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Meet Jill “Pearl” Barnett
Jill Barnett was born and raised in Southern California, in the kind of idyllic coastal town the Beach Boys made famous. A gap in jobs in her mid-thirties sent Jill back to college and working toward her Masters degree. But the gift of a baby daughter (something Jill had been told she could never have) changed everything. Jill quit school to rethink her choices and concentrate on family, something she has never regretted. Always an avid reader, she had been working on a novel. She set work writing and two years after she quit school, she sold her first novel.
In the years since, Jill has written thirteen novels and five short stories. There are over 8 million of her books in print. Her work has been published in 23 languages, audio, national and international book clubs, hardcover and large print editions, and has earned her a place on such national bestseller lists as the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, and Publishers Weekly.
Look for her new historical romance trilogy set in Medieval Scotland sometime in 2015.
Excerpt follows the entry form!
by Jill Barnett
Twenty years ago this month, DREAMING was first published. From the very first week, I have been lucky enough to hear from readers touched deeply by Letty and Richard’s love story. I still hear “I laughed, I cried,” twenty years later. So I hope you’ll find DREAMING stands the test of time. Here’s a taste of their journey.
Devon, England, 1815
The earl of Downe was known for his horsemanship—which was fortunate because it was harder than hell to stay on a horse when one was drunk. It was even harder at night, and this night was darker than a rake’s past.
But Richard Lennox and his mount knew these dank moors. Over the years, they had ridden hell and hounds to the cliffs and on to the small cove below, where he’d found solace away from a house that had never been a home.
He rode across those moors now, away from his estate, until he couldn’t taste the stale air of the past, only the briny scent of the sea. He could breathe again.
Horse and rider slowed as they neared the cliffs. Richard stared out at the Channel. He saw only black—an expanse of dark water and the night sky. It was that one time of the month when the moon turned coward and its back was all one could see. A smuggler’s moon.
Off at the southern cliffs, lights glimmered dimly from the neighboring Hornsby estate. An instant later his mind flashed with the image of a young woman’s face framed in a wild mane of curly brown hair.
God … there was a thought. He blanched slightly and rolled his shoulder, the same one she’d accidentally dislocated. Instinctively his hand rose to his right eye, the one she’d once blackened with a cricket ball. His foot twitched as if it suddenly remembered the pain she’d inflicted dancing on it, and more recently when she’d driven over it with his curricle. After that incident he’d been forced to use a cane for two months.
Leaning on his saddle pommel, he watched the manor lights flicker and wondered if she was rusticating in one of those lit rooms. No sooner had the notion crossed his mind than he felt a powerful, instinctive, and self-preserving urge to put a vast number of miles between them.
No, he thought. Not miles … continents.
He remembered the brief twinge of guilt he’d experienced when, on a fluke, it had been he, the object of her unwelcome affections, who had won two thousand pounds in a tasteless wager on the exact date of her season’s failure.
He looked away from the lights of the manor house just as a man’s shout, startlingly loud in the silence, echoed up from the cliffs behind him. Turning suddenly, he faced the sound and paused for an instant, then rode toward it, stopping at the edge of the north cliffs, where he used a thicket of gorse bushes and a huge granite rock as a shield.
An outcropping on the cliff beneath him blocked his view of the cove, so he eased his mount toward a narrow dirt path that cut along the cliffside and led to the shore below. About halfway down, just past the outcropping, he stopped.
In the cove, dim lanterns moved like fireflies in the darkness. Again he glanced out toward the sea, searching for some sign of a ship, but still seeing little. He scanned the shore and spotted two skiffs beached below.
A small group of men was unloading crates of contraband, more than likely brandy, Belgium lace, and salt. More dark-clad men moved out from the cave beneath the cliff, lugging long wooden boxes to the boats.
Odd that they would be loading—
A twig cracked above him. He stilled.
A sudden commotion thrashed in the bushes overhead. He tensed, and his mount shifted slightly. Slowly he slid a hand inside his cloak and drew a pistol, then tightened his thighs and nudged the horse forward. Looking upward, he leaned back and took deadly aim.
Another loud rustle … and the bushes parted.
The Hornsby hellion peered down at him.
He looked at her in horror. She looked at him as if he were the sugar for her tea.
Groaning, he closed his eyes and lowered the pistol.
“Richard …” She whispered his name like a prayer.
With her anywhere near him, he needed a prayer—a long prayer.
There was another rustle and a vicious growl. Richard stifled another groan as a huge and droopy canine head poked out of those same bushes.
Forget the prayer. He needed a benediction.
The animal took one look at him and snarled. His horse shied. He struggled to control his mount on the narrow path. Dirt and rocks tumbled down to the beach below.
The beastly dog barked.
Quickly he turned in the saddle, scanning the cove. The smugglers must have heard it. Hell, Napoleon could have heard it.
A lantern had stopped directly below him, then another, and another. Richard froze. The men below stared up at the cliffside.
He was caught between two evils—the smugglers and the twosome from hell.
Her blasted dog barked again.
His horse sidestepped, nearly sending them both over the crumbling edge of the path.
“Oh no!” Letty called out and reached toward him, her face stunned, then horrified. “Richard!”
His horse reared. With an odd kind of resigned horror, he felt the reins sliding through his hands. And Richard slipped off the saddle, his graphic swearing the only sound as he fell.
His last conscious thought?
He’d be better off with the smugglers.