’s habit ever since her marriage of condescendingly addressing unmarried women as “dear,” as though she, Helena, were much older.
“Helena . . . dear,” replied Devon, allowing a few seconds to elapse between the two words.
Helena turned to Alexander. “Devon is the most eligible young lady in the county. I promise she’ll keep you amused. Why, you’re lucky we didn’t invite one of our younger ladies to be your dinner partner. None of them would be even half as good a conversationalist as Devon.”
“And yet, a quick wit doesn’t necessarily come with age, does it, Helena?” asked Devon pointedly, to the chuckles of John Alexander and Brent Hartwick.
Helena, glaring at her husband, pulled him away, throwing over her shoulder, “Please enjoy your evening,” in a tone that implied she meant the opposite.
Devon turned to Alexander. “Was that wicked?” she asked,
wincing comically as though she expected to be reprimanded. She was more herself again — the interruption had given her time to regain her poise.
“Yes. And well deserved,” replied Alexander with a smile. “The moment I saw you, I knew you were a woman to be reckoned with.”
“Well, I ...” Devon looked up to find his eyes boring in to her, wiping all rational thought from her mind. Try to remember what you were going to say, she commanded herself. “I ... I don’t like being patronized, and I’m afraid Helena does that sometimes.”
“I’m surprised she dares,” John said with a droll look. Devon did not seem the type of woman who would accept such behavior.
Devon simply smiled, annoyed that she couldn’t think of a witty rejoinder. She could again feel the turbulence rising in her body. She had to avoid looking into his eyes. If she could avoid that, she could remain composed. He must think I’m a tongue-tied ninny, Devon thought to herself.
But to John, who did not know her, Devon appeared composed. She would not meet his eyes, so that brief glimpse into her thoughts that had so aroused him was gone. And he was sorry for that. He had the sudden urge to speak to her of the unmistakable electricity between them, but he suppressed it, falling back on small talk instead.
“Tell me, Miss Richmond, do you like New York?” He was uttering conventional phrases, but his voice sent goose bumps through her, as though he were blowing on the back of her neck.
“Yes . . . yes, in a way.” What had he asked her? Oh, yes. New York. “We have a place there actually.” The home to which she so casually referred was a stylish five-story town house, purchased after the recent sale of the family’s Italianate villa on Fifth Avenue. Devon’s father, like many with old wealth, did not enjoy squandering it. He recognized that the era of Fifth Avenue mansions that occupied entire city blocks was coming to a close. The fact was, the Depression had caused many of the wealthy to scale down the wildly lavish socializing that had characterized the previous decade.
“Do you visit New York often?” John wondered why he had never met her before.
“Not too often,” Devon said. As she spoke, she began to feel more in control. “I like to visit, but there are too many people. Besides, this is my real home.”
“You don’t feel isolated here, living miles away from your nearest neighbor?” John asked.
“Not a bit. I rather like it. As you can see, we are a close-knit society.”
John found himself wanting to know more about what she thought, about what she did each day. He wanted to know everything about her. “Don’t you get bored in the country?”
Devon was growing intrigued with the conversation itself now. She was amused at the man’s assumptions about life in Virginia. “Mr. Alexander, I’ve never been bored a day in my life. The occupation of my mind does not depend on others.”
“No, I can believe that you do very well on your own.” He wondered if he dared ask the question that sprung to mind. Would she be insulted? It would be interesting to see her reaction. “Would it be impertinent of me to ask why someone as beautiful as you has not married?”
Devon, now completely unself-conscious, turned to face Alexander squarely. “Probably.” Her mouth turned up at the corners in a sly smile. “I suppose the Magraths have treated you to quite some amount of speculation on that subject?”
Alexander could not tell whether she was offended. As he was trying to decide, Devon burst out laughing. “Don’t feel uncomfortable. Everyone we know speculates on that. The fact of the matter is, I’ve never fallen in love with anyone. A very simple answer. Why everyone tries to complicate it is beyond me. I’m not going to give up my independence for someone I don’t truly love. And no matter how wonderful the rewards of marriage, one does give up a measure of independence, doesn’t one? Is that why you, Mr. Alexander, have never married?”
Now it was Alexander’s turn to laugh. He was thirty-two years old, and it was not uncommon for men his age to be unmarried. He was forward-thinking enough to know that it was unjust that Devon was questioned because she was unmarried while he could remain a perfectly respectable, even desirable, bachelor. Yet he was enough a man of his times to find her unconventional for even raising the point.
Turning serious, Alexander considered Devon’s question. He had loved women, even been in love. When he was nineteen he had wanted to marry a young Frenchwoman he had met while visiting Italy. Of course his family had been adamantly opposed to his marrying a Roman Catholic, as hers had been opposed to her marrying an Episcopalian, and somehow the two young people had not had the will to fight their families’ disapproval.
John’s second love had been a young married woman of his own
set. She had told him that her husband was cruel to her. Captivated as much by his role as savior as he was by the lady herself, he had willingly begun a passionate affair with her. He had begged Janine to leave her husband so that he, John, could marry her. He smiled to think of his naiveté at age twenty-three. Of course she had refused. Only when her attention began to wander to another young man of his circle did he realize how stupid he had been.
Since then, he was rarely without at least one mistress, but he never again had the desire to marry. John enjoyed being free to travel, to explore new interests, to go out when he felt like it. He did not want to answer to anyone. Furthermore, as more of his friends married, he noticed that their wives, no matter how exciting before marriage, all seemed to turn themselves into replicas of one another. They occupied themselves in the same ways and had the same thoughts and standards.
“I’m pleased to see that you’re taking my question seriously, but you needn’t take it too seriously,” said Devon, breaking into his thoughts.
John laughed. “I’m sorry. I was trying to come up with an honest answer. Suffice it to say that judging from my friends, people turn dull when they marry.”
For a moment Devon forgot her attraction to John. The generalization annoyed her. “I do not intend to turn dull!” Dull! She thought about her parents. They were content, but not dull. She thought about her sister, married to a diplomat and living in Paris. That wasn’t dull.
“So you do intend to marry?” John asked, sensing her annoyance and anxious to move the conversation along.
“If I fall in love. And I’m certain I will.” Devon felt suddenly shy as she said the words. Her conversation with this stranger had taken a surprisingly intimate turn!
“And what will you do to prevent your marriage from becoming dull?” He asked the question with real curiosity, all mockery gone from his voice.
Devon thought the question presumptuous, and was about to say so, but something in the seriousness of Alexander’s tone, the studious curiosity in his eyes, stopped her rebuke. Instead, she mulled over her response, allowing the silence between them to lengthen.
Finally, she said in a thoughtful tone, “You see, Mr. Alexander,
you and I disagree on a fundamental point. You say that the institution of marriage turns people dull. I disagree. I believe dull people give the institution a bad name. Maybe they attribute their dullness, their lack of adventure, to the inhibiting influence of their spouse. People do what they want to do, Mr. Alexander. When interesting people marry, and they retain their independent interests even after they are married, I see no reason why their marriages should not be equally interesting.”
“Well spoken, Miss Richmond. It is a point of view well worth considering.”
Praise for Regret Not a Moment
“A sparkling story, a luscious setting, a memorable heroine.”
--Janet Dailey, author of The Calder Saga
“You will never forget the captivating Devon Richmond and her dramatic story. It is a bewitching book!”
--Iris Rainer Dart, author of Beaches
“The story is as warm and spirited as its Southern background – a tale rich with insight into the enduring nature of love and desire. I enjoyed it immensely.”
--Jennifer Blake, author of The Italian Billionaire series
“Passionate romance spanning three continents and three decades…Readers won’t regret a few hours spent with [this book].
“This light, entertaining novel holds reader interest until the end…Recommended where Danielle Steel is popular.”
“This well-researched novel holds a wealth of detail which makes characters and scenes come alive…Fascinating...”