The golden age of Hollywood is in the business of creating stars, and Rosie Worth – now starlet Roxy Price - has found everything she hopes for in the glittering world of the silver screen. With adoring fans and a studio-mogul husband, she’s finally silenced the voices – and grief- of the past. Her future shines bright until that fated black Friday when it all comes crashing in. Her husband, Dashielle Parks loses everything, and when he takes his life, he leaves behind a bankrupt studio, a mistress and an illegitimate child. Roxy suddenly finds herself disgraced and penniless in a world of glamour. Her only hope is to get her inherited studio back in the red, even if she has to join forces with wealthy investor Rolfe Van Horne, Belgian Duke and long time movie investor. But Rolfe is not who he seems and has other plans for Roxy and her movies, plans that include supporting a growing unrest in Europe. Plans that will break her heart and just might get her killed. Worse, when her country needs her, will she have the courage to surrender her glittering world…and the true love she’s always thirsted for? An epic 1930’s tale of glamour and riches and the true cost of both.
A note from Susie May:
I love the moment when the true hero of the story walks onto the page. I like to snapshot that moment for readers, so they get a solid sense of who he is, his essence, his character, and the impact he has on the heroine. This is the Hero meets Heroine moment in Duchess. Hope you enjoy it!
The voice found Rosie on the balcony of the presidential suite of the Taft, where Fletcher had taken rooms in the name of the studio. Inside, through the open French doors, a small orchestra played tunes from the show, and white-gloved waiters passed golden champagne around in fluted glasses to the few remaining guests. Rosie cradled a glass in her hands, nursing it really, planning to leave it untouched.
Her stomach had enough trouble staying calm.
She turned and frowned at the man entering the balcony. “What?”
He looked about thirty. He wore a tuxedo but had taken off his jacket, turning up the sleeves, opening the collar, as if to be done with the nonsense of formality. Still, he had a regal bearing about him, and when his eyes caught hers, something shifted inside her, a sense that she might know him.
But she couldn’t place him as he smiled, raised an eyebrow, nodded. “You were brilliant. And beautiful. I’ve never seen anyone transform on the screen from small-town girl to starlet quite like you did. You’re an amazing actress. Which is why I would hate to see you as a splat on the pavement.”
She moved away from the edge of the balcony. “Don’t be silly. I wasn’t going to jump.”
“You looked like you might be gauging the distance to the street.”
She rubbed her arms, gave a tinny laugh, and it sounded as if she’d had more than a sip of that champagne. “No, I’m just tired. I want to go to bed.” She cast a look inside and spotted Dash sitting on the arm of the gold sofa, gesticulating with his hands.
Concocting a new movie deal for her, she had no doubt. Good. She wanted to get back to work. No more cheesecake publicity photos. No more posing at the Brown Derby over a chicken salad sandwich or at the Coconut Club, being dipped in a tango by Valentino or that handsy John Barrymore.
And if the studio made over her boudoir one more time, she might take to sleeping at the Roosevelt Hotel.
She turned back to the balcony railing, wrapping her hand around the edge. She’d long ago kicked off her shoes, untied the fur stole from her shoulders, and left them with Dash’s coat on a chair inside.
“So that accounts for the forlorn look. You’re waiting for Parks.” He leaned over and braced his arms on the balcony. The wind reaped his smell, sent it back to her, a mix of exotic cologne and cigar smoke. He wore enough of five-o’clock shadow to temper the look of aristocracy, but she pegged him as one of her mother’s set, New York Society. “I hate to break your heart, but he’s got a reputation with the ladies.”
Once upon a time, yes. But he’d changed.
Except, he hadn’t told the press that, had he? Why he wanted to keep their marriage a secret, she couldn’t understand, despite his claims that it wouldn’t look good for her career for her to be married to her producer.
She shrugged as if she didn’t care. “I’m just trying to figure out who that woman was I saw on the screen tonight. I sat there in the theater, a cold sweat down my back, trying to comprehend that the person on the screen was really me.”
She frowned at him, something quick.
He raised an eyebrow. “I thought you were brilliant.” He raised his glass to her. “To the woman on the screen.”
She clinked her glass, forced a smile. “To her.”
“Your fans seem to love the woman they see. I think you shut down all of 50th Street.
They were still lined up after the premiere.”
She glanced at the bouquet of orchids a male admirer had thrust at her. No, it just didn’t feel real.
“Are you a school chum of Dash’s?”
He laughed and glanced at her. “No.”
“What’s your name?”
“Rafe. Rafe Horne.”
He had blue eyes, so blue they contained a magic. Enough to steal the words from her mouth.
She took a sip of the champagne. Regretted it, although it helped her forage up her voice. “Your accent tells me you’re not from around here.”
“Europe. But I have family on this side of the pond. I’m visiting. And doing some business.”
“And what business is that?”
He carried what looked like a glass of orange juice in his hand. “The movie business,” he said, and winked at her.
Susan May Warren is the best-selling, RITA award-winning author of over 40 novels books. With over a million books in print, her books have been translated into French, Dutch, Polish, German, Swedish, Ukrainian and Italian, and are on the bookshelves around the world, as far away South Africa, Australia, and Russia. She has won the RITA award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, the Carol Award and been a five time finalist for the Christy. Her compelling characters have caused Publisher’s Weekly to say, “Warren lays bare her characters’ human frailties, including fear, grief, and resentment, as openly as she details their virtues of love, devotion, and resiliency.” Find more about Susan’s books at www.susanmaywarren.com
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